The History of Henna

The History of Henna

          As you might already know, our 99 orphans team held a spring fest not too long ago. We had many stations, of which included a henna table. We have all seen henna on someone’s hand (or on your own) at some point and thought, wow that’s pretty! But have we ever wondered about the history behind this beautiful tradition? Well, there’s actually a pretty interesting story behind the origin of this art.

          Henna (also known as Mehndi) is a plant which grows in the tropical climates of Africa, northern Australia, and southern Asia. Since it contains a pigment that causes its staining quality, it’s used for dying hair and body art designs.

          The art of henna designs go back to 5000 years ago in Pakistan, India, Africa, and the Southeast, but there’s records of it even going back to 9000 years ago! It all started when people found out about the cooling properties of this plant that would cool the body when it was applied. Because of this, in hot places, people smeared it all over themselves to keep cool. Then, instead of just spreading it on themselves, they’d make it into intricate, beautiful designs, which soon became to have more meaningfulness.

         Henna is traditionally used for special occasions like holidays, birthdays and weddings in Africa, Pakistan, India, and the Middle East. It was also proven to have some medical benefits, too. Henna is considered an herb, and has long been known to have healing qualities. In ancient times it has been used for headaches, stomach pains, burns (including sunburns), open wounds, as a fever reducer, athlete’s foot and even the prevention of hair loss. It is also a sunblock and has been used on the noses of animals to prevent them from getting sunburnt.

Now that you know about the story of henna, spread it around and share this with someone else!