Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Henna

Here in Afghanistan the people have the custom of putting henna in their hair, in their beards, on their finger nails, on the palms of their hands, all in the name of beauty. It gives the hair, fingernails and skin a reddish tint, depending on how much you use.

I've seen a few soldiers with it in their hair and on their hands but have never been in a position to take any pictures. At the humanitarian visit there was this Afghan National Police officer there with it in his hair. I snapped a few photographs of him so you could get an idea of what it looks like.

When women get married, Wais tells me that they paint these really intricate patterns on the palms of their hands. The henna stains the hands and the patterns stay for several weeks after. He says that if they're done well, they can be quite beautiful.

I've seen a few soldiers with red fingernails. If you didn't know what it was you'd think it was a reddish/orange fingernail polish. And if you didn't know that it was cultrually acceptable here you'd think it was weird (OK it still looks weird) but it's one of those things unique to their culture.

Anyway, just a small cultural lesson for everyone.

8 comments:

Static Brain said...

I have seen the intricate henna tattoos in Mexico on many young women. It is also culturally acceptable there. I have also seen women from India who use the henna too. Used very sparingly it highlights blond hair and makes the blonde brighter and mor intense. When used heavily it causes the red you see in that man's hair. I used to use henna on my hair very lightly to make the blonde highlights brighter. That is really interesting those photos you took.

Anonymous said...

Ew, why would people want red hair, etc.?

gfarhaaz said...

apparantly mexico and spain once use to be muslim countries before their rights became lost and they where oppressed. Probably they are still attatched to their cultures, its nice to see differnt cultures that arent modernised, otherwise we all look the same and the tourism industry would dissolve into ashes lol. people want to see authentic tranditions, over every corner there is a modern fashion shop. dam i hate western countries. they are all the same, nothing antique or authentic.

gfarhaaz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gfarhaaz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gfarhaaz said...

i also use the henna on my hair and it turns a beautiful burgundy colour. i use it on my nails for a deep dark blood red stain. :) and on my hands for decoration.

Mike Hussey said...

The modern style statement covers henna flower tattoo in different colors and designs on various body-parts, including hands, arms, wrists, shoulders, upper back portions, and different other selected areas.

Anonymous said...

Henna is a plant, which naturally stains a brownish-red, as seen on the soldier above. It does not bleach or dye hair blonde - some products are sold as henna in the US and Europe which have other herbs, such as chamomile or walnut, in them and thus stain the hair different colors.

Spain was once occupied by Moors, it is true. Mexico was not. During Moorish occupation, henna was used in Spain, and banned by the Inquisition.

www.hennatribe.org has more information if you are interested in learning about henna or finding henna in your area (USA).