Arabic mehndi refers to temporary body art painted on the hands or feet with henna paste. The paste is a dye that soaks into the skin and remains for several days. Intricate designs are traditionally painted on Indian and Arabic brides. A dark color is considered good luck for the couple's future.
The main differences between Arabic mehndi and other types are the designs. Arabic mehndi uses trailing, bold flower designs with open spaces on only one side of the hands and feet. Mehndi paste can be applied with a henna cone or a squeezable plastic bottle with a narrow tip on the cap.
Things You'll Need
- Henna powder
- Eucalyptus oil
- Lemon juice
- Teabags (black tea)
- Hot water
- Soft-tip purple laundry pen
- Tracing paper
- Roll-on deodorant
- Mehndi design reference
Learning Arabic Mehndi by Studying
Study examples of Arabic and Indian mehndi designs (see "References").
Note that Indian mehndi designs are intricate, with fill-in designs between the larger pictures. Indian mehndi leaves little skin showing. Indian mehndi also uses motifs like peacocks and human figures.
See that Arabic designs are spaced further apart and do not cover as much skin as the Indian mehndi. Arabic patterns leave more skin showing than Indian patterns. Arabic mehndi consists mostly of floral designs; animal and human figures are not usually used.
Note that Indian designs consist of many small shapes, while Arabic designs consist of several large shapes with large areas that are completely filled in with henna. Large shapes in Indian mehndi often have patterns inside them rather than a solid color.
Purchase "Mehndi: The Timeless Art of Henna Painting" or find a copy in your library. This is an informative reference for traditional henna application and contains information on what various motifs and symbols represent.
Learning Arabic Mehndi by Doing
Find a mehndi design in the "References" section and print it out. Wash the area to be painted with soap and water. Dry thoroughly with a soft cloth.
Copy the design from the paper onto the desired area with the laundry pen. This will be a guideline for applying the henna. To avoid drawing freehand, trace the design onto tracing paper with the laundry pen, then apply roll-on deodorant to the skin where the tattoo will be. Lay the tracing paper on the area, marker-side down, and press gently. Wait about two minutes before gently peeling the paper away. This will transfer the design from paper to skin.
Place two or more teabags with hot water into the mug. Allow the tea to steep for about 15 minutes, until it is dark. Put henna powder in a bowl and add about 10 drops each of eucalyptus oil and lemon juice. Spoon in tea and stir until a thin paste is formed.
Spoon paste into the applicator. Trace the outline of the design with paste. When coloring the leaves and flowers, you may fill them in completely with paste or just trace the outline. Allow the paste to dry overnight. Do not get the paste wet.
Wipe away the paste with a soft, dry cloth. The henna should leave behind a dark design on the skin. If the design is not dark enough, reapply the paste overnight.
Tips & Warnings
- Make sure you are not allergic to eucalyptus oil, henna or lemon juice by applying a small amount of each in different places on the inside of your arm. If rash or irritation occurs, do not apply henna.