The Cultural Art Of Henna

A trip to Tunisia includes history, hospitality, sun and sea, and finding that special part of the culture that grabs your attention and creates a lasting impression you later tell family and friends back home about.

With Tunisians’ talent for creating beautiful art, a popular new trend growing amongst visitors to Tunisia is getting a hand-painted henna tattoo. The tattoo is temporary, lasting for one to three weeks, and allows the barer to return home adorned with a piece of culture right on their own skin.

This special art form has been a part of the Tunisian culture for hundreds of years. Traditionally it has been a way of adorning brides for the wedding day. This is still practiced today with brides having their hands and feet, shoulders, and chest decorated for wedding festivities. Mothers, sisters, aunts, and close friends of the bride and groom also join in this cultural practice. Henna is also a part of summertime activities in Tunisia. The rich henna is good for the skin, keeping hands and feet from drying and cracking in the hot summer weather.

Henna is made out of crushed leaves and twigs of the henna plant, which grows in North Africa. By mixing the dry powder with hot water, a paste is made. When this paste is applied to the skin, (like decorating a cake), and left for a few hours, it leaves an orange to dark maroon stain on the skin that slowly fades in 7 to 21 days. The less soap and water applied to the tattooed area, the longer the henna color will stay.

Tunisians are very gifted and talented people. From hand decorated pottery to intricate hand woven carpets, it seems Tunisians have an eye for creating beautiful patterns and designs. The art of henna tattooing is another way Tunisians display talent through their cultural heritage.