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Henna Painted Feet of a Bride in India. Postcard. Traditional Body Art.

Henna Painted Feet of a Bride in India. Postcard.

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Henna is a flowering plant, Lawsonia inermis, used since antiquity to dye skin, hair, fingernails, leather, and wool. The name is also used for dye preparations derived from the plant, and for the art of temporary tattooing based on those dyes.

Henna has been used since the Bronze Age to dye skin (including body art), hair, fingernails, leather, silk and wool. In several parts of the world it is traditionally used in various festivals and celebrations. There is mention of henna as a hair dye in Indian court records around 400 CE, in Rome during the Roman Empire, and in Spain during Convivienca. Use of henna for body art has enjoyed a recent renaissance due to improvements in cultivation, processing, and the emigration of people from traditional henna-using regions.

Henna has been used to adorn young women's bodies as part of social and holiday celebrations since the late Bronze Age in the eastern Mediterranean. The earliest text mentioning henna in the context of marriage and fertility celebrations comes from the Ugaritic legend of Baal and Anath, which has references to women marking themselves with henna in preparation to meet their husbands.

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