Henna Designs

Explore the World of Henna

image CC by @I. image CC by @I

An ancient form of body adornment, henna designs have many significant meanings.

While the art of henna tattooing is a cultural practice that dates back over 5,000 years, henna tattooing today is used as a popular form of expression for luck and happiness and can be found in many ceremonial practices, including Blessingways, marriages, births and battle.

Most all Henna artists will suggest that the practice of Mehndi is freehand and intuitive.

Applying henna can be a deeply moving and communicative experience for both the bearer and the artist and opens a spiritual connection where a gifted blessing can be received.

Traditional Henna Placement

While henna designs can be applied nearly anywhere on the body, certain locations have special meaning and significance.

Henna that is placed on the palms of the hand allow the bearer to receive and offer blessings. Popular henna deigns for the palms include mandalas, sun and flower images.

Henna placed on the top of the hands can be suggestive of protection and often includes shield designs.

For men, the right hand is considered projective whereas the left hand for women is receptive.  The feet are truly a spiritual place to henna, as they connect the body, mind and spirit with the earth.

Popular Henna Design Meanings

  1. Sahasara: This ancient symbol unites the soul with a divine sense of force.
  1. Peacock: The proud peacock symbolizes beauty.
  2. Swans: Symbolize success and beauty.
  3. Birds:Birds serve as the messengers between heaven and earth.
  4. Dragonflies and butterflies: Symbolize change and rebirth.
  5. Paisley designs:Intricate and scrolling paisleys can represent fertility and luck.
  6. Flowers: Flowers and petals symbolize pure happiness and joy.
  1. Vines and leaves: Vines and leaf henna designs often represent devotion and vitality and are perfect for marriage celebrations.
  2. Eye: Ancient eyes in Mehndi art often represent the reflection of the evil eye, turning any evil wishes back onto the gazer while offering a spiritual form of protection. Popular for weddings or any other of life's journeys, a Mehndi eye is a comforting companion.
  3. Snakes and lizards:Reptiles are often considered the seekers of enlightenment in henna practices.

Mehndi Celebrations

The art of Mehndi can be a very open and relaxing experience for the artist. Known as "henna sessions", some artists spend days depicting their blessings and wishes onto the skin in a time-honored tradition.

For Hindu brides, henna is applied during a Mehndi Rat session, where the bride-to-be is told all the secrets of a happy marriage and home by her surrounding female family and friends.

In Moroccan celebrations. henna is applied on both men and women in many forms of talismans for luck and protection. Moroccan celebrations can last for days and usually include food, dancing and music as the art is applied liberally on bodies to offer protection.

Learn the Craft

The best way to master the art of henna is to practice and learn the significance of the patterns and symbols traditionally used in Mehndi.

Once you've learned a few basic sets you can practice the art on family and friends and perhaps even host your own celebration to share the gift of this ancient art.