Q:

What is mendhi art?

A:

Mendhi, often spelled "mehndi," art is an Indian hand-painting art using henna to create intricate, often ritual, designs on the hands, lower arms and sometimes feet. An Indian bride traditionally has her hands decorated with mendhi for her wedding day. The use of mendhi art to celebrate special occasions has spread over time from Southeast Asia to the Middle East and Northern Africa.

Mendhi paint is made from crushed henna leaves blended with eucalyptus oil, water or tea to create a paste; different blends can create a variety of earth-tone colors from black to henna red or yellow. The mendhi artist applies this paste with a toothpick, coarse brush, or a squeeze bottle or cone, creating intricate leafy, floral, or abstract patterns. When the design is complete, the artist wraps it in plastic or gauze to trap body heat, helping the henna dye to set. Two to six hours later, the wrap comes off and the paste is washed away. The temporary tattoo lasts up to three weeks if it is kept properly moisturized.

Indian and Middle Eastern mendhi uses traditional designs with ritual meaning. However, Westerners who try mendhi art, however, are interested in the beauty rather than the meaning, so designs tend to be very different.


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