Thursday, March 17, 2011

Beautiful Belly

The ancient art of henna body painting has been an important part of cultural celebration in India, Africa and the Middle East from as far back as 1200 BC.  Henna is a plant that can be used to make a red dye, which is then painted on the body as tattoo-like art.  Unlike a tattoo, it's temporary and fades in one to three weeks.  A nice alternative for the fickle.  It can also be used as a natural hair dye, but test it out before trying your whole head because the resulting color does not always look so...natural.  In recent times (as in the last decade) henna has become popular in Western countries, the United States included.  We just took many thousands of years to catch on.

What does any of this have to do with pregnancy and/or babies?!

Well, part of the henna trend is painting pregnant bellies.  The bigger the bump the more thin the skin is stretched and the better the henna dye works its magic.  Traditionally ornate burgundy patterns are meant to glorify and honor the beauty of carrying a child.  I love the intended symbolism - at the most bloated, enormous moment of your pregnancy this art celebrates the beauty of reproduction, with your huge stomach as the joyous centerpiece.

If you have just envisioned something that resembles a finger-painted whale, your wrong.  I swear.

This gorgeous baby bump was painted with the help of a henna kit from Henna Deva.  The crafter behind this Etsy shop tells me that her Pregnancy Henna Kit was designed for very simple use by any beginner.  She has over ten years of experience as a professional henna artist and was incredibly generous with her knowledge, so don't be shy to contact her.

Also check out Mehndi: The Timeless Art of Henna Painting by Loretta Roome - a book that incorporates the history, the spiritual importance and a how-to guide of henna.

Something new, something different.

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