Techniques of Mehendi Making

Greetings to all my charming readers! Last week I told you about Mehendi’s journey through the pages of history, and today I am going to be tell you about the progression in techniques of drawing Mehendi.


Many, many years ago, long before the Mehendi cones came to be, Mehendi was drawn just by hands. It required a lot of precision, dedication, and patience. Drawing Mehendi by hands was a skill known to a very select few and hence, Mehendi making was an art that was much revered back then. To make Mehendi by hands, the Mehendi mixture needed to have the perfect stickiness – too thick and it would be difficult to apply, too thin and it would just smudge. An easy way to check the mixture was to pinch some between index finger and thumb, and to open the fingers apart. The right mixture would create very thin threads between fingers.


As you can see, this was a very gruelling task, right from making the Mehendi mixture; not everyone was proficient at it and so Mehendi was only made during weddings and other special occasions.


Then came the art of making Mehendi using matchsticks. This concept was very similar to that of quill and ink! A matchstick was used as a quill, dipped in Mehendi mixture. To draw a Mehendi using matchsticks, the mixture did not need to be as thick as it would be needed for hand drawn Mehendi. On the contrary, it was very thin, almost fluidic, like the ink would be, but required a steady hand to create smooth flowing lines. Induction of matchstick allowed rather easy creation of intricate patterns. By no means it was a child’s play, but it did not take as much time as hand making would.


Matchsticks were taken over by Wooden Stamps. The advent of synthetic Mehendi was almost attune to the introduction of Stamp Mehendi. Synthetic Mehendi and stamping go hand in hand as it is very difficult, if not impossible, to use the natural Mehendi mixture with the stamp. The nature of stamps do not allow the thick Mehendi mixture to be used and so synthetic Mehendis which can be liquid, stick to the stamp and can be imprinted easily on the skin.


Stamps took away the skill that was required to create the intricate patterns as they were already created on the stamps. The so called Mehendi artists had to just dip the stamps in the mixture and then stamp the skin, and it was done. There is no skill or precision required. This, along with the low cost of synthetic Mehendi, made the whole thing much cheaper and less time consuming. But there is a major drawback to this. Synthetic Mehendis can cause skin reactions and long term skin ailments. Watch this video to find out why to avoid synthetic Mehendis.


This brings us to modern times. A Mehendi Connoisseur will now prefer a Mehendi made with Mehendi Cones. There are ready made cones available in the market these days, but there is no surety of type of Mehendi being used in such cones. I, along with many other Mehendi Artists, prefer to make my own cones, with completely natural and safe Mehendi. A Mehendi cone is filled with Mehendi and has a tapered end with a very tiny hole to squeeze the Mehendi out of. This tiny hole allows to create very fine lines, and hence much more complicated patterns which can be seen clearly. This also reduced thesmudging that used to occur with other methods in the past. Cones have revived the intricate art of Mehendi making, and at the same time made it accessible to the masses. One can easily learn how to create a Mehendi using cones and then the designs that can be made are only limited by the power of imagination that one possesses.


The age of technology has had its impact on Mehendi making as well. One can create a design of Mehendi on a computer and then print a stencil of it. There are thousands and millions of ready-made stencil designs available on the internet that you can download and print yourself or you can just buy online some plastic stencils instead!


Today, getting a Mehendi is not as niche as it used to be, it has become very accessible. Mehendi was once reserved for very special occasions like weddings and festivities, but today Mehendi is an everyday affair; it has come to a point where it is considered to be used as a tattoo, and that too by men as well!!

The Story of Henna

Mehendi is the art of decoratively applying Henna on the skin, and is generally applied during festive occasions, and most important of it being weddings. Mehendi is an intricate part of a wedding, and is considered to one of the ornaments of the bride, without which her attire is incomplete.


Today, the art of applying Mehendi has spread all across the world, and in many countries, Mehendi is also known as Henna Tattoo, with recent trend of getting a Mehendi not only on hands and feet, but also on backs as well.


But Mehendi has come a long way, and has overcome the test of time to gain such praise from people of different ethnicities.


Although the genesis of using Henna for Mehendi is long lost in sands of time, the earliest use of Henna is seen on the bodies of Egyptian mummies. It is believed that Henna plants had their origins in Egypt, and were carried to the Indian subcontinent around 700 AD, where Henna was started to be used as a decorative accessory. Apart from its decorative uses, Henna has also many medicinal properties, which is also major contributing factor for its growing popularity.


The use of Mehendi was prevalent in the Mughal Era and their ceremonial decorations for women. The Mughal empire had a notable role in spreading the use of Mehendi. As the art of Mehendi started spreading, the designs started becoming intricate and more admirable.


Around 17th Century, the barber’s wife would be called for creating Mehendi designs on the hands of women. The tradition of applying Mehendi to a bride is to decorate her skin. There is a dedicated event, on the night prior to the wedding day, called Mehendi in which sophisticated Mehendi designs are made on the bride’s hands and feet, and smaller, simpler designs are made for the guests. The traditions goes that, deeper the colour of the Mehendi, more the groom would love the bride, and that as long as the bride’s hands are stained with Mehendi, she would not be asked or allowed to do household chores. So would be brides, remember this tip, let your Mehendi stain deeper and richer, so that you won’t have to do the housework for longer.


Today, Mehendi is not limited to just weddings and festive occasions, women get themselves adorned with a beautiful Mehendi, without the need of any festivities. Girls get a Mehendi for their birthdays, dates, anniversaries or even just because they like it. Mehendi is not limited only to women these days, men have also started turning towards Mehendi, as a form of temporary tattoo, which they can change every few weeks!


The colour of Mehendi maybe dark, but its future is bright, very bright!