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Henna tattoos in Morocco: what are they and where to get one done?

For many ladies, henna tattoo in Morocco is a popular tourist destination. For strictly cosmetic reasons, but also so they can have a firsthand look at one of the nation’s oldest customs and have a brief encounter with the tattoo artists, who are typically Moroccans. Pay close attention to the next paragraphs if you’re also interested in using this natural substance to cover a portion of your body; we’ll give you all the details.

How do henna tattoos work

Henna is a natural pigment that is directly applied to the skin in Morocco and other nations (mostly in North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia) to produce eye-catching tattoos. Since this dye is made from this plant, it is also frequently referred to in English as hena, gena, or, more specifically, Lhna. specifically from the crushed petiole and the dried leaf. However, caution must be exercised while selecting henna because it is not always organic, as will be shown later.

In Morocco, women virtually exclusively get henna tattoos. It is true that some men also opt to dye their beards, but this practice is rather uncommon in Morocco and is more common in nations like India, Pakistan, or the Middle East.

In Morocco, henna tattoos are typically reserved for significant events like weddings; in this scenario, the bride can choose to get a tattoo that matches the embroidery on her dress, producing a very beautiful look. Additionally typical are henna tattoos for circumcisions or other significant occasions. In any event, since they are now a service that is heavily centered on tourism, international ladies can utilize them whenever they choose.

How long does a henna tattoo last?

Henna tattoos, as you are aware, fade progressively over time and are not permanent. This time frame varies based on several variables. Particularly, the type of henna used, the area of the body where the tattoo is placed, how much friction the tattoo creates with clothing or other items, and the type of skin each person possesses. If the henna is natural, it often lasts for three to four days, sometimes even a week or longer. Although chemical black henna can persist for up to a month, it is not advised to use it, as we will see below.

It is advised to wait several hours after the tattoo has been applied and never rub the area with anything on your body, including your clothes. This will help the tattoo last longer. Additionally, it is best to avoid washing that area of the body in the hours that follow.

The history of henna tattoos

Tattoos made using henna are not new. Since Egyptian mummies have been found with their toenails already covered in this dye, it is thought that they have been used for roughly 5,000 years. This preparation of the departed for his journey to the afterlife is likely why it was done.

But it was also utilized in Ancient Egypt for more commonplace, useful, and therapeutic reasons. It was employed, for instance, as a remedy for inflammatory fungal skin conditions. It was used to stop diarrhea since astringent characteristics were also attributed to it. Additionally, this dye was utilized as a potential cure for snake and scorpion bites.

This knowledge and its applications were probably “inherited” by the Arab civilization, which helped it survive into the following ages. Its manufacturing was really documented in several locations, including the Kingdom of Granada up until the 15th century. Henna eventually made its way to many other places and civilizations, including India.

Henna has been used in Morocco for generations not just for tattoos but also as a dye for wool and other materials like leather and fur, either for accessories or even drumheads.

It is advised to wait several hours after the tattoo has been applied and never rub the area with anything on your body, including your clothes. This will help the tattoo last longer. Additionally, it is best to avoid washing that area of the body in the hours that follow.

Colors and designs of henna tattoos

It is typical to incorporate Arabic words, frequently drawn from the Koran, or even numbers thought to have magical properties into the designs made on the skin in Morocco. Geometric and vegetal compositions predominate.

These patterns frequently feature bouquets of flowers and/or foliage. The most frequent geometric shapes include squares, triangles, crosses (without religious overtones), six- and eight-pointed stars, spirals, circles, and rhombuses, which are all woven together to form a tight, symmetrical pattern. Some depictions of the sun, moon, or other special shapes for Moroccan society, like the Hand of Fatima, as well as eyes, whether or not they are connected to the design of the Hand of Fatima, are also included.

Henna tattoos in Morocco place a strong emphasis on color because the natural shade is a reddish brown that shows beautifully on fair skin. There are moreover lighter, yellowish variants that frequently contrast well with darker skin tones. On the other hand, you should be cautious if you find black henna since it can be chemical henna, as we explain to you at the end of this article.

The actual meaning of Henna tattoos: the baraka

Henna tattoos may appear to everyone to be just lovely skin decorations, but in truth, they may conceal deeper meanings. Some of them react to the customs that Moroccan culture accepts, while others react to the meaning the tattoo’s owner wants to assign to it.

Certain patterns are often worn because they are believed to contain baraka: this concept in Islam can be translated as a positive power flowing from Allah. As such, they can be attributed a protective power over the wearer, especially to ward off the evil eye, witchcraft or disease.

Sometimes the baraka connected to a henna tattoo might summon a force more akin to a talisman, luring auspicious omens. specifically when that woman and her husband are trying to start a family, specifically in relation to fertility.

In this sense, it is also widely considered that a woman’s marital status in Morocco is related to the body parts that have been tattooed with henna: young women who simply adorn their hands are single, whereas women who tattoo their hands and feet are already wed.

Henna tattoos: how do they work and how long do they last?

Henna tattoos are only superficial, both in Morocco and elsewhere. To put it another way, no sharp objects are used to inject the dye into the dermis; instead, a syringe without a needle, which resembles a “small pastry bag,” is used to produce the design painlessly and comfortably. Henna tattoos have a particular sense of relaxation as a result, especially right after they are applied.

In Morocco, henna tattoo artists are always female. They create their designs “freehand,” using a steady hand, technical talent, and patience. They rarely use stencils or other tools.

It can be difficult to anticipate how long a tattoo artist will need to complete her work, though she may give a rough time estimate before beginning, depending on the size and complexity of the drawing. Typically, it takes 5 to 10 minutes, although it occasionally takes longer.

Where to get a henna tattoo in Morocco

It can be difficult to anticipate how long a tattoo artist will need to complete her work, though she may give a rough time estimate before beginning, depending on the size and complexity of the drawing. Typically, it takes 5 to 10 minutes, although it occasionally takes longer.

Where can I get a tattoo on my body?

In Morocco, the hands—either one or both hands—are the body part most frequently tattooed with henna. Applying a tattoo to the back of the hand with a design that extends from the wrist to the middle fingers is the easiest and most covert option.

Although the palm of the hand is a part more exposed to contact with objects and consequently more vulnerable to wear, it is also possible to make a tattoo covering the full-back. Henna can sometimes be used on the nails, though it’s more common to use it on the skin.

Another body part that allows for beautiful and eye-catching henna tattoos in Morocco is the feet. In this instance, the design frequently encompasses the instep and a portion of the back. Along with the toes, the ankle is typically covered in these tattoos as well, but in this instance, the soles of the foot are typically left unadorned due to wear and visibility issues.

The most brave can, however, choose henna tattoos that extend past the wrist and ankle, hitting the forearm and lower portion of the shins. Since they mirror their own design, the latter is intriguing for individuals who prefer wearing sandals with a tribal flair.

Henna tattoos are less frequently applied to the face or other areas of the body because they are less visible to others. However, given that this business has shifted in recent years to focus more on foreign ladies, it is also feasible to locate tattoo artists who place their designs, for instance, on the elbow or mid-leg.
In addition to all of this, keep in mind what was said above: some men in other nations use henna dying, specifically for their beards. They do this to make it develop a highly distinctive reddish-brown hue that contrasts with their skin, face, and hair.

In which places and cities can I get a henna tattoo?

Henna tattoos are fairly common in Morocco, as you’ll soon discover when you visit; you can find this service in practically any city, especially ones that see a lot of tourist traffic. The most traditional way to purchase one is on the street. In the medina, there are many kiosks where you may visit and simultaneously decide on a design and a price.

You can do this, for instance, in Marrakech’s renowned Jemaa el-Fna plaza as well as in the promenades of Atlantic coast locations like Asilah and in the old souks of other cities. Many times, it is the tattoo artists themselves who “attack” their potential customers by persistently pitching their services.

But in recent years, more expert tattoo parlors have appeared, offering clients spaces where they may have their tattoos in a more private and peaceful setting, with a pre-determined price list and better hygienic circumstances.
A special mention should be made of the “henna café,” a sort of establishment where henna tattoos are applied in Morocco while also providing a lunch service in a casual setting. In this manner, the company can take a break while waiting, and the tattooed woman can finish by letting her tattoo dry for a time. Even though it is still in its infancy, this type of restaurant is starting to gain popularity in towns like Marrakech.

Natural henna or chemical black henna?

As previously stated, natural henna is a dye made from the henna plant, Lawsonia inermis, and does not harm the skin. Its reddish-brown tint makes it fairly simple to identify.

However, health officials warn against using toxic black henna and urge caution. Its name is self-explanatory: it has a chemical makeup due to the addition of other synthetic ingredients to conventional henna. P-phenylenediamine, often known as PPD, is the most hazardous of all; usage on the skin is prohibited in the European Union, for instance. This is due to the fact that it may induce allergic reactions of varied degrees of severity, including as itching, redness, scarring, discoloration, or even permanent sensitization.

Henna is given a black hue by PPD, a chemical dye, which helps it stand out more on the skin and gives it a glossier texture. However, the skin may suffer greatly as a result. Thus, it is advised to stay away from getting a henna tattoo in this shade, especially if you have sensitive skin or are prone to allergic reactions.

Contact us if you plan to plan your vacation with us and wish to have a henna tattoo in Morocco. Although it is not a service we offer directly, our personnel will do everything they can to assist you by giving you advise and suggestions about the location and the kind of service.

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