The art of impermanence

Beauty that is skin deep

I’m traveling at the moment in Rajasthan with Joel and Kate. I won’t be near the Internet much for several days. Enjoy preset blog posts.

Mehndi, or henna tattooing, is a common ritual for women in a variety of celebrations in India and, most frequently, is a part of wedding traditions for the bride and often the bride’s friends.

Hands and feet are the primary canvasses for the artist, who paints slowly and meticulously. Though many intricate designs today are applied with a stamp, the best artists still work freehand. It’s fascinating to watch the skilled practitioner; I sat for more than an hour watching the woman I photographed above in 2004 in Jaipur.

Two pieces of personal trivia:

  • Henna is also used by men as a form of hair dye. Travel in India at all and you’ll see men with bright red hair colored by henna. Many Indians think this is how I get my red goatee. Actually, that’s completely natural thanks to my mother’s once flaming red hair.
  • My second tattoo, a tribal design on my left calf that a few people have ribbed me about, was actually a henna tattoo done by an artist in 2002, before I had it carved permanently into my leg by a Russian who ran a shop near Anjuna beach.

I’m usually loathe to post vertical images, but I can’t resist with this one.

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