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How These Glamorous Henna Artists Are Modernizing Traditional Body Art

It is difficult to determine the exact origin of ancient body art. It has been speculated that when people think of the word “perfect beauty,” Cleopatra may be the first name that comes to mind, as she adorned her body with it. Scholars generally agree that the Egyptians painted the hair and nails of the dead with henna before mummification and burial. Others claim that the earliest recorded application of the art form exists in ancient Indian texts and postulate that mehendi (known as henna in Hindi) originated in India.

(from left) Zahra Khamissa, Nourie Flayhan and Azra Khamissa spend a day in Al Awir, On the outskirts of Dubai, discover the intimate pleasures of henna.

by Farah Al Qasimi

Apparently, sisters Azra and Zahra Khamissa (formerly known as @dr.azra) and artist Nourie Flayhan take this most revered vegetable dye seriously as they collectively try to understand the difference between India and the Middle East I learned about its history during a patched Zoom call. For millennials and Gen Z, who consider henna to be of “special occasions only” status, Dr Azra posted a photo of a camel’s face being stroked with mehendi-stained fingertips against the backdrop of the arid desert of Dubai, So as to become a staunch fighter. Since then, the chiropractor-turned-designer-turned-artist has sparked a revolution with her minimalist and graphic designs, taking henna beyond its traditional roots into a style that many young people now consider “cool.” ” art form.

A hand in concentric circles with henna adorned with beautiful shells, sunshine Glitter in the background.

Farah Al Qasimi’s video

Azra smiled humbly through the screen, insisting she had no intention of leading the new charge of henna that everyone praised. It all started by accident a few years ago when she was browsing Instagram at a friend’s wedding, looking for simple designs that a novice like herself could easily draw on her hands. “I couldn’t find any, so I decided to draw a traditional circle and paint on my fingertips,” she recalls.

inspired by nature, beauty and God Miracle, Azra Khamissa, a henna artist and part-time chiropractor, is reinterpreting henna for the modern man.

by Farah Al Qasimi

“Coincidentally, next week I have a photo shoot for my handbag collection and the model is too late, so we end up taking pictures that I have drawn Hands. The photos turned out beautifully and got featured in iD. After that, whenever there is When it comes to friends’ weddings, I always refer to Tunisian or Libyan designs instead of doing the typical Indian or Arabic designs because they are so minimal. Slowly, I start adding my own touches – a little change here and there – Because I had to wear henna for a wedding occasion, and I didn’t want to show off a traditional design. So really, all of this happened because I had to find a design language that fit my aesthetic.”

Henna is not a big part of Nourie Flayhan’s culture but growing up in Kuwait, the Lebanese illustrator came to appreciate the tradition of seeing all her Kuwaiti friends adorn their hands during the annual Muslim Eid al-Fitr . Kuwait’s large South Asian community also meant her Indian friends would often return from their travels with henna-stained arms and feet. “I remember feeling like it was almost a rite of sisterhood because they were bound together by this shared design,” she laughs. “I would often sit in class and doodle designs on my hands and knees. My friends would encourage me to render them with henna tubes, but I never really understood or identified with traditional designs, although I could appreciate the Artistry.” Years later, that changed when she met Azilah on a visit to Dubai. “We were at a mutual friend’s house on movie night, and she was sitting in a corner, quietly applying henna to her hands. When she was done, I glanced over and saw the leopard prints on the back of her palms—unlike the usual Flowers are different than swirls—and the connection was made immediately. I was fascinated by how she used traditional mediums to express herself.” That admiration would later culminate in a beautiful collaboration, when Flayhan, commissioned by Azra, combined a design inspired by Sticker template for “tatreez”, Arabic is a style of cross-stitch embroidery unique to the Levant region for easy application of henna Azra prepared mehendi cones.

“Mehendi Laga Ke Rakhna” from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge 2016 (1995) and Zubeidaa from “Mehndi Hai Rachnewali” (1995) to Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani2016 (2013) and from Ae Dil Hai Mushkil2016 (1995), some of the most iconic henna moments of the Indian film industry have been on the mood boards of Real Movies Top brides are inspired by real weddings of A-listers like Anushka Sharma, Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif, Alia Bhatt and Kiara Advani. Zahra Khamissa, an author and creative strategist who often retreats to her room for henna treatments after her sister Azra retires, agrees. “Nuri and I discussed our Bollywood obsession at length and we both agreed that Bollywood can have lunch with Hollywood if given the chance. It exposes the world to henna-d hands and mehendi rituals and is responsible for Create a blueprint for the social significance of henna.”

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