By National Yemen
Engraving with Henna (Nakesh) is one of the most popular activities for Yemeni women, especially during weddings and Yemen’s major holidays. Because of its importance to Yemeni celebrations, an entire day of wedding celebrations is designated as “Henna Night.”
Henna is brown dough prepared by grinding the leaves of the Henna tree. Women then use the resulting paste to paint their hands and feet with intricate shapes and designs.
Hend is 29 years old, and recognized as an expert in Henna artistry. She described that in the past, women placed Henna on their palms and figures without paying attention to design. Therefore, any woman was capable of adorning herself with Henna without the help of experts. These days, painting with Henna has become a task that can only be completed by skilled girls with prodigious painting skills. Some of these girls use the internet to find new patterns and designs for their work.
Hend, who receives her customers in her house in Aden, added that customers become much more numerous during Eid holidays and wedding season. Painting with Henna has transformed from a traditional domestic pursuit to an aspect of beauty maintenance and fashion. Regarding prices, Hend says that “easy designs costs a few thousand Riyal ($5-15), while special paintings that require very talented girls can cost up to 15,000 Riyal ($75).
Om- Ameen, a housewife, pursues her interests in Henna in a new, innovative manner. She buys Henna dough of a special type, which allows the drawing of different and, some say, more beautiful shapes. These shapes are easier, and can be finished faster. With these Henna plasters, women don’t need to go to a beauty salon or a Henna expert, which often bear prohibitive costs.
But not everyone is looking for a quick, cheap fix. Arwa, an employee at a government institution in Aden, said that she sets aside part of her time during the Eid holiday to visit her talented Henna artist friend to have her hands painted. Because of her job, she only paints her hands during holidays. Arwa mentioned that, according to the inherited social customs in many areas in Yemen, painting the hands and feet with Henna is often only done for married women, while single girls can only put Henna on their Palms.