Henna tattoo designs – origin, popular motifs and their meaning (2023)


Henna tattoo designs, also called bio-tattoos, henna or Mehndi is a traditional kind of body painting with natural paint – henna. This is a beautiful, artistic alternative to traditional tattoos. Fancy motifs can decorate your back, your feet, hands and your arms and the skin is not harmed. Body painting is a kind of temporary tattoo that lasts for a maximum of five weeks so if you want to emphasize a certain body part you can do it with a henna tattoo.

Tattoos are a beautiful body art popular among men and women of all ages. Since ancient times, people have decorated their bodies in a variety of ways. Tattooing is one of the oldest methods and had a special significance but nowadays many people choose it exclusively for its aesthetic function. However, a tattoo is usually very painful and may have a high price depending on the size and design. Those who do not want a permanent tattoo can opt for a temporary one and perhaps the safest way to beautify the body is to apply a henna drawing on the skin.

Table of Contents

  • 1 Advantages of henna tattoo designs
    • 1.1 How to prolong the life of henna tattoos?
    • 1.2 What are the most popular henna tattoo designs?

Advantages of henna tattoo designs


As you know, tattooing is done by injecting paint under the skin and it lasts forever. To get rid of a tattoo you need to undergo quite a long procedure. Sometimes, when you are not sure about the design of your permanent tattoo the best and most acceptable method is to apply a henna design. At present, henna is actively used for tattooing. Of course, it is not so universal and does not offer a huge variety of colors, but it has different shades.

There are some considerations that you need to keep in mind before applying a temporary henna image on your body. Henna can not stay on the body for very long. Pay special attention to the place of application – the most suitable places are hands and feet. Try to avoid exposing the tattoo under sun’s rays, hot water and avoid active soap as well.

Henna tattoo designs offer a number of advantages:

(Video) What is the history and symbolism behind henna body art?

On the first place, the main advantage of henna tattoos is the fact that henna is absolutely harmless to health and this is why it is used for fake freckles, for example. Henna itself does not cause allergies. They can only be caused by chemicals and dyes, which are added to give the henna a different color.

The color of natural henna is never blue, violet, pink or green. Any of these colors contains pigments and often harmful elements are mixed with henna. Henna with additives can also leave burns, so it is better to use pure henna, adding to it natural oils, tea or wine.

Another major advantage of henna is that the designs are bloodless since there is no need of a needle. In addition to that, the risk of hepatitis is, practically, zero. The application procedure is absolutely painless.

Last, but not least, is the fact that the symbol will not remain with you for ever and even if you do not like the drawing, it will wash out.

Henna drawings are inexpensive and you have the chance to try different designs, even decorate the tattoo with sequins or rhinestones with the help of specially designed glue=

When you go to an artist or in a salon you will be offered catalog of designs to choose from and most studios have an extensive variety of original tattoos.

How to prolong the life of henna tattoos?

True or not, there is a saying that the henna drawings of Indian brides last for 2 months since from the moment the mehndi is applied to the moment when it disappears from their body, they are completely free from all domestic duties! During this whole period they devote themselves to getting acquainted with the new family. Nowadays noone will promise you such a long life of a henna tattoo. The average period for henna drawings is one or two weeks and many girls would like to know what factors affect and determine “the lifespan” of a henna design.

Location and density of the picture is one of the first factors that have great significance. Each part of the body reacts differently to the paint. For example, a drawing on the palms lasts 2-3 times longer than one on the wrist or shoulder. This is because the regeneration of the upper layer of the skin on the palms is slower. The density of the pattern is also of importance. In India, for examples, patterns are very dense and a large amount of color pigment penetrates into the skin, which, accordingly, lasts longer. Small drawings which are more of an accessory will last a short time as the pigment concentration is much lower.

Individual characteristics of the skin like how quickly skin cells regenerate, also affect the lifetime of a temporary tattoo. In addition to physiology, the time of the year also influences the process of regeneration – in winter this process is slower while in summer, on the contrary, it becomes more active. Another factor which is strictly individual is the tendency to sweat – the more a person sweats, the faster the color of the drawing goes. You can control the sweating by avoiding very hot food and drinks, too active or frequent workouts, sauna or a bath, etc. The level of skin pigmentation is another factor. It is like with sun tan – it sometimes goes off quickly, while some people keep it much longer – this is a genetic factor that can not be affected at all.

(Video) The Meaning Behind Indian Henna Designs

The frequency of contact with water and soap is another factor. As we mentioned – you should forget about long hot baths for a while, it’s better to replace them with a warm shower. Daily visits to a swimming pool or swimming in the sea will also significantly shorten the lifetime of your mehndi.

You can protect the pattern if you treat it with vegetable oil (preferably olive or coconut oil) or special mehndi oil before bathing or swimming. Keep in mind that if the picture is on the hands or the palms it is absolutely necessary to wear gloves when washing dishes or during any prolonged contact with water. It is crucial that you do not wet the place of the drawing at least 6-8 hours after application and if possible – for one whole day.

The type, quality and freshness of henna also affect the lifetime of the drawing. Usually, a colorful henna-based ink lasts no more than 4-5 days, and white henna – even less.As for natural henna, the finer the grind and the fresher the paint, the better it penetrates into the skin. The technology of henna making is also important. For example, essential oil in the composition expands the pores but good essential oils are quite expensive so some manufacturers save on them.

There is a misconception that black henna lasts longer than any other henna. This is only possible if there is a chemical additive, but you should remember that chemicals can cause an allergy and even a severe skin burn.

The method of application and care of the henna tattoo is one of the most crucial factors. This includes preparation of the skin, working conditions, colors in the drawing, proper completion of the process and further care.

What are the most popular henna tattoo designs?

Henna tattoo designs can be of any size and shape, and also contain any image that you can choose from a catalog of drawings in the studio or even something that you designed. You can have specific or abstract drawings applied and in this case there are no restrictions on the technique. Modern henna tattoos can be in the traditional Indian style, and any other images can be used if desired. These patterns are applied with special stencils. Therefore, even at home, you can make a beautiful temporary tattoo.

Everyone knows that tattoos, even if temporary, have a certain meaning. One big group of images features shapes with sharp corners – stars, squares, rhombus, triangular shapes, cross – which protect the person from evil spirits.

The second large group of henna images includes round shaped images, which are the embodiment of integrity, balance, perfection of man, completeness. In addition, they symbolize eternity, infinity, unity and one of the most popular designs all over the world is mandala.

Here are some of the most popular symbols and their meaning:

(Video) All About Henna Tattoos

Indian paisley is a floral ornament in the form of an elongated drop. This pattern was traditionally used to decorate the body of the bride. In ancient times, the symbol meant a wish for happiness to the young family, a sign of wealth and fertility. In India this is also one of the symbols for movement, development, energy while in Egypt the paisley is a sign of immortality.

Om symbol represents the beginning of the universe and its infinity. This is one of the most mysterious and mystical symbols, because it can be found in almost all the sacred writings of Ancient India. Lotus personifies life and harmony as well and there can be different variations.

Lotus flower is one of the most beautiful and gentle drawings. This is a symbol of purity, innocence and eternal life.

Spiral is another of the most ancient symbols. It represents the impact of living energy on a person.

Peacock – this graceful and beautiful bird was the symbol of the goddess Krishna in Ancient India. According to the legend, she perceived human life as a permanent holiday and joy and probably that is why the peacock became a symbol of immortality.

Hamsa symbolizes boundless patience and faith. In ancient India, this symbol was applied to the body as a talisman to protect the person from dark forces and evil spirits.

(Video) World Art for Kids - Henna Tattoo Designs and Traditions

Elephant is a symbol of intelligence, dignity and power. It is also a symbol of wisdom, foresight and a sense of proportion. God Ganesha, the patron of philosophy and the God of wisdom and innocence, is portrayed with an elephant’s head. In addition, an elephant is a symbol of longevity and immortality, because elephants live very long.

Here are some more of the popular henna tattoo symbols:

  • Flowers – joy and happiness;
  • A shell acts as a guardian against troubles;
  • The sun is a symbol of spiritual knowledge, life and immortality of the soul;
  • The moon is considered a symbol of female beauty;
  • The star means hope and is often a symbol of expectation;
  • A triangle will protect you from illnesses and evil eye.

Women of the East believe that mehndi brings happiness and protects from life’s misfortunes. In addition, the patterns on the delicate female skin draw the attention to the graceful hands and slender legs of the dancing girls.

Temporary henna tattoos can be done at home because this procedure is very simple and does not require any special tools. It takes only some free time and henna paste. You can decorate your hands, back, legs with intricate oriental patterns or simple geometric ones. Henna tattoos are the easiest, safest and cheapest way to decorate your body. Henna itself helps to keep the skin soft and gentle and it is not a surprise that henna tattoo designs are becoming more popular and the number of women wishing to make tattoos with henna grows every day.

(Video) The Art and History of Henna Workshop - 7/27/2021


What are the origins of henna tattoos? ›

The art of Henna—called mehndi in Hindi and Urdu—has been practiced in Pakistan, India, Africa, and the Middle East for over 5000 years. It was originally used for its natural cooling properties for the people living in hot desert climates.

What is the origin and meaning of henna? ›

The English name "henna" comes from the Arabic term الحناء (al-ḥinnā). The name henna also refers to the dye prepared from the henna plant and the art of temporary tattooingfrom those dyes. Henna has been used for centuries to dye skin, hair, and fingernails, as well as fabrics including silk, wool, and leather.

What is henna motif? ›

Common motifs found in henna hand designs include: flowers, paisley, tendrils, stars, vines, spirals, leaves, water drops, criss-crosses, waves, and more.

What is the history of henna designs? ›

Henna has reportedly been used for body art for at least 5,000 years and has a long history of migration and cultural interaction. Some scholars claim that the earliest documentation of henna uses is found in ancient Indian texts and images, indicating that mehandi as an art form may have originated in ancient India.

Do henna designs have meanings? ›


Designs vary from region to region and have different meanings for each culture. Meanings include good health, fertility, wisdom, protection and spiritual enlightenment. The most popular traditional use is tied closely with weddings and bridal preparation and these designs tend to be the most ornate.

Do henna tattoos have meanings? ›

Henna Tattoo Meaning

Henna is worn for important ceremonies, like weddings, and is believed to bring the wearer prosperity for their marriage. There are several designs to choose from, including traditional mehndi patterns, which are deeply symbolic and can also represent good health and happiness.

What is the full meaning of henna? ›

hen·​na ˈhe-nə : a reddish-brown dye that is used especially on hair and in temporary tattoos and is obtained from the leaves of an Old World tropical shrub or small tree.

Do henna tattoos have religious meaning? ›

People apply henna tattoo in various designs depicting different symbols and meanings. This richly beautiful art knows no boundaries in culture, ethnicity, gender, religious or spiritual beliefs. Henna is also applied on hair to get rid of many hair related problems.

What are the different types of henna designs? ›

  • Arabic Mehndi Design. Arabic mehndi designs are modern but at the same time unique. ...
  • Indian Mehndi Design. ...
  • Moroccan Mehndi Design. ...
  • Bridal Mehndi Design. ...
  • Jewellery Mehndi Design. ...
  • Tattoo Mehndi Design. ...
  • Western-style Mehndi Design. ...
  • African Mehndi Design.
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What does henna mean in Indian culture? ›

Mehndi, otherwise known as henna, is a paste associated with positive spirits and good luck. Indian Wedding tradition calls for a Mehndi ceremony to be held the night before the wedding as a way of wishing the bride good health and prosperity as she makes her journey on to marriage.

Is henna Indian or Egyptian? ›

Henna has been used since antiquity in ancient Egypt and Indian subcontinent to dye skin, hair and fingernails, as well as fabrics including silk, wool, and leather.

What is henna in the Bible? ›

The Hebrew word copher [henna] signifies 'an atonement or propitiation' and so may very well be applied to Christ, who is 'the propiatiation for our sins' and has made full atonement for them by 'the blood of his cross.

What religion does henna come from? ›

The Hindu marriage season is a special time for Henna tattoos or 'Mehendi. ' Hindus often use the term 'Mehendi' interchangeably with marriage, and Mehendi is considered among the most auspicious 'ornaments' of a married woman.

What is trending in henna 2022? ›

Giving your palms some steam with cloves also helps in ensuring that your henna turns out darker. Also, cutwork, jaali, bride or groom figures, baraat, and other wedding motifs are the top trending mehendi design for 2022.

What are the two types of henna? ›

There are mainly three variants of henna for beauty purposes: natural, neutral, and black henna. Natural, or red henna, is a pure form of henna and produces a rich, red-brown color. Natural henna is recommended for those who strive to dye their hair without causing any additional damage.

What does the flower mean in henna tattoo? ›

Flowers: "Flowers are common designs, as they represent beauty and new beginnings, with the most popular being the lotus flower. It's a symbol of grace, purity, and heart. Common placement for flowers is on the hands and back."

What does the tattoo with 3 dots mean? ›

The three dots tattoo represents “Mi Vida Loca,” which translates to “my crazy life.” It often means the struggles of the underprivileged and the minorities. It's a way of saying, “my life is crazy, but I'm thankful for it,” or “life may be crazy, but I'm still here.”

What does the moon mean in henna? ›

Moon: Enhance feminine energy, protection and health. Fertility, the power of change, good luck and psychic abilities. Om: Gratitude for all. The oneness of the universe. Peacock: Immortality and beauty.

Is henna Islamic or cultural? ›

Henna is a very important part of Islam, because it is used in various events, especially in weddings. Then, the use of henna was also adopted by Hindus and Buddhists. The use of henna for decorations on the hands and feet of married women has spread to most parts of the Muslim world and India.

What does red henna fingertips mean? ›

Moroccan women celebrating Id al-Adha wear henna to celebrate springtime and the sacrifice of an animal. When henna was first used, Egyptian men and women would dip their fingers into henna in order to have red tipped fingers. It was considered inappropriate to leave the house without henna'ed hands.

What is the real name for henna tattooing? ›

Otherwise known as mehndi, henna refers to the tradition of body painting with a paste made from the powdered, dried leaves of the henna plant, aka Lawsonia inermis.

What does the Bible say about tattoos? ›

Today they're common everywhere from Maori communities in New Zealand to office parks in Ohio. But in the ancient Middle East, the writers of the Hebrew Bible forbade tattooing. Per Leviticus 19:28, “You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves.”

Can non Muslims do henna? ›

Henna is more of a cultural practice, and is not strictly an Islamic practice. Yes, you are allowed to apply henna.

Which henna color is best? ›

Top 11 Henna For Hair In India This Year!
  • Shahnaz Husain Henna Precious Herb Mix. ...
  • NatureBay Naturals Henna Powder. ...
  • Biotique Bio Henna. ...
  • Nisha Natural Color Henna Powder – Black. ...
  • Sameera Herbal Hair Henna. ...
  • Banjara's Natural Henna. ...
  • Attar Ayurveda 100% Natural Henna Powder. ...
  • Himalaya Natural Shine Henna.
Jan 31, 2023

What is a Diwali henna? ›

"Diwali is one of the biggest Indian festivals celebrated throughout the world. It is traditional for women to adorn their hands and feet with henna as a way to show femininity and beauty and signify good luck and happiness." According to Hindu scriptures of the Ramayana, Diwali is a festival of joy and prosperity.

Is henna religious or cultural? ›

Religious significance

Henna has found its place in the Religions all around the world. Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism have mainly embraced henna in their cultures. Traditionally, Henna has been used for centuries for body decoration and is associated with many cultural celebrations.

Are henna tattoos Hindu? ›

Mehndi in Indian tradition is typically applied during Hindu weddings and festivals like Karva Chauth, Vat Purnima, Diwali, Bhai Dooj, Navraatri, Durga Pooja and Teej. Muslims in South Asia also apply mehndi during Muslim weddings as well as festivals such as Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha.

What the Bible Says About henna? ›

Henna was certainly known and used by ancient Israelites and is mentioned in the Song of Songs, one of the last books of the Hebrew Bible (written sometime in the 6th-4th centuries BCE): the speaker compares their beloved to a cluster of fragrant henna blossoms (more on this later).

Is henna in the Bible? ›

Henna was traced back to biblical times as it was mentioned in the bible several times in the Song of Songs. The one thing that you need to know about henna being referenced in the bible is that the word henna is not used instead the Hebrew word “kopher” is used.


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