Henna origin- Where does it really come from?

Henna origin- Where does it really come from?

I have become really fascinated with my venture in henna-hood and I have been doing a lot of research about the different kinds of patterns and designs as well as the history of henna, as I think it has formed a part of many cultures that have spanned generations. My henna has arrived and I will start learning the patterns and designs over the next few weeks.

SInce I am going to become a henna tattoo artist, I think an in-depth study of henna as well as the history of henna should be noted and documented.

I love history and culture because it carries many traditions and it gives us a lot to learn about why certain cultures of groups of people act the way they do today or the social culture that is prevalent today.

In this post, I am going to trace the history of henna from it’s earliest periods, because it has been a part of many different religions and cultures from the earliest periods.

I have scrounged around on the internet quite a bit, and tried to find as much online information as possible, so that I could be as accurate as possible detailing the history of henna. The most valuable information that I have found is from an author who has her PhD in the subject of henna.

“Evaluating claims of ancient henna use and searching for origins” by Catherine-Cartright Jones is the title of the phd study that I have consulted much in this blog post.

When researching the history of henna, one of the underlying factors that gives us more information about it’s origin is the climate in which henna can thrive and grow.

So what kind of climate and soil does henna need to thrive in? Here are some key facts about soil and climate factors:

1.Henna naturally grows best in warmer climates.

2.Henna thrives in soils that dry out for extended periods.

3.Henna will withstand long droughts, so it is well suited to semi-arid regions with monsoonal


4.Henna is vulnerable to pests in damp soils and areas with floods or frequent precipitation.

therefore, according to Cartwright (Cartwright:2016:4) “The largest landmass that could support henna during the last ice age is the area of North Africa, and probability, if nothing else, suggests that henna developed in and dispersed from there.”

Why does evidence suggest that henna started growing here and during which period?

There are various scientific factors that support the theory that henna first started out in North Africa, as was stated before there needs to be a certain type of climate that is needed for henna to grow as it stays in the ground for 50 years before the leaves come out, because henna thrives in soils that dry out for extended periods, empirical evidence point to it thriving and growing in the Sahara desert from 14,800 to 5,500 BCE. According to Cart-Wright there is evidence that shows that people had a working relationship with the plant in the Sahara during this time period.

Henna then migrated further north in what is known today as Turkey, most probably from birds consuming the plant and excreting them as they migrated north through wetland areas of the Eastern Mediterranean as the Sahara became arid.


So there we have it. Henna originally developed in North Africa, and I am really a proud African to know that it developed in my continent.

However, we find that many ethnicities and different cultural groups use henna for different reasons and it has over the centuries gone by many different names.

In the next post we will talk more about the cultural associations of henna and discuss the many different names that it has!

Have you had henna done before? What was it like? Did you know the history behind it? Share and tell me about your experience!




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