Harquus: North African Women’s Traditional Body Art Volume 2: Paint

Harquus is a general word used for “black” and can refer to any traditional black body art cosmetic in North Africa. Patterns for the eyebrows, forehead, cheeks and chin, were the most common, and were done for luck, blessings, and group identity.

The base for harquus was typically carbonized plant material bound with fat, oil, or resin. The most valued black cosmetics were carbonized aromatic woods and herbs, which kept their fragrance after slow, low temperature combustion, then ground wet into pigment for making a black cosmetic paint.

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