North African Women’s Body Markings:
History and Technique

A vibrant, indigenous henna practice exists across Africa, from the countries bordering the Mediterranean and the northern desert regions, southward along the Atlantic coast to Mauritania and Nigeria, and down the eastern coast all the way to South Africa. The henna plant is indigenous to the arid and semi-arid regions of this continent and has probably been so since the last Ice Age. Wherever henna grows, people have found uses for it, and have done so since antiquity. The spread of Islam across North Africa reinforced the Night of the Henna traditions, and henna use in other social celebrations.

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