For centuries people used henna for body art in the Middle East, Asia and parts of Africa. But in more recent years, these patterns have been gaining popularity in Jamaica.
Just ask Mark Samuels, the proprietor of a Kingston-based company called Henna Threads.
“When I just started doing this nine years ago, nobody knew what it was,” he said. “And even though there is still a great number of persons who don’t know what it is, it is not nearly like it used to be before – to the point where when I hear Shenseea sing about henna in one of her songs, I was like, ‘what?’. Obviously, you are not going to put something in your music if people can’t relate to it or know about it.
When Samuels began offering the service, he said that he was probably the only person doing so. And while he might still be the only person providing this type of body art as a full-time job, he said that there are other artists who are offering the service on a part-time basis.
Henna is the application of a thick paste made from the ground leaves of the henna plant. It produces a natural red dye that is used to stain the skin. Henna stains usually last for a week. In addition, Samuels offers a darker stain with jagua, which is another paste that is made from the extract of the fruit Genipa americana, also known as jagua.
Samuels told BUZZ that the hands and feet are two areas on which people often want their body art to be done, with the thigh and back following closely behind.
Like the countries this type of body art began in, Jamaicans also get henna patterns for special occasions like dinner parties, birthdays, carnival and other celebratory events. And as expected, Samuels said that the high seasons for henna body art are summer, Christmas and the Easter period.