Posted by: kristinej | June 30, 2010

June 30th

I decided that I wanted to get Malian henna done before I leave in a couple of weeks, though I may have chosen otherwise had I realized what an ordeal it was.  I went to Cailey’s house to get it done, since it was the lady who does Cailey’s host mom’s henna.  She started by splitting white tape into long thin strips, which over the next two hours she then arranged on my feet and left hand in very intricate designs, while I lounged on the cot.  I seriously felt like I was getting some sort of medical procedure done.  After that she mixed up the henna powder with water and coated my feet and hand with that, then wrapped them up in black plastic bags.  In Mali you only get your left hand done because you eat with your right hand.

I then had to leave the henna on for at least two hours and so couldn’t walk or go anywhere during that time.  Apparently sometimes people sleep in it, which would have been a much better idea, but oh well.  When we removed the plastic bags after over two hours, we then had to scrape the dried henna and all of the tape off, which took quite awhile.  At this point the design was a light rusty color, so the last step was to add another mixture of these little crystals, ash, and water to blacken the design.  While the henna itself is all natural, this mixture is not (it smelled like ammonia) and is certainly not good for you at all, but I hadn’t really realized that before starting and it was a little late to go back by then!  Since it was getting dark I was in a hurry to leave, so we took off that mixture perhaps a little prematurely because not all of the design had blackened.

So, the next morning I went back and we put the toxic mixture back on again to try to darken it more, and it worked somewhat though the design on my feet is now a rainbow of black, green, and rust-color.  Even so, the design is very well-done and the Malians absolutely love it.  It should stay for about 2-3 weeks, which is perfect because I don’t really want it on when I get back to the US.



  1. Kinda cool, see you soon! robby

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