A (wo)man without tattoos is invisible to the Gods (Iban proverb)

In the gardens of Tanjung Rhu, where we stayed in Langkawi was this henna tree.
I only know it was a henna plant because the resident artist (Ardy) pointed it out to me.

The henna plant is native to tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, southern Asia, and northern Australasia. Henna has a number of properties and uses, one of which is dyeing hair or skin.

For skin dyeing (sometimes known as henna tattoos), a paste of henna is prepared from ground leaves and is left in contact with the skin from a few hours to overnight. The dye in the paste bonds with the upper layers of the skin and the stain can last from a few days to a month depending on individual skin type and how long the paste is allowed to stay on the skin.

In Malaysia, like many other parts of the world, brides often have their hands and feet decorated with henna designs the day before the wedding.

Ardy offered to demonstrate on any guest who wished to have it done. Of course, there was no shortage of young girls lining up. I think he intended to do some simple flower shapes, but he soon realised that no matter what language the girls spoke they were all insistent that they wanted the full elaborate design. The Impossible Princess and Queenie were no exceptions.

He sighed and patiently sat drawing traditional designs on each of his waiting queue.

He told them to leave the paste on for around half an hour before brushing it off, and that would ensure it lasted around 3-4 days.

Queenie brushed hers off to reveal this:

And then went back the next day to get her foot done.

A word of warning to the un-initiated…do not allow the paste to come into contact with clothing…or towels…or pool lounges. It (not surprisingly) stains.
Ardy was not quite accurate with his estimation of how long it would last (or perhaps I lost track of how long the girls actually left the paste on for…?). After a week, Queenie still had a faint design on her hand, and a bold one on her foot. With the school year fast approaching, I was threatening a scrubbing brush if it didn’t disappear, but just in time, the final remnants of the foot design faded…
…kind of like the relaxed-just-back-from-holiday-feeling.

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