Next time I go to Egypt, I am going henna-spotting. I’m not sure if I was just too busy, or spent all my time in the city, or it I was keeping my eyes on the homicidal oncoming traffic, instead of scanning women’s hands for henna…but I didn’t see too much of it. Maybe one woman with henna on her feet and another with henna on her hands who, from her dress, and that of her companions, didn’t strike me as Egyptian, but as from the gulf. I saw salons offering henna work, and a woman asked me if I could do henna for her before her wedding…but other than that, not much.
However, in the meantime, I have been doing some scouting around. I found some good images of henna from Siwa and Bahariya Oases in the Western Desert section of Egypt, west of Cairo and east of Libya.The oases are famous for their date and olive crops, as well as the cultivation of molukhiya, a green tasty green vegetable that is like a combination of spinach and okra…Siwa is also famous for its crafts, particularly ornate embroidery with cross-stitch, metallic threads, and sequins, and the Siwi Berber language which is spoken there.
I was in Bahariya briefly on a weekend trip to go camping in the White Desert. My view of the town mainly focused on the beautiful magenta and orange bougainvilleas by the side of the road and the huge sky. I didn’t make it as far as Siwa…Next time!