Sudanese Henna

Jim Sowers, Sudanese henna, sudan, body artالحناء, السودان, الحناء السوداني

Photo by Jim Sowers, Wedding Henna in Sudan, (This henna is not my work.) Click on the photo to see the photographer's website

Henna in Sudan is out of control. I love it. The designs are big, bold, and…funky. Subtlety is not popular. We are talking here about the sole of a foot covered in huge polka dots, large honeycomb shapes stacked up along the inside of the ankle, and patterns that look like cheetah-pattern bandaids snaking halfway up the leg. Along with many elegant floral offerings, of course.

I love many of the designs, but unfortunately, what I don’t love, is that 90% of the photos I find of henna in Sudan are almost definitely PPD black hair dye, “black henna.” I understand why people are attracted to it, because of course, it’s cheap, easy, and looks amazing, especially when it is combined in the same design with natural “red henna.” Unfortunately, this is at the tremendous cost of the health of the people using it. Even if people never suffer any obvious skin reactions, like rashes, swelling, or scarring from the black hair dye, the PPD is still a known carcinogen, which is proven to cause long-term health problems such as liver and kidney damage.

Judging the photo above, I would say it is natural henna. I say this mainly because you can see the beautiful gradation of color from the sole up the ankle, going from dark chocolate/almost black to a lighter mahogany color. Am I 100% certain? No, but there are certainly ways to get henna this dark, and there would be no color gradient from PPD. Probably a good amount of mahlabiya oil, popular in Sudan, was used in the paste. Also, it’s possible that the henna was applied twice in the same place to get it darker, another popular technique in Sudan. I wasn’t there unfortunately, so I don’t know. What I do know, is that I want to learn more about Sudanese henna! sudanese henna, sudan, hina, 7ina, alhina sudani

With that in mind, I am putting up some Sudanese henna patterns here, with the hope that people will enjoy the designs and recreate them with beautiful, natural “red” henna. The top two images are from my design book, Lotuses of the Nile, Sudanese Henna Designs. The e-book is for sale at Artistic for $10. It contains 40 designs for hands and feet.sudanese henna, sudan, hina, 7ina, alhina sudani, .henna design sudan sudanese patternhenna design, sudan, sudanese pattern, الحناء سوداني, سودانية, نقشhenna design, sudan, sudanese pattern, الحناء سوداني, سودانية, نقشsudan henna, sudanese, pattern, naksh, naqsh al hina, الحناء, السودان, نقش سودانيhenna, alhina, sudan, sudanese, sudani, naksh, floral henna, pattern, design, الحناء, نقش السودان

36 responses to “Sudanese Henna

  1. beautiful! will like to have them done on me.

    • sweetfernstudio

      me too, I haven’t actually done any of these in henna yet. But I’m excited to try them out. I’m waiting for the henna on my feet to fade so I can try the one with all the spirals.

  2. Love these designs! Love your blog!! Thanks for sharing your insights.

  3. sweetfernstudio

    Hello hennatrails, I’m glad you like them too! I’m planning to add more soon…If you do any of these designs, I’d love to see pictures. I haven’t gotten the chance to do them all myself yet… Liz

  4. Wow! I’m currently very into the Sudanese designs and have a whole stack of Sudan-inspired hands and feet. They are striking, for sure! I, too, wish that PPD wasn’t so popular, and goodness I really wish SOMEBODY knew what is in that malahabiya oil, though. Time to get the chemistry set out!

    • sweetfernstudio

      Hey Carrie, Yes, the mahlabiya oil is a puzzle to me too! It certainly makes the henna darker! I know the bottles I had only listed “perfume compound” under ingredients. Th oil definitely contains the mahlab oil, which is extracted from the seeds of a cherry-like tree, and I know some other brands of mahlabiya list “lemon oil” as an ingredient…But there is still more figuring out to be done. It’s on my things-to-find-out list :)

  5. Pingback: New Sudanese Henna Design Book, Lotuses of the Nile | Inside Sweetfern Studio

  6. As a group Promoting Music and Television from Sudan, I find your blog pretty interesting, “Some Sudanese Music Notes from the North(west) Country” I will keep checking for additions.
    Well written, thank you :-)

  7. like sudanes design

  8. These are wonderful designs. I have your new book and it is fabulous!! You should get on facebook so we all can meet you better! :)

    • sweetfernstudio

      Hello Tammi, Thanks! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the designs on the site and in the book. I had a lot of fun putting them together…I’m not on facebook anymore. I used to be, but it wasn’t my thing. If you’re interested in following my antics, I add new free designs and articles here on this site…Enjoy your weekend!

  9. its very nice!!!

  10. atmanaaacref akter wuuahebalhena

  11. Hi , i hav some sudan mehandi cones with me now n was not sure how to use it as its bit watery than the normal mehandi cones .. also it gives this orange colour .. soon aftr its gets dried n i wash my hands ..its keeps sheddin an orangish shade … Anything cud be done to avoid all these ??

    • Hi Bina,
      My suggestion would be to use natural henna powder, mixed with lemon juice and tea tree oil, rather than pre-mixed cones.

      The pre-mixed ones are unpredictable and you don’t know what is actually in them…Mixing your own henna paste is much more reliable. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  12. Email me designs sudanese please shockran thank you

  13. hey do you have facebook o twitter???

  14. Mandah Mahamat Youssouf

    C est vraiment Jolie le henna

  15. Hi I wanted to tell you that you can get this look by using khidab it doesn’t have ppd and it’s really black you can also put it in a cone.

    • sweetfernstudio

      Thanks for your comment Hanifah. The khidab is definitely an alternative in some cases! I have used it a few times. Do you have experience with it yourself?

  16. Lovely blog. Thanks for the freebies!!

  17. Hi am from nigeria here in africa I saw ur painting they r beautiful nd unique

    • sweetfernstudio

      Hey, Thanks for your comment! Glad you like the designs :) What kind of designs are popular where you live in Nigeria?


  19. I lik

  20. I wanna learn to your henna because it’s very very beautiful

  21. how i can get the book now i am living in khartum,sudan.

  22. Is your ebook design book sold on any other websites. The site you referred to has an ERROR NOT FOUND WEBSITE NOT FOUND NOTICE.


    PS. I really like the dessigns. I would like to purchase a sudanese henna design book as soon as possible. :)

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