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A Kaleidoscope of Henna Prints

Published:Monday | July 15, 2019 | 12:00 AMNatovia Shand - Gleaner Writer

Dipping into a realm of patterns, geometric motifs and almost lace-like detailing, the mesmerising design and outline of a henna is born. The henna design has become widely practised and used in Jamaica, used as a decorative body design for special celebrations or mere accessory. As the practice becomes so mainstream with body artists dabbling in the ancient art, the organic and cultural elements are often lost.

Wafeeqah Khan, owner of Henna Ja, offers the intricate body art and shares with us her authentic line and service, which fuses freestyling patterns.

Henna ink is formed from a plant that is dried to a powder and mixed with essential oils by henna artists. She notes that her natural organic henna has a dark or reddish brownish colour, which is the predominant colour. She uses the ragasthani powder and she mixes the paste, combining it with natural products such as sugar, lemon juice, essential oil, and, “Whatever you’re putting on your skin goes inside you,” she pointed out.

“More and more people are gravitating towards the temporary design as opposed to permanent tattoos.” However, Khan noted that persons should be wary of those coloured henna dyes, such as pink, green, black, and blue. These may cause allergic reactions due to the added chemicals that are extremely unsafe. Henna Ja has a supplier in Canada, who operates as a henna shop, and these are sourced from India.


Flair was quite mesmerised as Khan styled a henna design. The application was rather soothing and the paste had a cooling sensation by the time it was finished. “When the design has just been painted, it is wise to spray a mist of sugar water to allow it to get sticky. The henna lasts for one week or more [depending on] its aftercare. Put oil on the design when going in or near water, as water runs off oil,” she said.

Khan explained that the process when making the henna designs do have a calming effect on her. She uses the hobby-turned-business as an escape, a quick distraction from school. Designing anything that comes to mind, she takes influences from other designs and makes her own.

Khan, born in Trinidad, is a 22-year-old Muslim student at the University of Technology, pursuing a degree in entreprenuerial skills. Stemming from a family background of creative ingenuity, Khan noticed that her love for henna designing is almost hereditary. Her family runs a food business, her mother makes paintings, while her grandmother paints designs on clothing.

Funny enough, Khan explains how terrible she was at art in high school. However, back in 2015, at a family event, she tried the henna patterns on a friend. By the time the event was over, all her friends left with a unique design because they loved it so much. She said that she did it free for that entire year, and when she realised she ran out of product, she thought of the plan to offer it to more people and charge for it.

Now, she has a wide client base offering henna body designs, henna-themed shirts, dresses, plaques, and mugs. Henna Ja doesn’t categorise its pieces and so customers can check their Instagram page and request a previous design or suggest one for the desired henna pattern.

Khan noted that some of her clients mainly request body designs for carnivals, weddings, or parties. Due to her religion and faith, she has a specific area in which she places body designs, like on the hands, feet, back, stomach and under boob. Henna Ja gift items are great memorabilia or special gifts which can be customised to your liking.

Services are provided in Spanish Town, Kingston, and St Andrew. Contact Henna Ja at 876-889-5560 on WhatsApp or visit her online page for more information on prices, appointments, product orders, and delivery.