Introduction to "North African" Style

Henna artists from Morocco and other North African countries have many different styles, but are best known for the style typified by straight, draped lines, intricate patterns and geometric figures.  They often use the same pattern motifs that appear in North African folk arts such as ceramics, metal work, weaving and tattooing.  Some of these appear in the sample patterns below. I put "North African" style in parenthesis because this is the name of a genre, not a representation of a real group of artists. 

One could say "American Style" clothing is equivalent to blue jeans and T-shirts.  Many people who live in the US own neither a tshirt nor a pair of blue jeans, but there is a genre of relaxed clothing recognized as "American Style" which includes blue jeans and a t shirt. The term"North African" henna does not imply that all North African henna artists do henna this way.

Here are some examples of "North African" style henna patterns.  Click on the pictures for larger images.

North African Style foot North African Hand

North African Syringe work
Many artists in Morocco use syringes to apply stringy, finely sifted henna in these intricate patterns.
You can use any tool you're comfortable with.

"North African" style patterns are most easily done with stringy henna, because you must drape long, straight lines.  Either purchase henna powder that is naturally stringy, or add sugar to your mix. With practice, and with flawless henna paste, you'll be able to drape a perfectly straight line four feet long! Many "North African" style patterns begin with long, draped base lines.

Drape the henna

For more information, see:
How do you work with stringy henna:
How do you get fine lines with stringy henna:
How do you make henna stringy:

When you do "North African" style, you drape out large areas first, then work into finer and finer patterns, just like a spider spinning a web:

North African Style

Want great downloadable henna pattern books
that teach you how to put simple patterns together
to make beautiful complex designs??
Visit TapDancing!


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