Nallê Art: Notes on Some Aspects of Henna Application among the Kanuri People of Borno

Usman Al-amin

Affiliation: Department of History. University of Maiduguri. Borno State, Nigeria

Keywords: Kanuri, culture, henna, Borno, Nigeria

Categories: Humanities, Social Sciences and Law

DOI: 10.17160/josha.5.6.447

Languages: English

The culture of the Kanuri is predominately interesting and attractive. The Kanuri people are very obsessed with their culture which help the quality of cultural traits and vibes high. In Kanuri Culture just as in other ethnic groups throughout the world there are norms and values. Even though most of their culture finds its origin in the Islamic religion, yet they have a couple of traditions that are peculiar to the tribe. One of such traditions is the application of henna, which is not well documented by the social historians and anthropologists. It is based on this assertion that this paper makes attempt to examine the application and importance of Henna among Kanuri people. Henna or “nallê” as the Kanuri call it, is a safe and temporary body art practice for millennia among the Kanuri. The technique employs a paste made from ground leaves of the henna plant (the grand leaves may be mixed with any amount of liquids or oils to create a paste) on the body or skin properly. Henna is traditionally used for special occasions, inter-alia weddings, naming ceremonies and other festive seasons and is a symbol of beauty, art, happiness and it shows brides readiness for the wedding to come. The study adopts the historical narrative and analytical approach and concludes that apart from the social role of Henna, it equally has very important religious functions among Kanuri men. Kanuri men use the dye to colour their beards, which was strongly considered as prophetic or prophet’s tradition.

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