Factors which influence the intensity of the final design include heat, warmth which darkens the stain, and length of time the henna paste is left on the skin.

Once the paste is applied it will dry and eventually crack.

In the past few years, a new crop of artists has emerged in the U. bringing contemporary designs and techniques to the craft.

It is used for both decorative and magical purposes and has religious sanction.

While the present generation of Arab women may apply henna for fun, some still turn to it for its magical properties.

Legend has it that Mohammed used henna to dye his beard and that the henna flower was the Prophet's favorite.

As a result, henna occupies a unique place in the Moslem world.

Generations of women have used a paste made primarily of dried ground henna leaves to cover their hands and feet with designs ranging from simple blobs to intricate geometric patterns designed to ward off evil, promote fertility and attract good energy.

While there is some controversy over the origins of the use of henna as a dying agent, the earliest clear evidence of henna application on the body appears in Egyptian mummies whose hair and nails were stained with the reddish brown tones of henna.In other areas henna application can be part of the actual wedding ceremony or is applied immediately before the ceremony.The henna plant has significant baraka attached to it.Botanists believe the henna plant, Lawsonia inermis, originated in Persia.It grew extensively in Egypt and was carried to India where it was used since at least 700 AD for decorating hands and feet.Henna is used to protect against witchcraft or the “evil eye” and many of the motifs used in henna design are designed to ward off the eye's power.