If you're looking to learn all about the jagua fruit, and how it can be used as body art, you are in the right place! This post will give you information about jagua's history, how its used today, and what ways it has been used traditionally.
What is Jagua?
Traditional Jagua Uses
Jagua is used for many medicinal purposes as well as the body adornment of many indigenous tribes in the Americas. Most societies use jagua on top of the skin for a temporary marking, however, the Matses Indians and a few other tribes of Peru also insert the fruit under the skin to create a permanent marking.
Particularly, there is the Kayapo people who use jagua mixed with charcoal to create full body suites of temporary tattoos. In the picture below see how the little one has a very dark color. This is freshly applied jagua and charcoal mixed. The others have various progression of stains, these are solely jagua stain at this point, with the charcoal washed off.
Jagua Gel - Temporary Tattoo
Today jagua gel has been used across other cultures as well. We tend to use jagua with the same stylings as a henna tattoo, however, it has so many more style uses. Jagua gel is great for shading and drawing very fine lines, since it's so potent and stains so darkly with the littlest of product. With this and the jagua coming out similar to a permanent tattoo color, it is great for tattoo testing.
Do be careful when seeking out jagua gel as a temporary tattoo. A very common product called "Black Henna" tries to mimic the jagua stain. This black henna isn't really henna at all, and is mostly made of PPD and other dyes to create the dark, long lasting stain. These dyes can also cause blisters and permanent scaring, even trouble with the respiratory system.
For the jagua fruit however, it's safe for everyone without a fruit allergy. Since jagua is a fruit, if you do have an allergy to fruits (particularly berries or citrus), the skin will show some itchy red bumps along the design after day 3 or 4.
For most people, Jagua is the perfect remedy for wanting a real tattoo, but is unable decide what to get. Or maybe you wish to avoid the pain, or just want some cool body art! Whatever the case, jagua is definitely a fan favorite. And since the product I use comes from the Kayapo and harvested by them, your purchase benefits the tribe and their ability to continue their way of life into the modern age. They also have a site for their beaded bracelets and necklaces that are insanely cost friendly at Kayapo Art
If you've never heard of henna tattoos, or are new to the wonderful henna plant, this is the place to be! Here we will touch on the history of henna, henna tattoos, when and how it is used in modern day, and a basic understanding of how henna works.
Henna has first been recorded as dye for the hair and cloth. People as far back as Egyptian (17th Dynasty, 1574 BCE) died their hair, eyebrows, and beards with henna for a bright red look. The prophet Mohammad is said to have had his beard dyed red with henna and put black kohl under his eyes. Along with this, the henna helps produce a rich red for fabrics and clothing. The popularity of henna is still on the rise with characters like Lucille Ball on I Love Lucy who referred to her red hair as a "henna rinse". Still now, even commercial dyeing companies use henna for their reds or red undertones for hairs and fabrics.
Henna Tattoos Today
Henna today has continued with tradition and has transformed. Today henna can be applied simply as a fashion statement or fun vacation memory to take back home with you. People even test out permanent tattoos by first getting a henna tattoo to see if they like the placement and idea for their tattoo. In addition to these more modern uses for the henna plant, there are many that keep the more original traditions alive. During weddings for many cultures, the bride, her mother, and the bridal party are adorned with henna tattoos This shows that traditional celebration, and also allows for creativity in what people might depict in their wedding henna. Even some grooms and men at the wedding receive a henna tattoo also!
In my opinion, the beautiful art of henna is for anyone and everyone to enjoy. Children, women, men, and all the rest. The great thing about henna is how safe for the skin it is, and makes it so accessible for anyone!
Because of these ingredients, we also have to keep henna tattoo paste refrigerated or frozen to keep it from going bad. Do watch out for any henna cones that are kept on a store shelf. Even if the label says all natural, there is at least a natural preservative included or worse; a dye called PPD. Preservatives and PPD can cause serious and sometimes permanent damage to human skin, especially for those with sensitive skin. A great way to tell if your henna paste is good and natural is to smell it! If it smells faintly of chemicals, thats not an organic paste. If the henna smells over the top strongly of an essential oil, it might be natural henna that has gone bad by being in the heat or sun. A good smell for henna is a simple and pleasant smell of essential oil and some leafy or earthy smells mixed together. Very light on the nose and just smells good!
I hope you can now understand some of the magical properties of henna. Henna has brought me and many I know a great amount of healing and good into our lives. I am blessed to share this art and culture with you! If you're looking for more information about henna, come back soon. Posts on henna, jagua, graphic design, social media management, and tricks to running a business will be in the near future!
I am first + foremost, a creative. I love to take an idea and create it into something tangible. To build + organize a design, an idea, or a goal + see it actually materialize by my hands is something hard to describe. I will always cherish + cultivate my ability to do this. Here is a little about what I have learned + maybe peeks at my artistic life journey so far.