The Traditional Painting of Nigerian Women


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All over Africa, we have different paintings done on our women, which have become tribal marks or ceremonial marks. Most parts of Africa you visit have unique paintings carried out on the body.  In Nigeria, we have special art of body decoration you can use to look chic. Some of these paints depict many things or symbolizes events, conditions, situations.

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The painting can convey reverence or a sense of awe to a thing. Take, for instance, the red signifies marriage and fertility, white stands for magic or purity, yellow is for ailments, and black depends on the event it was used for.

From one ethnic group to another in Nigeria, we have stunning paintings that are used for ceremonial, aesthetic, or religious purposes.  Beauty is expressed in some of these paintings, while social status, title, membership, or age can depict a particular painting.

Body decoration in Nigeria includes decorating the hand, leg, face, eye, finger, hand, and other parts of the body.  The Kanuris make use of henna art in decorating their bodies. The henna art is a small shrub that people use its leaves for dye. The northern part of the country has made henna art famous.  The men can dye their beards with the dye, while the women can dye their fingernails, feet, top of their fingers, hair, and chest. Both the women and men use the local antimony called kwailli. They can use it on their eyelashes to darken it. The Hausa, Nupe, and Fulani people, often make use of vegetable dyes for their body decorations too.

You can see the stunning art of this body decoration in the night during the pre-marriage ceremony, known as  “The night of henna”. The Nupe women make use of yellow dye on their lips, indigo on their hair, red on their teeth, and they immerse their feet and hands in the henna dye.

The Efik, Ibibio, and Igbos make use of the Uli dye for their beautifications. The body decoration is seen mostly during their cultural events, fattening seclusion, and marriages. They get the Uli dye from a place called randi cordata.

These body decorations are not permanent and can be washed off after ceremonies.  Most women do not want to stain their bodies forever with inks. This is because of the misconceptions about body tattoos in most parts of the country.

The body painting on brides can be enchanting and beautiful. Thanks to creative men and women who have found better ways of painting the different parts of the women, especially the brides. You do not have to be from any of these tribes before you experiment with their body paintings. We have seen many brides from different parts of the world make use of the henna dye for their big occasions.

While many tribes in Nigeria have their body paintings, you can decide the one that suits you best for your events. Before you try any of this dye painting, make sure that you have the right ingredient in preparing it else it may be better to consult a professional before fixing one.


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