Rucky Moten was raised in Karachi, the largest city and cultural center of Pakistan. She uses henna to paint women’s hands and feet with traditional designs. This ancient art is called mehndi in the Urdu language. Rucky learned it from women in her family and community who painted henna body art for weddings and other rites of passage, and at special events. She has shared this intricate art form by demonstrating at community festivals, workshops and other events in the Las Vegas area for nearly 25 years.
Rucky’s presentations include a discussion of her own cultural background and heritage as well as the traditional techniques, designs, and patterns associated with mehndi. She enjoys creating distinctive designs that meld the traditional with the contemporary. When presenting workshops for younger audiences, she often asks participants to trace traditional designs and then create variations they might choose to wear for an important social or holiday occasion.
Rucky uses only natural, rich, red-brown henna so that the color of the mehndi design will change and intensify according to the individual’s body chemistry and temperature. The paint is made by crushing dried henna leaves and grinding them into a paste with sugar and oil or lemon juice. The paste is absorbed into the outermost layer of the skin. When the excess is washed away, it leaves a temporary “tattoo” on the skin. The design fades and will disappear naturally in one to three weeks.
Henna body art has been practiced for thousands of years by Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Zoroastrians, and other religious and cultural traditions found in the Middle East, Africa and the Indian subcontinent. It is often used in association with celebrations and rituals, and styles vary significantly from one region to another. In some cultures, particular designs have special significance and it is believed that they will bestow gifts upon the wearer, such as luck, joy, protection, wisdom, or spirituality.