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Traditional Women's Tattoos and Facial Markings
from North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia:
History, Traditions, Techniques and Patterns.

Recreating Traditional Harquus Patterns
Safely, Temporarily, Beautifully!


Harquus patterns are beautiful and a part of history and heritage, but many women do not want to permanently tattoo their faces, throats, hands, and arms. 

You can recreate harquus with a safe product created by Temptu, used for actors' temporary tattoos in their film roles.  You can get this modern Harquus from mehandi.com!  It is a resin-based body paint, and the black colorant is black iron oxide.  It is water resistant, and will stay on the skin without smearing until removed with isopropyl alcohol (also known as rubbing alcohol or surgical spirits).  All ingredients in this harquus paint are FDA approved for use on skin.  This paint does NOT dye the skin, but can last for a few days with proper care.

No person should EVER apply a PPD-based "black henna" product to their skin, especially to their face!  PPD, para-phenylenediamine, a synthetic black hair dye frequently used to make "black henna" temporary tattoos can cause severe injuries and scarring to the body, and if applied to the face, may cause permanent blindness.  For more information on the dangers of "black henna," see http://www.hennapage.com/henna/ppd/index.html.


To recreate harquus patterns as seen on this site, you will need:
1) A Windsor and Newton University Series 233 size 1 brush (available at fine art supply stores).
2) Cotton balls and talcum powder for preparing the skin and setting the harquus.
3) Rubbing alcohol for cleaning the brush and correcting mistakes.
4) Harquus and a tiny container to pour out one drop of harquus at a time. 

Do not try to use a cheap brush!  Cheap brushes paint messy lines.
Make sure you have talc talcum powder, not cornstarch!
Shot glasses and sake cups are very convenient for holding your materials!

Apply Harquus:

1) Clean the subject's skin with soap and water to remove cosmetics.  If the subject has oily skin, clean with an astringent to remove as much oil as possible.

2) Apply talcum powder to the skin with a cotton ball, and wipe away the excess.  This will prevent your harquus from "feathering" on the skin.

3) Shake your bottle of harquus. The iron oxide in your harquus tends to settle to the bottom of the bottle and you MUST shake it each time to disperse the pigment. Put one drop of harquus into your little cup.  Allow that drop to evaporate.  Pour in one more drop onto the evaporated harquus.  Brush the two together and begin your painting.

apply harquus

4) Apply the patterns.  If your brush gets heavy with paint, rinse it in rubbing alcohol.  If your harquus is too thin, evaporate another drop in your little cup.  If your harquus is too thick, add half a drop of rubbing alcohol.

Powder Hands

5) When you have finished applying the harquus, powder the patterns again with talcum powder.  This will bind with the resin to create a durable, realistic-looking temporary tattoo.

Harquus and Henna

6) Gently rub the talcum powder into the skin.  In a few minutes, all of the powder will be absorbed into the harquus.  The harquus will be water-resistant, but can be removed quickly with rubbing alcohol.

You can make your harquus last longer on the skin by dusting it lightly with talcum power when it starts to look shiny.

Would you like to purchase this safe harquus body paint?
Go to http://www.mehandi.com/shop/harquus/
Harquus sales fund the research for harquus.com!

Patterns on these hands are traditional Algerian hand tattooing patterns adapted from anthropological field notes collected in the early 20th century by Mathea Gaudry, published in La Femme Chaouia De L'Aures, Etude de Sociologie Berbere, Paris, Librarie Orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 1929

Logo by Alex Morgan:  Spellstone © 2005

All material
unless otherwise noted by
Catherine Cartwright-Jones © 2004, 2005