Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Happy Anniversary! Two Years of Henna Blogging

This past weekend marked the 2-year anniversary of this blog! It’s hard to believe that I’ve been blogging about henna for 2 years. In honour of this milestone I thought I’d share some fun statistics and search queries from the past 2 years… Thanks for accompanying us this far!

In the past 2 years, I have researched, written and posted 59 posts (this one is the 60th — and there are four finished draft posts coming in the queue!), which averages out to 2.5 posts every month. Not bad! In total, not counting this post, I’ve written over 86 thousand words (86,288 to be precise) of henna research on this blog, which would come out to roughly 153 single-spaced pages in Times New Roman 12… Practically a whole book's worth!

The most popular post (by pageviews) is actually not a henna-related post but this post about Ethiopian Jewish tattooing traditions; the most popular henna post is this post on Persian henna in the photographs of Antoin Sevruguin. The majority of my blog readers, unsurprisingly, come from the US and Canada; but thousands of readers have also found my blog from France, Russia, Germany, the UK, Israel, Morocco, India, Greece, Indonesia, Ukraine, and Australia. All in all, over the last two years, my blog has been viewed over 40,000 times.

With so much to sift through, I thought I’d offer a retrospective of sorts to what I’ve published on my blog so far (and you can also search my blog if you're looking for something!). And, as always, I am happy to take questions and suggestions for future investigations (you can comment here, or email me):

The posts have covered a wide range of topics in the history and geography of henna, including some commonly-thought-of places — India, Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Algeria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen — and spotlights on henna in some places perhaps less obvious — the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Crimean Peninsula — as well as a particular focus on Morocco (of course). 

The historical periods investigated have ranged all the way from antiquity, with posts on henna in ancient North Africa and Roman Palestine, through the Middle Ages, all the way to contemporary developments in the henna world today.

We’ve also featured the stories and biographies of individual figures who contributed in some way to the study of henna, including:

  • Abd-el-Aziz Herraouy, the first scholar to publish an academic study of henna,
  • Yehiel Haibi, whose photographs are an invaluable record of Yemenite Jewish life and henna traditions,
  • Erich Brauer, who recorded unique henna traditions of the Jews of Kurdistan which could have been lost otherwise.

Some posts look at henna from a worldwide perspective: words for henna around the world, henna in proverbs and folk sayings, or henna and children; others zoom in on a particular time and place — henna in 1920s Marrakech or 1930s Yemen — or on a particular group: henna among European Roma, or religious minorities in Kurdistan and northern Iraq.

And of course, henna in Jewish history has been a particular focus, with posts illustrating henna traditions among Yemenite Jews, Algerian Jews, Turkish Jews, Egyptian Jews, Afghani Jews, and more. I’ve also shared posts describing henna traditions for Jewish holidays like Passover, Purim, and Shavuot, as well as posts on the music, clothing, and food associated with Jewish henna ceremonies. And there are many more to come!

And finally, to celebrate two years of internet publishing, I thought I’d share some of the behind-the-scenes fun: search queries! I love looking through the search queries to see how people find my blog. Of course, the most popular search terms are pretty standard:

  • henna
  • henna flower
  • henna designs
  • henna paint
  • luxury henna art

As befits my specialty on Jewish henna, plenty of people find my blog looking for information specifically about Jewish henna traditions:

  • jewish henna
  • henna and jews
  • henna night sephardi tradition
  • is henna jewish
  • do jewish people use henna
  • do jews do henna ceremonies
  • jewish henna party
  • is jewish henna biblical
  • jewish convert henna ceremony

A number of searches also relate to henna in Christianity, presumably looking for this post about “What Would Jesus Do [About Henna]?”:

  • use of henna in early christian
  • did people in the bible use henna
  • can a christian wear henna
  • henna and christianity
  • should a christian get henna

A number of people are apparently specifically worried about the cultural or religious significance of doing henna:

  • henna mark on hand spiritual sign
  • politics of henna
  • meaning of deep henna colour
  • what are the social taboos associated with mehndi in different culture
  • is there a spiritual significance to using henna on my hair
  • is dying hair with henna evil

Because of the variety of countries and traditions featured on this blog, many readers find my blog looking for information about henna in specific communities or countries, or for specific occasions:

  • henna afghanistan
  • mauritanian henna designs
  • yemeni henna designs
  • algerian henna traditions
  • henna egypt
  • henna new year tradition
  • circumcision henna
  • henna on passover

Armenia in particular, for some reason, has attracted a number of searches (I have no idea if this is one person or not) but hopefully they found this post helpful:

  • armenian henna
  • do armenians wear henna
  • do armenians do henna on just one palm
  • armenian wedding henna
  • hunnah armenian wedding traditions with henna

It also makes sense that people found the blog searching for information on Moroccan/ North African henna:

  • hena lala aiycha
  • hena lala malika
  • decoration de henna a tunis
  • henna design using syringe
  • jewish moroccan henna music
  • blogs henna sahrawi
  • henna fassi
  • moroccan body art
  • what to wear jewish moroccan henna party

Another post which attracts specific searches is this post about words for henna around the world:

  • african words for henna
  • henna in hebrew
  • can we translate the word henna
  • dictionary meaning faghiya
  • chiness language me heena word

The numerous historical photos and sources have also attracted readers:

  • history of henna
  • henna use by turks pre 17th century
  • yemeni brides 1930s henna
  • henna 19th century photos

My favourites are the ones that are so incredibly specific. I hope they found what they were looking for:

  • henna tattoos designs greek evil eye for sale
  • how to mix henna for hair middle eastern style
  • moroccan circumcision little boy with henna
  • best musalman mehandi for girls at the age of 14
  • a moroccan beauty showing her henna decorations on her hand
  • elderly nomad woman in traditional dress her hands black with henna

But my absolute favourite search query, which still makes me smile every time I see it, is that someone found my blog by searching:

  • songs of henna mountiana

No matter how you found this blog, or whether or not you were even looking for it; whether you’ve been reading my blog for two years or two days or two minutes, thanks so much for following along with this crazy, bewildering, and richly rewarding journey!

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