Body Painting


An ancient art and most universal form of body art, unlike tattoos or other forms of body art, body painting is temporary. Painted on human skin, it lasts for only a few hours or at most a couple of weeks, as in the case of mehndi or henna.

Most, if not all tribalist cultures, using clay and other natural pigments painted their bodies for special ceremonies. And, today this ancient form still survives amongst the indigenous people of Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific islands and parts of Africa. Mehndi, the semi-permanent form of body painting so popular at Indian weddings and special ceremonies, uses a dye made by crushing the dry leaves of a tropical shrub and mixing it with water to form a paste, which is then applied in intricate patterns on hands, feet and other parts of the body.

The 1960s saw a revival of body painting in the West, prompted in large part by liberalisation of social mores regarding nudity. However, body painting is not just about fully nude bodies, but also involves painting on areas displayed on otherwise clothed bodies. Pages of the glossies carry hundreds of body painting looks, for example in recent years, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue has featured models body painted in renditions of swimsuits or sports jerseys, sometimes with accessories such as bows and buttons also. Even Playboy Playmates have featured in Playboy magazine with painted on bikinis for their respective months.

Painting the human body is a much more of a challenge compared to other art forms. Presenting many issues, body paint is not designed for long time wear and is not permanent. Typically, it can last anywhere from 2 to 8-hours. Environment, wear and tear, rubbing and sweating definitely affect its lasting ability, together with what colour has been used. While, red and black do well, blues tend to fade.

Easy to remove, one only requires a wash cloth, soap and good shower to wash it off.