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Jagua Body Paint
Many cultures practiced long-term body painting with plant stains, long-lasting skin dyes made from organic materials. Henna, a plant from the Middle East and India, makes a reddish-brown stain on the skin that can last for up to two months. In South America, many tribal groups engaged in elaborate face and body painting and they too used plant-derived dyes for their skin art. However the plant used on this continent was not henna.
The Latin plant name is Genipa Americana. These are part of the Rubiaceae family of plants, more commonly referred to as "Jagua." The fruit of this flowering tree is what produces the stain. Collected while the fruit is still not entirely ripe, the clear juice actually oxidizes while on the skin, producing a blue-black color which can last approximately two weeks.
The traditional method of application was with thin twigs or sticks, carefully dipped into the raw Jagua fruit juice. Elaborate skin patterns would be formed by the repeated painting or stamping of thin lines of juice on the skin with the twigs. Large areas of solid color can also be achieved by evenly applying the juice over broad areas of the skin. Modern makeup sponges can make application over the skin surface much easier, and finely-bristled brushes are good for smaller lines and patterns.
For people who like the ease of henna painting but who want a darker color, jagua is the way to go. Remember, "black henna" is actually henna contaminated with the addition of an unapproved hair dye component. Jagua is organic, being just the juice from the fruit of a flowering tree.
For a reddish color, some Brazilian tribes also painted themselves with Annatto.
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