A Gift From The Gods

A Gift From The Gods
Photo By Nicole N, Belgium

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ancient Nails

A splash of nail polish is always a fantastic way of finishing any outfit. Varieties of nail polish and techniques seem endless from French manicures to Gel wraps. Very recently, Rihanna was spotted at an awards show donning gold tips. That’s right. Nail polish mixed with Real Gold! Now it seems to be all the rage (if you can afford it). The Nail polish industry is surely revolutionizing itself of late but did you know that nail polish is actually more than 4000 years old? One of the first records of nail polish comes from Ancient Egypt (Kemet).

Queen Hatshepsut, Queen Cleopatra and Queen Nefertiti were all sophisticated nail polish enthusiasts. Beauty wasn't the only purpose. Nail polish also served a social hierarchical function. The redder the polish,  the more powerful the lady. Nefertiti wore red; Cleopatra preferred a darker red, while Queen Hatshepsut’s mummy was found to sporting both black and red nail polish (got to love Queen Hatshepsut, who was a powerful trend setter in her own rite, ruling for 22 years of peace in Egypt dressed as a male {another story}). In Ancient China, around the same time period, affluent women wore black nail polish. As shown in the painting above, sometimes nails were painted with a golden color.

What was in that ancient concoction? It is believed that the polish was made of various oils, Arabic gum-hardened sap from two species of the Acacia tree, powder and henna-a potent natural dye found in modern day Egypt, derived from the dried, crushed leaves of the Lawsonia inermis shrub. Although the leaves are green, the dye produced ranges from an orange shade to deep brick red-brown.

So ladies, next time you’re at the nail salon or in a store looking for that perfect splash of color and luster, remember who the original beauty experts were. 

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