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Traditional body beautification with Fudan

My Magazine 2022/12
7 min
Many years ago, before the inception of tattoos and chemical henna, Fudan was the first art used to beautify the hands and feet of African women. Like henna, Fudan comes from the same plant, but no chemical is added. It is an organic aesthetic product for African women to adorn themselves.

Brides or new mothers most commonly use it as a means of beautification for their wedding or naming ceremony. Women also use fudan during festive events like Koriteh and Tobaski.

After harvesting the herb, women dry it under the sun for days and pound it into a powder. The powder is then soaked in water for an hour or two. Plastering tape is cut into stripes to make the design and barrier on the hands and feet, after which the fudan paste is slowly applied. When the mixture is applied in the thick layer without spreading over the designed border, women would cover and protect it with a plastic bag and let it do its magic overnight.

After the first use, the fudan design will be red; therefore, many women repeat the process during the course of a week to achieve a darker hue, coming close to dark brown. A particular substance is used to mix it with the paste to speed up the reaction and bring out the darker colour. Some also believe sugar can work in a similar way.

Applying fudan should always be the last evening routine before going to bed, as the movements should be minimal after application to avoid spoiling the design. At the same time, the mixture is applied to the feet and fingers. Therefore, walking around or using your hands while having fudan applied to it is hard.

You can buy Fudan all around at the Serekunda market with women vendors who sell beads and churray. They are known as ˝Laubé˝.

This article is sponsored by APS International


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