The Tunisian waterproof black gall ink for body painting.
Tunisia’s Harkous is a waterproof black ink, used for body painting, which comes from Tunisia. Usually, after the palms and soles are colored with Henna, the backs of the hands and feet, as well as some other parts of the body, are decorated with small ornamentations in Harkous.
Similar to Henna, body painting with Harkous is an ancient tradition in Tunisia. Its origins date from the rise of Carthage, an important empire in the Mediterranean.
Small ornaments such as triangles, squares, crosses, and fish were all representative of the Carthaginian (Punic) sea and fertility goddess Tanit (Anath.
These symbols can also be seen in the ruins of temples and tomb paintings of that time, as well as so-called Berber jewelry, handmade rugs, and pottery.
Harkous is a valuable substance. In order to get just a few milligrams of this viscous ink, great patience and lots of time are required, as well as a relatively large amount of raw materials: gallnuts, cloves, walnut tree bark, as well as iron or orpiment (arsenic sulfide), a naturally-occuring mineral.
The end product, the dye used to make Harkus, is developed through a relatively long process, cooked into resin in a clay pot over a charcoal fire, through a process known as dry distillation (pyrolysis).
Harkous is best applied onto the desired body part with the end of a tapestry needle. Fill the inside of the rubber cap of the Harkous bottle which has simply been flipped over before being opened. The needle becomes the pen and the rubber cap the ink well.
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