News ID: 323388
Published: 0947 GMT August 10, 2022

Traditional henna grinding workshops still active in Yazd

Traditional henna grinding workshops still active in Yazd

Sadeq Dehqan Staff writer

If you have ever traveled to the city of Yazd, the capital city of the central province of Yazd, you have probably heard the name of Mazari Alley. Mazari (henna grinding) is a 700-year-old profession.

Maz’ is the name of a grinding wheel which rolls over henna leaves or other spices. In addition to henna, you can find other spices in the area.

Although the business has lost its prosperity in the past years, a number of henna grinding workshops are still active in the old neighborhood. The workshops are located in a number of old one-story buildings, with brick walls and curved roofs, which have not been restructured over the past years.

The smell of henna and spices fills the air of the area, so that if you enter the alley and follow the scent, you will come directly to the entrance of the henna grinding workshops. Most workshops, having old wooden doors, have no ventilation system, so thick green dust is always blown out of their doors and windows.

A young worker was standing in front of a door; the green henna dust turned her head, face and clothes green. I entered the workshop and passed through a narrow and long corridor. The workshop gets its light from the small openings of its domed roof.

In the middle of the workshop, a large millstone rotated around its central axis at high speed and ground the dried henna leaves under its heavy weight.

The young Baluch man working in the workshop showed me his master, Hossein Tork, who is one of the oldest working in the area. He inherited the job from his father.

He said, “We usually buy henna leaves from Jiroft in Kerman Province and Delgan, Bazman and Iranshahr in Sistan and Baluchestan Province and bring them to our workshop to grind. Henna is harvested three times a year, in July, August and December. We mix all three types of henna together and then grind them.”

He showed me numerous bags of henna leaves piled up in a part of the old workshop.

Tork continued that henna grinders usually store enough henna leaves for one year in their warehouses. Henna leaves are sieved after being ground under a millstone. They are either packed in small bags, or exported in bulk to foreign countries.

He said henna is traditionally used to dye hair; it is also used industrially to produce shampoo.

“Although some Iranian nomads use henna to dye their hair, hand and feet, it is not widely consumed in Iranian cities. However, Arabs are among the main consumers of the product; that is why the Persian Gulf littoral states are the main purchasers of henna products exported from Iran,” he said.

Henna grinding workshops operate only in Yazd. However, the young local workers are not interested in the profession which doesn’t generate much revenue. Afghan and Baluch workers constitute the largest number of workers who are active in the workshops.

In another part of the workshop, a 70-year-old man was sewing and packing white henna bags behind a thick nylon curtain, acting as a barrier to prevent the dust from entering.

He said that henna grinding has not changed much from the past to the present, adding that in the past, the millstone was moved by camels or similar animals, but now they get their driving power from electric motors. The rest of the tools are those used in the workshop for several hundred years.

I asked him if he was not tired after working in the workshop for years and being exposed to dust.

He noted that henna powder does not cause any health problems.

“I am an old man and I don’t know any other profession, so I cannot change my job,” he concluded.


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