Dushanbe is a collection of henna designs I created based on the art of the Dushanbe Tea House.
Get your copy here.
Here’s the description from ArtisticAdornment.com, the publisher:
“Dushanbe is full of henna designs inspired by the art of Tajikistan. This book features over 50 designs by henna artist Heather Caunt-Nulton, ranging in complexity from bridal work to quick one minute festival designs and everything in between. The Persian style knotwork designs from this collection have proven to be super popular with clients.”
Here’s the complete intro:
The first spark of inspiration for this book came from my first visit to my brother’s new home in Boulder, Colorado, USA. Boulder’s most architecturally impressive building is the Dushanbe Tea House, which was built as a gift from the mayor of Dushanbe, Tajikistan, to the people of their sister city, Boulder, CO. Artists from throughout Tajikistan worked on the building from 1987-1990 in their home country, and then sent all of the beautifully decorated building – from ceilings, to walls, to columns, and more – from Tajikistan to Boulder.1 The building was then reconstructed in Boulder. Boulder’s gift to Tajikistan was the Friendship Center Cyber Café, which won the Sister Cities International award for Sustainable Development for its extensive use of solar panels.2
The art of Tajikistan is strongly influenced by Persian art, Russian art, Turkish art, and more. Its position at the crossroads of the Silk Road and part of many different empires also meant that art from a wide variety of art from other cultures also made its way to this mountainous country. 3 The one art form that did not flourish in Tajikistan, at least as far as my own research thus far indicates, seems to be henna. There are so many indications of cross-cultural contact happening in, around, and by way of Tajikistan between different regions that did historically do henna, that this is somewhat surprising. If someone else finds evidence of henna use in early Tajikistan, I will not be surprised, but at this time, I have not yet found it.
The designs in this book are, therefore, not traditional henna designs. Rather, they are henna designs inspired by the traditional art of Tajikistan. Many of the first original drawings are based on photos I took during two visits (in 2012 and 2013) to the Dushanbe Tea House in Boulder. As I became more deeply interested in the art of Tajikistan, I wanted to learn more about it than I could simply from looking at the teahouse itself. When I first took to doing some Google searches, I found a lot of images of questionable provenance. Were the pieces featured really from Tajikistan, or were they maybe from Uzbekistan or Afghanistan? Even the people presenting the images did not seem to know for sure. After pursuing additional credible sources on the art and cultural history of Tajikistan, I eventually found a book written by Hamrokhon Zarifi, an ambassador and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, The Tajik Golden Heritage. This book was invaluable in gaining a deeper understanding of the history of the area. It also has over 400 full color pages, chock full of photographs of the art of Tajikistan throughout history.
On each design page, I have noted the inspiration for the design I have drawn, as well as the medium of the original artwork. You will see a wide variety in these designs, as the inspiration they draw upon spans thousands of years and dozens of different mediums. I hope that looking at these notes help you find more art that is like what you are drawn to, and allow you to pursue anything you find interesting more deeply.
I am happy to present this book of henna designs as yet another point of evidence that the Sister Cities Program is wonderful, helping to connect the citizens of the world by making rich, local connections and sharing traditions. The Dushanbe Tea House in Boulder, Colorado stands as a testament to the power of sharing our cultural traditions through our art – something which we as henna artists also are lucky enough to play a part in.
This book is dedicated to the artists and artisans of Tajikistan who constructed the Dushanbe Tea House4, my brother who introduced me to this most beautiful piece of his new home city, Neeta Sharma, whose Spring Fling henna conference had recently reinvigorated my passion for henna before my 2012 trip to Boulder, when this project started truly taking shape, Lori Bessette who consulted with me about editorial choices, and all the models5 who collaborated with me for the photos.
In Global Sisterhood,
Video sample of a design in the same style as many designs in Dushanbe (created after the book was published; not included in book):
Free Sample Henna Designs from Dushanbe: