What is a Henna Lamp?

Donn Saylor

A henna lamp is a type of lamp made from stretched sheep or goat skin and decorated with dye from the henna plant. Most henna lamps come from Morocco, and their designs are greatly influenced by the customs, styles, and architecture of the region. This unique variety of lighting is sold in several different forms: a floor lamp, a table lamp, or a hanging light fixture are a few common examples.

Woman shopping
Woman shopping

The sheepskin or goatskin used on a henna lamp is dyed before being stretched over the frame of the lamp. Henna lamps tend to be made in warm, earthy colors. Orange, burgundy, gold, purple, and deep blues and reds are among the most common colors used for henna lamps.

The Moroccan henna lamp is constructed by extending the skin across the lamp frame, which is usually made of wrought iron or another sturdy material. The skin is then secured onto the frame, usually using some kind of natural fiber. Next, henna dye is applied to the skin, customarily by female artisans, and is tattooed onto the surface in much the same way henna can be tattooed onto human skin; the designs are normally tribal or inspired by the distinctive style of Moroccan life and art. A final, optional step might include another artist filling in the henna designs with colored paint; this is done approximately one hour after the henna has been applied.

A henna lamp is distinctly shaped and is not in the form of a conventional lamp. These lighting units are commonly pyramidal in shape and frequently the upper portion of the pyramid is curved dramatically. They may also be in the shapes of flowers, cones, or even spirals. Given the unique nature of the skin and the original artwork tattooed on it, all henna lamps differ slightly from one another.

Modern henna lamps are outfitted with bulbs and electrical cords. Some henna lamps may be intended for candles. With either option, light is diffused by the shade in a burnished glow, creating a moody, romantic ambience.

Henna lamps can be purchased in an array of styles. Floor models, table models, or fixtures are just some of the available options. Wall sconces can also be fashioned from goat or sheep skin and henna dye, as can globe-shaped lanterns and multi-tiered light fixtures. There are even henna lamp tables, in which the base of the table is a large henna lamp; these can either be standard size tables or the high-top tables typically seen in bars and pubs.

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Discussion Comments


@stoneMason-- I brought a few from Morocco myself but I've also seen them at the international flea market that is set up in my area. If you are in the DC area, you may find them around the Eastern market. I'm sure that there are Moroccan stores and groceries that sell them too.

The ones I've seen used regular henna, so yes, the designs were dark red. But they also use other colors on the sheep skin now. So there are some options in regards to color.

I don't know if they fade, mine haven't faded so far. But I suspect that they would after five or more years. Henna fades from skin too with time.


Where can I purchase a henna lamp? Are there stores in the US that sell them? And do the artists color the henna before making the designs? Or are they all the typical henna color-- dark red? Does the color fade with time?


Henna lamps are gorgeous, I love them. They have so many different shapes, sizes, colors and designs.

When I first heard about these lamps, I suspected that they would be somewhat similar in appearance to Egyptian lamps. Egyptian lamps are made of metal and glass but most have the same type of designs.

This is not the case with Moroccan lamps though. There are so many varieties. I especially love the desk lamps that have an asymmetric shape to them. I have one in my bedroom. It creates a very nice atmosphere in my room. I think it's relaxing, it helps me sleep better with the dim light. And the design immediately adds an oriental touch to any room.

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