Lalle design also known as Kunshi plays a vital role in the beatification of a woman’s skin in the Northern part of the country. This awesome traditional practice have been in existence for decades and is very popular among the Hausa Fulani. Historically, it came from North Africa during the slave trade. Yet this practice is popularly known among the Hausa Fulani and the Kanuri culture in beautifying their skins. The Lalle is a temporary form of traditional tattoo that is used to adorn the arms, hands and legs with beautiful designs. Its quite distinct from the permanent western world’s tattoo that is permanent, this type of tattoo.
Lalle is obtained from Lalle leaf which is first dried and then ground into a power form. It is thereafter mixed with water and other ingredients such as lemon, dye and Bintu Sudan (an oil perfume) and put in a nylon bag with a tiny hole at the extreme end or at the tip of the nylon. Some use hydrogen solution to wash the stain while some just allow it to dry and just peal it off before washing it with water and applying oil perfume to it so that it will not fade easily. For those that want their Lalle to be red in color, they use the traditional method of mixing their Lalle powder with only water and cover the part they apply the Lalle with nylon for some hours and this time around they make sure the Lalle does not dry in order to achieve a perfect result unlike the modern one which is allowed to dry. Some also prefer to use Rani Hanne paste obtained from Arabian countries to achieve the reddish or orange color they desire.
Lalle design is also celebrated as part of the marriage rites and is widely accepted as a blessing and fertility. A day is specially selected to celebrate the application of Lalle on the bride’s skin, arms and legs which is known as Kamu, this is done by the aunt of the bride and it signifies that she is now a woman and somebody’s wife. The celebration continues the next day with the Lalle artist designing the bride’s arms, hand and legs in company of her friends while local musician add colour with the beating of their drums and blowing of flutes with well people dancing and cheering. This new practice is quite different from the former wherein the Lalle artist just design the bride’s skin in company of her friends and after the Kamu drinks and food only are served.
Being a lalle artist is not just something that is inherited but is a work of art that is developed through passion This Lalle also known as Kunshi in Hausa language is mainly known as a practice that is done during weddings, but is now commonly done in most festivities like naming ceremonies, sallah celebrations and the rest. Lalle is also commonly used by the northerners for medicinal purposes such as healing of open wounds, burns or rough foot. It is also popularly used for dyeing the hair and beards.
By Aisha Saleh