Interesting article taken from the blog esquinathai.es
Tattoos, known as SakYant (Yantra tattoo- geometric) are very popular in the land of Muay Thai and particularly between monks, boxers, prostitutes and members of “street gangs”. They are also very popular amongst tourists and foreigners who are fascinated by their shapes, meaning and characteristic methodology. We are going to learn a little bit more about what it is hidden under this type of ancestral tattoo.
Where are these types of tattoos from?
Some sources affirm that their origin is Siam, reign which one time included the present Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and part of Burma. However, others believe that they became popular in the Khemer empire time, which owned a huge part of the same land and it was concentrated around Angkor temples.
Admittely, nowadays they are very popular in the countries which took part in these reigns but it is in Thailand where the tattoo Yant culture has developed because it is more touristic. A growing number of foreigners put their skin under bamboo branch of the monks and tattoo artist.
What makes it so special?
The Thai culture, and the entire region in general, is mainly Buddhist with a spiritualist background which today is noticeable in the culture, architecture, traditions and designs. They believe very much in spirits, karma, luck and mythology. It is believed that these tattoos give some magical power to those who carry them, as long as, they were made in the correct way and followed some rules.
The majority of these powers are related to the protection, luck in love and business, health or acquisition of owned characteristic from an animal. The crocodile tattoo gives the person a strong and hard skin in order to resist the attacks and stabs. The leadership and the ferocity of the lion will be brought to the person who carries it and it could be used in fights and business.
Gao Yord tattoo is receiving a blessing after realization
Who makes this type of tattoo?
Apart from the crowd of tourists, where I include myself, we are fascinated by its design and the tradition which is hidden under this type of tattoo. In the Thai society it is a tattoo that you can see above all in monks, Muay Thai boxers, prostitutes and people from the lowest status. Although these tattoos have always been common amongst the population of Thailand, they have become extremely popular once again like in the 90’s.
It is not related to them, but the people who believe very much in this tattoo belong to the lowest social rank. Perhaps it is because they are prone to go on trusting in sprints and supernatural powers or because someone else in their surroundings used them. It is certain that it is a common tattoo and the main designs are known by all the Thai citizens. VIDEO
Here we could see how an Ajarn blesses and challenges the tattoo power of the back of the Thai person.
Who must make the tattoo?
Nowadays, there are a lot of studios and shops which join to this trendy Yant tattoo and they often use an ink machine. Traditionally, these tattoos are made by monks from each temple and region, but not all are able to provide the power and spirituality which contain these tattoos.
It is usual to find people who have the entire back tattooed. Between designs we could see how spells and prayers are written.
In some situations, monks can make a few designs. There are a lot of places where you could not choose the tattoo but the master (called Ajarn) chooses the design according to your energy, aura, appearance and goals.
The monks are also in charge to bless the tattoo and the people who get them. After finishing the drawing, an offering and purification ceremony takes place there. The tattoo artist sings mantras and blesses this Sak Yank which he had already done and the tattooed person lets the power in. Personally, I do not know if you will receive power but it is a beautiful ceremony and you can live it with emotion, for the opportunity, and respect.
Enjoy the amazing technique and handling of the tattoo artists from the Wat Ko Poon temple. Pay attention to how they sketch on the skin before making the tattoo, without pattern.
Shapes, types and designs
There are a lot of designs in the Yant tattoo but everyone has something in common: using geometric shapes and the main drawing is surrounded by “spells”. They are written in Sanskrit (ancient language Khemer) but some are done in Thai or even in dialect from different zones of Thailand. For example, I have one which is written in Lanna(language of the north).
According to the drawing, you can see from spells, like the popular Ha (five) Taew(spells) until animal shapes until representations of gods and mythological image or Buda. Everyone is decorated with spells and adornments which refer to Buddhist and spiritualist traditions in general.
Ha Taew, GaoYord, and another in the way.
Everything is not gifts and promises in the land of smile. There are some strict rules related to this type of tattoo and in general, in respect of everything which has a sacred and spiritual characteristic in Thailand. These tattoos must not be under the waist and in the same way, you never will not see a Thai person with the flag of the country in a short or a boxer girl pass under the rope of the ring with the mongkol in. In Thailand, the high part of the body is pure and sacred and the down one is the dirtiest and impolite.
It is not common a Yank under the waist, scarcely the name of your mother or the Buda image. There are some rules which the people who carry the Yant tattoo have to do in order to keep the power that it gives you. Some of them are very strange, for example, not eating catfish, not walking under feminine underwear ( something so strange but now image that you live in the 2 floor and a woman lives in the 3 ones), no spitting to the water or some of them related to the sex.
These prohibitions are complex and I admit I do not understand some of them, even they are different for women and men. Well, I have not done them: catfish is delicious.
Finally, tattoos and Muay Thai
These tattoos were very popular amongst the warriors from the Siam army, they protect with them and their powers in each battle. This tradition seems to have passed clearly to Muay Thai, where a lot of the fighters show this type of tattoos and in a long time ago, they trust in the power from the Ajarn to protect during the fight.
The blessing from Buda, a hard skin against the elbows, the ferocity from the lion or the skill of the monkey or perhaps the good luck and the health against the injuries. The tattoos could give a lot of things to the NakMuays, who still burn incense before a fight in front of the spirit house of the gym in order to ask good luck before each match.
Sudsakorn is a Muay Thai star and he has a great tattoo on his back.
In my opinion, they are very beautiful and aesthetic tattoos which have a process that is very particular and beautiful. The tattoos is made with a stick of bamboo in the traditional way, something that is cool but hurts. The skill of the tattoo artists in general is impressive and the precision and speed do not make any difference to anybody.
I would not be the person who will complain about the “foreigners” that go to Thailand and the first thing that they do is a tattoo. It is not their fault because I love the designs too. But you will be one of us, find a real place where a master will tattoo you, bless and do all the process correctly. Ifyou have to pay some money to someone, the best option is the masters who had learned truly this art and respect the tattoo tradition.
Also, in my own experience, the authentic Ajarns earn less (something is a voluntary payment) than the studios which today are appearing in the touristic zones of Thailand