Introduction to ‘Sak Yant’: Traditional Sacred Thai Tattoo

The tradition of tattooing in Southeast Asia dates back to the third millennium BC. In Thailand, the memory of sacred ancestor lineages has not been lost and is still passed on from generation to generation. Sak Yant (in Thai sak means “to strike”, while yant means “yantra”, the sacred geometry) is part of a syncretic religion derived from the oldest animist beliefs, Brahmanists and Buddhists. Sak Yant escapes the contemporary perception of tattooing and is commonly adopted by many Thai people including monks, Buddhist philosophers and Muay Thai boxers (for strength and protection). The tattoos themselves reflect mystical animals and symbols, surrounded by a mantra or sacred spell. They are like a talisman, designed to provide strength, courage, success in love or protection from evil. These powerful symbols act as a magic art, penetrating the human body to change the course of a life. However, each person who wears this tattoo must follow the rules set by the master, otherwise, the tattoo will lose its power, becoming only a permanent mark on the skin.

In the privacy of their sanctuaries, these tattoo masters decorate the bodies of their clients and devotees using traditional methods incorporating bamboo sticks and metal needles. Those interested in the history of this ancient form of sacred tattooing and the meaning behind it can join an introductory tour to the culture of Sak Yant. A local expert guides visitors through this fascinating world, explaining the rituals and hidden meanings of the Sak Yant.

The purpose of this program is to provide a deeper understanding of the culture surrounding a Sak Yant ceremony and the story of the traditional tattoo. Please note that a Sak Yant Tattoo is not part of the tour and Destination Asia will not mediate the provision of a tattoo for guests during their stay in Thailand.

e: thailand@destination-asia.com

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