I wrote a post on Is Tattoo Just A Body Art or A Cultural Sacred Design and this has been my most popular post as many people are interested in tattoo. There are 2 main reasons as to why people decide to get tattoo, as for some, they only see tattoo as a body art, the canvas is on the human body, a very fascinating concept to me. I don’t have a tattoo, but I do see the beauty in tattoos and this type of tattoo is more popular amongst women and very popular in Japan from what I have came across.
Tattoo Bride Photo by Nahpan
Uploaded by Jose M. Ruiz Garrido, actress Angelina Jolie attends the premiere of “Ocean’s Thirteen”; at the Grauman’s Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California June 5, 2007. The tattoos on Jolie’s arm represent the coordinates of the birth places of her children.
This video of Thai spiritual tattoo, also known as Sak Yant by Ajahn Noo Kanpai is very interesting, I’ve seen the actual temple tattoo on a friend, which I think it’s fascinating because it’s not your ordinary tattoo; the design has a religious feel to it.
Ajarn Noo does 2 types of tattoos, and both are cultural sacred designs. The first is at the very beginning of the video where the designs of the tattoo is invisible, but the main purpose is to gain wisdom, possess power of kindness as he uses a special ointment of varnt (special roots from plants), the process of Sak Yant is exactly the same as using black ink, in this case a very sacred design.
Another is the sacred design that deemed to possess magic power of protection; he puts Monh (magic) of prayers inside the design, which I believed was written in Pali, Sanskrit. Thai Temple tattoo of Sak Yant (photo on right hand side,) which is geometrically designs that deemed to possess magic powers of protection is very popular amongst Asian warriors, such as the Thais, Laotians, and Khmers in the old days and still very popular today.
There are other designs such as the lion (Singhto), which is a symbol of bravery and cunning. Thai men would choose a tiger design, not just a picture of a tiger but tattoo their body to look like tiger, many have had designs that covered every square inches of their body. The reason for the tiger design is that Thai people, especially the Lanna, believed that their ancestors were once tiger, therefore to show respect and in remembrance of their ancestors, they’d choose the tiger design. Another popular one is the hanuman, which is the Hindu monkey god, which is to protect against illness, against being shot, against being cut, and to give courage.
In part of the video where the men have strange reaction, it is believed that the sacred designs that were tattooed (Sak) into their body, whether it be the tiger, dragon, or hanuman would come out and they’d act like the animal that they chose, and this is a sign that that person truly gained the power of protection. Sak Yant is very fascinating to me; to the Thais, Laotians, Khmers, and many others, tattoo is not just a body art but also a sacred design.
A photo below, a young monk has a tattoo of prayers added to his back at Wat Bang Pra, Thailand; photo by Stephen Shaver
Ajarn Sua completes a sak yant protection tattoo with a ritual that involves symbolically cutting the devotee with a knife. The tattoo is believed to be able to stop a bullet.
A full back tattoo from the studio of Ajarn Sua outside Bangkok. The tattoo is believed to protect the devotee from harm.
Ajarn Sua completes a protection tattoo with a ritual.
Ink supplies at the Wat Bang Pra Temple.
Hand tattoo, monks at the wat bang pra temple outside bangkok use a two foot long needle to ink devotees.
As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, these tattoos are not like the modern tattoos that are merely a fashion statement, but more of a cultural belief and most, if not all have Monh (magic) of prayers in the design, of course, along with the tattoo came few rules that one has to follow to keep the magic strong,
Updated 4/23/2008: Please read here for health and sanitation concern.
Updated 5/05/2008: To those who wear the Sacred Yant Tattoo:
1. Do not eat Star fruit, Pumpkin, or any other “Gourd” type Vegetable.
2. Do not Be anybody’s Lover who is already married
3. FORBIDDEN in Extreme, to slander anybody’s Mother (this means most women, if you think about it).
4. Do not eat food from a Wedding, or Funeral banquet.
5. Do not Eat left-Overs.
6. Do not Duck under a Washing Line, or an overhanging building.
7. Do not Duck under a Banana Tree of the type Thaanii (classed as important to avoid).
8. Do not cross a single head bridge; Large or Small bridges are not Forbidden.
9. Do not sit on a Ceramic Urn (Common in Thailand). Especially a Cracked, or Broken one.
10. Do not let a Woman Lie on Top of You, or Sit on Top either.
11. Do not permit a Man to be Brushed by the blouse or skirt of a Woman, or crossed in Front of; Especially during the Menstrual Period.
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