While some may see tattoos as simply a trend, one of the endless reasons why we love them is the long history they carry. Many tattoo styles have a much deeper meaning than just being beautiful to look at. One style with a particularly rich culture is Sak Yant tattoos. Let’s take a closer look:
To put it simply, Sak means ‘to tap’ or ‘to tattoo’ and Yant means ‘yantra’. The Yantra designs are sacred, geometric designs that incorporate Buddhist psalms and were adapted by the Thais from Hindu India as Buddhism arrived. They’re said to elicit powers of protection to the wearer and different tattoos of this style have different magical meanings.
The application of a Sak Yant tattoo is a magical experience. Just like the history of these tattoos, the person who performs the application is extremely important. This is usually a Buddhist monk at a temple or an ajarn, known as a master teacher who’s heavily studied Sak Yant tattoos and the spiritualism that surrounds them. Furthermore, before starting the tattoo the receiver must make an offering to the monk, which is often flowers or a donation for the upkeep for the temple. The tattoo is then hand poked by the monk or ajarn and once it’s finished, prayers are chanted and the tattoo is sealed with a blessing. While many modern artists will claim to offer Sak Yant tattoos, without the blessings and care that come from those performed by a master, they most likely won’t hold the same power as a traditional Sak Yant.
Sak Yant Rules
Due to the highly sacred nature of Sak Yant tattoos, they come with rules. This is because they’re designed to spiritually aid a person’s life. There are a set of basic rules which are linked to the major concepts of Buddhism and in addition to this, each Sak Yant tattoo has its own set of rules. They’re simply ways to be a better person. The basic Sak Yant rules are do not: kill, steal, desire another person’s lover, lie, get intoxicated or speak ill of your mother. The master who performs your tattoo creation should make you aware of your own set of rules and it’s simply a case of respecting and honouring this sacred practice.
Becoming a Sak Yant master
In order for someone to become a Sak Yant master, they must learn from and honour the master who came before them. They must also go through years of training and in depth studying. It’s believed they must learn Pali, the sacred Buddhist language, the yantra designs and the blessing chants which go with each tattoo. In order for a master to pass on power through their tattoo creations, they must practice meditation and other spiritual activities and the same goes for a master in training. It’s only once their master feels they are ready that they’re given the Ruesi mask, meaning they’ve gone from being a student to a master.
There are many different styles of Sak Yant tattoos and each of them hold a different meaning and magical power. Here’s a handful of them:
The Hah Taew is one of the most common Sak Yant tattoos. This particular design features five lines or rows which each represent a different element. From cleansing unwanted spirits to protecting the wearer from black magic.
The Suea is also known as the Tiger Sak Yant. Seeing as though these animals are dominant and feared by many, those who choose to get this tattoo are believed to share some of the same qualities. This Sak Yant evokes power and authority and is a particular favourite with people who have dangerous jobs.
The Ganesh Phra Pikanet is believed to bring business and financial prosperity. Ganesha is the God of art and success, so those who get this tattoo are believed to receive the success they have wished for.
There are many other Sak Yant tattoos out there with deep meanings so it’s important to do your research if you’re thinking of getting one. Particularly because they’re incredibly sacred tattoos, it’s always worth spending time to make sure you’re honouring the culture appropriately.
Furthermore, due to many tourists getting a Sak Yant whilst on their travels and being unaware of the historic value, some people feel the meaning behind these historic tattoos has been lost over time. The most important thing to remember is in order for these tattoos to remain sacred, the wearer should lead a good life and be a good person.