“Sak Yant” in Thai means “Tattoo of Sacred Design”. Buddhist and Hindu monks, as well as Sak Yant “Ajarns” (meaning teacher or master) perform spiritual blessings and protection rituals on patrons, which includes giving a tattoo in the midst of the ritual. The Sak Yant can be given for protection from harm or black magic, for courage, for health, for fortune and prosperity…as long as the wearer follows certain rules. The rules differ but tend to include no lying, stealing, murdering, and disrespecting elders, as well as dietary restrictions like not eating dogs and snakes, and no dulling of the mind and senses.
These tattoos are usually done with a bamboo rod and hammered deep into the skin. The ink is mixed with wild herbs. The monk chants, and the patron does as well as they enter a trance-like state with one another.
This ritual was documented by Chinese historians over two thousand years old, and is a blend of ancient animism with
the relatively more recent major religions of the area, such as brahmanism and Buddhism. It is a widespread practice mainly in Thailand and Cambodia. This seamless blend of folk religion and modern religion together into an unchanging cultural ritual is reminiscent of practices of Voudon and Santeria in the southern United States, Central America, and the Caribbean.
“The legends tend to indicate that the Ruesi were cheifly responsible for obtaining the spells and sacred psalms that enable the magic of sak yant. They did this through having supposedly entered their states of higher consciousness and listened tothe Divine beings.The Ruesi recorded the songs of the Heavenly beings and out of this came the “Kampir Waet”, otherwise known as the Sacred Vedas by the Hindus. These Vedas were the sacred book of knowledge of the Brahmins, or “Prahm” as they are called in Thai.
Before the advent of Buddhism, Brahminism was the main Religion & Brahmins were the ruling society of what is now India and Nepal. The only people allowed to study the magickal knowledge contained within the Vedas.The Ruesi took this knowledge, and made it available to us on Earth.They then made hymns to the Divine beings using these Vedas and inscribed Yantras, sacred geometrical imagery with magickal powers cast into them.
After their invention and the rise of Buddhism in what is now known as the Kingdom of Thailand, the Thai people developed an affinity for tattooing these sacred Yant (Yant is the Thai name for Yantra).”
-Quote from Sak-Yant Informational Website (www.sak-Yant.com)
Inn Kham Pan Ya Reang is a Thai Ajarn who spent almost ten years as a monk as well as being a master of Sak Yant for 43 years. He studied both Thai and Khmer mysticism and magic. He is known as “Father Tattoo”, and patrons come from all over the country to seek his services.
When visiting a monk or ajarn, you must bring items for an offering. I brought 12 sticks of incense, a bundle with flowers and cigarettes wrapped in a banana leaf, and money. We travelled out into the hills to his home. It was a sparse, humble property with a home and a small temple. When we entered his temple, I was fascinated-it was full of alters, ranging from simple to elaborate. Murals covered the wall, and alters were wrapped in leopard cloth. Some had thousands of cigars stacked on them, some had dolls on them, flowers and incense were everywhere. Amulets were scattered around, bones, gold statues, everything was chaotic yet undeniably sacred. He smoked a cigar while sharpening the needle with sandpaper, and smiled at me.
I told him what I was seeking, and he chose a design for me.
I would describe the tattooing experience as very different than my many tattoo experiences in the past. It was more like getting acupuncture or a massage, it was instantly meditative. All I can hope now is that I receive my strength and success!