MAN WITHOUT TATTOOS IS INVISIBLE TO THE GODS – Iban Proverb

 Sak Yant magic tattoo

A Sak Yant is a magic tattoo which holds mystical powers is normally given by a Buddhist Monk or Brahmin Priest. Sak is the Thai word for tattoo ad yant is the Thai pronunciation of the Pali-Saniskrit word yantra which means sacred design that incorporates Buddhist prayers called Mantras or Katas that will invoke supernatural powers. the Sak Yant is chosen by the monk giving the tattoo, he has a long list of protective symbols to choose from. Each symbol offers a different type of protection or blessing and will be given without any prior discussion.

Traditionally a Yant is tattooed using a long bamboo stick with a split sharpened point called a Mai Sak or alternatively a long metal spike known as a Khem Sak. The needle is dipped into ink and repeatedly jabbed through your flesh by hand. The needle is usually wiped with an alcohol pad after each tattoo or it might be placed in a bottle of alcohol while a separate needle is used for the next person. But the same pot of ink is used with everyone and blood can mix with the ink. That opens the possibility of contracting HIV or Hepatitis however there is no hard statistics through. To complete the sacred tattoo monk chants a Kataa and blows it into the design unleashing its power.

Thai people from all levels of society take the practice very seriously, and many cover their bodies with Sak Yant tattoos. you can find those designs on soldiers, doctors, monks, actors and politicians as well as criminals and mafia assassins. Many women also get them however because is forbidden for monks to touch female flesh they use cloth or gloves to prevent contact. Some people choose to receive an invisible tattoo using palm oil rather than ink.

There are rules of abstention for wearers of Sak Yant known in Thai as Khor Haam they often depend on each master. Here are some of them by Wat Bang Pra.

  • do not eat star fruit, pumpkin or any other ‘gourd’ type vegetable
  • do not be anybodys lover who is already married
  • forbidden in extreme to slander anybody’s mother
  • do not eat food from a wedding or funeral banquete
  • do not eat left overs
  • do not duck under washing line or an overhanging building
  • do not duck under banana tree of the type Thaanii
  • do not cross a single head bridge, however large or small bridges are not forbidden
  • do not sit on ceramic urn, especially a cracked or broken one
  • do not let woman lie on top of you, or sit on top either
  • do not permit a man to be brushed by the blouse or skirt of woman, or crossed in front of especially during the menstruation.

The best place in Thailand to receive a Sak Yant tattoo is a Buddhist temple called Wat Bang Phra which is located about 40 minutes West of Bangkok.

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