While living in Bangkok I had the opportunity of a lifetime – the chance to get a Sak Yant. For those that don’t already know, a Sak Yant is a traditional form of tattooing originating from southeast Asia and can be traced back thousands of years! The tattoo is applied by tapping ink into the skin using a bamboo stick or long metal spike. Locals believe that the tattoos are sacred, providing protection and good fortune to the bearer. It’s not uncommon for military and muay thai fighters to bear the power of a sak yant, but you will see everyone from shop owners to monks with yants.
There are countless kinds of yantras, and they all have a special meaning. They are traditionally tattooed by a monk or a Reusi (a person who practices esoteric sciences such as astrology, meditation, alchemy, mantra, yoga, etc.). A lot of the time the monk/reusi will pick a yantra that he feels is right for you and place it in the spot he sees fit.
I had one of the ladies from the front desk of our apartment make arrangments for me to visit Ajarn Neng, which made my life so much easier. All we had to do was take the BTS to On Nut and give a taxi driver the address. We arrived at what looked like Ajarn Neng’s own house and waited for his place to open. I showed his apprentice which yantra I wanted and he quoted me 6,000 baht! I was not expecting it to be that much and only brought 3,000…but I am extremely grateful that Ajarn Neng still agreed to do it for me!
We watched and waited patiently for a man before us to get his done. Then it was my turn. The apprentice handed me a bundle of lit incense and had me kneel down next to him to repeat a prayer. Once the chanting was done, I sat in front of Ajarn Neng to start my tattoo. I was not expecting it to hurt as bad as it did because I read online that the spike doesn’t go in as deep as tattoo gun needles do. But let me tell you…it hurt damn bad! I’m sure it was due to the fact that I was hunched over the whole time, but nonetheless It was so painful that I’ll be the first to admit I started shaking uncontrollably halfway through. The apprentice kept reminding me “more pain, more power” and they gave me a saying to repeat in my head, “sothaya”, to help concentrate and ease the pain. After 2 and a half hours of being jabbed in the back, Ajarn Neng said a final prayer and flung water my newly inked back, officially completing my first Sak Yant!
My specific Yant is called “Paed Tidt”, which represents protection when traveling in the 8 directions of the universe. I wanted this yantra from the second I laid eyes on it and had been waiting for months to get it. It was truly a beautiful experience and I feel very blessed that I got to end my journey in Thailand with this moment. I have decided to designate my back specifically for yantra tattoos and will definitely be making this apart of my yearly routine when visiting Bangkok!
Here’s a link to Ajarn Neng’s website for more info on Yantra tattooing!