Magic tattoos are the subject of great interest from foreigners discovering Thailand and South East Asia. They form a strong tradition in Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia and, I believe, Laos. They are the work of monks, shamans, masters or other spiritual teachers. Some are done with ‘normal’ tattoo ink, some with oil – in which case they are invisible after healing. In rare cases a mixture of ink and oil are used resulting in what appears to be a half finished tattoo!
Our student MarKus recently received a Sak Yant (magical tattoo) in Chiang Mai. Original we were going as a group and several of the students were intending to get magical tattoos. Sadly due to me getting sick and some of the usual indecisiveness, just a small group went and only MarKus got the tattoo. It was hand done by a monk in a temple. The monk or master chants prayers during the process and imparts spirit and intent which give rise to the magical power of the tattoo.
You can read about MarKus’s Sak Yant here:
He booked through www.sakyantchiangmai.com
I had one done many years ago on my birthday in a temple in Pai, although not with the full ritual and mine is a specialised tattoo – I knew exactly what I wanted and Pu, my wife was in agreement. Mine depicts the deity Prah Rahu swallowing the moon. Prah Rahu bestows protection, particularly against ‘knives in the back’ both literally and metaphorically. He protects against any organised groups, be it the mafia or the police and against ambitious employees or subordinates looking to replace their boss. He grants prosperity and success. There is a lot more than this but these are strong points. The positioning of the tattoo at the top of my back signifies ‘watching my back’.
For anyone coming to Thailand who wants a Sak Yant, we can point you in the right direction.