Among the many forms of tattoos, the Sak Yant is most popular in Thailand but is gaining a following across the globe. These intricate designs are both functional and attractive, and many people find their rich history inspiring.
This Asian magic tattoo is believed to give mystical powers to the wearer. According to Thai tattoo tradition, a Brahmin priest or Buddhist monk typically draws the tattoo. The name is derived from Thai words. ‘Sak’ means to tattoo, and a ‘Yant’ is a sacred design that uses Buddhist prayers, called mantras or katas, to call upon supernatural powers.
Initially, Yants were drawn on jackets intended for protection during battle. With the introduction of Buddhism in Thailand, Yants were quickly converted into protection tattoos on the skin. Today, many Thai men wear at least one Yant tattoo, and many Thai people believe strongly in the ability of a Yant to protect the wearer from bodily harm. Stories often describe individuals who remained unharmed in terrible car accidents, or who were untouched despite being shot at close range.
A Sak Yant is usually created either with a long bamboo stick with one end sharpened and split, similar to a quill, or with a metal spike called a Khem Sak. The wearer chooses a Yant design according to his desire, whether it’s for protection, good luck in business, or good luck with love. The design is then personalized with the mantras.
As an established aspect of Thai culture, Sak Yants have attracted the attention of tattoo enthusiasts from around the world, including celebrities like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Some Sak Yant Masters are so revered that they almost have superstar status themselves. Some people only want the tattoos because they look cool, but they will only benefit from the protection tattoos if they truly believe in the Yant’s power. Others want the entire mystical experience and travel to south-east Asia for a genuine Sak Yant.
When considering a Sak Yant, it may be wise to research the meanings and variations before traveling to Thailand. This tattoo is expensive, and if you don’t believe in its mystical powers, many Sak Yant Masters advise going to a local tattoo studio. For those who understand their Sak Yants, however, the benefits are well worth the investment.