In many cultures around the world, tattoos are used as a way to signify status positions and are believed to offer supernatural protection. Sacred tattoos in Thailand are very popular, in particular Yantra tattoos.
Yantra Tattooing is a form of sacred tattooing commonly practised in Thailand. The tattoos are associated with animist beliefs which were popular in Thailand before the arrival of Buddhism. Yantra dates back to Angkor times and the art is greatly influenced by Khmer culture. In fact the blessings are written in a Khmer script called Khom. Yantra designs are normally tattooed by Maw Pii or spiritual doctors and Buddhist monks.
Yantra tattoos are believed to be magic and bestow mystical powers, protection or good luck. Some claim that the tattoo can protect a person from physical harms and illnesses as long as they follow certain rules. Yantra tattoos are very popular among Muay Thai fighters and military people.
Members of the Phuketindex team recently visited Yantra Tattoo at Sukko Spa to speak with the tattoo artist Khun Chad to find out more about this ancient practice.
Chan Ditkajan (Pong) Tattoo Artist Yantra Tattoo Sukko Spa
How did you become interested in Yantra tattoos?
I liked and became interested in Yantra tattoos at a very early age and decided that I wanted to learn more about them. Therefore, I gave myself the task of finding someone who could teach me about becoming a Yantra tattoo artist. My first teacher was Luang Por Boonsong from Wat Yangsoong in Suphan Buri. He is very well known within the Yantra tattoo society as his work is so skillful. After learning from him I became a Yantra tattoo artist and that was about 6 years ago.
What is the tattoo equipment of the past?
Originally, what is now a needle was a thorn which was from the material rattan. Nowadays the needle is made from stainless steel and is called a “Kem Jeeb” (pleat needle).
What was originally used as ink was actually soot. This was very hard to produce and the technique used for making it was very intricate and meticulous.
First you needed to find a suitable tree, on which you then had to write a magic symbol and occult number, you were then required to cast a spell on the tree and say a prayer. The tree was then cut down and taken to be burnt. The burning of the tree was also carried out after casting another spell. Once the wood had started burning you placed a clay pot on the fire and soot would start to form on the bottom of the pot. This was all done whilst praying. Once the fire had burnt out you scraped the soot that had formed on the pot into a bowl which contained sesame oil. You would mix the two together, whilst chanting a spell, until the two ingredients were well mixed.
Lifestyle of a Yantra tattoo artist
Most people who carry out Yantra tattoos should follow five certain conditions: you cannot kill, steal, cheat, be intoxicated by alcohol or lust over women. However, each of us will have to also follow the conditions which are laid out by our teacher for example; do not go under clotheslines, do not eat any food at a funeral and do not eat foods such as squash, zucchini and pumpkins.
Why do people have Yantra tattoos?
Yantra tattoos are magic and bestow mystical powers, protection or good luck. The tattoo can protect a person from physical harm and illnesses as long as they follow the five conditions I mentioned before.
Disciple (Yantra Tattoo Fan)
How many tattoos do you have? Could they help with any issues in your life?
I have many tattoos because I like them a lot. However, I cannot tell you exactly how many I have now. I also believe that they will assist me in my job which is related to rescue. Most of my tattoos are about immunity and mercy.
When and where did you have your first tattoo?
I actually had two tattoos on my first visit. The first was the “Kao Yod” (nine peaks tattoo), and this tattoo brings me power and protection. The second is the “Paed Tidt” (eight direction tattoo). This tattoo gives me protection in whichever direction I travel and will ward off evil spirits. I have had these two tattoos since 1993 and they were done for me by the monk Lunag Por Pern from Wat Bang Pra, Nakkhon Prathom. This is possibly the most well known place to get a Yantra tattoo.
When did you start to visit Chan? What effect does it have on your life?
I started to get tattoos done by Khun Chan last year. Having now had these tattoos I have stability at work and safety from any dangers.