Western guests tell stories about Thai monks tattooing magic in the temple

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Sep 9, 2022  ( 1 post )  
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Magical tattoo (magic tattoo) sak yant

As the tattoo needle pierced his skin, Matt felt as if a swarm of bees were rushing at him. His body tensed, sweat poured out, but still managed to appear tough in front of the eyes of 40 natives who were watching.

Matthew Karsten is a travel blogger, website owner  Expert Vagabond . In 2010, he decided to quit his job, break up with his girlfriend and sell all his possessions to start his journey to discover the world from Guatemala. During the journey, Matt visits Thailand and has a memorable experience with the magical tattoo (magic tattoo) sak yant of the country of golden pagodas.


Matt said Sak Yant (also known as Yantra) has a history of development of nearly 2,000 years. At that time, many monks used to tattoo Sak Yant on warriors to help them be protected by their superiors and give them strength in battle. Ancient soldiers covered their bodies with these magical tattoos to avoid being hit by swords and arrows. The structure of Sak Yant is geometric, animal and divine designs accompanied by some mantras written in Sanskrit.

These tattoos can bless, attract energy, protect life, property and many benefits for the wearer. Originating in India, Sak Yant is now popular in Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand. 

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For Matt, this is his first time getting a tattoo, so he wants it to be special. When learning about magic tattoos, the tourist was very curious. The monks only used a long needle or a sharp bamboo stick to start tattooing. They also choose tattoo locations and tattoos that match the mood exuding from the guests.

According to Matt, Wat Bang Phra is the best place for visitors to get tattooed by monks, the temple is located 40 minutes by car from the center of Bangkok. For hundreds of years, local people have come to this sacred place to imprint their bodies with magical tattoos.

Wat Bang Phra is a splendid temple lined with colorful decorative statues. Matt bought an offering at the temple gate, including an orchid branch, an incense card and a pack of cigarettes for 75 baht (about 46,000 VND). Everyone who comes to Wat Bang Phra to get a tattoo buys ready-made flowers and incense to offer to the monk who will perform the ceremony. These items will be used in rotation, the money from the sale will be put into the merit box. Then, he was led by an old man to the direction of the building where the monk was doing the tattooing ceremony. Matt was ushered into a dark room filled with gilded Buddha images, with pictures of King Rama IX and elderly monks hanging on the walls.


Maybe Matt wasn't the only one getting a tattoo today. Monk Luang Pi Nunn is always trusted by many people, every day he often paints about 50 Sak Yant tattoos. If you don't come early, you won't get your turn. While waiting, Matt was able to watch Mr. Luang tattoo many people.

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According to Matt, the safety of Sak Yant tattoos is a controversial issue. Although tattoo needles are wiped with an alcohol wipe or dipped in a vial of alcohol after each tattoo, tattoo ink is shared and everyone's blood can mix with the solution. Therefore, the possibility of HIV infection or hepatitis virus infection is completely possible, although there are no statistics on this issue. He hesitated briefly as he waited.

Finally it was Matt's turn, he took off his shirt and bowed his head three times in front of Mr. Luang and then sat with his back, he didn't know how he would get the tattoo. He shared that sometimes monks will refuse to tattoo people who do not have a serious attitude.

Each monk has his own recipe for making tattoo ink

When the tattoo needle pierced Matt's skin for the first time, he felt like he'd been stung by a bee. Next, the pain rushed in as if a swarm of bees were rushing to attack him. Matt's body tensed, sweat broke out. He pressed the pillow under his lap and tried to be tough in front of the attentive eyes of 40 locals who were watching each foreign visitor's expression. But to Matt's surprise the needle wasn't as painful as he thought it would be, imagining he would burst into tears or worse, pass out in the middle of a room full of strangers. Just 10 minutes after a thousand times the tattoo needle pierced his skin, Matt had a Sak Yant image on his back. However, to complete it, Mr. Luang had to chant the mantra and enchant the tattoo so that it could protect Matt's life.


Mr. Luang is tattooing Matt. Each monk has his own recipe for making tattoo ink. It is thought that tattoo ink often contains Chinese coal, snake venom, palm oil and sometimes part of the ashes of the dead. 

The tattoo on Matt's back is called Gao Yord (9 towers). The nine spiers embody the nine peaks on Mount Sumeru, a mythical mountain in Buddhism and considered the center of the universe in Hinduism. On each peak is a small sitting Buddha, the 9 spirals below are the paths to enlightenment. In each small square stacked below are Sanskrit characters written in mantras, repeated symmetrically on both sides, saying: Gu Ti Gu Ya Tha Saa Wae Taa Saa Gu - Gu Gu Ti Saa Tha Ya Gu Saa Tae Wae. 

He is very excited about his new tattoo because it is truly an unforgettable experience. Not only that, he had a souvenir of the golden pagoda country forever imprinted on his back.


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