Traditional Thai Tattoos (Sak Yant)
Thai tattoo (Sak Yant) is one of cultures, which rooted in Thai society for a long time. The historical records
show that Thai tattoo begun since 13th century in the reign of King Borommatrailokanat (1448-1488). It was
performed to specify and classify the status and military level of ancient Thai men. For those who had a tattoo on
their wrists were specified as soldiers in the army while those who had a tattoo on their faces were classified as
Normally, Sak Yant is always performed by the expert tattoo masters (Ajarn), who is believed to have magical
expertise, under the holy ceremony. While tattooing, the incantation will be spelled on the tattoo to inspirit its
power and encourage a tattoo wearer to believe in the sacredness of the tattoo. All Thai tattoos are based on
superstition beliefs, classified into 2 major purposes; charm or financial prosperity (Metta Maha Saneh) and
For Metta Maha Saneh, the tattoos are always portrayed as lizards, Sarika birds or various yantra alphabets.
This Metta Maha Saneh tattoo is believed that it can support the wearers to gain prosperity in their businesses, to
be loved and successful in all respects of life. Metta Maha Saneh Yant is very popular for people in all fields of
occupation, especially those in trading and entertainment business. There are many actors and actresses who wear
the renowned Metta Maha Saneh tattoos like “Five Rows”, “Ganesha”, and “Phaya Kai Fa” or King of the Pheasant.
Phaya Kai Fa - one of Metta
Maha Saneh tattoos
Hanuman - one of Kongkrapan
In the part of Kongkrapan tattoos, they are the most popular for all Thai men since the ancient period. It is
believed that the wearer will be protected from all bad lucks, accidents and weapons. Hence, Kongkrapan tattoos are
always pictured as ferocious and nimble creatures; for example, tigers, lions, swans, snakes, dragons, Hanuman,
Naka, Garuda and Erawan elephant. Besides, the Kongkrapan tattoos are also portrayed as holy mythical gods like
Brahma, Shiva, Indra, Rama, including an ancient Brahma hermit. These Kongkrapan tattoos are generally worn by men,
especially those who are soldiers, policemen, and gangsters who need more safety than any other occupations.
However, there is a belief concerning the position of the tattoo as well. It is said that whether a tattoo will
be sacred or not, it depends on its position, which needs to be suitable and proper to support the magic and spells
too. As mentioned above that having a tattoo on a face is a sign of guilty and prisoners, so, most Thai people
preferred to wear tattoo on their covered parts of the body such as back, chest, neck , shoulders and torso
instead. The forbidden position to wear Yant with spelled incantation is a sexual organ as it is regarded as the
dirtiest part of a human body that leads people to commit sins.
With its unique and magnificence design, Thai tattoo becomes more popular among foreigners, both inside,
and outside Thailand. You may have heard that Angelina Jolie also came to Thailand to get the famous Thai tattoos
like “Five Rows” and “Phaya Suakrong” or King of the Tigers from Ajarn Noo, the number 1 tattoo master of Thailand,
in 2003 and 2004 respectively. This news made his reputation and Thai tattoos become a smash hit for all Thai and
foreign tattoo lovers who are willing to pay no matter how much the price for each tattoo is.
Angelina Jolie with
traditional Thai tattoos
However, though Sak Yant is made and spelled by a tattoo master who claims to have magical expertise, it does
not mean that all tattoo wearers will be more extraordinary than other people. Both Metta Maha Saneh and Kongkrapan
tattoos are in common to encourage all the wearers spiritually to be more self-confident and self-esteemed to do
anything positively. Although the wearers have Matta Maha Saneh, it does not guarantee that you will be rich,
successful or lucky in love forever. No exception for the Kongkrapan tattoos too, the wearers cannot be careless
for any possibly accident or fighting that may occur. Everything is up to the wearers themselves, not the spells or
any supernatural power that is believed to exist in the tattoo.