My Fascination with Sak Yant Tattoos

A Sak Yant tattoo is a traditional form of tattoo art originating from Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar.

The first time I went to Thailand in 2018 to study at the Thai Massage School of Chiang Mai (TM), I had to walk past Sak Yant Tattoos every day to and from where I boarded the bus for school. I was fifty years old and had never received a tattoo. But on a whim, not only did I decide to get a tattoo, I got a massive tattoo on my chest called the Suea Hiaw lang tattoo, or “tiger looking back.”

Traditionally, Sak Yant tattoos are associated with spiritual and supernatural beliefs. Many people who get Sak Yant tattoos believe they can provide them with various benefits, such as protection from harm, improved luck, increased charisma, and enhanced physical abilities. The efficacy of the tattoos corresponds to the wearer’s spiritual intentions and the blessings the tattooist gives during the tattooing process.

Most of the animal Yants have the attributes of that animal. A tiger has stealth, speed and power, so the tiger tattoo I chose represented protection from behind. The tiger watches my back (even though it is on my chest). The tattoo also represents compassion and kindness and is helpful in business negotiations, managing employees and finances, and helping develop communication skills.

When I returned to Canada, I planned to open my clinic, so the monk also included blessings for my future Thai massage clinic. In return, I promised to be responsible and caring and use my authority positively.

When I returned to Chaing Mai in 2021 to study at the International Training Massage School (ITM), I returned to Sak Yant Tattoos for a second tattoo, the Paed Tidt Yant tattoo. This tattoo looks like a compass, with eight Mantras written in two concentric circles in the center of the design. This design protects me in whichever direction I travel and wards off evil spirits. As I was about to open my Thai massage school, this time, the monk included blessings for my future school.

At this point, I have no immediate plans to return to Thailand, but I have already chosen my next tattoo.

What Is A Sak Yant Tattoo?

What is the significance of the Sak Yant designs? Where can you get a Sak Yant tattoo? How do Sak Yant tattoo a part of Traditional Thai Medicine?

A Muay Thai fighter with Sak Yant tattoos.
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