All tattoos have meaning, whether they were done on a whim or after a long process of discernment. However, some tattoos carry a heavier meaning and even a spiritual aspect. One of these tattoos is the Sak Yant tattoo.
What is a Sak Yant tattoo?
Sak Yant tattoos are rooted in Buddhism and are practised in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. "Sak" means “to tap" or "to tattoo" while "Yant" comes from the Sanskrit word "Yantra" which means ‘device for holding or fastening’. In Thai, it means "magic tattoo" or "blessed tattoo".
A Sak Yant tattoo is widely believed to have magical powers, including protecting the wearer from harm, bringing good luck, and warding off evil spirits. It's also said to improve some pre-existing abilities such as strength and wisdom.
Angelina Jolie famously has a Sak Yant tattoo on her back. Her actor ex-husband, Brad Pitt, has one on his stomach. Even the late American chef Anthony Bourdain had one.
Interested in getting one? Read on to learn some important facts about getting a Sak Yant tattoo.
1. You can't get it from a regular tattoo shop
To get this blessing or protection, the tattoo is spiritually charged by a Sak Yant Master at the time that it was created. Meaning, you can't get it at any hole-in-the-wall tattoo shop. Sak Yant Masters are Buddhist monks or Brahmin Holy men who have gone through years of training before they practice the traditional tattooing method.
A Sak Yant involves the Design, the Khata, and the Blessing. The Khata includes the magic spells and text written around the Sak Yant, which are corrected by the Master as he works. The Blessing of the Sak Yant is the final step in the tattooing process, where you can also request special intentions and desires.
2. Come prepared with an intention in mind
@carminakatedeleon My firsy Sak Yant Tattoo ✨ #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #SakYant #sakyantthaitattoo ♬ original sound - Carmina Kate de Leon
Your Sak Yant design will be determined based on your intent, or reason, behind getting one. Do you want protection? Do you want to enhance your luck? Perhaps you want to become wiser? After sharing this, the Sak Yant Master will then put a series of intricate and sacred designs and symbols to imbue you with the blessing. These symbols are rooted in Hindu Asia tradition and were adopted by Thais as Buddhism spread in Thailand.
As such, a Sak Yant Master will use a basic design as his template and modify it according to your intentions. It's a collaborative effort between you and the master.
Depending on your intention and its correlating design, the Yants may be limited to being applied on a specific part of your body.
3. There are rules of conduct you must follow
The blessing of a Sak Yant lasts a lifetime but with certain caveats. These caveats are called the Basic Sak Yant Rules, which are rooted in Buddhist concepts.
The rules are as follows: Do not kill, steal, desire another person's lover or be unfaithful to your own, lie, get intoxicated, or speak ill of your mother.
There may be some additional rules depending on the lineage of the Sak Yant, or the schools of styles and the teachings passed from master to student.
To sum it up, you must lead a good life and be a good person to benefit from the power of the Sak Yant.
(Cover photo from: Wikimedia Commons)
Next, discover the art of Jagua tattoos.
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