Buddhist Yant Tattoos in Thailand

Yant (Yantra) tattoos in Thailand
I’ve never had the urge to get a tattoo. I’m 51 now and the possibility to get a cool tattoo came up recently when I stumbled on this website that I borrowed this photo from. Buddhist YANT tattoos are tattoos that are done by venerable monks with some artistic aptitude. Some people travel from all over the world to get these tattoos. They are quite unique and pretty cool looking compared to the usual generic stuff that most people have.

Tattoos to me are supposed to be unique. If your design looks like everyone else’s I think it’s the opposite of unique, it makes you a clone that is doing what everyone else is doing.

Take a look at this guy’s back – he’s completely done his whole back. I’d have stopped at one, but he wanted to cover his entire back – and he really did. I have to admit, that while I don’t usually like tattoos at all, this guy’s back looks like a piece of art! I’m starting to think Thai Sak YANT tattoos are cool. Somehow. Maybe.

Unlike other tattoos – these tattoos actually have a purpose other than shocking your students (if you teach). The Buddhist YANT tattoos are unique for each type of spirit they are warding away – or for the type of good luck that you will have. Some are for protection from certain evil spirits. They are said to stop the penetration of weapons through the skin… They are said to make the skin slippery in battle…

Some old Sak Yak masters make the black ink from the sap of a rare tree found in the northeast of Thailand – Isaan, near Cambodia and Laos. Some may even mix SNAKE VENOM into the ink!

Here is a link to the site where I first learned about Sak Yant Tattoos
Here is a gallery of Yant designs

Here is a page of youtube videos to look through if you’re interested in seeing it done: Yant videos

There are 108 sacred Yant designs at this site and an explanation of each. The idea comes from “Animism” which was here in Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia before Buddhism started. Animism has something to do with animals as gods… that’ s as far as I’ve read.

I think a tattoo should be for ME… not for others to see or care about or ask me about. If I get a tattoo it will be for one reason – to keep me mindful of something. What would I want to be mindful of? That’s the question and that would need to be answered before I get a tattoo! I’m not sure what I need to be mindful of though… my son – yes. Giving rather than getting? – yes. seeing reactions before I let them happen – yes.

Maybe one tattoo to remind me of all this? Tough call – and it’s been for a quite a while – hence, no tattoo yet.

Anybody already HAVE one of these Sakyant tattoos? Send in a photo if you have so I can post it here.

A Buddha Tattoo from Thailand You Could Show Your Mother

A friend in Suratthani came back from Koh Samui beaming about something recently. He had on a pale yellow long-sleeved shirt that was sticking to him and he appeared to be sweating profusely from his arm.  Everyone knew what this meant, JUSTIN HAD A NEW TATTOO!  The "Sweat" is actually "preparation H" used usually for hemmorhoids, but apparently it is good for tattoo pain also as he wore the stuff and ruined his shirts for 3 or more days.

It was obvious he wanted someone to ask to see it, but before I could even do that he was rolling up his sleeve and showing it to me.

I'm not a tattoo guy. I've never enjoyed looking at one, I've never cared one way or the other about someone's tattoos. I don't dislike them, but I sure haven't been able to see the point of getting one.  This guy has some INTERESTING tattoos though, that is for sure. The little girl on his forearm borders on cool – but it's also a bit disturbing. I think it was a symbol for some punk rock girl singer that he likes a lot.

I have read a lot a lot about Buddhism and I tried not to remember much since I don't believe in any "ism", but Buddhism has some good ideas that I think resonated with me more so than the other religions I looked at.  I even meditated for a period of almost a year (vipassana) and reached a place that was beyond words and comprehension at least all the monks I talked to and others that meditated were dumbfounded when I talked to them about it.  It was part of my reason for coming to Thailand to stay. It was the biggest reason actually.  I wanted to talk to the senior English speaking monks at Wat Pah Nanachat in the Northeast (Warin Chamrap) and find out if they knew anything of what happened with me while meditating.

They did! What they told me I had been waiting to hear for about 8-9 years.  What a cool moment… I'll write about that later sometime maybe….

Anyway, Justin's Tattoo…

So as he's rolling up his sleeve I realize that I'm INTERESTED in it… soon I start to actually LIKE it.  It had some great detail, was really symettrical – like art… It was really quite a cool tattoo and I don't know that I've ever said that except having recently seen some Sak Yant tattoos on the backs, arms and chests of Buddhist monks and the guy I wrote about in this blog a little while back…

I got some photos and this one turned out OK.

Then, a couple weeks later I was walking around Suan Mokkh Wat in Suratthani, home of the late Buddhadassa Bhikku and I saw the area where they create statues and other artwork. And I saw this piece of art in front of some bamboo.  I thought, WOW, that was the inspiration for Justin's tattoo!  My friend got a picture of it and I sent it to Justin.  No response yet, but he's busy in Korea making big bank.

Then today as I looked again at his tattoo I realized – that is not bamboo in the back of the Buddha on Justin's arm… that's a Boddhi tree.  Oops.

Anyway… it's a rather cool tattoo.  He got it in Koh Samui but I didn't ask him exactly where, and at this point it's been over a month since he got it – I'm not sure he'd know how to explain where it was if I did ask him.

I have considered getting a sak yant tattoo if I can find or create one that could be a reminder for the state I was in during that time I meditated. Problem is, as much as I try I cannot come up with something that is "it".  Trying to use words to describe the process or the state – is useless.  Trying to draw it is just as frustrating as it's so ambiguous. It's unlike anything, and yet, when in the state it is very strong… one doesn't really feel it, but is IN it, part of it… you ARE it…  How to put that state into a drawing I'm not sure.  Many pictures I could draw have part of the feeling – but the overall feeling isn't able to be drawn (so far).

Sometimes I sit for an hour and try to come up with a drawing to match the feeling… I've drawn Sine curves, Circles of various types, a dot, an expanding circle, colors… and nothing really is "it".

I've yet to meet anyone that is enlightened – or that others think is enlightened through meditation. If I do I'll ask that question… how to put into words or picture or smell or touch – that feeling…

Anyone have any Sak Yant or Buddha or Buddhist tattoos they want to send in to have published on this blog?  I'll post 'em.