Tattoo Is a Cultural Sacred Design

I wrote a post on Is Tattoo Just A Body Art or A Cultural Sacred Design and this has been my most popular post as many people are interested in tattoo. There are 2 main reasons as to why people decide to get tattoo, as for some, they only see tattoo as a body art, the canvas is on the human body, a very fascinating concept to me. I don’t have a tattoo, but I do see the beauty in tattoos and this type of tattoo is more popular amongst women and very popular in Japan from what I have came across.


Tattoo Bride Photo by Nahpan

Uploaded by Jose M. Ruiz Garrido, actress Angelina Jolie attends the premiere of “Ocean’s Thirteen”; at the Grauman’s Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California June 5, 2007. The tattoos on Jolie’s arm represent the coordinates of the birth places of her children.


This video of Thai spiritual tattoo, also known as Sak Yant by Ajahn Noo Kanpai is very interesting, I’ve seen the actual temple tattoo on a friend, which I think it’s fascinating because it’s not your ordinary tattoo; the design has a religious feel to it.

Ajarn Noo does 2 types of tattoos, and both are cultural sacred designs. The first is at the very beginning of the video where the designs of the tattoo is invisible, but the main purpose is to gain wisdom, possess power of kindness as he uses a special ointment of varnt (special roots from plants), the process of Sak Yant is exactly the same as using black ink, in this case a very sacred design.


Another is the sacred design that deemed to possess magic power of protection; he puts Monh (magic) of prayers inside the design, which I believed was written in Pali, Sanskrit. Thai Temple tattoo of Sak Yant (photo on right hand side,) which is geometrically designs that deemed to possess magic powers of protection is very popular amongst Asian warriors, such as the Thais, Laotians, and Khmers in the old days and still very popular today.

There are other designs such as the lion (Singhto), which is a symbol of bravery and cunning. Thai men would choose a tiger design, not just a picture of a tiger but tattoo their body to look like tiger, many have had designs that covered every square inches of their body. The reason for the tiger design is that Thai people, especially the Lanna, believed that their ancestors were once tiger, therefore to show respect and in remembrance of their ancestors, they’d choose the tiger design. Another popular one is the hanuman, which is the Hindu monkey god, which is to protect against illness, against being shot, against being cut, and to give courage.

In part of the video where the men have strange reaction, it is believed that the sacred designs that were tattooed (Sak) into their body, whether it be the tiger, dragon, or hanuman would come out and they’d act like the animal that they chose, and this is a sign that that person truly gained the power of protection. Sak Yant is very fascinating to me; to the Thais, Laotians, Khmers, and many others, tattoo is not just a body art but also a sacred design.

A photo below, a young monk has a tattoo of prayers added to his back at Wat Bang Pra, Thailand; photo by Stephen Shaver