I have a new project in the works, I intend to archive through photographic portraits, the ancient and creative practice of Sak Yant Tattoo design before yet another ancient cultural tradition is lost to the modern world.
If you spend even a little time in Thailand you will notice that a lot of people are adorned with tattoos, some may have only a single small tattoo, while others seem to be virtually covered in them. Contrary to the West, these traditional Thai tattoos, or “sak yant” (‘magic tattoo’), are not applied for cosmetic reasons. They are to protect him/her with special powers.
They are often applied in a temple, although this is not specifically required, by a man, called a “khruu” (teacher) or “aajaan sak”, who uses a long (roughly 2 foot) metal stick. The tattoo is made by tapping the top of the metal stick, which causes the pointed tip to break the skin and insert the ink. During the process the tattoo artist chants incantations to weave the magic into the tattoo.