History of a Tattoo …Thai ~

Tracy History of a Tattoo Thai Style is next on my list for those of you interested in the Art of Tattooing.  In previous posts we have covered Polynesian and Japanese.

Traditional Thai Tattoos~

In Thailand tattoos were the norm for nearly all men.  Men would be tattooed as a sign of spiritual and religious faith.  Very rarely were they done as some kind of meaningless artistic display, but more often as a catalyst for change or to mark a stage in their lives.  To me that is a perfect reason to have your own canvas inked.  I like the interesting story behind a tattoo, it’s meaning is what makes the process complete.  Thai tattoo

The most popular style of tattoos in Thailand are the depictions of Buddhist Temples or Buddhist deities, such as Arya Tara our Goddess here on Tara Cronica.  Those who got these temple tattoos or Buddhist deities believed that they contained power to protect them.  These tattoos are usually done by Thai monks using India Ink or Rotring ink and were often accompanied by prayers while they were being done.

The mythical monk is still today one of the most popular creations in Thailand and Myanmar.  They are put on the human body by monks who incorporate magical powers to the design while tattooing.  Women are excluded because monks are not allowed to be touched by them and because Thais believe women do not need the extra boost as they are already strong enough on their own. How can we not love that ladies! 

Unlike Western style tattooing traditional Thai tattoos are done using hand tools and Bamboo and don’t use the same kinds of sterilization methods as you would in a shop-front tattoo studio.  Although apparently other things are added to the ink such as battery acid, plant extracts and snake oil which supposedly kills bacteria.  After being through the process myself, I can appreciate how painful the Thai method must be.  Having the religious experience brought into the art of tattooing I can understand how many are attracted to the Thai style.

Authentic Traditional Thai Bamboo Tattoing in Chiang Mai City, Northern Thailand.  Pik was a student of Grand Master Ajarn Hnuu Ganpai in this ancient art.  Angeline Jolie uses this Grand Master for her body Art


Tracy signiture

"Exploring the never-ending desires that fuel all life, while finding lyrical beauty in everyday happenings."


  • Rick

    Extremely interesting stuff ! I have a few myself, but had know idea on all this history behind the art of tattooing till you did your first article on this. Great follow up to the last one Tracy ! I’m into smaller pieces …. but I really enjoy the larger pieces on others. These are fun articles.

    Thanks Tracy !

  • Janet

    I had my four sak yant tattoos done at the age of sixty! The first two were done by Ajarn Oor at his Sam Nak. The third and fourth were done by the resident sak yant masters at Bangkok Ink studio in Phrom phong. There is a special room there, he does them for women and you can receive the blessing as well. They have a website at http://bangkok-ink.com. I am considering whether to have a fifth and last sak yant done, a tiger on my shoulder, before I leave Thailand.

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