Guest Blog: Sak Yant, Magic Tattoos in Thailand
Father Panik graces us with another tale of his tattoo adventures. This time he returns from Thailand and talks temple tattoos.
See some photos of the tattooing monks in this Flickr set.
I'm looking for meaning.
I'm walking through crowded, polluted 100-degree heat of Bangkok looking for sacred tattoos: Sak Yant. Temple tattoos, sacred Buddhist tattoos.
Tattoos created by monks and infused with holy mantras.
I'm hunting those who wear them.
They are hard to find.
There was a time in Bangkok where you saw them on every corner, on the arms necks and heads of cops, taxi drivers, soldiers, anyone who had a dangerous life.
Now, not so much.
Sure you see lots of tattoos in Bangkok, just as you would in NYC or Berlin or Tokyo.
But that's the problem. They are the same tattoos you see in every major city.
Young Thais getting tattooed today want the ones they see on MTV or bootleg DVDs of LA Ink.
They don't want the tattoos worn by their fathers and grandfathers. They want to be cool.
In a city famous for it's sex industry and Olympic level drinking, I'm looking for old cab drivers. Guys wearing tattoos that will stop bullets, protect you from knives, bring you wealth and prosperity.
So far I haven't had much chok dee. And it's fucking hot.
Still, I hunt.
For centuries, westerners have been going to Asia, finding cool stuff & bringing it back.
I am part of that tradition.
Not because I'm daring and adventurous but because I don't really "fit" in our world.
Most can find their niche at home, I cannot.
My landlord really wants me to find my niche.
I gotta pay rent. I gotta make a buck.
So like a Portuguese trader traveling the Silk Road, I find myself in Bangkok looking for meaning.
I think I can find it in sacred tattoos.
I'm probably wrong.
Something tells me that truth is not found externally.... but I'll skip the navel gazing.
I want the tattoo.
For more on Sak Yant tattoos, see this post on the Wat Bang Phra festival.