Crackdown on Religious Tattoos in Thailand
02:48 PM
Yesterday, a number of news agencies, including the Global Post, reported that Thailand's Ministry of Culture is considering a ban on tattooing sacred Buddhist and Hindu symbols on foreign tourists. The National News Bureau of Thailand offered this explanation:

Citing a survey in Phuket Island, Culture Minister Nipit Intarasombat admitted that a number of foreigners coming to Thailand are interested in having their skin tattooed with Buddha images or Hindu god Ganesh in several parts of their bodies such as arms, legs, ankles or chests.

The Minister indicated that using religious objects as tattoo patterns is inappropriate according to the Thai tradition and culture as well as affect the faith of people toward those religions.

Religious tattoo patterns are very popular among foreign tourists and can be as expensive as 20,000 baht each. Some of the tourists deem religious tattoo patterns a fashion without any religious respect while some probably have those tattoos because of ignorance.

The Minister has asked provincial governors across Thailand, especially in popular tourist areas, for their cooperation in cracking down on religious tattoos on foreigners. As noted in the Phuket Gazette, this won't be an easy task. Tattoos on tourists is big business with some costing over upwards of 20,000 baht (over $650).

There's also the issue that many of the tourists could indeed be Buddhist or Hindu themselves. I personally know many who have traveled to Thailand specifically for a sacred Yantra (or Sak Yant) tattooing. One such person is Father Panik who offered a guest blog on his experience seeking Sak Yant last year. He also shared a few photos like the ones shown here.

For more on Yantra, check this site, which has extensive links and photos.

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