Mystical Thai Tattoos
20th Mar 2018
We hope you're enjoying this series of interesting articles written by Spa Director, Lina Lotto. Each article tells of her experiences living in Thailand.
I recently visited Thailand to return to SenSpa’s roots and to immerse myself in the world of Thai spa. One property that particularly interested me was The Siam and their Opium Spa which is situated slightly north in Bangkok along the Chao Phraya river. It is sheer luxury, designed by the renowned Bill Bensley whose team has recreated the Oriental art deco period complete with beautiful antiques of the era and it is exquisitely designed. But what really struck me was the Muay Thai boxing ring and specifically the space they fashioned for a master tattooist to perform his art. This impelled me to look into the art of the Thai tattoo.
I have to own up here. I am not a fan of tattoos, mostly because I am a wimp when it comes to pain, but also because I feel they represent an indelibly recorded moment which is potentially unforgiving if the joyous event or person inscribed on the body takes a turn for the worse. Our memories are so much more malleable and personally I prefer to use my brain to record and remember rather than my skin. But that’s me. Millions of people disagree with me as the tattoo has become ubiquitous. It is estimated that 1 in 5 people in the UK have tattoos.
Tattooing has been known to us since before recorded history. They have been used to denote members of a clan, mark slaves, record rites of passage, attract love, ensure good luck, prepare for battle, commemorate journeys, record life events and protect against evil spirits.
When trawling the internet to discover why people today have tattoos it seems that there are various reasons, but mostly people want to commemorate a shared or personal experience, remember a loved one or remind themselves of personal milestones and achievements. In Thailand it is a little different.
Here is Wikipedia’s description of the Thai Yantra Tattoo:
‘.... a form of tattooing that originated among the Tai tribes of southwestern China and northwestern Vietnam over 2,000 years ago …... It consists of sacred geometrical, animal and deity designs accompanied by Pali phrases that offer power, protection, fortune, charisma and other benefits for the bearer.’
These tattoos are magical symbols that bring protection or luck or whatever else it is you desire. In particular traditional Sak Yant tattoos use animals or ancient geometrical designs which are imbued with magic by Buddhist monks reciting mantras. Their specialist knowledge is believed to infuse the tattoo with mystical qualities.
Wat Bang Phra is the most famous temple in Thailand for etching tattoos and many people travel there each year to succumb to the needle. Alternatively The Siam offers luxurious surroundings in which to be inked.
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