Om and his handy work
My beautiful new tattoo
My beautiful new tattoo
Sak Yant is a form of sacred tattooing practiced in Thailand. They are normally tattooed by Buddhist monks and the designs date back to Ankgor times (800-1200 A.D.) when they were received by masters through visions. The tattoos are sutras made up of writing and geometric patterns and are meant to protect those bearing them from bodily or spiritual harm. Thus they have been very popular among the military and muay thai fighters.
The tattoos are applied using a bamboo rod, a technique which is about 3,000 years old. A fine needle is attached to the rod and then tapped into the skin. Because the skin is punctured and not torn as it is with a gun tattoo, the healing process is quite different. Pain is reduced and there is no bleeding or scabbing. The entire healing process only takes about four days and there is no need to cover the tattoo or avoid the sun or sea. Another benefit is the color tends to stay strong much longer with a bamboo tattoo.
I decided that I wanted one six months ago during my first visit to Thailand. It's hard to explain but there is something special about the connection one develops with this country. By my last count I've been to 17 countries, some that I have loved very deeply, but I have never felt such a deep bond between traveler and place. The rest of the world seems to melt away while you are there. There is no yesterday or tomorrow, no sense of urgency or stress. Life feels simple, all you need is a nice place to rest, a bit of shade, and some good food to eat. The needs and desires of everyday life, particularly for the material, fade into the background. Time passes only with the rising and setting sun.
I wanted to keep a small piece of that feeling with me, to remember who I am when it's all stripped away. I loved the beauty of the art and I wanted it all to be a part of me. So after discussing it with Om, our tattoo artist and finding the perfect design for me, I felt completely confident. I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out.
Most people want to know if it hurt. It didn't. It was more of an annoying "quit poking me with that needle for an hour" sensation. The placement of my tattoo was also not in a sensitive area (unlike Maddy who got one on her side, right over her rib cage). The discomfort was over in under an hour anyway, and it felt like a rite of passage.
My tattoo is supposed to bring harmony, safety and luck to me and those closest to me. I don't believe that anything in this world can protect you from all harm, nor would I want complete immunity, but so far my tattoo seems to be working its magic. It helps me remember, it protects me from lives I don't want.