Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Kendra's Magic Tattoo

This is a guest post from Kendra (my daughter)  about an experience on her trip to Vietnam Tailand and Cambodia

My First Magic (Sak Yant) Tattoo
By Kendra Nicholson

We departed from Ko Sahn road at 6 am in order to beat the line up of people (mostly Thai women) waiting to have the procedure done.

The monks work 6 hour shifts, they are deep in concentration during this period, and any communication is forbidden. Making the tattoo you get, placement, and size a total surprise!

We followed the most bad ass monks (The ones covered head to toe in tattoos to where the offerings were being purchased.

For 100 Bhat (about $3.50 CAD) you receive an offering of orchids, incense and cigarettes.
Who knew Buddha was a smoker?

When you enter the temple you take off your shoes and hats immediately, you then place your offerings on a collection plate along with a dollar or so. At that point you and the monk and the two assistants take the offering plate and bow three times. 

I became slightly concerned after the woman before me I got a circular design of a tiger chasing it's own tail. (Not quite my aesthetic) 

The monk takes a few moments to absorb your aura then proceeds to choose the Sak Yant design that best supports the amount of protection you require. Mine wound up being significantly wider then my room mates, lending me to believe the monk was extremely perceptive to my disaster prone ways. 

Before you sit down to be tattooed and afterwards you bow in prayer facing the monk 3x. 
Combined with the prior 3 bows with the collection plate that brings the total bow count to the very magical number of 9. 
(In all of Asia 9 is considered a very powerful number and you will notice Taxi's or Tuk-Tuk's with the number 9 in their license plate will charge steeper fares due to the protective quality of their magical license plate number) 

Once it is your turn to step up to the bat (or bamboo needle) that's primary disinfection procedure comes from resharpening the needle between tattoo's and the cobra venom charcoal mixture that is used as the tattoo ink. 
(There are no known reports of anyone contracting HIV through this temple) Which was a comforting thought.

The pain is meant to be quite meditative and the veteran women that proceeded me took theirs like such champs, I was trying my best to put on my serene and meditative, not human needlepoint cushion  face.
The only points that really hurt were the little peaks he made in the design where I felt him going in to my skin, then up.

It was all over in 15 minutes and I felt completely pain free after 30 seconds, In fact I kept forgetting I had the tattoo completely until strangers would come up and inquire or compliment me on it.

As Bangkok was my last stop before home I have not had the chance to check out the protective qualities of my tattoo vs my constant state of perilous destruction self.

Overall it was one of the coolest experience of my trip, and if you are planning on getting a tattoo, why not make it a magical one? This temple is the only temple in all of Bangkok that does Sak Yant tattoo's on Women. The monk uses 2 assistants to pull the skin and any time he has to touch you he does so through a piece of linen. 

The fact that you don't get to pick to the design added to the intrigue for me, but as soon as they finished I had to take a photo of my own neck to see what they had chosen. As you can see it healed almost immediately, I was quite pleased with the design. Simple, No Tigers, and you can the pointillism technique that Sak Yant tattoo's are revered for.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic article! I'm surprised I'm just reading it now! I went to the same temple (and even had the same ajarn) back in 2012. However, upon a recent visit I learned that he has now sadly developed a pain in his wrist and often uses a tattoo gun. It is the same practice, though without the long Khem Sak (needle). I wrote an article about my own experience too, if you're interested http://wheresidewalksend.com/sak-yant-thailand/ :)