Today we visited Wat Bang Phra temple on the outskirts of Bangkok and I was tattooed with a Sak Yant by Wat Bang Phra’s best known tattoo master, monk Luang Phi Nunn.
We set out from our hotel in central Bangkok at 6:30am and arrived at the temple around 8:15am due to the heavy early morning traffic. On arrival I purchased an offering for the monks which included menthol cigarettes, a candle, incense sticks and an orchid for 70 Baht. I was then shown into the tattoo room and saw a silver bowl in the middle of the floor in which I place my offering. Even at 8:30am there were already 12 men and women waiting to be tattooed, I was the only the westerner.
While I was waiting to be tattooed I saw a young Thai guy who’s body was adorned with around a dozen Sak Yant get yet another and became a little unsure as to whether or not I should have one as all the people who were waiting were Thai and where obviously there to get a tattoo for religious reasons, while I was only “collecting a tattoo”.
At this point I decided to go upstairs where I could get a tattoo of my own choosing. They have books up there to choose from and a tattoo cost 3000 baht and up, depending on the size.
While I was up there trying to make up my mind the taxi driver came up and told me it would be my turn shortly. Thinking to myself that I had come to be tattooed downstairs by Luang Phi Nunn and that if he was prepared to tattoo me then I was prepared to accept whatever design he chose so went back downstairs and waited.
In no time at all it was my turn, I shuffled the few feet toward Luang Phi Nunn and took off my t shirt, bowed three times and gave him a donation in an envelope I had taken from a silver pot by the door, I slipped this into a silver pot by his side. I then sat crossed legged on a cushion in front of Luang Phi Nunn with my back to with a cushion on my lap to lean on. The two guys on either side stretched my skin and Luang Phi Nunn began to tattoo me. I have had quite a few tattoos over the years and this was the least painful I have had!
In what seemed no time at all it was done. I turned and bowed to Luang Phi Nunn and the two gentlemen that had stretched my skin and quickly put on my t shirt and left the room.
Now here is the weird part of the tale, I asked Tracy to photograph my tattoo so that I could see it.
The Sak Yant I was tattooed with and I had no choice in the matter remember, that was decided by Luang Phi Nunn, was a Paed Tit, a circle of eight pyramids believed to provide protection in the eight directions. Soldiers, policemen and others who perform dangerous work often receive Paed Tit.
I didn’t know the meaning of the Paed Tit tattoo at the time but this was the one I had chosen for myself when I was upstairs looking through the tattoo books!