The Sak Yant Experience

Holy moley; it’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted anything. Over winter break, which was December 16th until January 8th, I had a lovely trip to Australia that included a few days chilling in Bangkok. Look for another post detailing my experience in Melbourne soon.

The big deal of my quick stop in BKK was my new tattoo. I’ve been thinking about getting another tattoo for years, but I just couldn’t settle on what I wanted. I got close a few times. I even had scheduled a booking with a dude in Canada that I had to end up cancelling for scheduling reasons. When I saw the opportunity to get a traditional Thai Sak Yant tattoo, though, I knew that I had to have one.

Sak Yant tattoos are a bit different than regular ones in a few different ways. First, they’re given differently. Instead of a tattoo gun like your artist would use just about anywhere else, a Sak Yant practitioner uses a long metal rod with a super sharp tip that he dips in ink and manually stabs into the skin to create the design one dot at a time. As you can see below it’s a fairly intimidating looking process, but, as you know, I am and always have been a borderline heroically tough person, so I wasn’t much phased.


Before the four other foreigners getting something done that day or I saddled up, we had to go through a traditional blessing ceremony to pay respect to various deities (Sak Yant blends Buddhism and Hinduism, so there are parts of both represented) that included a Thai prayer and the making of a wish with burning incense. We then gave offerings of flowers or nuts. While we were doing this right outside the shop, the artist was inside doing his own ceremony, praying to a mountain of hermit relics that lined one of the walls inside.

The small shrine we prayed and gave offerings at.
A close-up of the awesome Naga made of leaves
The artist, Arjan Neng, performing his pre-tattooing ritual.
A close-up of some of the hermit statues in the shop
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An offering and payment are given to the artist before he does his work.

The other major way Sak Yant tattoos differ from regular ones is that picking the design one gets is an intentional, collaborative process between artist and subject. Each tattoo is considered more than a charm for good luck or a cool piece of art. Each piece is thought to be a blessing, containing real power to effect change granted by the Buddha and other spiritual beings. These blessings bestow a combination of protection and/or attraction, tailored to the needs and desires of the person receiving them. I was first handed a book with hundreds of ideas to pick the general shape and style that I liked, then a brief interview was conducted in which the artist ( a gentleman named Arjan Neng who, from what I can tell, is pretty highly regarded in the Sak Yant game) wanted to know a bit about my history, my current life, my goals, my desires, and what I think the main purpose of my life has been and will be. We then settled on a final design and went to town on the inking.

tattooing 6tattooing 4tattooing 2tattooing dtattooing d

The name of the specific symbol I got is Gao Yord. It’s a common first yant to get as it’s thought to be both strong itself, and also controls and strengthens any other yants put below it on the body (which, who knows, I might add eventually). Check out the more detailed description below the pics.

end bless 2
After the tattoo was done it was blessed. Ignore my kayaking tanlines.
final 1.jpg
The gold leaf is put on at the end as part of the blessing ceremony and comes off with the first wash.

The following is the message I received from the shop describing the specifics of my “Nine Spines.” I left it verbatim, so forgive the minor grammatical errors.

Number nine is a lucky number in Thai. The meaning is step forward. It could be about your work and your wealth.

The nine spines are Unalome. Unalome is the sign that appeared on Lord of Buddha when he got enlightenment. It represents the wisdom.

The two middle inscription is Ei Thi which represents the success in anything you try to achieve for.

The meditate Buddha represents the peaceful and calm.

The bottom inscription is Aa Sunk Wi Su Low Pu Sa Pu Pa which is the kartha of Gao yord. It is the Kartha for protection and attract good things to your life.


We hope you have a good luck and remember that you have to keep these 7 rules or if you plan to do Sakyant in the future this is the rules. If you do not want to decrease the sacred of magic

  • Do not say any bad word to your parents and be grateful for them.
  • Do not use any chemical addictive drug. However natural stuffs like Mushroom and Marijuana are ok.
  • Do not eat star fruit or Winter gourd. (Not serious for this rule)
  • If you have a chance to come back to Thailand. You should come and worship the Waikru day (Master day) which organized once a year at Arjan Neng’s place. (The first Sunday of March)
  • Do not go under the hanging rope that hang underwear.
  • No adultery
  • Pray kata that Arjan Neng gave you as much as you could or 3 times in the morning.


And that’s pretty much the whole shebang. I love how it ended up, and it’s healed well. I’m happy to have my own piece of Thai culture done by someone who knows and respects his craft.

2 thoughts on “The Sak Yant Experience”

  1. It was wonderful hearing from you again Quinn. I enjoyed reading the lengthy explanation regarding your tattoo. Much of it does crossover the Ten Commandments. Obviously you do not have a fear of needles like a couple of your older cousins do. Take care and as always remember we miss you and think of you often. Love you!


  2. So glad you finally shared the explanation……I do love the first rule!!!! Looking forward to seeing more pictures of your time in Australia. Love and miss you so much, Quinn.


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