Getting a Sak Yant

27th January 2014

I originally was going to keep this to myself, but I have decided to share it with you guys. It was an amazing experience and something I will for sure be repeating in the future.

So I have been in Bangkok for a week again & I have visited a some cool places and a few of the smaller outlying towns, the first being Nakhon Pathom. Getting to Nakhon Pathom was interesting, first I had to go to one of the protest hot-spots (Victory Monument) and then spend an hour in a cramped mini van designed for people no taller than 5 foot which for somebody as tall and grumpy as me was not good.

Nakhon Pathom is your average rural town, no bigger than Banbury, but there is a temple about half an hour motorbike ride away that I wanted to go to. So I got on some motorbike taxi with no helmet on and i’ve been on them in Bangkok but thats alright because you don’t go very fast but this man was doing like 90kph on the rural Thailand roads which was so sketchy. So I got to a temple called Wat Bang Prah and at first glance it is just a big temple in the country. The purpose of my visit was different. I was there for a Sak Yant; a sacred buddhist tattoo.

I remember years ago seeing a video of some asian monks tattooing with a big long spike and when I came to Thailand I did some research and found out that the most legendary temple is only 50k from Bangkok. Before I went, I was worried about the health risks surrounding the big spike and the infamous home made ink with ingredients such as snake venom but after reading a load of websites saying it is pretty safe the I just went for it.

As soon as they saw a white man they ushered me to a building around the back and I bought three things; a flower, incense and a packet of cigarettes for 75฿ which is £1.38 according to Google. Now going into a little room with about 12 thai people all sat cross legged in silence and some sunburned Australian people sat at the back. I sat down with my offerings waiting for my turn. As all the white people pussied out the locals wanted me to go next and they all just moved out the way and made me go next. It was now time for me to get a tattoo.

My Sak Yant: The Gao Yord

After offering my things to the monk I took off my t-shirt and sat in front of him, apparently he was saying I need a larger tattoo because i’m so tall. After a few minutes of silence it began, the pain began and after just the first few jabs it started to hurt pretty bad. It was as if the spike would make a noise as it stabbed into each individual pore on my skin. It felt like it was burning into my skin with each jab getting hotter. 10 minutes went on and it was finished, thats all & then he said another prayer and that was it, done. I gave the monk a cheeky 100฿ tip and then left. Back on the sketchy motorbike, this time with a sore back and a new tattoo.

The Gao Yord is the sacred 9 spire tattoo. It brings protection and good luck. The 9 spire Yant represents the 9 sacred peaks of Mountain Meru; it also contains 9 symbolic images of the Buddha. For Buddhists the number 9 is a a sacred number. The three stacked ovals represent the Buddhas praying. I do not know much about these tattoos and I suspect that by the time I get another I will know a lot more and have much more respect for them. For now though, I am content with my tattoo.

Yant Gao Yord

As you can see. My Sak Yant might be a little bit wonky and some lines are not straight but it’s perfect. It represents a journey in my life at the age of 22. Something I will be proud of and something to remind me of a younger and probably more troubled me.

It was not just the tattoo I went for, it was the blessing; the experience. Although I am now safe, the blessing only lasts a year which only means one thing; Next January I need to return for another blessing. The Yant Gao Yord represents the 9 spires of a mountain range and buddhas praying. After getting my sak yant, I have spoken to monks and visited numerous temples and these experiences for me have opened my eyes to Buddhism not as a religion, but as a way of life and the western world can do some serious learning from Buddhism.