What is a Sak Yant?

Posted by Nathan Aripez on

If you are a fan of Muay Thai you have most likely come across a Sak Yant. The form of tattoo is very common amongst fighters and trainers in the art of Muay Thai.
Sak Yant's are what is called Yantra tattooing. They offer power, protection, fortune, charisma and other benefits to the person that receives it. Sak means Tattoo and Yant means Yantra in Thai. The tattoos are geometrical in design and applied by Buddhist monks or holy men. 
A monk gives a Sak Yant.
The tradition of the Sak Yant tattoo dates back to the Khmer Empire which was influenced by Indian tradition and the elements of earth, water, air, and fire. The Khmer Empire would eventually dissolve into was is now Thailand and Cambodia. When this occurred a fifth element was added, the spirit of the Buddha. Because of the protection that the tattoos provided, they were commonplace on Thai soldiers. During World War II the Thai soldiers were referred to as Ghost soldiers because of the tattoos.
The Sak Yant is not simply a tattoo, it is a way of life, it is something you believe in. It is associated with Buddhism. Today not all sects of Buddhism in Thailand incorporate the Sak Yants, however, most accept and validate the Sak Yant given by monks who practice the tradition.  
Saiyok is one of many fighters with a Sak Yant.
If you follow Buddhist culture or traditions and you want to receive a Sak Yant for protection you would go to a monk that would be a master in the art of Yantra tattooing. They will pick out the Sak Yant for you, which will typically consist of one of three designs. These are a Hah Taew, Gao Yord, Paed Tidt. As previously mentioned, Sak Yants are not simply a tattoo. There is meaning behind each one and these are the most commonly used for someones first Sak Yant. You might have seen Sak Yants with animals or sacred geometrical designs. These are for dedicated believers and not something to be taken lightly.
When it comes to the monk or holy man giving the Sak Yant there are four things they need to know. The first is the sacred Buddhist language known as Pali. The second thing they must know is the Khmer alphabet, the third is the yantra designs, and the fourth is the blessing chants. 
A real Sak Yant cannot be obtained from a tattoo shop, to become a Sak Yant master it takes years of dedication and each tattoo is unique to the individual. By receiving a Sak Yant in a tattoo shop you are simply receiving a blessing that was designed for someone else.
You can bring the Sak Yant designs to the public eye with our new streetwear which is inspired the by them. Click here to view our collection.

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