Sak Yant tattoos are well known to tattoo lovers as a mainly Thai Buddhist form of tattooing. “Sak” means “to tap” or “to tattoo”, and “yant” comes from the Sanskrit word “yantra” which has many meanings. Usually referring to a “machine”, “instrument” or “apparatus”.

Bodysuit done by ajannookanpai.yant in Thailand
Ajannookanpai.yant blessing a finished tattoo in Thailand

Most people who have heard of Sak Yant tattoos are familiar with them because of their tie to Thai culture, but this specific form of tattoo actually comes from the Khmer people of Cambodia.

Healed work by ajannookanpai.yant in Thailand
Back Sak Yant done by Chai at Adikt Ink Lexembourg

Sak Yant tattoos are very closely tied to religion and spirituality, mainly Buddhism. Most Sak Yant tattoos are performed by Buddhist monks at a temple where they can bless the tattoo properly. But the Sak Yant designs are becoming so popular that tattoo artists are doing them, just without the blessing or spiritual connectedness that accompanies the tattoo when done by a monk.

Back Sak Yant done by Oj Jo at 113ink Tattoo in Thailand
Back Sak Yant done by Ken Tip at Yant Studio

Much of the script featured in Sak Yant designs come from Buddhism and are meant to be a chant or a mantra. This is why it’s important to research what kind of Sak Yant you would like, as they all carry different meanings.

Back Sak Yant done by Sebastian Lydford at Love and Light Tattoo
Back Sak Yant done by Arjarn Fluke in Thailand

While Sak Yant pieces can be for anyone to wear, it’s important to understand the religious and cultural significance of the piece, and make sure you are getting the tattoo in a respectful way, including the placement of the piece. Since Sak Yant’s are largely Buddhist, it can be seen as highly disrespectful to tattoo the design anywhere below your waist, particularly if it includes a design featuring Buddha.

Back Sak Yant done by Arjarn Fluke in Thailand
Finger Sak Yant done by Kike in Barcelona

Edited by Harrison R.

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