What is a Sak Yant Tattoo?

What is a Real Traditional Thai Bamboo Tattoo?

Understanding the Traditional Thai Tattoo

Sak Yant Explanation from Sak Yant Masters:

What is a Sak Yant? The Sak Yant Tattoo is a Traditional Thai Tattoo applied using the hand poke method by a holy man, while chanting prayers using a Steal Needle in either Ink (visible) or oil (invisible) that is started with an offering and ended with a Magical Blessing The Sak Yant Tattoo offers protection to the wearer and serves as a Talisman of Affirmation for a personal quality, quest or goal.

Sak Yant Tattoos are a traditional form of tattooing that originated in Southeast Asia. They are also known as Yantra tattoos or Traditional Thai Tattoos, Monk Tattoos, and are deeply rooted in the spiritual and religious beliefs of the region. In recent years, these tattoos have gained popularity across the world, with many people getting them as a form of body art or as a symbol of their spiritual beliefs.

In this article, we will explore what a Sak Yant tattoo is (compared to a Fake ‘Bamboo tattoo’ promoted by normal tattoo parlors), its history, meaning, and how to get one.

What is a Sak Yant Tattoo?

What is a Sak Yant Tattoo?

A Sak Yant tattoo is a traditional form of tattooing that originated in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar firsts by a Holy men and later Buddhist Monks.   The word “Sak Yant” translates to “magic tattoo” or “blessed tattoo” in Thai. These tattoos have to be made by Buddhist Monks or spiritual masters (called Sak Yant Masters or Ajarns), who have undergone years of training and practice.

Sak Yant tattoos are believed to have magical powers, which can protect the wearer from harm, bring good luck, and ward off evil spirits. They are also thought to enhance the wearer’s physical and mental abilities, such as strength, courage, and wisdom.

The tattoos are usually made up of intricate designs and symbols, which are believed to have different meanings and powers. Some of the most common Sak Yant designs include the Hah Taew (Five Line), Gao Yord, (9 Peaks) and Paed Tidt (8 Direction)

The 3 Parts Meaning of a What is a Sak Yant Tattoo made from

1) The Sak Yant Tattoo Design

The most familiar part of knowing what is a Sak Yant Tattoo – This is the picture or design of the Sak Yant.

While all Sak Yants come with their own meaning implicit to the design, if you like a certain design, it might be able to be used but changed to include the Kata and Blessing elements into the final meaning.

There are hundreds of different Sak Yant Designs from many different lineages (or schools) of Sak Yant Tradition.

2) The Sak Yant Tattoo Khata

This includes the magic spells within the mind of the Sak Yant master as they create the Sak Yant. The master is reciting special prayers as they apply the design so that it becomes filled with the desired intention of the final design.

The Kata also includes the text written around the Sak Yant. This text is usually presented incorrectly in drawn images you find online and are corrected by the Master. This is design to keep the knowledge so that only those qualified to give Sak Yants can give them.

3) The Sak Yant Tattoo Ritual

An offering is made at the beginning of a Sak Yant to honor the Master and the Tradition.

A final blessing given at the end of the Sak Yant Process. Special intentions and desires can be requested for this. The Blessing of the Sak Yant can only be done by an Authentic Sak Yant Master trained in the magical arts.

Without the ritual from a real Sak Yant Master (of which Tattoo shop Artists are not) – you do not have an authentic Sak Yant Tattoo

What is a Traditional Thai Sak Yant Tattoo Meaning - สักยันต์ - Sak Yant

Meaning of a Sak Yant
The Meaning of Sak Yant Tattoo depends on the design, the Text and the Magical Blessing

The term Sak (สัก in Thai) means to ‘Tap’ or ‘To Tattoo’. Traditionally done with a Bamboo Needle, hence the combination of ‘Tap Tattoo’

The term Yant (ยันต์ in Thai) means ‘Yantra’. Originally derived from the same Sanskrit word a Yantra or Mantra is the magical design and Text.

Sak Yant Tattoo are the Thai name for the Tattooing of Sacred geometrical designs on the skin. Yant (or Yantra, as they are call them in the west), can only to be tattooed by Buddhist monks, or Brahmin Holy men.

The Yant tattoos have developed over the centuries under the influence of several different religious philosophies. The Yantra designs that already existed in Hindu India were adapted by the Thais as Buddhism arrived from neighboring India.

History and Origins of the Sak Yant Tattoo

The origin of sak yants can be traced back up to 2000 years ago, although the oldest known record of its use dates back only to the 1600s, during the reign of the Ayuttaya Kingdom in Thailand. Warriors were bestowed with yant tattoos and yant shirts as a talisman to safeguard them in battle. The yantra tattooing process was conducted by monks through a traditional hand-poked technique using a Steel tool called a Khem.

As the Sak Yant is very popular in Thailand, they are sometimes referred to as the Traditional Thai Tattoo, and in Cambodia as a Khmer Tattoo.  No real Sak Yant Master however refers to them as a Bamboo Tattoo.  This term is a recent Tourists Scam by Tattoo Shops to gain extra income by providing replicas to gullible tourists.

For detailed information you can read History of Sak Yant Tattoos

Cultural Significance of Sak Yant Tattoos

Traditional Thai Tattoo Sak Yant Scam
Fake Sak Yant’s by Tattoo Artists are highly disrespectful in Thai Culture

The Traditional Thai Tattoo (or Sak Yant Tattoo) hold a deep cultural significance in Thailand, and are believed to possess magical powers that can bring good luck, health, and prosperity to the wearer. The designs are often accompanied by special prayers and blessings, which are said to imbue the tattoo with spiritual energy.  With the increased popularity of Sak Yant’s many tattoo parlors and artists offer fake replicas of the designs. 

This is not only considered highly disrespectful to the culture and traditions of Thailand. The placing of fake Sak Yants obtained from tattoo shops could result in a Real Sak Yant Master refusing to give an authentic Sak Yant due to the lack of respect for the spiritual aspects of the Sak Yant history and traditions.

What is the Purpose of a Sak Yant Tattoo?

A Sak Yant Tattoo purpose is seen as the strongest form of protection against bad luck, black magic and supernatural forces.  The primary meaning of Sak Yant Tattoos are used as a magical form of protection against negative influences of ones life.  In addition to the supernatural protection they are used as a personal Talisman for creating change in personality traits, life circumstances and assistance in the achievement of goals.

For the wearers of the Sak Yant Tattoo, the Sak Yant does have an important part to play in obtaining assistance in life through the benefit of receiving the positive Karma from the Monk or Sak Yant Master who creates it.  In Thai culture as well as many religions around the world, the ability of a spiritual master to share/bless/charge the spiritual status of another is accepted as a matter of reality.  The Sak Yant Tattoo then, bestows spiritual and magical power to the user from the knowledge and wisdom of the Master.  This is Why you don’t get a Sak Yant Tattoo from a Tattoo Studio

Sak Yant Tattoo Protection Against

Unwanted Spirits
Bad Luck
Physical Harm
Black Magic
Spells & Curses

Sak Yant Ajarn Naruphat Tom Chiang Mai
is it disrespectful to get a sak yant tattoo

Sak Yant Tattoo Personal Qualities

Good fortune and Luck
Avoid bad Habits
Attraction and Charisma
Power and Authority
Overcome Opponents
Comparison and Kindness

Choosing Your Sak Yant Design

Myth:  The Monk or Ajarn chooses your design
Reality:  You chose the design and meaning of the Sak Yant Tattoo

The Purpose of the Sak Yant is to aid in a personality trait or change in your life circumstances.  This is done using a combination of the Sak Yant design, Magical Writing and final Blessing.  Normally when you seek assistance from a Doctor, or Shaman, you know what the symptoms or problems are and the reasons you are there.  The same thing is true for a Sak Yant Tattoo.  Sure you can ask for advice about which design is best suited to your needs, but you can also research the Sak Yant Designs and Meanings and select something that appeals to your individual situation.

A Tattoo is for life, and while the Sak Yant Tattoo holds particular spiritual benefits it is also a Tattoo, so you need to be happy with the design image that you will carry with you for life.  The idea that the Sak Yant Master chooses your design comes from travel blogposts, where a person either did not understand the Thai language and process or did not give a significant donation, and the Monk was left to make the decision on their behalf.

Thai people choose their designs, without leaving it solely to the Sak Yant Master, and this option is available to you as well.  This is where it is important to go to a Master who has English speaking assistants that can facilitate this process for you.

The Master Traditional Thai Tattoo's - The 3 Most popular Sak Yant Designs

Sak Yant Tattoo Meaning of Master Yants

The Master Yants contain univerisal blessings that cover everything.  They are

1) Paed Tidt (8 Direction)
2) Hah Taew (Five Line)
3) Gao Yord (Buddha Peaks)

Other, more complex and complicated Sak Yant designs such as animals and sacred geometry are seen as advanced talismans for more serious and dedicated believers.  I  For more extensive details of various Sak Yant designs you can check out the article “Sak Yant Designs and Meanings”

The Sak Yant design ‘Paed Tidt’ or Eight Direction Yant is a sacred Geometric Yant containing eight Mantras written in 2 concentric circles in the center of the design. The design of the Paed Tidt Yant also incorporates eight representations of the Buddha. These are the groups of 3 ovals each increasing in size from the top.


In Thailand, there is a Buddha image, each one in a different pose, for every day of the week. (On Wednesdays there are 2 Buddhas, one for the morning and one for the evening) and these 8 Buddha Images can be seen in many Thai temples, usually surrounding a Chedi.


The Paed Tidt (8 Direction) Sak Yant Design and Meaning

The Sak Yant Paed Tidt will protect the wearer against harm when travelling in all directions

The Sak Yant design ‘Paed Tidt’ or Eight Direction Yant is a sacred Geometric Yant containing eight Mantras written in 2 concentric circles in the center of the design. The design of the Paed Tidt Yant also incorporates eight representations of the Buddha. These are the groups of 3 ovals each increasing in size from the top.

In Thailand, there is a Buddha image, each one in a different pose, for every day of the week. (On Wednesdays there are 2 Buddhas, one for the morning and one for the evening) and these 8 Buddha Images can be seen in many Thai temples, usually surrounding a Chedi.

The Paed Tidt Yant will give you protection in whichever direction you are traveling and ward off evil spirits. The script used on the Paed Tidt Yant is an ancient Khmer script known as Khom.

The Hah Taew (5 Line) Sak Yant Design and Meaning

The Sak Yant Hah Taew dates its origin back over 700 years to the ancient Kingdom of Lanna which is now known as Northern Thailand. The Buddhist Monk credited with the design of the Hah Taew 5 Lines Sak Yant is Kruba Kam of Wat Ton Pin, a Buddhist Temple in Chiang Mai, which unfortunately no longer exists today. Kruba Kam designed the Hah Taew at around the time King Mengrai founded the city of Chiang Mai in 1296.

Over the centuries, either by accident or design, the original 5 lines of script which were written in Khom, an ancient Khmer language, underwent several changes and in recent years, several Sak Yant Ajarns have completely replaced the original 5 lines of script with lines of their own.

Muay Thai Tattoo 5 Line Sak Yant
Combination of 5 Line Sak Yant Tattoo

The Gao Yord (9 Peaks of Buddha) Sak Yant Design and Meaning

The Gao Yord is the “Yant Kru” or Master Yant and is a most sacred Buddhist tattoo with very wide ranging powers of protection and is quite possibly the most important of all the available Sak Yant designs. Many people will choose the Gao Yord as their first Sak Yant because of its universal powers and later add other Sak Yant designs of their choice.

The basic design of the Gao Yord represents the nine peaks of the mythical mountain of the Gods, Mount Meru. According to Hindu mythology, Mount Meru is the abode of the Lord Brahma as well as other Deities. In Buddhist mythology, Mount Meru is known as Sumeru.


Gao Yord 9 Peaks Sak Yant Tattoo Meaning
The Sak Yant Gao Yord will protect the wearer against evil spirits and all forms of “Black Magic”.
  • The set of 3 ovals are a representation of the Lord Buddha and this grouping of 3 ovals can be seen in many other Sak Yant designs. The Gao Yord Yant has 9 Buddhas represented, with each Buddha bestowing special powers or spells. In some versions of the Gao Yord, there is a Mantra or Katha tattooed at the base of the design.

    In the centre of the Gao Yord design is a patchwork of small squares, the magic box, (although in some designs the outlines are not shown but only the contents), each square containing an abbreviation (in Khom) for the names of all the protection spells that this Yant will bestow. The exact number of these small squares can vary according to the design but the powers granted to the wearer will always include the following.

     This benefit will help you to improve your circumstances at work

How to Get a Sak Yant Tattoo

If you are interested in getting a Sak Yant tattoo, it is important to do your research and find a reputable artist or spiritual master who specializes in this type of tattooing. It is also important to understand the cultural and spiritual significance of these tattoos and to approach the process with respect and reverence.

In many cases, getting a Sak Yant tattoo involves a ritualistic ceremony, which may include offerings, prayers, and blessings. It is important to be prepared for this experience and to follow the instructions of the artist or spiritual master.

Sak Yant Chiang Mai is a Co-op of Real Sak Yant Masters giving authentic Traditional Thai Tattoo expereinces for western tourists.

What is a Sak Yant Tattoo? Video