I’ve been called a man twice in the past month – something I’ve experienced many times in Thailand and in the past largely read as a mixed insult or at best a backhanded compliment. It’s not unusual in Thailand for people to make blunt comments about your appearance. But these two have been some of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. I’m not ashamed to be a woman, so what’s with the pride in these two instances, what made the difference? And why were these important to me? The first occasion was at Thapae Stadium in Chiang Mai. The night
CategorySak Yant – Sacred Thai Tattoo
Sak Yant are the sacred tattoos of Thailand. They are expressions of both Buddhist beliefs and a layering of occult, animistic powers. Individual sak yant do not “mean” something, in that they are not mostly seen as conveying messages, but rather they are thought to “do” things. They protect, empower, enchant, enhance, promote. And they do this much as how a device might. You do not ask what a toaster means, you ask what it does…it toasts. Sak Yant, through the invocation of the depicted, the powers of sacred script placed in the skin, the powers of the sak yant Arjan, are seen to bring supernatural forces to bear positively on your life. The depicted: Phra Hanuman, Tigers, Takroh, lines of sacred text, etc., each are distinct in their effect. For me I’ve come to see them as both a painful, sanctified process that hone’s the mind, and a regular visual meditation on the substance of what they are, what is depicted. These are the articles I have written on sak yant.
above, YouTube video of Andrew Zimmern receiving his Sak Yant You can read about my own Sak Yant experiences here Since the airing of Andrew Zimmern’s Driven By Food I’ve already received a lot of questions about how to get a Sak Yant from Arjan Pi Bangkating, so this post is a basic 101 on how to get in touch with him so you can arrange a Sak Yant session. Arjan Pi moves between locations in rotation. Most of his time is spent in Chiang Mai and in Bangkok (his Bangkok location is just outside of Bangkok in Rangsit).
Above is my vlog today about the use of magical Muay Thai herbs prescribed to me by Arjan Pi. About 15 minutes before I step into the ring, usually when the Ram Muay music is playing for the fight before mine, lately I’ve chewed a tiny ball of magical, herbal medicine prescribed by my Sak Yant master: Arjan Pi Bangkrating. The pellets are very light and dry, like tea leaves rolled into a ball. The taste is bitter and herbal, the texture a little bit like woodchips (spongy and fibrous), and little pieces stick into my teeth so that I’m
Sak Yant, My Belief and Muay Thai Invulnerability There are, to me, significant differences between the invulnerability of those who deflect bullets, and the invulnerability of those who absorb bullets but keep moving forward. The second is scarier. I picture the the Hulk raging forward while bullets bounce off of him, just getting more pissed off from the onslaught (one of my fight nicknames is dahaknoi, which is ‘Little Hulk’ in Thai. That’s cool. But more dangerous, to me, is the creature that comes after you despite the pain and despite the damage. Invulnerability, the one by definition, is not the
I climbed slowly down the short ladder from the corner of the ring, the cool air washing over the water soaked clothes, Vaseline and oil on my skin, while the warmth of blood streamed down from my forehead, along the bridge of my nose and down my chin. Because I was smiling, blood trickled into my mouth and crept into my mouthpiece; I could taste it. And I felt so happy. Straight from my 108th fight, a victory and 6 stitches in my forehead, we drove through the dark highways with only a few other cars on the road to
Guest Post by Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu Do you believe in magic? Magic is ritual which upon repetition produces change. The rain that was coming looked unearthly. You could see huge curtains of it draped in grey floating over the mountains we would be crossing, drifting inhumanly tall, carried by the wind. As we shot down the road at high speed it felt that we would be entering something, how a storm in older times was divine with divinity still retaining all those meanings of “terrible”, and terror was more a holy state, and not just something you felt in movie
Today on our drive back from Korat to Pattaya we started seeing signs for a wat with a giant reclining Genesha depicted. They got more and more frequent, and then we saw that the same wat had a Rahu statue as well, given my close connection to Rahu even a little before receiving my Sangwan Rahu sak yant, we definitely had make the short detour to pay respect. As it turns out I made my first public offerings to Rahu (video above) – I do offer him coffee and coffee beans each day in my apartment. It feels like he
[Update May 2015: Here is my account of the Backward Facing Tigers I received next] above video: my thoughts on just coming out from the 2 hrs of tattooing my sak yant. As one can see, I was significantly affected by the experience, but was in good spirits. It is a lot to digest. What This Sak Yant Meant to Me People may not realize it from the fact that I post online and blog, and even sometimes write about very personal things, but I’m an extremely private person. And even though I have probably put more out there about