Traditional Thai tattoo - impressions
Traditional Thai tattoo - impressions.
Thailand is one of the most famous places in the world when it comes to getting traditional yantra tattoos. Yantra tattoo art, also called sak yan, has approx 2000 years and comes from ancient Cambodia. For so long and through the civil wars in Cambodia, Thailand has taken over the art and made quite a business out of it.
Sak yan literally means: sak - tatuować, yan - is an abbreviation of the word yantra, which stands for a mystical diagram.
Mystical diagrams are made of ancient geometric patterns as well as sentences from religious scripts. It is believed, that they bring happiness, prosperity and protection from unwanted evil powers.
One of the most popular designs is in the photo above. From what I remember, Angelina Joli also has one.
Yantra tattoos are popular no matter what your social status is or how old you are. Their magical power will protect everyone, who will undertake a tattoo with special preparation, prayer and most importantly - faith in its power.
Getting a tattoo like this is a special process.
First of all, the tattoo is made with a bamboo stick, which is accurately sharpened at one end, what forms the needle. Of course, nowadays a needle is put on the bamboo and you can be sure, that it is disposable.
Each artist has his own bamboo stick and it is considered a trophy of its own.
It is treated like a sword by a knight. Every artist is used to his own and possibly emotionally attached.
Each bamboo has a handle that fits the artist's hand and weighs exactly as the artist wants. The point is, so that the artist feels as natural as possible.
What does a tattoo look like?
At first, the design is carefully reflected on your skin. Then petroleum jelly is applied to the skin, thanks to which skin irritation is reduced to a minimum.
The artist puts one tiny needle on the end of the bamboo, he dips it in a small amount of dye and starts sticking the needle into the skin very quickly. With each prick, a small amount of the dye is transferred under the skin.
So it takes a lot of time to make a small tattoo. The artist must be as focused and precise as possible.
It looks amazing, when you watch his work. The face is in 100% focused and the hand movements are so fast, that you are wondering how this is possible. I can stare at it for ages.
When I was going to Thailand, I had the idea of getting a bamboo tattoo in my head. I was a little scared after all. I was wondering if I should trust Thai artists? Is it safe? And do I really need another tattoo?
I tried to answer these questions and kept wondering. Once, After a long discussion with a local artist and presenting my project idea to him, I decided to end it!
Now or never!
We designed together exactly how it will look and I will honestly admit it, that I was looking at a piece of paper, on which we drew exactly what I wanted and well.. I fell in love!
I had an appointment the next day.
I got there too early - as usual. I sat down on the couch and realized, I'm a little nervous. Then the artist, with whom I prepared the project, he told me, that someone else will do the tattoo. Person, who has a talent for details, and that my project was very detailed, they invited this gentleman especially for me.
When my artist showed up, I almost choked on!
He looked like he had 16 years!
I panicked and at this point I didn't know if I still wanted to get this tattoo.
So I decided to do a little interview with him, starting with the question “How old are you?”
Turned out, that he has 26 years and has been tattooing since 10 years (so his first tattoo was when he actually had one 16 years, perhaps it has stopped growing since then?)
First tattoo, who made this fish on his own ankle.
I looked at this work and doubted it.
Well, it didn't look like much.
But well, I explained to myself, it's not like that, that you are born with talent! You have to work hard to develop skills and since this gentleman had it 10 I count it for years, that he succeeded.
They put me on the couch and the whole process began.
I closed my eyes, I took a deep breath and repeated in my mind once again, "Olga is safe, after all!”
After the first sting - wow ! It doesn't hurt at all! The needle is so small, that you don't even feel her.
However, after a few moments it turned out, that the more you prick the skin, the more it gets tired and it starts to hurt.
My little project took equal time 3 hours. At the very end, all I thought was about it, to get out of there.
The superiority of bamboo over the razor?
The first benefit is this, that bamboo is slightly less invasive than a razor. The device usually contains more than one needle and there is only one on bamboo. This contributes to the fact, that there is hardly any blood during the entire tattooing process.
Second - less irritated skin heals much faster. The next day I didn't feel any discomfort, a po 3 days you are ready. The only precautions, which should be taken is Vaseline lubrication, not exposing the tattoo to water and sun, but only for a few days. A razor is usually more than that 2 weeks of healing!
Third - thanks to this, that there is only one needle you can make a very detailed design. The lines are very thin and this effect is not possible with a razor.
Comparing to the razor - time. Bamboo takes a long time. But it doesn't matter to me - a tattoo is for life, so I don't need to rush.
Now, honest confession - the discomfort and pain were terrible, but at the same time I was getting some pleasure from it… Strange?
The result is amazing and I love my new tattoo!
And finally, I really believe in this gentleman's skills, whose name is Nattapol Rakton. Definitely a skilled guy with an eye and a talent for detail.
If you're interested, I really recommend the Dragon Tatto Shop on Koh Phi Phi.
Is bamboo tattoo safe??
Of course, I was watching the artist all the time, checking how he does it all, is it hygienic and if it is in sterile conditions. Everything was fine.
He placed a new sterile needle practically against my face and showed me, yes! She is sterile! He disinfected everything and used surgical gloves.
There is only one thing, which upset me a little.
The studio is open and everyone who passes by can peek at you and accompany you in your pain. When I was focusing on the pain, the last thing, I wanted there were people staring at me and asking if it hurt.
No, they were not, whence!
IT HURTS SO MUCH!
Would I repeat this experience??
I even started thinking about the next one. Means, that I should leave Thailand hmm now? Before I get the irresponsible idea of tattooing myself from head to toe in mystical signs like a Thai Buddhist monk.
Much smaller than in Europe. For a not very detailed design 10 cm x 10 cm is approx 4000 BHT. The more detailed the design, the more expensive the tattoo. But it's still cheaper than anywhere else.
What do you think about traditional bamboo tattoo? Would you do one when traveling in Thailand? Let me know in the comments, thanks!