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The Magic of Tattoo

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As I’ve noted on here several times before, Asia in particular is a hotbed of tattoo activity.  Despite there being (for the most part) vastly different approaches to the aesthetic, the opinion of and the general process of tattoo, Asian cultures all have very widespread and diverse appreciation for tattoo as a culture and artistic endeavour.  One of the more interesting aspects of tattoo found in Asia is the so-called “magic” tattoos – tattoos that are said to bring their bearer everything from luck to courage and strength to invisibility.  Whatever your take on the probability of such tattoos actually working is not really important.  The ritual and belief in these representations of culture is all that truly matters.  In addition to the ritual significance of the tattoos, they are intricately designed and hand poked, often by monks.  What’s more, there are even massive festivals that celebrate these unique tattoos in Thailand, in which thousands of people attend and a select few retain the honour of being tattooed.

For those of you out there with a potential interest in this aspect of tattoo but with no cash or time to actually travel to Thailand, no worries.  A new book on the topic called Thai Magic Tattoos: The Art and Influence of Sak Yant might be just the thing you’re looking for.  The book catalogues the various Thai religious aspects of these spiritual tattoos with plenty of photos and explanation that will aid even the most ardent information seeker get what they’re looking for.  If you’re interested in a review of the book itself, check it out here.  And for those of you who do seek out this book but still want more, the Wat Bang Phra holds its massive tattoo festival in Thailand every March.  Might be worth the trip.

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