The following informations are the result of my experience as pratictioner of this tradition and are linked to the lineage I belong to. For this reasons they, by no means, want to represent an absolute truth.
What are Sak Yan?
Sak Yan are the traditional Thai magical tattoos. They usually contain spells which gain power by recalling Buddha’s word and deed.
However, the Sak Yan practice has its own roots not in the buddhism, but in the pre-buddhist era. As we all know, both in Thailand and in the majority of South-est Asia, the practice of magic and tattoos is very ancient, therefore it would be wrong to refer to Sak Yan as Buddhist tattoos.
Who could get a Sak Yan?
Everyone can get a Sak Yan independently from their religion and believes. You don’t need to get converted but you are required to respect the Triple Gemof Buddhism (The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha), the respect towards parents, Masters and lineage, through thinking, deed and speech.
Which type of Sak Yan does exist?
Apart from several sub-cathegories, there are mainly two types of Sak Yan: protection tattoos and attraction tattoos.
Who can tattoo Sak Yan?
In order to be able to tattoo Sak Yan, you must be initiated into the tradition by qualified Masters. The initiation process consists of a very long and extensive training with daily personal practice which involves reiterations of Buddhist psalms and magical spells. This will ensure that the pratictioner word is efficient and his relation with the lineage consistent. The only people who can practice Sak Yan are Reusis, monks and initiated laymen.
Would it be possible to get Sak Yan tattoos from Internet drawings, by European tattoo artists?
Sak Yan must be tattooed by an initiated pratictioner to be effective. Usually the pratictioner is able to determine the most appropriate Yan for each person, sometimes through his personal intuition, sometimes with the support of oracles, divination or calculations. Each pratictioner has a personal grimoire, result of his relationship with the Masters, which definitely cannot be found in the Sak Yan we can get on Internet. Each lineage has several Yan, sometimes very similar in shape, but linked to different spells.
I got tattooed a Sak Yan in a standard Tattoo Studio.Can I get it blessed afterwords?
Getting tattooed a Sak Yan by a non-initiated tattoo artist is never a good idea. They don’t have a personal grimoire nor required training, and get the Sak Yan tattoos from internet drawings with no understanding of the correct spells. Masters, infact, post on internet Sak Yan drawings just to divulge their aesthetic shape, preserving the authenticity of the spells.
It is anyway possible to get the tattoo blessed afterwords, preferably by qualified pratictioners.
Can I get a Sak Yan to protect my family?
Sak Yan protect the person who carries them, therefore we can definitely say that in a way they give us the strenght and protection to look after our loved one. Pha Yanor Takrutare more indicated for the family protection. Pha Yan are imprinted on a fabric, Takrut are applied on a metal foil which gets rolled up. Both can be displayed in the house and the Takrut can also be worn as an amulet.
I got tattooed a Sak Yan by a non-initiated tattoo artist and the drawing has some mistakes. Can I get it sorted?
Unfortunately things like this happen very often. Some Masters advise against this sort of mistakes because they tend to offend the tradition and for this reason are considered bad luck.
However, it is possible to clean up the bad luck from a Sak Yan by tattooing the right spell on top of it with oil. By doing that it is possible to instill the magical power without messing up with the tattoo shape.
Sak Yan are part of a magical ritual and they are not a matter of fashion.
This can sound a bit odd to us European, but we need to be aware of the fact that when we get a Sak Yan we embrace a tradition which is very far from our customs and believes.