When in Cambodia, this is one experience that you cannot miss. Unless, you are scared of needles, of course. While you can have it from one of the regular tattoo artists, especially in Phnom Penh, there is no charm to it; for you can easily take a print and get it anywhere in the world. Getting a Sak Yant tattoo from the Buddhist monks, the original practitioners of the art, is where all the fun is. And finding them is no easy deal, for a 1920 royal ordinance forbade monks from tattooing.
Add to it the belief that deems these tattoos to be very powerful; giving one to the wrong person can have devastating effects as the Cambodians say. If and when you get a Sak Yant tattoo from a monk, you will find them reciting some mantras while drawing the tattoo. As believed, their chanting infuses life into the tattoo, thus making it powerful as well as a blessing to the person who gets one. Some centuries back, shamans used to impart tattoos as well.
Those with a keen sense of adventure can certainly go for it, especially with the fact that there is no choosing a design. Once you go in, the monk will decide on the design and etch one! Considering that Sak Yant tattoos are mostly done on back, it is only after you look in a mirror that you get to know the design!
The ink used for Sak Yant tattoos contains snake venom, charcoal and coconut oil. While most of the people stay content with getting one such tattoo from a regular artist, there are some, who hike for days to meet the few tattoo masters left in Cambodia. Getting a tattoo master to design one for you is believed to be all the more auspicious, for they breathe in luck into the design with their mantras.
If you have an offbeat experience in mind while in Cambodia, a quest of the tattoo master monks is certainly a very intriguing option. Who knows, with luck, you might run into one of the handfuls of monks, who carry ahead the legacy of Cambodia’s Sak Yant tattoos.
According to medium.com and timesofindia.indiatimes.com