Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Origins Of Thai Tattoo (泰族纹身的由来)

There are many stories concerning the origin of Thai tattoo. Basically these stories can be subdivided into Pre-Buddhist, Buddhist influence and Ancestral related. I have collected some stories just to share with loyal blog visitors:

Pre-Buddhist story

In ancient time, there is a type of water demon known as Phi Thale that always attacks fishermen who earned living by fishing fishes and shrimps. This demon has caused many fishermen to shy away from the waters except for a brave young man who has to support his sick and aged mother.

One day this young man accidentally netted the 7th daughter of nagaraja (dragon king). When the king learnt about the news of the capture of his daughter, his majesty immediately dispatches his minister to bring some jewels to exchange for the princess. After hearing what the minister had to say, the young man voluntarily sent the princess back without asking for any rewards.

The minister was very grateful for what the young man’s benevolent act and he tattooed some fish scale patterns on the young man’s body. Since then whenever the young man enters into water, the water would automatically splits apart; even the horrible Phi Thale also keeps away from him. As the news spread, many people tattooed the fish scale patterns on to their bodies too for protection.

Post-Buddhist story

One day the Buddha was preaching to a group of monks but one young monk was too lazy to listen to the Buddha, so he sneaked out to steal some food to eat. When the Buddha has discovered what the young monk has done, the Buddha stripped off the young monk’s robe and start drawing various patterns on the young monk’s body. These patterns were later being copied as the tattoo patterns of later days.

Ancestral story

Once upon a time, when the sun and moon still not yet exist in the sky, the Thai ancestors have a ruby stone that hangs on a bodhi tree. This ruby has illuminated the world of the Thai folks and bestowing fortune. One day, a demon has stolen this ruby and escaped to the end of the world. Since then, the Thai lived in darkness.

A brave young man vowed to get back this stolen ruby so he started his long journey. He started to tattoo what he saw during his journey on his body as records. After he has passed through 9,999 forests, 9,999 mountains and 9,999 rivers, he finally found and killed the demon; and regained the ruby. Sadly when the young man has finally returned to his village, he already became an old man with white hairs. And this person died on the same day he reached his village.

So as a remembrance of his bravery, all men in the village tattooed the patterns of their hero on their body. This is how the practice of tattoo started amongst the Thais.

Hmm... what then  is the reason you choose to tattoo may I ask?

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