Ancient Cats but not Egyptian

These designs were inspired by the tattoos of the hill tribes from Indochina. The men tattoo themselves between their waist and knees with animal symbols as a rite of passage into manhood, to represent the nature of the animals (cats are believed to make the bearer more elusive and is a popular design for thieves), and for protection from evil spirits and wild animals. These types of trouser tattoos predate the Buddhist Sak Yants and are not blessed by a monk once completed. Usually the process of getting a full trouser tattoo takes place over a period of a few days using a bamboo rod, with opium consumed to dull the pain. Done in Chiang Mai, Thailand with machine by Ajarn (teacher) Raut who is the Luksit (student) of Ajarn Daeng, a former monk. As far as I know, there are still tribes in Northern Thailand where the original method of using a rod to tattoo these is still employed but without a translator and guide the logistics of such an endeavour would not be easy, not to mention the significant amount of extra time the tattoo would take to be applied that way.

Special thanks to Peter Jenx of The Thai Occult who facilitated this experience. Peter has been living in the Northern region of Thailand for a good few years and has been documenting the traditional and magical practices of that region, as well as the meanings and origins of the ancient Sak Yant tattoos through interviews with the teachers, magicians and holy people. His books aim to preserve this vast and eclectic knowledge which is mostly unknown to the Western world.

Burmese Villager by Adolphe Philip Klier, photographed in 1895
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