BAMBOO TATTOOS IN BANGKOK
Bamboo Tattoos In Bangkok – Nice In Theory But Are They Worth The Risk?
Sak Yant tattoos are more commonly known as “Thai Traditional” or “Bamboo” tattoos and Thailand is world-famous for these inkings.
In theory it may seem like a great idea to receive such a traditional inking, but let’s take a look about whether that’s the reality or not.
What is a traditional bamboo (Sak Yant) tattoo?
- Sak in Thai means to ‘Tap’ or ‘Tattoo’
- Yant is the Thai pronunciation for the Sanskrit word Yantra – a mystical diagram used in meditation.
The art of Sak Yant can be traced back over 2,000 years and consist of sacred geometrical, animal or deity designs accompanied by Pali phrases offering the bearer such things as:
Clearing up a common myth about getting a bamboo tattoo in Bangkok
Foreign visitors to Bangkok in search of a Sak Yant or bamboo tattoo in Bangkok are often under the misconception that this is only possible if such a design is completed at a Thai temple specializing in the art.
Please understand; This really is NOT the case. Here’s why:
Sak Yant designs are meaningful, artistically stunning and very much sought-after.
Visitors to Thailand of all nationalities see them as the perfect long-term reminder of their time spent in the Kingdom.
However, the traditional process of Sak Yant tattooing at any temple can only truly be achieved by spending years of intense training under the teaching of a Master.
Such teaching is given to monks who choose this following and who spend a huge amount of time understanding the mysteries and intricacies of their Sak Yant etchings.
When such a design is given to a monk, it is based on merit.
This should tell you that any tattoo studio or tourist operation offering an “authentic, traditional experience” are trying to convince people that this is the only way to receive a “real” Sak Yant tattoo, and that they are doing so for their own financial gain.
What is the reality of getting a bamboo tattoo in a “traditional” setting?
You do not need to be taken in by such claims or scams offered through online commercial tattoo operations, tuk-tuk drivers, taxi drivers or any associated agents.
Here’s just 5 important reasons why:
They can be far from authentic
Having your tattoo “blessed” by an “Ajarn” (teacher) in a tattoo studio or even at a traditional setting is a long way from the authentic, ancient method of such a procedure. A true Ajarn would never work in a tattoo studio and they are forbidden from taking money for their work.
Do you really want to be in a fake “magic” ceremony?
You do not need to be tricked into a fake “magic” ceremony to enjoy your tattoo.
Are you getting an authentic experience?
Many of us have had the unwanted ‘pleasure’ of visiting a tourist attraction billed as “an authentic experience”. Think a ‘mocked-up’ foreign town in unfamiliar surroundings. Let’s be honest, this type of attraction brings very little in terms of satisfaction and many will have similar feelings if they are duped into accepting an “authentic”or “traditional” Sak Yant experience that delivers neither and ultimately disappoints.
There has been an increased use of “bait and switch” experiences
There have been many reports recently of “authentic” experiences taking you to places far off the beaten track that use machines for the tattoos. While we agree that is a better option, we have heard the hygiene can leave a lot to be desired. Not using new needles and simply dipping them into alcohol is NOT SAFE! This is regardless of what you are told when you pay your non-returnable deposit!
Getting a traditional design is culturally acceptable without taking risks
From a cultural point of view, Thai citizens see Sak Yant tattoo designs on foreigners as being completely acceptable. They do not see the necessity of you visiting a “traditional” setting to receive one and very often don’t do so themselves when they get these designs. Indeed, many are proud to see a foreigner wearing something symbolizing their culture, no matter where it was inked.
When getting a tattoo, hygiene has to be your #1 concern
With tradition comes potential drawbacks.
The Bamboo tattoo technique is not always dangerous and any bamboo specialist who truly understands the importance of hygiene; for example the need to ensure a needle is scrupulously cleaned or replaced after completion of each tattoo can potentially be relied on.
We’re not tarring everyone with the same brush here.
Sadly there are many, many more instances where the opposite is the case.
When receiving a tattoo of any kind, hygiene must be your number one priority.
All concerned need to have assurances that the needle being used is “one use only” and that needles from different clients are not being dipped into the same ink jar.
Is there a far safer, more satisfactory alternative to getting a bamboo tattoo in Bangkok?
It is becoming increasingly popular for those in search of bamboo tattoos in Bangkok to receive their chosen design using a machine as opposed to the Bamboo stick method.
If you choose the right studio, why is using a machine a better option?
- Machines are far more easily sterilised than the “bamboo” stick a needle is attached to.
- Wherever you receive your tattoo, we believe the surroundings should be conducive to comfort, health and safety. This is not always the case when receiving a so-called “traditional” bamboo tattoo.
- By its very nature bamboo tattooing means that the lines and depth of ink is quite rough. This means they do not really lend themselves to clean, long lasting tattoo designs.
- When receiving a bamboo tattoo, every piercing will go to very different skin depths. Receiving a machine tattoo means a consistent depth throughout the inking process.
- When a machine tattoo is delivered by an experienced artist it will deposit ink on the third dermal layer. Piercing to this depth means far less blood will be seen as opposed to having the work carried out by a bamboo tattoo practitioner.
- Having a bamboo tattoo inked means that ink will be placed on varying layers of the skin. This means more surface blood will be seen, and just as importantly, there is a much greater risk of infection from what must be seen as a lower quality end product.
- The majority of people, particularly “first timers” will find a machine tattoo far less painful than the bamboo process. Regular comparisons on the two methods indicate that a machine tattoo feels more like a scratch while the bamboo tattoo application has been variously described as being burned by red hot needles. Most definitely not the same experience!
- The professional, experienced ALL DAY tattoo studio artists can produce ANY “bamboo tattoo” design you require using a machine.
- Machine results provide a cleaner, clearer, more visually appealing and precise design than the traditional bamboo application method.
- The stringent health & safety standards implemented by the ALL DAY tattoo studio means that any unnecessary risks seen from traditional bamboo inking methods are completely eliminated.
- In summary, there really is no need in this day and age to opt for bamboo tattooing. In the main it is far more unsafe and of inferior quality.
Older does not always mean better!
Each and every one of the highly skilled and professional team members of the ALL DAY tattoo studio have deep respect and admiration for Thai culture and tradition.
This extends to traditional tattoo methods and the history behind them.
However, in the rapidly changing and advancing world in which we all live it is our strong belief that choosing a traditional bamboo tattoo design applied by machine far outweighs the traditional bamboo delivery method.
Just because something is older and more traditional, doesn’t mean we should do it.
Many cosmetic and medical treatments that were the gold standard even 20-30 years ago would seem barbaric today.
Is getting a tattoo really so different?
We believe that if you’re going to mark your skin permanently you should choose the most modern, effective and safe method.
This is because:
- We take the safety of our clients and artists very, very seriously.
- We pride ourselves in maintaining exacting standards that reflect this. Can you read all about them on this page
- Our fluent, English speaking managers and artists will provide all necessary input relating to your design. We are committed to delivering exactly what you want, not what is most expensive.
- We strongly believe the detail to attention and our friendly, yet ultra-professional approach mesh into a perfect ambience while you spend time at our welcoming studio in Sukhumvit, central Bangkok. Our aim is to give you a unique, unforgettable inking experience.
- We are confident that our machine tattoo process beats the bamboo application hands-down.
In the end, you are going through far less pain, gives far less concern relating to any health and safety issues, and the finished design will be far clearer, more appealing and visually stunning in a way that lasts.
Interested to learn more?
If you have any questions whatsoever on bamboo tattooing, or would like to learn more about the friendliest, most professional and consistently rated top tattoo studio in Bangkok please feel free to message our fluent English speaking team.