"A man without tattoos is invisible to God" Iban Proverb, Borneo.
If at the beginning, the tattoos were assimilated to protection for the warriors, today the SAK YAN is link to Buddhism and offer protection according to the one choosen.
If "SAK" means Tattoo in Thailand, the name tattoo has be borrowed from the Samoan name "TATAU". Sak is issued from the Khmer langage and especially from Cambodgia when they were predominant in the center of Thailand.
Today an englicism transforms the Yan with a T, so SAK YANT, but as long the Thai do not prononce the t or tra, the traditional name is YAK SAN.
If the tattoos were made by monks in different temples (still today see further), many tattoo shops propose the "bamboo technic" to tattoo and they are improving the quality with colours and effects. Traditionaly they were using soot or powdered charcoal, mixed with binding agents as such gum arabic or animal glue, remained the main blackening ingredient for tattoo ink, worldwide until recently, when it was replaced by metal agents as nickel. Now they meanly use modern ink.
They tattoo only ones which provide "metta" so loving kindness and no animals or designs which provoke some agressive behaviour.
Even some masters can shorter the power of the SAK YAN as shorter an animal tail or omitting one of the "akkhara" letter.
Traditionnaly, the master wears white clothes but again in the tattoo shops it is not the case anymore or very few.
The representation of BUDDHA (painting, tattoo or others) is forbidden in Thailand and can provoke some problems. Many shops in Thailand refuse to tattoo any BUDDHA signs, face, sacred letters. Already some case of people who get problem at the entrance or in Birmanie. When you arrive in Thailand, you will see warning in the airports and even along the road asking you to respect Buddha.
Steel needles (various size and spins) with a long metal sticks are used by the tattoo artists today with more or less a good result (some links down below).
Modern ink are used and hygiene is respect in most of the tattoo shops.
Many temples offer SAK YAN and you just have to make a donation.
AYUTHAYA: the lineage of LUANG PU NAI.
Ajahn Prawet alongside Master Luang Pu Nai at Wat Ban Pahan (50Km outside Ayuthaya). After Luang Pu Nai passed away in 1987, he build his own Samnak opposite of the monastery.
Ajahn Gop located at the edge of Khlong Sa Bua in Ayuthaya.
LINEAGE of LUANG PHO POEN:
Located on the banks of Nakhon Chaisi river in Nakhon Pathom Province in the XVIII century monastery Wat Bang Phra. Few Luang Pho Poen disciples are still tattoing there. Only donations are accepted as long as they consider a Sak Yant cannot be buy as merchandise.
THE STARS (for the STARS):
Ajahn Noo Ganpai famous his "five rows yantra Yan Haa Thaew" made on Angelina Jolie shoulder.
Arjarn Hom, Ajarn Khom at Wat Bang Phra at Luang Pi Nun.
It exists some place and Masters in Lao or Cambodgia as Ajahn Pornsit (free hand Sak Yan tattoo) and Ajahn Kamthorn (Phra Khru Baipika Kamthorn Kittisopanno).