Every year in March, the Wat Bang Phra Tattoo Festival is held. The Festival takes place at the Wat Bang Phra temple, located 50 km west of Bangkok. More than a festival about aesthetics and art, this celebration is linked to spiritualism and Thai traditions.
For some tattoo artists this is where the latest examples of authentic tattooing can be found, while for tourists it is seen as just another example of an exotic custom from Thai culture. For Thais, however, this is an opportunity to show their devotion to their ?talisman? and gain protective powers.
Thais believe that Sak Yant (spiritual tattoos) are able to provide them with protection against evil spirits, bad luck, and even firearms. The tattoos are made by temple monks, and are done with a two-pointed metal needle that is dipped in a black liquid, an undisclosed solution consisting of snake venom, dyes, and herbs, the needle is repeatedly and rapidly pierced into the skin of the devotee, small dots of ink and blood begin to appear to form the chosen design, and the end is marked by a prayer made by the monk. After the tattoo is done, the tattooed people are ?possessed? by the spirit of the animal tattooed on their skin, so that the person starts to behave in the same way as this animal, an act that has caused many accidents during the festival.