Skin and ink

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Originally used by warriors, to offer them divine protection, Sak Yant is now the design of choice for soldiers, policemen and other individuals, who find themselves in high-risk situations. However, the global popularity of the tattoo, has resulted in Sak Yant being filtered down to other sectors of the Thai population as well .

The simplest translation of Sak Yant is `protective tattoo', where Sak means tattoo and Yant refers to a geometrical design believed to possess magico-divine powers of protection Normally inked by Buddhist Monks, each design is said to offer a specific type of protection.

The prayers tattooed around the Yant (geometric design) are written in Pali Sanskrit, and each tattoo is unique. A prayer ( Kataa ) is the final step of the tattooing process, and as the monk recites the Kataa, he consecrates the newly inscribed tattoo, to awaken its power.

This ancient art is still practised in Thailand, Myanamar, Cambodia and Laos Although images 3 and 4 do not relate to the art of Sak Yant, they have been included as variations to a theme. Image 3 is a non-permanent henna (mendhi) design popular during Indian weddings and image 4 is a photograph of Jumeena, a lovely kid from Mali who sported unusual designs on her hands.