Saturday, 19 April 2008

Tattooing Monks of Thailand

Photograph © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

I recently updated a photo essay entitled The Tattooing Monks of Wat Bang Phra, and revamped the photo gallery by using Adobe Lightroom's Flash gallery capabilities. Nothing could have been simpler.

The National Geographic's All Terrain blog has a new post on Thailand's tattooing monks, and I wrote on the same subject a few months ago on TTP, and linked to an identical project which had appeared on NPR

The monks at Wat Bang Phro near Bangkok are reputed to be among the best tattooists in Asia. They use a long metal rod, sharpened to a fine point, and have uncanny precision in their work. Here, antiseptics range from regular rubbing alcohol to a local rice wine, and toilet paper paper to blot any blood. I was told that the ink is made from snake venom, herbs, and cigarette ashes. The monks' talents as tattoo artists are available for little remuneration: an offering of orchids, a carton of Thai cigarettes (preferably menthol-flavored) or a few Bhats towards the upkeep of the Wat.