Tuesday, 27 November 2007

NPR: Thai Tattoo Tradition

Image Copyright © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

In July 2005, I was traveling to Indonesia and stopped en route in Bangkok. It is there that I heard of the famous Wat Bang Phro monastery just outside the city's limits. It wasn't easy to find, but I found Bannasad "Nai" Radabutr, a taxi driver, who knew where it was and who also spoke some English. Through his intermediation, I photographed the tattooing monks at the monastery, and was quite pleased with the results. The resulting Tattooing Monks of Wat Bang Phro is probably one of my preferred documentary photo essays.

So imagine my pleasure at seeing that a similar photo-essay by Scott Carney was published by NPR's website less than two weeks ago, and doubly pleased to see that one of the photographs was almost identical to mine...in terms of subject, of composition and viewpoint. Here it is:

Image Copyright © Scott Carney/NPR-All Rights Reserved

The NPR article tells us that Thai soldiers have covered their bodies in protective tattoos called Sak Yant, and that the ancient ritual is increasingly popular in Thailand and beyond, and people are flocking to master artists to have the powerful designs inked on their bodies.

Naturally, I would've been happier had NPR chosen my photographs to publish in this feature, but that's how it is. It'll be for another time.

NPR's Photo Essay

NPR's Thai Tattoo Tradition