Sak Yant Designs and Meanings

What does the Sak Yant Tattoo Mean?

What does the Traditional Thai Sak Yant Tattoo Mean?

The Sak Yant Tattoo meaning is comprised of three factors

1) The Design
2) The Kata chanted by the Sak Yant Master during the Sak Yant Process
3) The Blessing given

It takes the Sak Yant Master many years to learn the magic of the traditional Thai tattoo, which (like any magical system) in large part derives it’s power from the expertise of the Master secret knowledge.  Sak Yant Masters are very reluctant to impart this secret knowledge in any depth as the power of a genuine Sak Yant comes from the hidden knowledge of the Ajarn giving it.  After all if anyone could read and understand what the Sak Yant tattoo means, then any old street tattoo artists could create them.

สักยันต์ – Sak Yant

Sak – meaning “to tap” or, “to tattoo”, and

Yant meaning “Yantra”. Originally derived from the Sanskrit word “Yantra”


The 3 parts of the Sak Yant Tattoo Meaning

When getting the Sak Yant Tattoo, the meaning associated with the Tattoo comes in 3 parts; It is sometimes possible (It depends on the design itself) to have an imagine you want, but change the text and prayers and final blessing for a specific and special meaning.  The 3 elements are …

1) The Design

This is the picture or design of the Sak Yant.  While all Sak Yants come with their own meaning implicit to the design, if you like a certain design, it might be able to be used but changed to include the Kata and Blessing elements into the final meaning

2) The Kata

This includes the magic spells within the mind of the Sak Yant master as they create the Sak Yant.  The master is reciting special prayers as they apply the design so that it becomes filled with the desired intention of the final design.  The Kata also includes the text written around the Sak Yant.  This text is usually presented incorrectly in drawn images you find online and are corrected by the Master.  This is design to keep the knowledge so that only those qualified to give Sak Yants can give them.

3) The Blessing given

The final blessing given at the end of the Sak Yant Process.  Special intentions and desires can be requested for this.  For example you can get a Five Line Sak Yant and ask for financial prosperity with the blessing.


The Basics Meanings of the Sak Yant Design

The lines drawn in the Yant represent the Umbilical Cord of the Buddha, and are traditionally known as ‘The Bones of the Yant’. There are many varied forms of Yantra, it appears, such as; Round Yant, Triangular Yant, Four – Sided Yant, and even Pictorial ones.

Round Yant – represents the Face of the Buddha (Pra Pakt Khong Pra Putta Jao) in Brahmin Tradition, Brahma is applied as the meaning.

Triangular Yant – represents the Triple Gem of the Buddha Dharma and Sangha (Pra Put, Pra Tamm, Pra Songk). In Brahmin Tradition the three Lords of Heaven are applied as the meaning (Shiva Brahma, Vishnu)

Four sided Yant – represents the Four Elements / Continents (Earth, Water, Air and Fire)

Pictorial Yant (Animalistic) – represents various Angels, People, and Mythical Animals (Sathw Himapant)

Onk Pra represents The Buddha Himself.

The Half Moon Symbol to be seen above “Onk Pra” so often represents the Moon Illuminating the way for us in the Dark Hours.

The small Circle (Sun Symbol) to be seen above many Yant means the Sun lighting way in the daytime; and that all Humans and Living beings exist under the influences of the stars and Planets, and that these forces enable us to develop and brings Changes.

The Zig – Zag spiral line on the top of each Yant is called Unaalome. Unaalome represents the Saints who have attained the status of Enlightened beings.  The Fetters of desire have been disentangled and discarded. These beings do not waver on their path as normal Humans do (Note the end of the zig zag evolves into a straight line, meaning that he has ceased to enter into diversion and is on a straight, direct path to Nirvana. The spiral in the middle represents the Crown of the Head of the Buddha. The Line of the Unaalome is straight and unwavering – Perfect and complete.


The Master Yant’s

Master Sak Yants Designs95% of the time your first, 2nd and even third Sak Yant will be one of the Master Yants.  These designs cover everything, they are a little like your health, boat, car, flood and house insurance in one design.  The three Master Yants are.

1) Hah Taew (5 Line)
2) Gao Yord (Buddha Peaks)
3) Paed Tidt (8 Direction)

Many times the first couple of Sak Yants you receive with be the Master Yants. Photo credit: Sak Yant Chiang Mai


The Hah Taew (5 Line) Sak Yant Design and Meaning

The Sak Yant Hah Taew dates its origin back over 700 years to the ancient Kingdom of Lanna which is now known as Northern Thailand. The Buddhist Monk credited with the design of the Hah Taew 5 Lines Sak Yant is Kruba Kam of Wat Ton Pin, a Buddhist Temple in Chiang Mai, which unfortunately no longer exists today. Kruba Kam designed the Hah Taew at around the time King Mengrai founded the city of Chiang Mai in 1296.

Over the centuries, either by accident or design, the original 5 lines of script which were written in Khom, an ancient Khmer language, underwent several changes and in recent years, several Sak Yant Ajarns have completely replaced the original 5 lines of script with lines of their own.

The 5 lines of script (transcribed) used in the original Hah Taew design are:

1. i ra cha ka ta ra sa
2. ti hang ja toh loh ti nang
3. soh ma na ga ri tah toh
4. pi sam lah loh pu sa pu
5. ka pu bam too tahm wa ka

Hah Taew, represents 5 yants or magical spells. Each one will be done individually and the following magical spells have been cast to do as described below.

1. The first row prevents unjust punishment and leans in your favor when the area is grey, cleans out unwanted spirits and protects the place you live in.
2. The second row reverses and protects against bad horoscope constellations and bad fortune.
3. The third row protects you from the use of black magic and anyone who tries to put a curse on you.
4. The fourth row energizes your good luck, success and fortune in your future ambitions and life style.
5. The fifth row is to gain charisma and attraction to the opposite sex. It is also is a boost to the fourth row.


The Gao Yord (9 Peaks) Sak Yant Design and Meaning

Gao Yord (Buddha Peaks)

The Gao Yord is the “Yant Kru” or Master Yant and is a most sacred Buddhist tattoo with very wide ranging powers of protection and is quite possibly the most important of all the available Sak Yant designs. Many people will choose the Gao Yord as their first Sak Yant because of its universal powers and later add other Sak Yant designs of their choice.

The basic design of the Gao Yord represents the nine peaks of the mythical mountain of the Gods, Mount Meru. According to Hindu mythology, Mount Meru is the abode of the Lord Brahma as well as other Deities. In Buddhist mythology, Mount Meru is known as Sumeru.

The set of 3 ovals are a representation of the Lord Buddha and this grouping of 3 ovals can be seen in many other Sak Yant designs. The Gao Yord Yant has 9 Buddhas represented, with each Buddha bestowing special powers or spells. In some versions of the Gao Yord, there is a Mantra or Katha tattooed at the base of the design. The script used is Khom, an ancient Khmer script, and gives the abbreviation for the names of these nine Buddhas as follows;

A, Sang, Wi, Su, Loe, Pu, Sa, Pu, Pa

In the centre of the Gao Yord design is a patchwork of small squares, the magic box, (although in some designs the outlines are not shown but only the contents), each square containing an abbreviation (in Khom) for the names of all the protection spells that this Yant will bestow. The exact number of these small squares can vary according to the design but the powers granted to the wearer will always include the following.

Maeta Ma Hah Niyom: With this blessing you will be treated by others with great loving kindness and compassion which will improve your popularity and help you to gain preferential treatment.
Klaeoklad: This benefit ensures that the wearer will not suffer serious injury.
Chana Satru: The ability to defeat the enemy.
Ma Hah Amnat: This will give the wearer great power, authority and control over other people.
Awk Seuk: A willingness to go to war or to fight battles for those who have your loyalty and the desire to fight for what is right.
Kong Kra Phan: This will provide Magical protection and invincibility.
Oopatae: This will ensure that in whatever enterprise or business activities the wearer is involved in they will have the ability to do the work correctly and ensures that everything will run smoothly.
Ma Hah Saneh: This will give you charm and increase your popularity and attractiveness with the opposite sex.
Ma Hah Lap: This will bring great good fortune and luck.
Noon Chataa : This benefit will improve your destiny, fate
Pong Gan Antarai : This will give protection against accidents including natural disasters as well as giving protection against acts of violence.
Nah Tee Gan Ngan Dee : This benefit will help you to improve your circumstances at work

In addition The Sak Yant Gao Yord will protect the wearer against evil spirits and all forms of “Black Magic”.


The Paed Tidt (Eight Directions) Sak Yant Tattoo Design and Meaning

Paed Tidt (8 Direction)

The Sak Yant design ‘Paed Tidt’ or Eight Direction Yant is a sacred Geometric Yant containing eight Mantras written in 2 concentric circles in the center of the design. The design of the Paed Tidt Yant also incorporates eight representations of the Buddha. These are the groups of 3 ovals each increasing in size from the top.

In Thailand, there is a Buddha image, each one in a different pose, for every day of the week. (On Wednesdays there are 2 Buddhas, one for the morning and one for the evening) and these 8 Buddha Images can be seen in many Thai temples, usually surrounding a Chedi.

The Paed Tidt Yant will give you protection in whichever direction you are traveling and ward off evil spirits. The script used on the Paed Tidt Yant is an ancient Khmer script known as Khom. The Mantras written in the Paed Tidt Yant and which should be chanted when going out to give further protection are as follows.

I RA CHA KA THA RA SAA (chant when traveling to the east – also chant and blow into your food for protection against illness/danger)
THI HANG JA THOE ROE THI NANG (chant when traveling Southeast)
BI SAM RA LOE BU SATH PUT (chant when traveling south )
SOE MAA NA GA RI TAA TOE (chant when traveling Southwest)
PA SAM SAM WI SA TAE PA (chant when traveling West)
KA PUT BAN TUU TAM WA KA (chant when traveling Northwest)
WAA TOE NOE A MA MA WAA (chant when traveling North)
A WICH SU NUCH SAA NU THI (chant when traveling Northeast)


Sak Yant Masters are always very vague about explaining the inner or deeper meanings of the Sak Yant.  Knowledge of this took them years to learn, and is difficult to try and explain into a language many of them do not speak.  As you can see from the video below (with subtitles) even when explaining the meaning to a Thai person, very little detail is given.