Prayer is better than an autoclave

As you know, I’m not particularly afraid to call out religion. I see pictures like this getting forwarded on social networks all the time and being held up as beautiful or otherwise positive — this is interesting to me because if this was a photo of a Western tattoo artist, they’d be decried as the worst sort of scratcher. Luckily religion protects against bloodborne pathogens, right? I wonder if the tools are even sterilized between “devotees”… If Jews can pass herpes from circumcision, I don’t see why Buddhists can’t pass hepatitis…


There is no excuse for this. Thailand is not stoneage cave. Being a Buddhist monk — even one willing to get rich tattooing movie stars — does not excuse this sort of callous endangering of customers.

10 thoughts on “Prayer is better than an autoclave

  1. Props to you Shannon for speaking your mind 🙂
    I see your point and agree with you, saw a picture of Horiyoshi doing a tattoo the other day
    with a newer adjustable rotary and thought how cool it was to retain such a family tradition
    but also evolving. Really no reason at all to not be able to evolve to some gloves and basic
    sterile procedures.

  2. Religion makes people stupid. Period. Kids die because mom & dad would rather pray their childhood diabetes away than take them to a ‘worldly’ doctor, innocent babies catch herpes(which can be deadly to an infant with virtually no immune system) because of stupid religious traditions, and the pope tells Africans that condoms CAUSE aids. I pretty much despise religion & all its effects on our world, and it’s nice to see stuff like this being called out for the idiotic, dangerous BS that it is!

  3. It would be nice if you provided a link to the original source of that photo.

    Maybe you could tell us what makes you so sure that the equipment is NOT being sterilized. Or is this just an assumption on your part?

    And what, other than your own prejudices, makes you say that buddhists are unaware of health risks associated with getting a tattoo?

    I am really glad you came back here. It was getting almost civilized without your input.

  4. Wat Bang Pra Temple – probably the most renowned place for the tattooing of Sak Yant tattoos – would be a good example regards the level of hygiene within that specific environment…Below is the info found on the sak-yant tattoo temple’s page:

    “Hygiene is more or less the same in all places. The ‘mai Sak” (alternatively called “Khem Sak”, are not sterilized using any kind of modern sterilizing equipment ; the sticks/needles are used repeatedly with only a simple placing of the sticks in a bottle of alcohol to remain there until the next use.Most masters have a collection of five to twenty Mai Sak (or ‘Khem Sak’) arranged in rows, their tips soaking in alcohol in a glass bottles.This means that a single tattoo stick may have from between half an hour to one hour time period between tattooing sessions to kill any bacteria that may still be there from the previous devotee. The tips/needles are not cleaned thoroughly either, receiving at most a quick flush in a bucket of water, the master holding the stick and stirring the needle in the bucket before flicking it in the air to remove excess water/ink and then placing the stick in the bottle of alcohol.
    Some masters don’t even have the bottle of alcohol, just placing the needle back on it’s stand/shelf to await the next use.Transmission of aids is therefore a possibility, although there are no official recorded cases of a person contracting aids as the result of receiving sak yant (as far as the author knows).Hepatitis B and C,however, are a real danger, due to the fact that 0.04 of a thousandth of a liter of hepatitis infected blood is enough to transmit the disease. Hepatitis in such an amount of dried blood can survive on a dry surface for up to three months, in a wet environment (such as a sak yant needle), it can thrive”.

  5. @inka he said he wonders if the equipment was even sterilized, but as for disease spreading the obvious lack of gloves and cross contamination prevention are atrocious. This will spread things like hep…..

    I fully agree with shannon and phendraana here.

  6. I just wonder how someone who has appropriated the term ‘zen’ for his personal business purposes can be so willfully ignorant when it comes to discussing religion.

  7. Inka, if your words were people i would embrace their genocide, please return to facebook.

  8. As a former monk, Buddhist devotee and recipient of a sak yant at Wat Bang Phra, I’d like to agree with the identification of poor hygiene standards, but also express my sadness at an in accuracy in the article. The person or people who apply sak yant to movie stars for extortionate fees are not monks, and neither is the man in the photo above. Monks wear orange robes, it’s really quite obvious.

    The sak yant tradition does carry risks, I was aware of these when I submitted myself for a tattoo chosen and applied by the monk. The temple was not a tattoo parlour, I didn’t compare it with one and was not told and did not believe that the location or ceremony would ward off hepatitis or HIV. There was a calculated risk that I took, and which I was pleased did not come to fruition.

    To imply that Buddhism is responsible for conning people into taking a risk is untrue, and to add an ill-informed comment about monetary gain to infer further impropriety is disingenuous and simply poor journalism.

  9. I assume Shannon is playing devil’s advocate to some extent (pun intended) but I think its a great comment. Buddhism and probably to a greater extent lack of education IS responsible for people taking the risks associated with Sak Yant that Shannon mentioned. Further if you believe the comment regarding monetary gain to be untrue then you need to research into the tattooing of Ajun Noo, who, while as commented above is not a Buddhist monk, does indeed tattoo under the guise of a monk and his main body of work IS made up of Sak Yant done on Westerners and local Thai’s paid for in cash money. He and others like him have made relative fortunes this way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *