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Sacred Ink – Sak Yant Magic Tattoo Exhibition » Thai Guide To Thailand

Sacred Ink is a photographic and multimedia installation exhibition by Cedric Arnold exploring the world of Sak Yant, the Magic Tattoo. Sacred Ink features over 45 large format black-and-white photographs taken in Thailand, as well as sound, video and multimedia projections bringing us further into the world of spiritual tattoos.

A body, used as a canvas, every inch of skin filled with sacred text and figures of mythical creatures, all forming a protective shield. A boxer, a monk, a construction worker, a policeman, a soldier, a taxi driver, a shipyard worker, a shaman, a tattoo master, men and women and their inked protection from evil spirits and bad luck. Enter the world of Thailand’s spiritual “Yantra” tattoo tradition.


From first chance encounters over three years ago with a shipyard worker completely covered in yantra tattoos, a young Iggy Pop-like taxi driver, or a fierce-looking market trader, photographer Cedric Arnold began taking portraits of these inked men and women as a personal project with the use of large formats as well as Polaroid cameras. Soon, it grew into a long-term venture, exploring this unique subculture, its rituals, symbols and people.

A chest etched with a fierce leaping tiger, a hand adorned with images of geckos on each finger, a back protected by a monkey God, or a shoulder inscribed with ancient Khmer text, sacred ink, believed to have mystical powers. Known in Thai as “sak yant”, the tattoos are a testament to the complex spiritual makeup of Thai society, incorporating elements of Buddhism, Animism, Brahmanism and Hinduism.


About the Photographer, Cedric Arnold

Born in 1976, French-British photographer Cedric Arnold first picked up a 35mm camera at university, whilst studying linguistics and history in Paris. He quickly turned most of his attention to photography and filmmaking, taking extra credits in printmaking, the history of cinema, and documentary filmmaking.

After graduating, Cedric moved to London to present his work. He started freelancing for agencies and magazines, splitting his time between London and Northern Ireland, later joining the agency Sygma. Trips to Thailand and Cambodia soon persuaded him that a move to South East Asia was what he wanted. Cedric eventually made Bangkok his base in late 2001, and has since been producing work for international publications as well as for exhibits; working with clients such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, the Rotary Foundation, Cartier, and The National Geographic Channel. The ‘Sacred Ink’ project was photographed with a wide array of camera systems ranging from large format to Polaroid cameras as well as square format and modified cameras.

Honors and Awards:
The Black & White awards:
3rd Place in Photojournalism
3rd Place in Sport

Asian Geographic Best of Decade Award for “Tattoo Magic” feature

Nominated for IPA award
Nominated for Black & White Spider Award


The Sacred Ink Exhibition will be held from 25th May 2011 until 25th June 2011 at:

The Art Center
7th Fl, Center of Academic Resources, Chulalongkorn University
Phyathai Rd, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
Tel: 0-2218-2965, Fax: 0-2218-2907
Email: info.artcenterchula@gmail.com

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One Response to “Sacred Ink – Sak Yant Magic Tattoo Exhibition”

  1. Min says:

    Am from Myanmar .It’s really nice art on skin. I wish I had that tattoo like first one got on neck.

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