How did you start doing this job?
I got interested in this field as a kid. I used to be bullied by other kids at the temple where I was a young novice. One day I had an irresistible urge to fight back against the bullies. A monk in the temple saw my reaction and invited me to learn about tattoo magic with him. I went on to study communication arts and marketing at university but reamined interested in tattoo magic. I travelled all over the country to learn from the great tattoo masters. I started tattooing for my close followers first and then created the Thai Tattoo Preservation Club.
How do you perform your work?
Basically I tattoo the client based on the specific ambition that he or she wants to achieve. Each tattoo pattern offers different charms or magic. For example, the Suea Liaw Lang [tiger turning back] can bring you success and make you more charming or appealing. The client can opt for a proper tattoo with ink or an invisible one using herbal oils.
How can a tattoo help someone?
It helps improve the area of life that the particular tattoo covers. So for example, a salesperson who wants to charm clients and make higher sales may want the magical power of my Salika Linthong (golden tongue bird) tattoo. The magic comes from the chants I do while I am doing the tattoo and the power of the god or creature that the tattoo features.
Are there any side effects? Can the tattoo not work?
Of course. We have rules that clients have to follow, like not eating meat on Buddhist holy days. They also have to pray for the god master who will protect them through the tattoos. If they don’t follow these rules, then it might not work.
Have you had any supernatural experiences?
Always. I used to follow a master who was famous for being invulnerable. One day I tried to follow him and find out his secret and learn his power. He knew I was there so he stopped and picked up a random rock lying on the ground. He blew on it whispering an incantation and then gave it to me saying, “Because you want proof that I’m real.” I decided to test his powers by holding the rock and asking one of my friends to shoot at me. He took aim and fired, but the gun he used just exploded in his hand.
Will you pass this skill on to the next generation?
I’ve tried but I can’t find the right student at the moment. They have to have good karma, natural ability, patience and virtue.
How much do you earn?
My tattoos start from B999 but can be thousands of baht depending on the design. I don’t do many, though, as I am only open for tattooing three days a week. The rest of the time I do my other businesses, which covers everything from jewelry exports, to secondhand cars and amulet selling.
How much of your talent is training and how much is a natural gift?
It has to come together. Some people have tried for years but can’t achieve the same power in their tattoos as I can . Those who have the gift will progress and learn faster.
What do you say to skeptics who don’t believe in your magical powers?
People nowadays aren’t stupid. They can analyze what is true or not. Lord Buddha’s teaching have been around for 2,500 years: the story has been rewritten over and over again but that doesn’t stop people from believing. So why do people think magic doesn’t exist? Our ancient masters created this to protect, not harm. It’s people who make it black or white magic—not the magic.
Ajarn Suea can be reached at 089-448-8422, www.importancetattoo.com
Q&A: The Customer
Narachai Atthapassorn, 29, a chef at the Radisson Hotel, comes to visit the tattoo master again after he had his first tattoo three years ago.
How was the first outcome?
Before I got the tattoo, my life really sucked for a long time. I was a cook for years. I saw no opportunities to become a chef. At some point, I lost my job as well. I researched on the internet and found Ajarn Sue so I decided to get a tattoo with him. After I got the tattoo, Sue Liawlang [tiger looking back], my life got incredibly better. Out of nowhere, I got a call from the Radisson Hotel to test to be their chef and I got it. I swore that I never sent any application to them before. I also attracted more girls too!
Why do you come back?
I am opening my own restaurant and I want it to be successful. So I just came back to ask him to give me more good tattoos.