Let’s dive into the beautiful and captivating world of Sak Yant, also known as “Thai Traditional”, tattoos and have a look at one of the most popular designs in the genre: the “Hah Taew”
Hah Taew is written in Thai script as ห้าแถว and translated to English means “five lines” or “five rows”
This design offers a blend of beautiful artistry and spiritual attributes that elevates it beyond just being a “pretty design”
Although it’s been popular for centuries in Thailand and the surrounding area, it has gained popularity in the Western World over the past few years, really gaining traction after Angelina Jolie got several Sak Yant tattoos in Thailand
That isn’t to say that this is a feminine design, it’s absolutely acceptable and common for anyone to get it tattooed
In this article we’re going to have a deeper look at the Hah Taew design, it’s history, meaning and spiritual connotations and discuss why someone might choose to get it tattooed
The Hah Taew is a symbol of spiritual guidance, protection and good fortune.
Each of the five lines carries a different meaning and blessing:
- 1st row: This prevents any unjust punishment and will also lean in your favor if there are grey areas. It also represents the cleansing of unwanted spirits and protects the place you are living in.
- 2nd row: Signifies the reversal and protection against any bad horoscope constellations as well as bad luck.
- 3rd Row: Seen as protection against any black magic as well as preventing anyone from putting a curse on you.
- 4th row: This row works to energize good luck, success & fortune in future ambitions and your lifestyle.
- 5th row: As well as boosting the 4th row this final row works to increase your charisma & attraction.
The letters in each line are generally written in what’s know as “Khom” script
So let’s have a bit of a deeper look at what Khom is, and what the letters actually mean
Emerging from the Brahmi script of ancient India, Khom, also referred to as Ancient Khmer or simply Khmer script, is an alpha syllabic writing system
It has seen diverse applications in Cambodia (the former Khmer Empire), Thailand, Laos, and some areas of Vietnam
It is the same reason why temples throughout the region have a similar style
This script holds immense significance in the Buddhist and Hindu ceremonies and religious scriptures in these regions
Khom script plays a prominent role in the realm of Sak Yant, or Thai sacred tattoos
It is often harnessed in these tattoos for its perceived spiritual power
Mantras, prayers, and distinct symbols, each bearing a particular blessing and meaning, are inscribed using this script
The version of Khom used in Sak Yant is a legacy that has been handed down through generations of Sak Yant masters, ensuring the enduring authenticity and spiritual resonance of this ancient art form
In comparison, while the modern Thai script shares the same Brahmi roots as Khom, it experienced considerable transformations over the centuries
This evolution was particularly significant during King Ramkhamhaeng’s reign in the 13th century
The outcome is a script that, although bearing a common heritage with Khom, is visually unique and operates under different pronunciation and usage rules.
The modern Thai script, commonly used for day-to-day communication in Thailand, and the Khom script, which retains its importance in religious, ceremonial, and traditional contexts such as Sak Yant, hold distinct roles
Khom’s application in these tattoos extends beyond mere physical inscription
It also serves as a spiritual bridge linking the wearer to the rich cultural heritage, historical continuity, and spiritual vitality embodied in this ancient script
To read more about Sak Yant in general and some of the history behind it, you can check our comprehensive Sak Yant page here
These designs are called “unalome”
In the realm of Buddhist symbology, certain designs are cherished for their depiction of the path to enlightenment
The unalome’s winding path, with its myriad twists and turns, metaphorically traces the journey towards enlightenment, illustrating that this journey is seldom a straightforward one
In this journey, one may encounter numerous obstacles and setbacks, sometimes necessitating a backward step before making progress forward
These trials are but stepping stones on the path to enlightenment
This path culminates in a straight line, symbolizing the final stage of the journey: the attainment of enlightenment characterized by clarity of mind and spirit
Beneath the unalome designs in the Hah Taew tattoo, there are circles that are integral to its meaning
These circles symbolize the physical form of the Buddha, adding another layer of profound spirituality to the design
The specific Khom scripts inscribed in each row of a Hah Taew tattoo often vary depending on the tattoo master or Ajarn
The exact translations aren’t known due to the nature of the Pali/Sanskrit language used in these scripts
Rather than being “sentences” or “words”, they are more of a “code” that a specific Ajarn creates for a purpose
Our Hah Taew designs are sourced from well respected Ajarns and has been checked for authenticity
Although we can’t say exactly what each letter or line “says”, we can tell you the purpose of the blessing for each row:
- The first row: “I request protection against all dangers. May they not come near me.”
- The second row: “I ask for all misfortunes to be pushed away. May they not touch me.”
- The third row: “I request protection from all curses or black magic.”
- The fourth row: “May success and fortune find me in all my endeavors and lifestyle.”
- The fifth row: “May I be desirable and charismatic, commanding respect and love from others.”
Selecting a Hah Taew tattoo reflects an individual’s quest for spiritual protection, good fortune, and guidance
This tattoo is an excellent choice for individuals seeking a profound spiritual connection, who appreciate the unique combination of artistry and spirituality offered by Sak Yant designs
The Hah Taew, with its potent blessings and compelling design, serves as more than just body art
It’s a personal amulet imprinted on the skin, a tangible connection to the spiritual world that constantly guides and protects you
Ultimately though, the reasons to choose it are entirely personal and that’s just fine!
Many people come to Thailand and are enthralled by the temples, symbolism and personalities of the people here
The Hah Taew can serve as a reminder of a wonderful experience that you want to remember with the added bonus of it having a deeper meaning
The traditional position is on the upper right or left back
However, you’re free to choose any position you like, as long as it’s above the waist
The reason for this is that Sak Yant designs are believed to be “sacred” and in Buddhist philosophy, the lower part of the body is “unclean”
As a reputable studio in Thailand, we always want to respect the culture we live in and their beliefs
On top of this, we want our customers to avoid any potential issues or conflicts that might arise from having a sacred design in a position some may find offensive
At ALL DAY Tattoo we have extensive experience with Hah Taew designs
We are one of the only fully licensed tattoo studios in Bangkok and follow the best Western hygiene practices
All of our inks are top brands from the USA, FDA approved and imported
When you get tattooed with us, you can be confident you’ll be treated fairly and we won’t try to pull one of the many tourist tricks or scams that many fall into
Our central location is easy to find and our friendly, fluent English staff, are available at all times to guide you through the process
To reach out to our team, just send a message using any of the methods below and they will be happy to advise you