The skills of a child prodigy went viral on Thai social media after he created a traditional Thai tattoo (or Sak Yant) on a customer in the Isaan province of Khon Kaen. The 10 year old child prodigy, Nakrob “Puen” Sooksusi, is considered the youngest tattoo artist in Thailand.
Sak Yant is a popular form of tattoo art in Thailand. It features geometrical and animal designs, often with Khmer script or Bali phrases believed to offer power, protection, charisma, fortune, and even immortality to those who wear them.
The tattooing process is typically accompanied by a special ritual to consecrate the artwork, usually performed in a temple, sacred shrine, or the studio of a tattoo master or Ajarn.
Puen learned the art of tattooing from his father, 46 year old Witthaya Sooksusi, known as Ajarn Aon Thep Munee Hermit. Puen has been learning Khmer script and practising tattooing since he was only five years old.
Witthaya revealed during an interview with ThaiRath that he decided to end his career as a police officer to become a hermit and opened a Sak Yant studio and rehabilitation. He also kicked off a training course for anyone interested in learning the art of Sak Yant, while his tattoos have gained popularity in foreign countries as well.
Witthaya explained that he encouraged Puen to learn to tattoo as he was addicted to his mobile phone and social media. He asked what Puen wanted to do, and Puen chose to practice tattooing. Witthaya said…
“At first, I did not expect that Puen would be so skilled. I just wanted him to do other things instead of using a mobile phone. Puen started by drawing a tattoo pattern three years ago, and now he can tattoo customers. I monitored him at first, but right now he can do it alone. Many customers want to get a tattoo with Puen.”
Puen told the media…
“I am interested in superstition and Sak Yant because I grew up watching my father performing it every day. Father told me that if I am good at tattooing, he would open a tattoo studio in a foreign country. Sak Yant helped me focus and spend my free time in a good way.”
Witthaya made known that his hermitage is a rehabilitation centre which has helped 700 drug addicts since its opening. He also offers drug addicts free tattoos if they promise to stop using drugs.
Witthaya admitted that some returned to using drugs but most of them felt guilty and came back to apologize and undergo rehab again.
Puen is not the only child prodigy in the world of tattooing. In Japan, a 14 year old girl named Noko gained fame for her tattoo skills and was included in Forbes Japan’s list of the 30 most influential people in Asia under the age of 30 in 2020.
The skills of another young tattoo artist in Singapore went viral after showcasing her skills at the Culture Cartel Exhibition last year. Fifteen-year-old Lilith Siow spent only six months honing her skills and gained a reputation as the country’s youngest tattoo artist.
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