THE MASTER'S STORY
Ajan Noo Kanpai is recognized as the most well-known master of Thai spiritual tattoo, also known as Sak Yant. Today, Ajan Noo inks his spiritual artwork out of a large, marble-floored tattoo shrine about 40 minutes from Bangkok in Pathum Thani. His tattoo disciples include international figures such as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. However, it took an incredible journey from humble beginnings to the spiritual master he is today.
Born in Bangbuathong District of Nonthaburi, Thailand, he is the second son of five total brothers. Before he became the Ajan (master), Noo was a special rebel as a kid. Despite his parents disapproval for going out, he would still leave home. However, unlike most children, he would spend all night at the neighborhood temple to volunteer and practice praying with the senior monks. Despite this schedule, he always made it to school.
A heart bigger than his age, he wanted to help his family financially even as a kid. After school, he would clean boats and sell ice cream, giving the income to his mother. Even from a young age, Noo understood that diligence and experience deserves life’s rewards over those who succeed by chance.
Noo began reading his grandfather’s old books on dhamma (white magic) when he was still in 4th grade. His grandfather was a monk who studied weecha akhom (mastery of spells). His interests led him to learn to read and write in Khmer (Cambodian), which he used to study and practice ancient Khmer spells. At 13, he could already read and write Khaum script and recite many khatha (Buddhist chant) from memory.
In his teens, Noo entered a troubled phase and became the leader of a tough gang known for their toughness. Neighbors and surrounding districts began to call him “Noo Johm Saep”, which means “Noo the Hooligan”. He felt bold and confident that he was second to none. Everyone knew he and his gang would face all attacks: hitting, cutting, stabbing, and even shooting.
Going down this rebellious road, Noo took this opportunity to experiment magic by casting them and then fighting with weapons. He speaks his magic words every day and one day, he engaged in a big fight with rival gang members. Several of them had knives and began to stab Ajan Noo in the stomach and body. The gangsters ran away when the police arrived. The police was in shock when they examined Ajan Noo, his clothes were torn but he had no wounds! The police immediately wanted to know what type of magic Noo used for self-protection.
That same day, a sinsae (Chinese fortune teller) warned Noo’s mother to watch over her son as he may be killed within three days. However, if he can survive, he would become a famous master. As soon as Noo came home, his mother told him to enter monkhood immediately. He was stunned but did not argue as he set off immediately for Wat Rahan, a temple in Bangbuathong, where he would become a novice and trained by senior monk Luangta.
As it turns out, Noo and his gang were wanted criminals and due to their nature, the police expected to have to catch them dead. His mother brought him to the police and promised to have him ordained with the senior monk Luangta at Wat Rahan, a temple in Bangbuathong. Luangta believed that Noo had a good heart and would be a kind master in the future.
It was as a novice monk that Noo created the first tattoo of his career. A man came to the temple to see the young novice because of his need for supernatural protection and begged for something magical. Having nothing of the sort, Noo offered to ink a protective khatha as sak yant, essentially a Thai spiritual tattoo of a protection chant. The future master humbly performed his first tattoo by binding a sewing needle to the stem of a coconut leaf, dipping it in ink, and tapping repeatedly onto the man’s skin. Not long after, the man was attacked and stabbed repeatedly with a knife but failed to penetrate the skin. Noo’s reputation grew along with his disciples, people who have been blessed with his sak yant.
His passion for weecha grew and Noo decided to search for monks with powerful weecha to educate him in saiyasat (magic) and akhom (sacred spells). So, he left the monastery and embarked on a grueling pilgrimage that lasted years, where he met with many monks from temples all over Thailand. Under these masters, Noo learned how to achieve Samadhi through meditation, control his body, and move past two sets of obstacles: 1. love, revenge, laziness, vanity, and hesitation and 2. head hair, body hair, nails, teeth, and skin. He often refers to his most influential master as Luang Pu Tim (1879-1975), the creator of the famous Luang Pu Thuad amulets that offer powerful protection.
During a crossroads in life, Noo faced a tough decision. The Abbot of Wat Taladneau retired and Noo was promoted as the new acting abbot of Wat Taladneu. Noo was officially the master, Ajan Noo. However, the promotion was a surprise to him and the high position would mean that he would have to give up sak yant tattooing. He thought about his passions and his devotees long and hard before finally making his decision.
Ajan Noo left his monkhood and started his humble tattoo samnak (institute). From there, he focused strictly on the magical sciences and serving his followers. People who get into fights would come to his samnak every day for his tattoos and incantation for protection. He always tells them they can take revenge if attacked first, but never bully anyone weaker. As time went along, he became widely known as people from all over Thailand paid him a visit and seeking self-protection, virtue of kindness, prosperous business, and overall life success.
Always striving to improve, Ajan Noo completed a sacred alphabet in 1984 to make him more helpful for his visitors and their protection. As his business grew, he began training a few main disciples, being very particular with who he works with as he spends 10 years training them. His assistants and artists share the same dedication as their master in the art of sak yant, each drawing their own stunning tattoos.
One of the most famous devotee is Angelina Jolie, who has visited Ajan Noo 3 times and proudly bears several of his exclusive Thai tattoos. She received her first sak yant in 2003, where she asked the master to suggest a design. The five-row Thai tattoo that Ajan Noo designed offers five different blessings unique to Angelina Jolie. Her second Thai tattoo was inked in 2004, a foot-long unique design known as the King of Tigers (Phaya Suakrong), which was completed with absolute precision in line form and offered her further blessings. In 2016, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt both received several more Thai tattoos from Ajan Noo. The same ink was used for both their tattoos to symbolically bind them as husband and wife. Without a doubt, Angelina Jolie is very pleased that she found the leading Yantra tattoo artist in Thailand.
Go behind the scenes with Angelina Jolie's tattoos and discover the meaning behind them, CLICK HERE or any picture below!
Want to get to know some of Ajan Noo's other disciples and their unique tattoos? CLICK HERE
Ajan Noo’s exclusive sak yant tattoos, sacred objects, and spiritual incantations continues to bless his disciples. New and old disciples can visit him daily at his two-story tattoo shrine about 20 miles from Bangkok. With a lifetime of passion, knowledge, and experience with the magical, spiritual, and traditional tattoo techniques, Ajan Noo continues to share the power of protection through his stunning tattoo art.
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