In memo­riam eter­nal: Thais get inked for king

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

WINC­ING slightly as the tat­too gun punches holes in the nape of her neck, Ohm says get­ting inked in mem­ory of Thai­land’s King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej, who died ear­lier this month, is the great­est trib­ute she can pay.

Tat­too stu­dios across Bangkok are re­port­ing a surge in clients ask­ing for in­deli­ble re­minders of the beloved king who died on Oc­to­ber 13, aged 88, af­ter a reign span­ning seven decades.

Most Thais have known no other monarch – a fig­ure as­so­ci­ated with sta­bil­ity and virtue in a king­dom scored by po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence, coups and cor­rup­tion.

Ohm, whose full name is Kraipich Jarach, opted for “I was born dur­ing the reign of King Ra­maIX” on her neck in the scrolls and flour­ishes of Thai script, re­fer­ring to the monarch’s for­mal ti­tle.

“I might lose pho­tos, but tat­toos will stay with me even when I die,” the 32-year-old said.

Dou­bling up on the trib­utes, Kraipich also de­cided to have “King 9” – the first word in English and the numeral in Thai – tat­tooed on her fore­arm, a mo­tif that has be­come in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar.

Tat­toos have a long lin­eage in deeply su­per­sti­tious Thai­land, where they

are com­mon among women and men as acts of Bud­dhist de­vo­tion, for pro­tec­tion and good luck.

“In case I am re­born ... in the next life these tat­toos might help me re­mem­ber that I lived in the time of the best king in the world,” Ohm said.

Pho­tos of peo­ple show­ing off new art­work, from large por­traits of the king to elab­o­rate maps of Thai­land with his name across them, are do­ing the rounds of so­cial me­dia.

Celebri­ties have got in on the act, while par­lours are of­fer­ing free or cheap ses­sions as the king­dom mourns.

Petchy, the Thai owner of OD Tat­too Stu­dio, says that since Bhu­mi­bol’s death he has had around 10 cus­tomers a day keen for an en­dur­ing mark rep­re­sent­ing their king.

“Thais love their king ... Tat­too­ing is a kind of art. The king also loved arts – he painted, he played mu­si­cal in­stru­ments, he com­posed songs,” the heav­ily tat­tooed 42-year-old said.

“So this is a way for many peo­ple to show re­spect. They don’t just have his pho­tos at home but a tat­too that is part of their bod­ies,” he said, adding he also planned some fresh ink in com­mem­o­ra­tion.

Most Thai house­holds and com­pa­nies have a por­trait or pho­to­graph of the king on their walls.

Thais have donned black in a re­mark­able show of pub­lic grief, while ev­ery­thing from con­certs to foot­ball matches have been can­celled out of re­spect. –

Pho­tos: AFP

A Thai’s tat­too reads “I was born in the reign of King Rama IX”, re­fer­ring to King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej as the ninth king of the Chakri Dy­nasty.

A cus­tomer gets a tat­too read­ing “King 9” in hon­our of the late Thai King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej at Tat­too OD Stu­dio in Bangkok.

Since Bhu­mi­bol’s death, Tat­too OD Stu­dio owner Petchy says he has had around 10 cus­tomers a day seek­ing a trib­ute tat­too.

A mourner clad in black car­ries a paint­ing of the late Thai King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej to the Grand Palace in Bangkok over the week­end.

One cus­tomer said the tat­too might help her re­mem­ber her king in the next life.

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