Thailand has ordered a ban on foreign tourists having religious images tattooed on their bodies while visiting the kingdom, official media reported.
Tattoos with images such as of the Buddha may offend Thai people,
Culture Minister Nipit Intarasombat was quoted as telling reporters.
He said his ministry had asked regional governors, particularly in tourist hotspots, to inspect tattoo studios and ask them not to use religious patterns, according to the
state-run National News Bureau. He said he would push for a law banning people from etching sacred images onto their skin.
Tattooed foot in mouth
At an interview with Pattaya Daily News reporter, Minister Nipit denied
making any statements against tourists with religious tattoos. He clarified that tourists with religious tattoos will not be prohibited from entering Thailand. [Even though he earlier claimed that such images offended Thai
The warning is directed at those tattoo shops that allow etching sacred images onto tourists' bodies especially on the lower body parts such as ankles, Minister Nipit said. He re-emphasised that it was a misunderstanding by foreign
Media that Thailand would do a body check on tourists while visiting the kingdom.
Update: Censorial Image
3rd June 2011. See
article from bangkokpost.com
Opposition is building to the Culture Ministry's plan to impose restrictions on the use of Buddha images and religious motifs for commercial purposes.
Culture Minister Niphit Intharasombat said this week he had instructed provincial governors,
especially those in tourist destinations, to crack down on the improper use of Buddha images and religious motifs. Niphit said the ministry would publish guidelines on the acceptable use of Buddha images and religious items for business
operators and tourists.
The guidelines will give advice on how to portray or treat Buddha images, teachings, pictures and photos. They will also urge respectful handling of monks' garb and items and temples' important features. People are
discouraged from dressing like monks, or portraying monks in an unfavourable light.
Tattoo artists, business operators and movie makers are unhappy about the restrictions. Pawat Pawangkasiri, director of Nak Prok (In the Shadow of Naga) , a
film about bandits who disguise themselves as monks, said the guidelines seem vague and could threaten freedom of expression.
Update: Below the belt
5th June 2011. See
article from bangkokpost.com
The Culture Ministry is asking
tattoo artists to stick to offering religious tattoos above the waist, as it believes such sacred imagery, even when displayed on the flesh, should be treated with respect.
The Bangkok Post asked tattoo artists what they think of the proposed ban.
Som, who works at Fine Art and Tattoo, a tattoo parlour off Patpong Road, said she agrees with the proposed ban. Many foreigners don't understand the symbols, and they want a Ganesh below the waist, like on the hip or ankle.
tattoo artists feel spirits inhabit them as they work, so at her shop they agreed not to tattoo designs with religious significance, which might skew the symbiosis they need to work. She said they worried about bad karma: The khru, the protector of
your art, will be upset and punish you. Even for Buddhists, sacred images below the waist are really bad. It's the same as putting a Buddha statue in a nightclub or toilet. It's done without thinking.
Thon, a tattoo artist of 14 years whose
Y2J parlour lies on Patpong 2 Road, believes a ban on religious imagery would be wrong. While he agrees that religious imagery shouldn't be tattooed below the waist, he doesn't think the government should have any say in what is ultimately a personal
decision. I also worship my khru, and I've never drawn religious tattoos on lower body parts, he said.