Tattooing in Myanmar was a widespread custom practiced by various ethnic groups, including the Bamar, Shan and Karen, until the 20th century. Also known as Sak Yan or Yantra.
Among the Bamar, the custom of tattooing originates from the Shan people, who believed that tattoos had magical or spiritual connotations, used in a similar manner as amulets and protective charms.
Nearly all Bamar men were tattooed at boyhood, between the age of 8 and 14. The tattooed patterns were ornamented pastiches of arabesques and animals and mythical creatures, including cats, monkeys and chinthe, among others as well as geometric designs mixed with Buddihist prayers. Tattooing of the waist was done before or soon after temporary ordination into monkhood, a major rite of passage for Burmese men.