Mere months before filing for divorce from Brad Pitt in Sept 2016, Angelina Jolie took drastic measures — even for her — to save the union: She had her entire back covered in mystical tattoos meant to save her troubled marriage.
While in Siem Reap, Cambodia, directing the upcoming movie First They Killed My Father, the 41-year-old mom and filmmaker flew in Ajarn Noo Kanpai, an ex-Thai monk and renowned tattoo artist, from from Bangkok, Thailand, to perform the elaborate inking. Jolie was also joined in Cambodia by Pitt. The traditional tattoos, called Sak Yant, are comprised of “lines of script, geometric patterns, and animal shapes,” according to The Daily Mail.
The three designs Kanpai etched into Jolie’s skin include ancient Thai Buddhist symbols and mantras and were meant to “symbolically bind them as husband and wife,” reported The Daily Mail. They were applied as additions to a series of tattoos Jolie already has on her back, including, “Know Your Rights, a traditional Thai tiger, and Cambodian writings,” noted the publication.
The new tattoos are linked to a mystical tradition of body art that was used to protect warriors and grant them “magic powers associated with healing, luck, strength, and protection against evil,” according to The Daily Beast.
Jolie has several ‘magical’ Sak Yant tattoos on her back. (Photo: Splash News)More
But this wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill tattoo procedure. Kanpai used the handheld method, an application that is intense and quite painful, according to The Daily Beast. Instead of using a standard tattoo gun, Kanpai used steel rods mounted with a surgical needle — a technique that’s apparently more accurate, perfect for Jolie’s thinly outlined and elaborate work. In addition to love voodoo, the tattoos might also be “homage to the thousands who lost their lives during the country’s Khmer Rouge reign,” according to The Daily Mail.
One blogger who received a Sak Yant tattoo claims “the needle is dipped into ink and repeatedly jabbed through your flesh by hand,” and that “when the needle first punctured my skin, it felt like a bee sting. Followed quickly by a swarm of bees launching a full-scale attack.”
Jolie getting tattooed by a former Thai monk and tattooist artist Ajarn Noo Kanpai. (Photo: Splash News)More
Painful, yes, but worth it for spiritual seekers and fans of body modification. “The Sak Yant represents to the wearer magical and spiritual reminders that are much more profound than a normal tattoo,” according to the website of Sak Yant Chiang Mai. If a customer cannot choose from the traditional Sak Yant designs, a monk will often choose a meaningful one for him or her. Sak Yant tattoos represent everything from cleaning out unwanted spirits, gaining success and fortune, and protection from black magic and curses.
According to Sak Yant Chiang Mai, this type of body art takes less time to heal than traditional tattoos, as the surgical needle does not pierce as deep as the needle on a tattoo gun. Aftercare is the same, though, and the tattoos are just as permanent.
Allegedly, Pitt also had Kanpai brand him with a protective tattoo — a Buddhist symbol on the left side of his stomach, which was applied using the same ink as the one for Jolie’s body art.
This isn’t Jolie’s first encounter with the tattoo artist. In 2003 and 2004, Kanpai inked Jolie’s shoulder blade and gave her a tiger tattoo, according to The Daily Mail. Kanpai has also applied magical tattoos to celebrities including Cara Delevingne and Michelle Rodriguez, according to The Daily Beast.
Brad Pitt also got a tattoo from artist Ajarn Noo Kanpai. (Photo: Splash News)More
Among the other significant tattoos Jolie has been acquiring since she was a teen are the letter M on the palm of her hand (an homage to her late mother, Marcheline Bertrand), as well as the geographical coordinates of the birthplace of her six children: Maddox, Zahara, Pax, Shiloh, and twins Vivienne and Knox.
Despite the purported magical powers of her Sak Yant tattoos, though, Jolie and Pitt have been embroiled in messy and very public divorce proceedings, which culminated in a joint statement in January that indicated the pair would “keep future details of their divorce confidential by utilizing a private judge” in order to protect their privacy and that of their children.
However, in an interview to promote the movie she’s directing in Cambodia, which will air on Netflix, Jolie finally broke her silence on the breakdown of her marriage and her longtime relationship to Pitt, saying, “It was very difficult. Many people find themselves in this situation. My whole family have all been through a difficult time. My focus is my children, our children. We are and forever will be a family and so that is how I am coping. I am coping with finding a way through to make sure that this somehow makes us stronger and closer.”
Read more from Yahoo Beauty + Style:
Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day. For Twitter updates, follow @YahooStyle and @YahooBeauty.