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Thai Massage History

Text : Klaw & Jiratorn S.
Images: SP

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.gifGentle pressure

.gifAt present, though most people know Thai Massage to be an ancient therapeutic technique, few know much about its origin and how it has gained popularity throughout the decades.

.gifAccording to an article, The Sensory Experience of Thai Massage by Junko Ida, the historical facts about it are amazing. Since the age of the Buddha, Thai Massage has been an ancient therapeutic technique which provides people with medical benefits. Furthermore, the rise of Buddhism is regarded as an integral factor in the development of this particular therapy. At the time when Buddhism was extending its influence on the Asian continent, several medical institutions, knowledge and practices were then associated with it. And when Buddhism reached mainland S.E. Asia in the 2nd or 3rd century BC, temples were built with clinics and medical schools located nearby.

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.gifPutting things right

.gifAs with other of the arts of healing, massage was widely taught and practiced in both monasteries and households. In the family, this local wisdom was carried forward to generation upon generation via the oral tradition, since most people then were illiterate. However, the written record was first made by the Sangha, by ordained Buddhist monks and nuns, in order to preserve such medical treasures as long as possible for the further development as well as the advantage of their children.

.gifEvidence about massage is still presented in the murals at Wat Pho aka Wat Phra Chetuphon in Bangkok. The temple was constructed in 1788 during the reign of King Rama I of Siam before being restored by King Rama III over a period of almost 17 years, under supervision of the royal Thai physicians in 1832. Since then, the temple has become the center of Thai medicine, as essential information collected from different sources was recorded on its walls before the traditional medical and massage school was established in 1962 and the second restoration was made in 1982.

.gifThe main purpose of establishing Wat Pho as the national major source of traditional medicine is that, like of other Asian nations, Thailand has been subject to by Western imperialism as well to Christian missionaries in many ways for decades: thelatter took a major role in introducing Western medicine to Thailand, for instance. Thus this medical knowledge, especially about Thai massage, has been exhibited at Wat Pho since King Rama III's restoration, and reflects the determined resistance to the Western cultural and social hegemony.

.gifThe murals at Wat Pho narrate the complete history of Thai massage. Apart from the historical facts, fundamental massage information concerning such matters as the pressure points, as well as the statues of hermits with the therapeutic postures, are exhibited there. And up to the present, massage courses are still available for anyone who is interested in such regional knowledge.

.gifFor more information, check

.gifInformation courtesy of Junko Ida's The Sensory Experience of Thai Massage and

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