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History of Traditional Thai Massage

Img Source - San Francisco School of Massage

The Origin of Massage

Humans instinctively touch, rub, and knead various parts of the body when they feel pain or discomfort. And these unconscious behaviors can be traced back to human evolution. Many mammals, not just humans, rub their own limbs and lick their wounds. However, we human beings have developed the current massage by systematizing and memorizing these actions over a long period of time. There are many different types of massage, such as 御徒町 マッサージ.

The first mention of massage in history dates back over 5,000 years. There is also a historical record that it was introduced to Thailand in the era of the Huang-Ti of China. It was mentioned in the Indian texts of Ayurveda around 1800 BC as a way to heal and strengthen the body. Many such descriptions of massage exist around the world, intertwined with cultures and medical references. There are many such notations in the Bible, and one of the famous ones is “laying-on-of hands” as a cure for illness.

The Origin of Thai massage

The origin of Thai massage dates back to 2500 years ago. The historical founder of Thai medicine is said to be a doctor from India named “Jīvaka Komarabhācca”. He was a person who had an exchange with Buddha, and was the chief doctor of a group of Buddhist monks called Sangha, which was formed around Buddha, and is said to be the “father of medicine.” He not only inspired the art of Thai massage, but also discovered the healing powers of herbs and minerals. He is still revered today as the “father of medicine” and appears in religious ceremonies.

Thai traditional medicine

Buddhism was introduced to Thailand about 2,500 years ago when Buddhist monks moved from India to Thailand (more details), and it is believed that massage techniques were introduced at the same time. Later, in 1292, King Rama Khamheng established Theravata Buddhism, a sect of Hinayana Buddhism, as the state religion. It will develop as it is. Unfortunately, we know almost nothing about how medicine developed historically in Thailand before the first half of the 19th century.

The center of the social life of the people at that time was the Thai temple called Wat, and Thai medicine was passed down orally from master to disciple for centuries. It is the same as the teachings of Buddhism passed down orally. At that time, medical books were written on palm leaves and were kept in Ayutthaya, the dynasty of that time, as a very authoritative existence like Buddhist scriptures. It was Not only medical books but also scriptures and government records were almost all lost.

Later, in 1837, the few remaining medical texts were engraved on a stone monument at Wat Pho in Bangkok and revived by King Rama III of Thailand . In these records, the energy line “Sen” flowing through the human body was drawn, and a total of 60 stone monuments with front and back views were engraved. These historical materials are still inscribed on the walls of the grounds of Wat Pho (Phra Chetuphon Royal Temple), and we can see them.

Relationship between traditional Thai massage and Buddhism

Developed in Thailand, traditional massage has been clinically practiced for hundreds of years to treat ailments. This massage, strongly influenced by ancient India and China, was passed down orally from mother to child, master to disciple over the years. Thailand is known as the land of Buddhism, and Thai Buddhist temples called ‘Wat’ used to be the center of communication for the common people. “Wat” was a place to learn the teachings of Buddhism as well as a place to learn massage techniques. Before the influx of Western medicine, people consulted monks on massage techniques to treat sick family members. In this way, Nuad Boran has developed while having a deep relationship with Buddhism. Before the massage, people put their hands together in a prayer called “Wai” and pray for good health and happiness. It was not just a way to feel better and be healthier, but it contained the Buddhist teaching of caring for others.

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