About ChanTra

Chan Tra was born in 1963 in Sihanouk province and has two sons and one daughter. He is an orphaned survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime. He lost his entire family during the years of terror between 1975 and 1979. “I have loved drawing and painting ever since I was a child and practiced my art every day before the arrival of the Pol Pot regime.” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly during a personal interview. Chan Tra said that when he was a child, he always went to play by the riverside in Sihanouk province and it was there that he found the inspiration to draw pictures with his friends, just for the sheer pleasure of the activity.  Since childhood he practiced by himself every night to hone his skills and increase his range. After years of study and training he invested in tattoo supplies and opened one of the first tattoo shops in Cambodia in 1997. Chan Tra's life of artistic training and practice is only one dimension of his tattooing practice. All throughout his tattooing career he has been creating Sak Yant tattoos, yet as time goes on he find himself less interested in ordinary art and instead going deeper into the study and practice of Khmer meditation and ritual in the Sak Yant tradition. Chan Tra is skilled at tattooing all kinds of Sak Yant, from complex deities and Himapant animals, to magical symbols, Yantras, Khmer spells, and Khom Pali text.

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© Spencer Ames 2015