The beginnings of Thai Traditional Massage
When parts of the body start to hurt, or feel uncomfortable, it
is a natural instinct to reach out and touch, rub or press that
area. This action which is done without thinking can be retraced
back to the very beginnings of human development. Not only humans,
but most mammals, rub with their hands and feet to relieve the pain
they are feeling. Modern massage has been developed by systematizing
and remembering these actions and moves on the body through the
The history of written testiments of massage go back over 5000 years.
In Thailand there are historical records said to be from the Chinese
In approximately 1800AD in Ayuveda, India, massage was used as a
method to heal and strengthen the body. From the origins of this
massage, many different cultures and medical opinions from around
the world have created the many different versions that exist today.
Massage also appears often in the Bible, one of the most famous
listings being the "laying the hand on the body" which
was a way in which sickness was healed.
According to Thai medical history, Thai massage originated over
2500 years ago by the founder, (Jibaka Kumaru Bacha), a doctor originally
Jibaka Kumaru Bacha was linked with Buddha, and not only did he
lay the spiritual foundations of the present Thai massage techniques,
but also discovered the Effectiveness of using herbs and minerals
on the body.
Jibaka Kumaru Bacha is still very much highly respected and thought
of as the father of medicine to this day, and is paid homage to
in the religious ceremonies performed daily.
Thai Traditional Medicine
Buddhism in Thailand can be traced back over 2500 years, when the
Buddhist monks from India immigrated to Thailand. The massage techniques
too, are thought to have been spread to the new land at this time.
In 1292, Emperor Rama Kamuhen recognized Tera Vata buddhism as the
national religion, and Thai medicine developed deeply linked with
the Buddhism faith, being kept within the temple schools called
"Wat"s. However, how and what way the medicine was developed
until the middle half of the 19th century, unfortunately it is not
For the people living at this time, Wat's played a central and extremely
important role in their society, with the mentors (teachers) relaying
Thai medicine and cures to their disciples (monk students) orally
through the centuries. The written Thai medical testiments were
extremely treasured in the same way as Buddhist testiments were,
being housed King Ayathuya's palace. However in 1767, this location
was invaded by Bilma troops and destroyed. The medical records were
not copied, so were mostly lost with the sacred books and political
In 1837, Emperor Rama III ordered the last remaining medical testaments
to be inscripted within the grounds of Wat Pho, Bangkok. These records
were drawn as energy lines running through the front and back of
the human body, consisting of 60 inscriptions in rock. These historical
documentations are inscripted on the walls within the Wat Pho grounds
to this day, and can be viewed by all.
The Four Epicenters of Massage
Together with the development of recent western medicine study,
Thai massage has gradually been making a reappearance. Unfortunately
it has taken time because in Thailand even, years had passed in
which this art had not been made publically aware. Thai massage
has developed over the centuries strictly together with the Buddhism
religion, and according to these teachings of Buddhism, "there
are 4 epicenters of massage" namely loving kindness, compassion,
vicarious job and equanimity. These voluntary spirits have been
taught through Buddhism in Thailand, and through this background,
Thai medicine has come to be protected from commercialism.
As a result, Thai traditional massage as been carried out as a volunteer
activity for society by the Buddhist temple schools. However at
the same time as western medicine has been making progress, the
role of the temple schools and Thai traditional massage for health
gradually became unclear, and went through some difficult times.
Today, as western medicine is being looked at in a different light,
a Thai massage revival project has been implemented in Thailand
which has lead to the belief that massage is in fact extremely Effective
and beneficial for the health.
Now as we begin the 21st century, massage along with western medicine
have become on equal stands as fresh medical studies are grappled
and more is found out.