THAI MASSAGE HISTORY

   Traditional Thai massage or Nuad Phaen Boran or Nuad Phaen Thai in Thai (นวดแผนโบราณหรือนวดแผนไทย) is an ancient wisdom of traditional healing art for over 2,500 years. Thai massage combines of rhythmic massage, acupressure, pressure points, gentle stretching, bending, twisting, Yoga-like exercise and called Thai Yoga massage. In fact, Thai massage is applied on basis of energy lines which have 72,000 lines running throughout all over a body. It practically focuses on 10 major energy lines (sen). Acupressure and reflexive points are found on these energy lines.  

   Back to the time of Buddha Sitthata's life, Shivago Komarpaj (Jivaka Kumarabhacca) was a personal physician for the Lord Buddha and monks. It is regarded as he was the Father of medicine as mentioned in a writing of Theravada Buddhism. Due to Buddhist practice of meditation in temples for hours, bodies and muscles of the Lord Buddha and monks would be significantly tight and have tension making uncomfortable and distract. It is said that sessions of Shivago lasted for several hours like meditative healing action. It has therapeutic foundation in the Indian healing transition of Ayurveda. This word consists of two Sanskrit words; ayur (life) and veda (knowledge). It is a concept of a body of knowledge which guides to live properly and harmonious living. When this knowledge has passed through Thailand by generation after generation. It has made Thai massage one of the four components of traditional Thai medicine, followed of nutrition, herbal medicine and spiritual practice.

   Since an ancient time in Siam (original name of Thailand), Thai people were mostly farmers. Everyday life they did agriculture, digging lands, ploughing rice paddies, growing plants and pouring water, as a result, bodies got soreness and stiffness. Therefore, family members helped one another to squeeze, knead, press, bend, and stretch to release tension. After hard work, getting this kind of an action enabled a body to feel relaxed. This knowledge has orally passed from generation to generation.

Pre-Rattanakosin Period (before 1782 AD.)
   According to clear historical evidences about Thai massage, inscribed stones in Sukhothai period during the reign of King Ramkamhaeng the Great (early 13th century) are the oldest evidences which have pictures of massage for healing. No doubt, traditional Thai massage has clearly been with Thai people for long time.

   In Ayutthaya period (1350 – 1767 AD.) due to historical evidence made by a French Minister Simon De La Loubere who was sent to Ayutthaya by Louis XIV during the reign of King Narai, there is a record noting that massage is provided not only in a Royal Palace, but also in local communities. In Siam if there were any sick people, they would be stretched and also stepped on bodies by massage experts. It is said that pregnant women would ask little child to walk softly on their bodies, so that they would deliver babies easily and have less pain. These historical evidences clarify that Thai massage is important and useful for the Kings and local people.


Early Rattanakosin period (King Rama 1-6 during 1782 - 1925 AD.)
   Traditional Thai massage has been inherited practically to this period. Unfortunately, some documents and academic knowledge have been gone gradually because of war. Many of massage professionals were caught to be prisoners of war. 

   During the reign of King Rama 1 (1782 - 1809 AD.), he ordered to make 80 hermit figures of zinc and tin and inscribed massage medical texts on 60 marble plagues showing pressure points elaborately. There are on wall and at columns in pavilions in Reclining Buddha temple (Wat Pho) in Bangkok.

   During the reign of King Rama 3 (1824-1851 A.D.) in Rattanakosin Period, he ordered to renovate the temple of Reclining Buddha or Wat Pho or Wat Phra Chetuphon. This monastery is an important center of education for traditional Thai medicine and massage. There are a number of inscribed marble plagues of medical text and contorted Hermit or Yoga-like exercise statuses called Reu Si Dutton in Thai (ฤษีดัดตน). They are greatly amazing teachings related to traditional Thai massage which pass from generation to generation until now.

   In the reign of King Rama 4 (1851 - 1868 A.D.) according to an  evidence, it is shown that there was Massage Therapist Department. Thai king knew benefits of massage and liked to get a massage to stretch his body and help to reduce his soreness and tension from hard work. When western medication was brought to royal Thai society in the reign of King Rama 6 (1910 - 1925 AD.), massage did not play an important role anymore. For local massage villagers,  there were inherited from generation to generation. 

Rattanakosin period (King Rama 7 in 1925 - present)

   A Degree in massage practitioner of traditional massage society was founded in 1929. There was the first time in teaching and serving officially a traditional Thai massage in 1932. Nowadays Thai massage is one of the branches of Thai traditional practitioner. They need to be registered and licensed health professionals.