History of Thai Massage
by- Alexandra Sarkuni
Due to the existence of little factual information, the history and origins of
Thai Massage, also called Nuad Bo-Rarn Thai Massage, is often a subject of much debate.
Over 2,500 years ago, legends state that the founder, Shivajo Komarpaj, may well have been the Buddha’s physician. An important figure in ancient documents of that time and area, he is noted for his impressive medical skills and widespread knowledge of the human body. Many historians consider him to be the father of medicine. As one might imagine, many of his students and practitioners were monks of the Buddhist faith.
Of course, the origins of Thai Massage are far too complex to have come from any one founder. Like other Thai traditional healing practices, history and cultural trends show that Thai Massage finds its influences in Indian, Chinese, and Southeast Asian spheres of bodywork. Specifically, Chinese Meridian, Indian Ayurvedic and various other yogic practices shaped what we now experience as Nuad Bo-Rarn Thai Massage today. Recent research suggests that Thai Massage grew out of these influences somewhere between 800 CE and 1200 CE.
Most unfortunately, most of our recorded history of Thai Massage dates back to only the mid 18th century CE. In 1776, Burmese forces overran the capital of Thailand, Ayutthia. During the chaos of the Burmese attack, almost all written records of Nuad Bo-Rarn Thai Massage were destroyed. Some of the ancient texts survived, and were transported to Bangkok. King Rama 3 collected the best of these surviving texts in 1832, to be inscribed in stone and set into the walls of the famous Phra Chetaphon Temple, where they still exist today.
Traditionally, Nuad Bo-Rarn Thai Massage is taught by a few singular Masters, and select schools around the world. The advent of Western medical practices caused the practice and education of Thai Massage to go into a decline. The temples in which Thai Massage was commonly practiced, also known as Wats, no longer served as centers of community gatherings, healing, and education.
In recent years, the rising costs of Western medicine and its related complexities with regards to access have stirred a revival of Nuad Bo-Rarn Thai Massage, especially in rural areas of Thailand.