Nuad Thai: Traditional Thai Massage as ICH

Nuad Thai 1ⓒ The Department of Cultural Promotion, Ministry of Culture in Thailand

Nuad thai or Thai Massage is a body and mind therapy, a traditional method of healing integrating the knowledge of science and art and local wisdom.  Transmitted from generation to generations since the ancient times, it is still remarkably widespread throughout the country because of its effectiveness. In the past, it was practiced only within family bounds, such that wives or children would massage their husbands, parents, or grandparents after farming or gardening to relieve muscle ache.

Basically, nuad skills involve applying hands, elbows, knees, and feet to press, squeeze, chop, stretch, knead, and pound. Thai people believe that the human body consists of four basic elements: earth, water, air, and fire. Nuad can stimulate energies of the body, and thus it betters blood circulation. In 2011, the Department of Cultural Promotion, Ministry of Culture inscribed nuad thai on the list of National Intangible Cultural Heritage under the domain of Knowledge and Practices Concerning Nature and the Universe.

Nuad has two important purposes. One is to secure the capacity of one’s health to carry out the demands of professional life. In fact, people can select a kind of massage according to their individual preference such as reflexology, oil massage, hot herbal ball massage, hydrotherapy massage, or foot massage. For this purpose, plenty of spas or massage houses provide this kind of comforting service. On another hand, nuad thai is a remedy to health problems. In this case, therapists are required to be specialized and certified for this treatment to diagnose, cure, heal, or relieve the symptom.  Felling off the pillow, low back pain, ankle sprain, constipation, and paralysis are some example of this treatment.

Nowadays, nuad thai is more extensively famous, not only for farmers or workers but also for other areas of work. As modernization, social pressure of technology, and increase of office work, burnt-out people tend to have nuad to reduce their body pain and relax their minds. Nuad has gained a wider acceptance as self-care practice for social value as the body and mind treatment. In fact, it recently becomes more popular for foreign tourists, too.