History and Origin

The authorship of the Thai massage is attributed to a North Indian doctor Jīvaka Komārabhacca (other spelling: Jivakar Kumar Bhaccha). Still today he is venerated in Thailand as the “Father of medicine” and is mentioned in devotion (thai: Wai Khru) at the beginning of the Thai massage (“OM Namo Jivago…”).
Jīvaka-Komārabhacca was contemporary of Buddha and has lived in the 5th century BC in India. In the Pali Canon, the Scriptures of the Southern School of Theravada Buddhism, he is credited as personal physician of Indian Bimbisara of Magadha King. King Bimbisara was connected to the Buddha and visited him several times. Also Jīvaka Komārabhacca was in contact with Buddha and medically supervised him and his monastic community.
Thai massage must be – has been handed down in a circle of monks who moved from India to Myanmar, in Southeast Asia probably over many centuries initially orally in Buddhist temples. This could have happened at the earliest from the 3rd/2nd century BC, because only then, the Buddhist teachings in South East Asian area began to spread.

It circulates the assumption the Buddhist monks themselves have developed Thai massage to cure themselves of the consequences of long meditation positions.
The only written remains of Thai massage are written on palm leaves in Pali language and Khmer writing and were in 1832 in the Temple of the former Thai Kingdom Nang Klao (Rama III.) Wat Pho in Bangkok engraved in stone tablets.
(EPI engravings can still be seen there today). Already in 1767, all other documents were lost in the destruction of the old Thai King City of Ayutthaya by the Burmese conqueror.
Because the knowledge of this art of massage has probably left the Indian continent with Buddhism, it is not practiced today in India. The popular techniques there are known as Indian Yoga massage or Ayurveda massage.
It is conceivable that in Siam massage techniques already existed which were mixed with the new doctrine, and it also cannot be ruled out that over the centuries via trade relations with China, traditional Chinese medicine has gained influence on the method.

The traditional Thai massage is connected to Buddhism in their present practice. It is applied with metta (common term in southern Buddhism for loving kindness). The masters are usually deeply religious people who perform the massage in a State of mindfulness, of equanimity, compassion and joy of participating.

Zeichnung einer traditionellen Thai Massage mit zwei Personen