Tibetan Scarves

Tibetan Scarves, informally known as “Khatas”, the traditional white Tibetan offering scarf has long been part of the culture and tradition of the country of Tibet. The formal term for Khata is Jael-dhar and this is a kind of scarf that can be made from cotton, silk as well as other kinds of materials. They look like long scarves bearing some positive mantras and symbols which are either woven or inscribed on the fabric.

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Tibetan pic courtesy of Wikipedia

Significances and Uses of Tibetan Scarves

The Tibetan scarf serves as the representation of the offering of a person without harboring any negative motives or thoughts in mind. Although they predominantly come in different shades of white and ivory since the color means purity, there are also other Tibetan scarves that are in red, green, blue and yellow or gold yellow hues.

The Khata is a regular part of the life of a Tibetan, starting from his birth until his death and even those instances in between. This is also a good sign in recognizing the respect or love of one individual for another. Offering a Khata is possibly one of Tibetan culture’s most popular customs.

Tibetan Khatas: Then and Now

Historically speaking, Khatas have long been part of Tibetan culture for so many centuries. Three schools thoughts about the Khatas were actually transferred through word-of-mouth and one of these claims that presenting the Khatas started in 17th century AD in the time of King SongTsen Gompo’s rule. If one of his ministers or citizens made a remarkably good job, the king offers a skin of a certain prized animal, such as foxes, leopards, tigers and others.

But during Buddhism’s advent as State religion during 8th century, then King Trisong Deutsen, Abbot Shantarakshita, Guru Rinpoche or Acharya Padmasambhava and the rest of the leaders have discourage this kind of offering since it calls for killing an animal to get skin or fur. This was then replaced by offering other clothing sets and brocades which came from China and thus, Khatas came to be known.

Yet as times and centuries passed, the pricey brocades have been replaced by scarves which are made from silk and cotton. At present, many Khatas bear the five colors representing the earth’s five elements including white, blue, green, yellow and red. As mentioned earlier, most Tibetan scarves are of ivory or white shades ad these ones are more used commonly. Khatas basically come in various selections of various fabrics, lengths and quality.

Although scarf offering seems to be one simple gesture for other countries, Tibetan tradition undoubtedly gives it its very own protocol and significance and is being governed by centuries old tradition. For Tibetans, presenting these scarves is like you are presenting your own pure and open heart, without nursing any pessimistic thoughts and motives.

Truly, these Tibetan Khatas are not just about physical beauty and artistry but more importantly, they serve as the pure representation of good intentions of the person offering them. There is no doubt that they make the Tibetan culture more colorful in every sense of the word.

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