The In-Depth Guide To Tibetan Khata Scarves: Offerings and Greetings

Do you love scarves and would like to try out a traditional one that comes with many uses? So do not worry, this is your article. When you think of Tibet, you think of the Tibetan Khata. Everyone who has been to Tibet understands what this is. It is part of the Tibetan culture and has been for a long time. Just like many other cultures in the world that have their own unique items to offer, the Tibetan culture also has a lot to bring. 

One of them is this beautiful scarf clothing that is treasured by the people of Tibet, the Khata. It is made of either cotton or silk and offers a warm feeling to the person wrapping it around their neck. When you arrive in Tibet, you are usually welcomed with a Khata as a gift. It is part of the people; they wear it on all occasions, and it symbolizes respect for others. However, if you have no idea what the Tibetan Khata is, then do not worry. In this article, I will be taking you through the whole spectrum surrounding this Tibetan Khata and everything you need to know. 

What is Khata?

As mentioned above, Khata is an article of scarf-like clothing mainly associated with the Tibetan culture. It is usually made of silk and sometimes cotton. It is long enough to wrap around your shoulders or neck and offers a simplistic and elegant look. Most Tibetan Khatas come in white color while there can be variations in the color to green, red, blue, etc. 

As you must have thought, the colors always have a meaning, and white is known to symbolize peace, unity, and love, hence why most visitors who travel to Tibet are gifted with a white Khata. Just like other cultural clothing, the Tibetan Khata comes with written inspirational and positive phrases such as "good luck."  

The Meaning of Khata

The Khata scarf means respect and good wishes. To the Buddhists and Buddha, it means greetings. As said earlier, the offering of the Tibetan Khata to a guest is a sign of respect and appreciation. Just the same way you would invite guests to your place and offer them some gifts to remember that moment is the same way the people of Tibet offer the cultural Khata to visitors. 

Now, you may wonder if it is only given to visitors, but the answer is no. The Tibetan Khata is a special clothing in Tibet; hence, it is worn on all occasions and especially important ones. As earlier stated, Khatas come in various colors, with the colorful ones being used on special occasions.  

History of Khata

Everything has an origin, and so is the Khata. When it comes to the origin of the Tibetan Khata, it is not easy to really tell where it came from. This is simply because there are many beliefs out there about it, and many people over the years have come up with theories to try to explain it. One of them is that back in ancient times, before anything was invented, the Tibet people, just like everyone else, used to make clothing from sheep's wool. One of them was the Khata which essentially wrapped your neck or shoulders with a piece of sheep's wool when attending occasions. They also used this as gifts for each other in ceremonies. Over time, then, this was passed down to generations that later came to make the Tibetan Khata from silk and cotton.

The second theory is that during one of the reigns of one of the kings known as Songtsen Gampo, the Khata culture arose. He used to give awards to people for their honest and devoted work using sheep's wool on their necks, which symbolized that he appreciated the work of his people. However, the Buddhist culture came to Tibet later on and changed everything. One of the leaders of the Buddhist culture discouraged against the act of offering animal skin as a gift as it led to the killing of animals innocently. Over time, this was then replaced with the silk clothing which was being used in India and then came to be the Tibetan Khata.

The last one and most well-known is the Yuan Dynasty theory. This one is about how during that time, their diplomats would pass through Tibet and offer silk rolls to the local leaders of the Tibet people. This was used to show a sign of no woeful intentions and a good friendship with the people, which was also part of their values. It then spread to become the Khata. The history of the Tibetan Khata seems to be further from or near these theories and deeper than we all think. This is because it has maintained its relevance over the years and is still a big part of Tibet.  

Khata in Tibet

Khata is the most popular gifting item in Tibet. The Buddhist monks gift each other the Tibetan Khata, especially the white one. It is a major part of the religion as it symbolizes peace, positivity, love, unity, purity, and the virtues of holiness and is used when offering prayers. Moreover, it is more than just clothing; it is a way of life for the people of Tibet. They use it when having weddings, funerals, ceremonies, and as respectful gifts to elders. 

If you visit the Buddhist shrines, you will see various Khatas of different colors displayed at the top next to the Buddha statue. The colors are mainly blue, green, white, yellow, and red. Blue means sky, white means clouds, yellow means earth, green means rivers, and red means God's protection. 

Pattern Meanings On Khata

At first, when the Khata was brought to Tibet by one of the leaders who had received it as a gift from another leader of the Yuan Dynasty, it had a pattern of the Great Wall on it on both sides and the words "Good Luck" on it.

At that time, in accordance with the Tibetan culture, the white Khata was categorized into 3 types: Neku khata, Axi khata, and Sox khata. Neku khata is a unique, high-quality royal khata that has long and wide extraordinary patterns on the edges. It is used to symbolize loyalty, respect, and a thankful heart to the other person. Most of the time, people would wrap gift items in the Khata, such as money, to show appreciation to the other. 

Uses and Symbolism

The Tibetan Khata is used on various occasions by the Tibetan people, as earlier mentioned. One of them is a gift to visitors who travel to Tibet or personal visitors to a person's home. Usually, gifting a person a white Khata gives them a sense of hospitality and a welcome atmosphere in the home. This is similar to how in other cultures, you can offer a glass of juice. It symbolizes appreciation for the visit and that you value the other person for making time to pay you a visit. As they leave to go on with their journey, the Tibetan people can also offer a khata as a farewell and wish to journey mercies to the visitor.

During weddings, people give Khatas to the newlyweds to wish them a happy and prosperous marriage full of love. At funerals, you can give the affected person a white Khata as a sign of comfort and optimism for the future to come and as a way of offering condolences. The Tibetan Khatas are presented in many situations, and all have a meaning, as explained.  

Khata Etiquette

The Tibetan Khata being part of the culture, it must be presented in a good manner depending on the occasion. On most occasions, when presenting a Khata to another person, you must hold it with both of your hands and stretch them ahead, then bend your upper body so that it levels out with your arms and your head is on the same level as the Khata. This is a very significant gesture of respect in order to receive blessings from the other person. The other person then holds it with both arms as a sign of appreciation and respect. 

However, this differs a bit depending on the person you are giving. When presenting it to an elder, you must hold the Khata slightly above your head in front of your seat or foot. When it comes to age mates or younger ones, you can simply tie it to their neck. This does not stop there; for Tibetans, even when traveling, they carry Khatas just in case they come across a friend or get assistance from someone and have to show appreciation.  

Purpose of Offering Khatas

Tibetan khatas are offered for many reasons. For example, when attending the funeral, the body of the deceased can be covered with Khata as a show of respect for their life and bid them goodbye as they leave us on this earth. Khatas are offered to the elderly, buddhas, and many more as a sign of pure appreciation for them. 

When offered to a visitor, it is a sign of respect for their time to come and see you. 

When given to friends, it shows respect and appreciation of the friendship with pure intentions.

They are used on many occasions as gifts to celebrate and bring an atmosphere of happiness and friendliness. 

If you are a fan of the Khata or just found out about it, you should try to acquire this trend of gifting as it is different from the others and has many uses. The offering of the Tibetan Khata is more to the Tibet people than just gifting since it has been passed down generations, hence, why it is a significant part of their culture. They do not just offer it to the other person for the sake, but they do so with an intention to convey feelings of love, unity, appreciation, and gratitude. 

Modern Usage of Khata

The Tibetan Khata might have its origin in ancient times, but it has not lost its relevance. In fact, it is becoming more popular among people now more than ever. Many people, even outside Tibet, have come to borrow the trend of gifting Khatas to each other. As the world develops, the Tibetan Khata also does so in its usage. People now use it even on birthdays, celebratory events, and many other modern ones where people offer Khatas to one another as a show of love and unity.

Many across the world now use the Tibetan Khata for even religious prayers or manifestations, as it is known to bring good luck and energy. Although some people may be misusing it, the Tibetan Khata remains significant to the people of Tibet. 


The bottom line is, if you are a fan of the Tibetan Khata, then you definitely understand its significance to the people of Tibet and those who value it. The unique thing about the Khata is that it is not a traditional gift like others. It is in its own way different from other types of gifts because of the way it is presented to a person. The gesture of bending or wrapping it on someone's neck gives the impression of respect and appreciation for what you are gifting to them, unlike other gifts which are just wrapped in paper. 

For the Tibetan Khata, you have to be present to give it to the person compared to others, which can just be sent via other means. This is a gift for all genders, whether men or women, and can be given to people of all ages. If you have a friend who is Tibetan or lives there, buy them a Tibetan Khata as a gift the next time you visit them. However, the Tibetan Khata is for all people in the world, and the people of Tibet have no issue with sharing their culture with the world. This is a gift worth incorporating into your list.