khata (Scarf)

About this object

History of use

The prayer scarf is a physical manifestation of greeting presented on arrival or at leaving to indicate respect. A common item of everyday use as a symbol of greeting when given to teachers, lamas, honoured visitors or guests. The prayer scarf also fulfills a ceremonial purpose in the ritual associated with the Tibetan monasteries. When pilgrimages are made to temples, the khata is hung around the necks of the images. The Dalai Lama would be formally greeted with the gift of a prayer scarf, dozens of them being piled on him by the devout (collector's notes).

Cultural context

prayer scarf

Physical description

A simple bleached gauze-like unsewn cotton fabric. Near each end, there are some weft fibres absent, creating a fringe effect with closed ends.