A Khata is a white scarf used for ceremonial occasions in regions where Tibetan Buddhism is practised or holds a strong influence. A symbol of honour and respect, it is presented as a greeting, signalling a welcome to an arriving person or respect to a deity when visiting a temple. Khatas are offered to sadag (earth gods) by tying them to trees or rocks. They are also used on auspicious occasions or rites of passage, such as a ceremony marking a religious ritual, a monastic exam, a lama’s enthronement, a wedding or to bid a departing person luck on their journey.Ancient records relating to Tibet’s indigenous religion, Bon, indicate that early Khatas were sheep wool worn around people’s necks and that over time, they became silk, woven into a scarf. Silk was not indigenous to Tibet, but imported from China, and in later times the more elaborate khatas included designs of the eight auspicious symbols or the letters of the word ‘tashi’ or luck.

Tibetans more commonly use white khatas, symbolising purity, and yellow ones, to mark respect to a high lama. Mongolians have blue khatas, a symbol of the sky.