Regarded as an auspicious symbolism, offering Khatag is a well-known Tibetan greeting culture. Generally speaking, Tibetan Khatag is a kind of silk fabrics used in etiquette expressing respect and congratulation. It is an essential thing during social activities in Tibetan culture.
khata is a traditional ceremonial scarf used in Tibet which symbolizes goodwill, auspiciousness and compassion. It is mainly in white, blue and also yellow. But also there is one in five-color (blue, white, yellow, green and red) and one color refers to one thing. It is a most precious gift to Buddhist images or statues and lamas etc. in Tibetan Buddhism which shows people’s highest respect.
The pronunciation of Khatag is very near to ‘Ka Da Er’ in Tibetan. It is said Tibetan Khatag stemmed from one rare present in ancient China which was called ‘Bo’ (silk fabrics). Besides, based on the analysis of some scholars, the appearance of Khatag had an intimate connection to one person named Ba Siba. Ba Siba (Phags-pa in Tibetan which meas Saint) was a very important historical great man in Tibet. In 1244, he visited the second son of Emperor Taizong in Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368) and later was honored as ‘Master of the Nation’. In 1265, he got back to Tibet for the first time and offered a holy gift to Buddha and other lama officers, hence Khatag.
Based on different materials, Khatag can be divided into following ones:
● ‘Su Xi’: this is a common type (less than one meter long) which is made of cotton textiles.
● ‘A Xi’: about two meters long, this type is usually made of silk fabrics.
● ‘Cui Lang’: it is the uppermost type with a length of more than three meters. Usually, ‘Cui Lang’ is used by high-ups in political and religious field.
Based on different colors, Khatag can be divided into following ones:
● Khatag in white: shows purity and auspiciousness.
● Khatag in five colors: this is the most royal gift since in Tibetan the Five-colored Khatag is the dress of Bodhisattva.
Generally speaking, the raw material of khatag is silk. And now many of them are made of wool fabric but also spined thinly and diaphanously in white, yellow, blue and so on. Usually, Khatgas are decorated with different patterns, such as lotus, auspicious clouds etc. Besides, it differs in length but all represent ever-lasting relationship and best wishes on many occasions, such as a visit to the elders, a wedding ceremony, festivals, and welcome guests.
In the past, using khatags had some certain principles, standards and forms. In ordinary days, officials in different levels used khatag according to their name and title; that is to say, they could not go beyond their levels. Khatag using among common people was less strict and khatag could even be used among relatives.
Nowadays, presenting Khtag becomes very popular in Tibet. But when to present it? There are many occasions, such as at weddings or funerals, worship the Buddha, visit parents, welcome and send-off to guests etc. Then, how to present? In a general way, the presenter should hold the Khatag with both arms stretching out evenly with shoulders before him; then bows a little. If the Khatag is in a same level with presenter’s head, this shows an uppermost respect and best wishes. The receiver accepts it with both hands and puts it on one’s neck soon. More specifically speaking, if the receiver is a senior one, presenter’s two arms should raise up above the head for respect. While presenting to the same age or younger ones, presenter can tie the Khatag directly to his neck.
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