Why Do Tibetan Monks Wear Maroon Robes?

Perhaps you have heard of the Tibetan monks and the diverse hues of cloaks that they own. Or you have seen a portrait or video one way or the other where the Tibetan monks were praying in the coating of their cloaks.

Surprisingly, it occurs to you that the pigment of cloaks you mostly see on them is Maroon. Then, you must have thought in your mind to know why they chose this hue. Seeing the majority of people that are interested in this topic, I will talk about it in full detail.

So, “Why Do Tibetan Monks Wear Maroon Robes?” There are limited theories as to why Tibetan monks put on Maroon gowns, and they are as follows:

  • The dye is simple to get.
  • It exemplifies an outstanding life force.

The dye is simple to get

One distinct theory why Tibetan monks choose to put on Maroon gowns is because the Maroon dye is very much easy and affordable to get.

Tibetan monks are known to often put on a red robe – which is saffron, and a Maroon robe (since Maroon is a category of the hue – red). 

The main reason for this choice of hues is because they could easily get hold of the red and maroon colors – which is why you often see them on the Maroon gown. 

In addition, you must have heard that the Tibetan monks choose to live a life of clarity and less materialism, so getting the Maroon dye easily helped them continually live this life – from ancient times till now.

It exemplifies an outstanding life force 

Another reason I could get after doing thorough research was that the Maroon robe epitomizes an outstanding life force. From the Tibetan scriptures, they have 5 primary hues with high prestige.

And one of those shades is Maroon. The scripture made emphasis on how the flame is a realistic element that can be interrelated to the Maroon hue. 

It proceeded by saying how the element plus the hue was correlated with an impressive life force, protection, and lastly, dialect.

The Tibetan monks held on to the conviction that when they meditate around or with this Maroon pigment, it alters the misconception of extension to the knowledge of perspicuity. 

Furthermore, regardless of how the Tibetan monks find the Maroon dye easy to purchase, they stick to the cloak with high regard. 

What type of robe do the Tibetan monks wear?

The kind of cloak the Tibetan monks put on differs a little from the gown of distinct Buddhist schools. As a matter of fact, the Tibetan monks have diverse categories of gowns that they wear, however, the regular kind of cloak that the Tibetan monks put on consists of some garments. I made a list of them, so I’d share them with you below. 

Here are what the cloaks that the Tibetan monks wear consist:

  • Shemdap.
  • Dhonka.
  • Namjar.
  • Chogyu.
  • Zhen. 


This gown is tailored from patches, in the shape of skirts. The hue of the shemdap is Maroon, and it has diverse pleats.


The main kind of cloak that the Tibetan monks put on comprises the dhonka. The dhonka coat is a cape kilt that has lid sleeves. The hue of this wrap kilt is either Maroon and yellow with some blueish piping or just Maroon. 


The Tibetan monks’ traditional gowns comprise the namjar. The namjar is more like the larger portion of the entire outfit – you could rightly say it is vaster than chogyu. The namjar has more mends than other aspects of the monk’s cloak. This dress is fastened from silk material, and it is always yellow. 

The monks put on this namjar for special events. And they wear it in a kashaya manner – the light shoulder all the way to the arm is often left open. 


Then, there is the chogyu which is also among the main cloak of the Tibetan monks. Chogyu is very related to sanghati, as it is a cape tailored in patches and usually worn on the upper portion of the torso.

And most times, the monks put it on over one shoulder like kashaya – the right hand is always open. In addition, the chogyu is yellow in color and worn for special celebrations and lectures. 


Finally, the garment that is among the Tibetan monk’s gown is the Zhen. Zhen is a clothing that is relatively alike to the chogyu, but the hue is varied. Whilst the Chogyu coat is yellow, Zhen is Maroon in hue. 

Also, the Chogyu and Zhen are employed for different occurrences. As aforementioned, the chogyu is utilized for special lectures and events, but the Zhen wrap is a daily outfit. 

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What are the three robes of Buddhism?

Buddhism is among the most treasured troves of religious tradition with vibrant hues in Asia – amid countries like Japan, China, Korea, and many more.

The monks put on gowns as their clothes, and initially, these cloaks were tailored from people’s clothes that were no longer needed. 

However, the monks have altered their method of getting textiles, regardless, the cloaks must be tailored with natural textiles. That being said, there are three main hues of cloaks in Buddhism, and they are Maroon cloaks, black capes, and saffron cloaks. I’d briefly explain these gowns below. 

Maroon cloaks 

The monks in Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan are comprehended for always putting on Maroon cloaks. Usually, they put on a Maroon cloak with a touch of red. The Buddhism that is being exercised in Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet is Tibetan Buddhism. 

Since Nepal and Bhutan are located on the mounts, an additional layer of robe – cap sleeves and undershirt, is added to their cloaks to keep them warm in the cold weather. The hue of these extra garments is periodically saffron. 

Further, the monks have the cloak for both their upper and lower bodies. Then, an extra robe is placed over one arm, leaving the other open – like kashaya.

Black capes

The black gowns are usually worn by the Japanese monks. They put on a white, long sleeve, full-length kimono underneath the black cloak. Then, they drape a yellow cape over one shoulder – in the kashaya technique. 

The Japanese monks practice alms, so when they are on the run, they put on a straw hat so that the almsgiver and the monks won’t be able to a glimpse at each other’s faces. 

Saffron cloaks 

Finally, the saffron cloak is mostly worn by monks in southeast Asia. The monks in this part of the continent put on saffron cloaks just like in old times when the belief was brought into the country. 

According to some of the monks, this saffron hue of cloaks is related to the cloak that the real Buddha and his followers wore when he was on earth.

This cloak is in three diverse parts – there is the rectangle wrap for either one shoulder or the two shoulders, the one for the lower part of the body, and an additional layer for coverage when the weather is super cold. 


Are Tibetan monks Buddhist?

Of course, Tibetan monks are Buddhists, but their traditions are different from general Buddhism. In Tibet, the type of Buddhism that is practiced is Vajrayana Buddhism

The Vajrayana Buddhism is distinct from other Buddhism. It is an outstanding kind of practice, introspection, and rite that is done to achieve the objectives of refining tolerance and the absolute independence of all living creatures. 

Further, the Tibetan Buddhism was established from Chinese, tantric, and Indian Buddhism. Regardless, it remains part of the Tibetan lives. 

How do I wear the Tibetan monk’s robe?

The way the Tibetan monks wear their robes is skillful, this means for you to be able to wear the Tibetan monk’s robe properly, you would need a bit of skill. Not to worry, the steps I will provide below will help you wear the cloak. 

The steps are as follows:

Step 1: Hold the garment 

Hold on to the tips of the monk’s robe with both hands – at the front. 

Step 2: Put the robe on your body 

Still holding the cloak with your hands, spread it out properly. Carefully, roll the two sides and put them on your body.

Step 3: Complete the wrapping 

After using the whole textile, put your two shoulders into it. Then, lift one of your hand and proceeds by rolling the remaining textile on the other arm and the rest of the body. 

Note– if you are able to follow the steps until the 3rd guide, then you’ve successfully worn the Tibetan monk’s robe.

Conclusion – Why Do Tibetan Monks Wear Maroon Robes?

There are just a few specific reasons why the Tibetan monks wear maroon cloaks – they are because the dye used is very easy and affordable to obtain, and the color exemplifies an outstanding life force. Each of the reasons was expounded in full detail. 

In this blog post, you will understand the most important aspect of the monk’s robes and their colors. Also, you would get to know how to put on the Tibetan monk’s cloaks properly with the procedures provided. 

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