Mask of Vaikuntha Vishnu, late 5th century. Learn more about 5th century masks
A sacred thread worn over the left shoulder and crosswise over the torso, which symbolises a Hindu rite of initiation into a stage of learning. This rite is limited to males of the Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya varnas (social classes) of Hindu society and the thread itself is considered a marker of caste. Within Indian iconography, it is also appears in religious sculptures and paintings.