The Indian Feathers are "Earned Badges" of Honor
A headdress isn’t complete without its feathers and it comes from no ordinary bird. An eagle represents courage, spirit and bravery; thus, it is only graspable to match it with their chief headdresses. Each feather exhibits a certain act of bravery. So if you do the math, the more feathers found on your headdress, the more achievements there would be to mark your reputation. The even more challenging thought about it is that it is earned so fervently that most would even take a lifetime to get one.
Other prominent symbols include buffalo which means abundance; arrowhead for alertness; bear for strength; and buffalo horns for success. American Indians are very devotional people who have a strong inclination to spirits and an incontestable sense of faith.
Indian headdresses as a fashion statement
Over the course of time, as North America had progressed to becoming more of a melting pot of people from different walks of life, the Native American culture became less and less pure. Although their culture remains strong and alive, non-natives had begun adapting to their symbolic figures such as that of the headdresses and other known materials like pendants and buffalo skulls. Because of its growing popularity, some have failed to take notice of their historical significance and some simply didn’t pay attention on purpose. Controversies have somehow plagued the public for this accusation of disrespect to their American ancestors while others defend that as long as they are not mocking their culture, then there is nothing wrong with it. Nevertheless, chief headdress are so widely known that you can find them worn by modern day fashionistas and even celebrities.
Generally, apart from the real value a chief headdress possesses, its usage has spread from a war bonnet to a fashion statement. At times, it is used for cultural and historical reasons, and even for skin protection. As a matter of fact, European white women in the earlier decades made use of these headdresses to protect them from the scorching heat of the sun during summertime— a fashion and health entity altogether!
Types of chief headdresses
You probably are baffled with the different varieties of headdresses found online. You may see some of them jam-packed with feathers or others that you can count in a second. Some are just enough to cover the head and yet there a few that’s too long to even wear. Here are the most common types of headdresses you can find:
Feathered War bonnets- as mentioned earlier, this is a type of chief headdress that is stuffed with too many feathers. And because it is illegal to kill eagles just for the sake of that, such feathers are plucked from different birds.
Roach Headdress- this is the most common and widely known type of headdress. It’s mostly a combination of fur, beads, and feathers, with a deer tail hair connected to a hair piece made out of bone. This headdress is worn straight up like a bird’s crest that you would actually look like a King wearing an extravagant crown made out of tribal ornaments.
Feathered Headbands- well this is by far the least offensive one since it does not denote anything spiritual or ceremonial. Men and women alike can wear this type of headdress. This material is woven from deerskin, combined with a few beads and a few feathers attached upright at the back.
Otter Fur Turbans- Long ago, this was worn mainly for ceremonial purposes, not a warlike type of headdress. This is a bit formal and more extravagant in design as it involves lots of paints and decorations.
Basket Hats- Its main difference is found on its shape. Normally, it is made out of coiled sumac, cedar bark or spruce roots.
In a nutshell
Depending on how one sees it, Indian headdresses are both a work of art and a sacred piece showing achievement and depicting so many symbols for a certain race. Its value lies beneath the beads intertwined with each other that somehow locks its significance into the deepest realms of the wearer’s dignity.
No matter what it is, there is a need for us to open our eyes, not to ridicule or mock, but to show more appreciation to the things that great people have valued for life. It is not something to be ignored but to be recognized and be regarded as something very essential to humankind.
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