Historically, headdresses are a symbol of respect worn by Native American war chiefs and warriors. For Great Plains tribes, for instance, each feather placed on a headdress has significance and had to be earned through an act of compassion or bravery. Some modern-day Native American leaders have received war bonnets in ceremonies accompanied by prayers and songs. |
When you see an Indian wearing a full Indian headdress in pictures or even today, you would know that he's a very honorable man. He's a leader and someone who is respected by his tribe. He must have done a lot of courageous and honorable things for his tribe. It also has religious significance. With the Native American Indians, there's no division between spirituality and their leadership.
The meaning of the Indian war feathers signified honor. In the ancient culture and traditions, feathers are strongly linked to the belief that birds, as spirit guides, pass through different stages of life with a person, teaching, guiding, and protecting them. To this day, if a warrior has or owns a feather means he is connected with the creator and to the bird where the feather came from. Each warrior was awarded a feather when they show bravery in battle or if an act they did was deemed worthy by the elders. Generally, birds were thought as messengers and often symbolize freedom. Their feathers have countless spiritual, ritual, and ceremonial uses.
The reason why feathers are of great significance is because they are believed to possess supernatural powers that can embody, attach and influence a person, empowering them with the powerful traits, attributes and characteristics of the bird where the feather came from. Take the Eagle for example, they are considered as sacred birds. Getting a feather from either the bald eagle or the golden eagle were the greatest honor. Receiving a feather from an eagle symbolizes great strength, courage, prestige, and leadership.
Many American Indians each used native tribe tattoos. The designs of the tattoos would convey secret messages to other tribe members identifying specific clan members. Just like a family heirloom, some American Indian tattoo designs were passed down from one generation to another and each individual family has their own specific design. They have a lot of traditional tattoo designs that were spiritual in nature that mostly conveyed ideas about their religion and beliefs. Native American symbols are often designs that convey portrayals of heavenly bodies, natural phenomena and animal designs.
Each of the Native American symbols and tattoo designs convey a specific meaning. The beauty of the ideas for the designs of the Native American Indian tattoos are in their simplicity and their symbolism. One example is the symbol of the hand; it represents success in hand to hand combat. Another example is the arrow symbol which symbolizes protection and defense against their enemies. These are just some of the common tattoos and symbols seen on their bodies or tools. American Indian tattoos were far more serious than the tattoos we have today
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