ABOUT THE HEADDRESS | WAR BONNET

Plains Indian Feathered Headdresses | War Bonnets | Single & Double Trailers | Split Horn & Buffalo Horn | Animal Fur Headdress


THE PLAINS FEATHERED HEADDRESS

His hair was thought to be the extension of his soul. He added items of personal medicine & other ornaments, topped off with a breath taking headdress. The headdress, however, was more-than an ornament. Like all other things worn by the Plains Indian, it had very special meaning and significance. It was also an expression of his beliefs. It was believed that one acquired the powers of other animals, birds & objects by wearing or carrying these items. From them he was able to gather added wisdom, insight & incorporate them into his daily life.

There are four types of headdress worn by warriors of the Plains - the horned headdress, the eagle feather headdress, the hat or cap, & the animal skin type

This bonnet had to be earned through brave deeds in battle because the feathers signified the deeds themselves. Some warriors might obtain only two or three honor feathers in their whole lifetime, so they were difficult to earn. The bonnet was also a mark of highest respect because it could never be worn without the consent of the leaders of the tribe. For example, a high honor was received by the warrior who was the first to touch an enemy fallen in battle, meaning that the warrior was at the very front of the fighting. Feathers were notched & decorated to designate an event & told individual stories such as killing, scalping, capturing an enemy's weapon & shield, & whether the deed had been done on horseback or on foot.

 

A chief's war bonnet | headdress is comprised of feathers received for good deeds to his community & is worn in high honor.

 

Replica Comanche, trailer headdress based on a museum example c. 1880; Ethnological Museum, Berlin, Germany

gypsum coup dots, curly horse hair, ermine, wool, leather, etc. 

Plains Indian war bonnet cap | Native American headdress

 buffalo fur & feathers | buffalo & longhorn painted on cap


Most war bonnets in the old days comprised of around 28 Golden Eagle feathers. Sometimes they were Bald Eagle feathers & sometimes they were mixed..

OUR HEADDRESSES | WAR BONNETS

brow bands are lazy stitched and appliquéd using glass beads

caps - (buckskin) deer, elk, etc.

caps are covered with otter, tufts of buffalo & ermine, other furs, feathers, etc

ermine, silk, calico, leather & feather drops

hand wrapped feathers and sewn feathers

hand painted feathers

coup dots made from gypsum, fur, buckskin, feather fluffs, etc

cotton calico

wool trade cloth

clay pigment paints

horse hair

headdresses can be aged to look old

 

lance & a trailer headdress

Replica of one of Red Cloud’s headdresses 

Base feathers are wrapped with braided fringe