Feathers of birds - a material used by people since time immemorial. What was their purpose in the outfits of different times and nationalities?
In Polynesian culture, birds are considered divine messengers, and feather ornaments are important and are associated with the ruling elite.
The mahiole helmet and the ahuula cloak are Hawaiian chiefs' traditional feather clothing for ceremonies and military battles. To create it, the red feathers of hookbeaks and yellow honey suckers were used. These colors have a special meaning in Hawaiian culture and symbolize “tapu” - a sacred concept in Polynesian culture from the rules and prohibitions (the word “taboo” came from it). Red is associated with Ku, one of the supreme creator gods of the world in Hawaiian mythology, and emphasizes the divine status of a leader. The yellow feathers also symbolize power in some way, since in essence honey bees are black birds with only a small admixture of yellow, therefore it is only an influential person who can get enough material for one product.
Native American culture
The feathers in the traditional headdresses of the Indians could tell a lot about the owner: his social status, military exploits and injuries.
War Bonnet (Eng., Military Headgear). The Russian version of the name does not exist
As shown in the figure, only men, leaders and warriors were entitled to wear a military headdress. Moreover, this right had to be earned by performing a heroic act: in a war or protecting a tribe from a wild animal, for example. Every detail was telling: a clipped feather symbolized a wound, and lowered end down - that the warrior struck ahead of time.
The use of the plumage of a bird was also symbolic. For example, military hats were made from the feathers of an eagle, as it personified courage and strength, as well as a connection with the Supreme Spirit. It was believed that such a piece of clothing was able to protect against bullets and arrows and even heal wounds. Therefore, eagle feathers were worth its weight in gold, and a horse could be helped out for them. But the presence of feathers of a crow or an owl on the contrary indicated the loving nature of its owner.
Ju-ju or bamileke is the headdress of the leaders and the noble nobility in Cameroon. It was also worn by dancers during holy ceremonies.
To create a bamileke, either chicken colored feathers or the plumage of wild birds like a guinea fowl are used. Ju-ju symbolize prosperity, wealth and power.
During the Ottoman Empire, a turban was an integral attribute of a Turkish man’s costume. Feathers were used as decoration; white heron was especially popular. Their number on the turban indicated the status of the owner: the sultan wore three feathers, two - the great vizier, and the other dignitaries were supposed to take one.
Medieval knights decorated their helmets with swan, peacock and cock feathers, while the plume performed not only a decorative function. Feathers also served as an additional identification mark, clearly visible from afar. And the plume visually increased the growth of the warrior and made him more formidable in the eyes of the enemy, since a subconsciously higher opponent is perceived as superior in strength.
In the Middle Ages, a fashion for decorating hats with feathers also began to emerge. Intricate hats were the lot of monarchs, under the influence of which fashionable trends formed. By the 15th century, feather and fur trim became strongly associated with the upper classes of society and could tell a lot about the social status of the owner. Fashion lasted until the beginning of the 20th century, and the payback for previous centuries was the reduction or even extinction of some species of birds, including several varieties of the macaw parrot, for example.