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Feather bonnet of Yellow Calf
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This magnificent feather headdress belonged to Yellow Calf, the last traditional chief of the Arapaho Nation. He was photographed wearing the headdress in 1927, a few years before his death in 1935.

The Arapaho, who call themselves Inuna-ina (“Our People”), had a highly organized and military society which stressed the importance of age grades and honour in warfare. Traditional dress included fringed war-shirts and feather headdress such as this one. These were originally a method of displaying war honours, such as scalp locks taken from defeated enemies, and therefore demonstrated the bravery of the wearer. This bonnet is constructed from a cloth skull cap around which is an intricately and colourfully beaded front band. Feathers are attached, in this case the highly prized immature tail feathers of a golden eagle, their tips decorated with hair symbolizing scalp locks. Feathers were valuable in the XIX century, a full set of twelve being worth one pony.

Feather bonnet of Yellow Calf


Arapaho, from the American West, Nrth America, c. AD 1927.
Ht 75 cm.
Gift of G.M.Mathews.



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