British Museum collections, £12.99
Height: 75.000 cm
Gift of G.M. Mathews
Room 26: North America
Feather bonnet of Yellow Calf
Arapaho, about AD 1927
From the American West, North America
The bonnet is constructed from the immature tail feathers of a golden eagle over a cloth skull cap. The tips are decorated with hair symbolizing scalp locks. Such flared headdresses were originally representative of war honours.
Feathers were valuable in the nineteenth century, a full series of twelve being worth one pony. Eagles were captured in pit traps: a man would conceal himself in a brush-covered pit, with bait in the middle. The eagles were then be seized from below, with the hands and arms suitably protected.
J.C.H. King, First peoples, first contacts: (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)