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.

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More information


J.C.H. King, First peoples, first contacts: (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)


Height: 75.000 cm

Museum number

AOA 1939.Am22.1


Gift of G.M. Mathews


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