Definitions for war bonnet
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A ceremonial headdress, decorated with a trail extension of eagle feathers, worn by some American Indians
Feathered war bonnets are worn by honored Plains Indian men. In the past they were sometimes worn into battle, but most often worn for ceremonial occasions as is the case today. They are seen as items of great spiritual and magical importance. The eagle is considered by Plains tribes as the greatest and most powerful of all birds, and thus the finest bonnets are made out of its feathers. Its beauty was considered of secondary importance; the bonnet's real value was in its supposed power to protect the wearer. The bonnet is still only to be worn on special occasions and is highly symbolic. The bonnet had to be earned through brave deeds in battle because the feathers signified the deeds themselves. Some warriors might have obtained only two or three honor feathers in their whole lifetime, so difficult were they 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. A high honor, for example, was received by the warrior who was the first to touch an enemy fallen in battle, for this meant the warrior was at the very front of fighting. Feathers were notched and decorated to designate an event and told individual stories such as killing, capturing an enemy's weapon and shield, and whether the deed had been done on horseback or foot.
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