Macaw Feather headdress

Macaw feather headdress

Amazonian people

South America

ETHNN.890

 What is this and what is it made of? This is a headdress made from the tail feathers of the Scarlet macaw (Ara macao), and possibly blue-and-yellow macaw feathers (Ara araranna).

Where is it from and who made it? We don’t know who made this headdress or where it is from but Scarlet macaw feathers are used to make headdresses all over the South American Amazon region. The other picture shows a different style of headdress, also made from Scarlet macaw feathers, worn by the Shuar people of Ecuador.

Why is it special? To many Amazonian peoples feathers are the most valuable of all goods. As well as their colour and beauty, they represent the spiritual realm of the Sky World. Lots of stories and rituals connect the brightly coloured Scarlet macaw feather headdresses with the Sun. In many of these stories, the Sun is said to have worn a crown of fiery red Scarlet macaw feathers at the very first dawn at the beginning of the world. Because of their connection with the Sun, Scarlet macaw feathers are often thought of as being so hot that only powerful shaman are able to touch them. 

Linked objects:

Scarlet macaw

Bark armlets

Men’s vanity basket (pakára)

Ceremonial dance club (shawaraha)

Jaguar skin belt

Madereros en Zona Intangible