Ancient Mayan Headdresses: Cultural Importance

Mayans wore colourful headdresses for ceremonies. They prized the long blue green tail feathers of the bird, quetzel whoc, and used them to embellish their headdresses. The Native American headdress was reserved for the most powerful and influential among the tribe.

The headdress is a very important part of Native American culture. Typically made of beautiful bird feathers, it is more symbolic than anything else. The Sioux were thought to be one of the first Native American tribes to use these head pieces. Not everyone among the tribe could wear one, however.

Elite Mayan men and women styled their hair to show off their pointed heads, crafted through the careful head flattening they experienced as children. Women gathered their long hair on top of their heads in flowing ponytails. For special occasions they braided their ponytails and decorated them with ornaments and ribbons.

Mayan men grew their hair long but burnt the hair off their foreheads to accentuate their elongated profiles. Mayan headdresses were incorporated with animals. They had feathers, ensignias, etc and fit the head. They showed leadership sometimes and had themes of animals.

While the Native American Indian headdress did make the wearer stand out there was much deeper meaning associated with it. The headdress stood as an expression of the beliefs of the wearer. The Natives believed that by carrying various items they could actually acquire the powers of other animals.

This enabled the wearer to gather wisdom and develop an insight that would help him in his daily life. Mayan men of the upper class wearing decorated loincloths and ornamental headdresses.

Headdresses didn't have any connection to war, but in the Aztec Empire, the fanciest ones (adorned with gold, jewels, and jade stone) symbolized nobility. TheNative Americans are known for having rather animated headdresses. Forthem the headdress was not just about aesthetic value. Rather it haddeep spiritual significance.

Today, feather-fan headdresses are worn as regalia by Nahua, Mayan, and other native dancers in Mexico and Guatemala, and colorful headdresses modelled on traditional Brazilian Indian ones are worn as costumes for Mardi Gras Carnival in Rio de Janeiro every year.

In general, head hair was considered to be the extension of the soul for the Native American Indians. Hence they would use various forms of personal medicine and ornaments to decorate the hair. This was topped off with a truly breathtaking headdress.

A truly spectacular crop picture appeared near Silbury Hill in southern England on July 5, 2009. It was quickly called the "Quetzalcoatl headdress", because everyone could easily recognize that its primary symbol was a "quetzal feathered crown", once worn by Mayan kings.



This site covers several articles on ancient mayan, aztec histoty and Inca civilization. It also covers the differences and similarities between these cultures.
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