The feather bonnet is a Military headdress used in the Scottish Highland infantry of the British Army from 1763 until the beginning of World War I.
The feather bonnet began with the knitted tam o’shanter with chequered border, was popped up and worn with a tall hackle. During the 18th Century the highlanders adapted the bonnet hat and added Ostrich Feathers to decorate it, the feathers covered the whole tam o’shanter (frame).
The feathers were entwined into a lightweight cage and stood high. The feather bonnet has 4 to 5 feather tails that hang below the headband and the regimental badge is on the left. The hats although elaborate also were practical as protection against sword-cuts and if properly made up were very well ventilated and cool in the hot climates.
The Russian Cavalry at the Battle of Balaklava in 1856.
The start of the addition of the Ostrich Feathers coincides with the stationing of Highland regiments in North America in 1760 to 1790 and it thought to have copied the head-dress of the Native Americans
The Ostrich Feather Head-dress is also popular amongst our African people, the Zulu’s and the Masai people wore Ostrich Feathers in the head-dresses.