The true marks of identification in ceremonial costumes are found in the headdresses. The hair is generally permitted to float free. From the banged forelocks to the bobbed side hair and thence to the long back
strands there is recognizable the geometric stepped form so often associated by the Indian with cloud terraces. Impersonators whose hair has been cut wear wigs of long horsehair. Certain actors who are impersonating comic characters wear short wigs of different kinds of hair and wool. There are also fringes and bangs of horsehair, goat's hair, and sheep's wool which are tied across the forehead or worn all the way around the head. Sometimes the hair is worn in a wrapped club at the neck or wound into whorls or tied with yarn over wooden frames (pl. 38).
Every performer wears some ornament in his hair, even if it is no more than the white, downy, "breath" feather or a red, downy badge of office. Sometimes the green or yellow pompon of gleaming parrot feathers (pl. 20), from its place on top of the head, moves in accordance with the dancer's steps. More elaborate ornaments of feathers and carved gourd are worn from side to side or from front to back.
The narrow bandeau of deerskin, or fillet of yucca leaves, may be worn alone on the head or it may serve as a base for other ornamentation. Flower symbols of gourd or cornhusks, painted in simple colors, can be fastened at the side or front, and elaborate forms made of little sticks set at angles to a small round piece of wood are twined with colored yarns to represent a squash blossom, from the center of which floats a gently swaying downy feather (pl. 9). Buffalo or cow horns, or imitations of these made from long gourd necks, are fastened to one or both sides.
The war bonnet, generally associated with the fiercer Indian tribes, has its counterpart in the Pueblo dress. It is made with the buckskin cap base or the simple bandeau, in which feathers are stuck upright around the head and down the two side streamers. In contrast to more generally recognized forms, these streamers reach to just below the shoulders, and in all probability are influenced by the attire which has been borrowed or purchased from other tribes. The simple roach of tall feathers stands upright from the forelock across the crown and ends in a long streamer floating to the middle of the back. This is popular in many villages.
The basic form of the women's headdresses is a strip of deerskin crossing the crown of the head from ear to ear and secured beneath the chin. Ornaments may be applied at the top and sides (fig. 13, P. 83). A common headdress is the tablet, or flat upright plaque of wood, or the wooden frame covered with deerskin or cloth. The simplest form is found among the Rio Grande pueblos, where a rectangular tablet (pl. 19), terraced at the top and with incisions in the center, is worn across the head and held in place by a band or thong tied under the chin. This form is prevalent throughout the Pueblo span and its shape and elaboration appear to develop, as has been noted of the mask, as one goes westward.
At Zuñi, a thin board terraced at the top is perched upright on a caplike base made of strips of deerskin sewn on one end to the bandeau and attached together at the crown of the head (pl. 10). This is worn by the Corn Maidens when they return to the village in their special ceremony, a ritual which originally took place every four years. This slender form is decorated with symbols of the sun, moon, and stars, and at the terraced top are two downy feathers. Small, geometric wooden forms of the various directional colors are set on the bandeau where the cross strips intersect. In the Butterfly Dance of the Hopi, a dance performed by the Butterfly Clan, who are said to have been prehistoric colonists from the Rio Grande pueblos, a tablet similar to those of the east is worn by the women. However, among the Hopi the form is often elaborated, as it is made of many separate shapes each suggesting some symbolic form. These shapes are put together by means of pegs and buckskin thongs until they are built up to a mass which assumes very large proportions. The most familiar design elements employed are clouds,
butterflies, sprouting corn, and rain, and the bright colors are sharply contrasted. Black is frequently used to outline the separate shapes and to accent the divisions of various patterns.
Another common headdress is one which completely covers the top of the head. This is used mainly in dances requiring more elaborate impersonations. It may likewise be made on a base of deerskin with the decorative incorporation of horns, flowers, and feathers.
Closest to the mask forms, but without actually concealing the wearer, are the animal headdresses of the Rio Grande pueblos. They vary from the simple deerskin cap to which the horns have been applied, to the actual animal head (pl. 25) cured and with the horns intact. When the horn-ornamented deerskin cap is used, the long space from the neck to the waist is filled with sheaves of various feathers which are bid in series and accented with dotlike puffs of down (pl. 26).