Toucan head and wing feather breastplate from Ecuador, possibly from the Jivaroan peoples, early to mid-20th century, comprised of painted bark cloth, seeds, toucan wing feathers and head with beak mounted in a black shadow box with a plexiglas front that can by hung on the wall or be freestanding. Feathers are frequently used in South America by indigenous groups to make headresses and other items such as this breastplate or apron to be worn at initiations, funeral rituals and other important occasions by shamans to reinforce group or tribal identity, mark rites of passage or demonstrate political power. Toucans and birds in general are regarded by South American groups as sacred beings and mediators between humans and spirits. They play a large role in the folklore and verbal history of many of the various groups. Apart from the strong visual impact made when wearing brightly colored feathers they imbue a certain spiritual strength and protection. Feathers are often seen as a sign of a successful hunter and provider, and by extension as a sign of leadership. 6" x 29" x 32"H; measurement of actual feather breastplate 20" high by 25" wide.