Encyclopedia Article


A ruff is a conspicuous ring of feathers or fur found around the neck of various animal species. A manmade ruff is used in the human world to adorn revered figures such as kings and queens, or in the case of Native American cultures, shamans and healers. It is meant in all cases to draw attention and to signify power, prestige, importance, and virility.

In the Pueblo cultures of the U.S. Southwest, many kachinas (spirit beings) are depicted with thick ruffs around their necks.

Photo Credit: 

"Kachina doll with a ruff of feathers, May 12, 2007" by midiman is licensed under CC BY.

Term Type: