Some examples of traditional religious dance costumes include Native American powwow regalia, Chinese Lion Dance costumes, wooden masks of the Dogon people of Mali and the colorful costumes of Morris dancers in Great Britain. Native American dance regalia often incorporates materials such as leather, feathers, fur and beads.
A Native American dancer creates regalia that reflects his personality, spirituality and connection to his tribal heritage. Eagle feathers are a sacred symbol and hold religious significance to many Native Americans. Tribal elders use these feathers during special religious ceremonies or to confer honor upon a member of the tribe. Eagle feathers and bones may be incorporated into the dress of a Native American dancer to express that person's spirituality.
In some cases, Native Americans pass down regalia from one generation to the next. A child may inherit a pair of dance moccasins or beadwork from an older relative. Native Americans craft feather fans, bustles, buckskin shirts and headpieces and often collect them over the course of many years. Different dances require different kinds of costumes; for example, during jingle dress dancing, dancers may adorn themselves with bells to create rhythmic sounds.
The Chinese Lion Dance, typically performed as a dance of thanksgiving, requires an elaborate costume worn by a team of two dancers. The dancers use their movements and the long train of the lion costume to represent different emotions and to express the power necessary to ward off evil spirits.