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Ostrich Feather History

The Ostrich feather trade began during some of the earliest civilizations. The Egyptian, Assyrian and Babylonian empires all actively groomed, farmed and sold ostrich feathers. There is sufficient proof in the Bible, hieroglyphs and throughout history that ostriches and ostrich feather harvesting has been around for centuries. Most historians believe that the ostrich was first hunted thousands of years ago not for it's meat, but for it's magnificent plumage. The history of the ostrich feather is romantic and thrilling, as feathers were originally a symbol of justice in ancient Egypt and have now taken the form of exquisite creations by fashion designers.

The ostrich feather is so unique that mankind, with all its technology, has never been able to simulate its outstanding qualities. The natural flowing beauty of wing plumes that dress the boas used in celebrations, carnivals and shows have never been successfully reproduced synthetically because of it's impossibility. The ostrich feather is an amazing combination of softness, durability, and flexibility. Ostrich feathers are the most sought after material for the making feather dusters because of their unique ability to remain entirely static free.

Classes of Feathers
The main classes of ostrich feathers are as follows:

Whites: From the male's wing
Blacks: From the male's wing
Fancies: From the tip of the wing
Feminas: From the female's wing
Floss: From under the wing
Tails: From the tails of the female and male.

Harvesting of Feathers
The harvesting of ostrich feathers can be performed in many ways. Sometimes, before a bird is slaughtered for meat properties, it is plucked. More often, feathers are removed from young chickens early in life. At the age of six months, most feather harvesters clip the young chicks quills. At seven months, mature body plumage is removed. At eight months, full quilling takes place. Once fully ripe feathers are harvested, a new crop of feathers will be ready for production in eight months. While some ostrich are harvested only for meat, others are harvested only for their feathers.

Ostrich feathers are used for a wide variety of materials. Some of the more common uses include:

BOAS: The sexy boa has been around for centuries. The natural flowing beauty of a real ostrich boa cannot be reproduced. Normally made of thick wing and tail plumes, the feather boa is as popular today as it was centuries ago. Mankind has never been able to duplicate the beauty and luster of the original feather boa and even today, it is in high demand. Boas are used universally in shows, theatrical performances, musicals and night clubs.

To make a traditional ostrich boa, the harvester first cleans the newly removed feathers of any debris. Feathers are then graded, according to which part of the ostrich they came from. (See ostrich feather classes above.) After the feathers have been graded and separated, they are washed and set aside to dry. Once dry, ostrich feathers can be dyed to almost any color.

Pure ostrich boas are made from the largest wing and tail feathers. The natural feathers are cut and then stripped from the main center stem. The remaining strips of feathers are then layered onto a center cord and sewn to it.

Ostrich feather dusters are in high demand primarily because of their anti-static properties. Unlike conventional manmade dusters, ostrich feathers naturally repel static. Those who've tried a real ostrich duster know that ostrich feathers attract and hold dust as no synthetic or manmade model can. Because of this, ostrich feather dusters are timeless and remain in high demand worldwide. Feather dusters are made from a wide variety of feathers, depending on the size of duster. Feathers are cleaned and then sewn together and attached to a stick or duster handle.

Ostrich feathers are also sold individually. Many companies use the feather of the ostrich to decorate quill pens, centerpieces, costumes and household goods.

The feathers of the ostrich are one of the most sought after components of the ostrich. Because of their durability, unremarkable silkiness and science's inability to duplicate, time has only increased the demand for ostrich feathers. Ostrich feather production contributes to thirty percent of the gross income for ostrich farmers today, constituting a valuable source of income.