Helmets are the most common form of headgear used in warfare, and they serve a variety of functions. They shield the head from blows in close-quarters combat and from arrows and sling stones hurled from a distance. Helmets and other warrior headgear can serve to make the head look larger and more formidable. In some cultures, they provide spiritual protection.
Helmets and headdresses are made of metal, wood, cloth, animal teeth, hide, feathers, and even fish skins. Many are decorated to advertise the status and cultural affiliation of the wearer. In some cases, a warrior’s headgear attains an importance that is completely symbolic, with adornment so elaborate as to render it nonfunctional. Such helmets or headdresses are donned only for important ceremonies.