Poland has lost battles but never a war! The mountain people of Poland the "Gorale" in particular have never even been occupied or subdued by invading armies! They so frustrated Hitler, he wanted to declare them "honorary Nazis!" The highlander's hat not only symbolizes the fierce streak of independence of the Poles, but is also used to guard against the vagaries of nature, to carry food, fodder horses and fan fires as well as a semaphore, for signaling over distances. Feathers now sometimes worn simply for decoration had to be earned by capturing and plucking them from wild eagles and game birds in times past, usually with bare hands!
Similar headgear is worn on the other side of the mountains by our Slovak and Carpatho-Rusyn cousins. This hat is vaguely comparable in significance to the American cowboy hat. It was repoularized in the popular TV series "Janosik", the "Polish Robin Hood".
This is not a cheap imitation souvenir, but the real thing. It is handmade of sturdy wool, and leather with just a smidgeon of more modern man made materials. Unfortunately these hats, generally sold on site, do not come in sizes. In Poland, they are simply tried on for fit. Most hat sizes run around 62 European (7 3/4 inch U.S.). Unless you are fortunate enough to get one that fits you, your hat can only be used for decorative purposes.