In Ancient Egypt the ostrich feather was a symbol of justice, righteousness and truth. In antiquity this meaning was seen to be derived from the fact that all ostrich feathers were the same length, but this point is scarcely relevant. The goddess Maat wore an ostrich feather on her head, and she was the goddess of justice and truth who sat in judgement at the weighing of souls, the feather itself being used as a just weight on the scales of judgement. Like the goddess of which it was the emblem, the ostrich feather signified universal order based upon justice.
The ostrich feathers from which the fans of pharaohs and their court dignitaries were made symbolized the basic duty of their office - the administration of justice.
In the traditions of the Dogon, a West African farming people whose whole system of symbols is lunar and aquatic, the ostrich sometimes takes the place of wavy lines or chevrons symbolizing water-courses. In this context the ostrich’s body is depicted as a series of concentric circles and chevrons. According to Griaule, the bird’s characteristic zigzag run, like the twisting course of a stream, accounts for this interpretation.