This post is for those of you who live in Mongolia and are still trying to decide if you should go to the Eagle Festival on Monday, and for those of you who don't live in Mongolia and wish they had this kind of decision to make! The short answer? YES!! It is a beautiful cultural event and tons of fun! This is a re post of my blog about it from last year to give you a peek at what kinds of things you can expect!
This weekend we found the Eagle Festival -a stunning display of traditional Golden Eagle hunting in full traditional costumes by some of the Kazakh Eagle hunters who came to UB to put on this festival. They had a parade of costumes, then a competition to see which eagle would come when called ( not many, as it turned out) then at the end they actually released a fox onto the hillside and set a number of the eagles free to catch it. And catch it they did, in short order I might add. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) I was much too far away to get any pictures of this part of the event
Eagle hunting has long been a very important part of Mongolian culture - ever since Chinggis Khan climbed up a pillar of stone and stole an eagle chick which he raised as his own...or so the story goes - but nowhere more so than in the Kazakh region of Mongolia. The Kazakh area is, surprise surprise, adjacent to Kazakhstan on the western edge of Mongolia. The Kazakhs are Muslims, by and large, which makes them a very distinct minority here in Buddhist Mongolia. In any case, we got up close and personal with the 22 men ( and I do mean MEN...I don't think anyone would mess with these guys!) and had lots of opportunity for great photos...which meant that I took over 1500 pictures. Unfortunately (or fortunately ... depending on how you look at it) they positioned the riders for most of the day with the sun behind them, which created some technical difficulties..but I still managed a few good ones. Here just a few of my favourites..
Heading straight at me at a full gallop...good thing that bird has such sharp talons!
Joie de Vivre....
or, there's more than one way to have fun at the Eagle Festival
The boys are back in town!!
Had to get the "tourist" shot ....what a great great experience it was to see these men flying the eagles! Not that the eagles always came when they were called, mind you. Turns out they might have a mind of their own....
and when they tell you to stay back from the action, there's a reason for it! ...but back to more serious moments....
Such history and pageantry at this event!
This guy completely cracks me up....looks like he should be in an episode of the honeymooners...not that I would tell him that , mind you!
The eagle has landed...or, at least, it will shortly. One of the few that actually came to hand when it was called.
It really was something to call home about apparently. And like so much of what Mongolia is... 18th Century meets 21st. Great great day though.
So, it is time again to go and get ready for my Mongolian lesson (for which I am not really prepared...opted to blog instead of do homework..hmmmn) then this afternoon is it out to the ski hill to take advantage of what is beautiful spring skiing here...only minus 10!
I'm not sure what next weekend will bring, but as you can see from the previous two weekends, it is likely to be something amazing!