The eagle competition was about to begin. This young handler, dressed in his elaborately embroidered clothes, had climbed up the rocky hillside with his eagle and awaited his turn to launch his bird. The stage was set for the main event!
The aim of the sport is simple really… the winner is the bird that takes the shortest time to fly from the point of release to the time it lands on its owner’s arm. When the starter gives the signal, the handler on the hill removes the eagle’s hood and sets the bird free. The eagle then SHOULD fly straight down to its owner on the horse and be reunited. The emphasis is on the word SHOULD! It doesn’t always happen that way.
[NB. I took lots of video but we are having no luck downloading it to WordPress at the moment…. so some photos taken from the video will have to suffice… my apologies.]
Several of the eagles had their own ideas about how to spend the afternoon… they soared the thermals giving spectacular flight displays. No prizes for that… but it was really good to watch these majestic birds soar overhead.
Eyes skyward… watching eagles soar! A wonderful sight.
When those soaring birds finally came down to land, many decided to check out the crowd rather than return to their owners. It was fun for us … frustrating for the handlers.
A few did as they were trained to do … they returned to their owner on the horse…
this to great cheers from the crowd and a possible chance to win the event.
Reunited… no winner… but the possibility of another chance on another day.
How do you remonstrate with a bird this size?
In amongst the crowd, I noticed this man with a wonderful face.
At times like this, I just wished that I could have understood his language;
heard his stories; learned so much more about his country, his people, his culture.
A grandfather with grandchild… taking in all the activity and the ambiance.
Perhaps, one day, this child will become an eagle handler… who knows?
In a nearby area, an archery competition was underway.
Archers, dressed in traditional archery garb, took aim with crossbows.
This is another sport taken very seriously by the Kazakhs, and other Mongolians.
Earlier in the morning, traders had arrived at the festival with there gers and their wares carefully packed onto their camels. They set up a market near the event ‘field’.
There were lots of small beautifully embroidered items for sale.
I resisted the temptation to buy; well, almost!
Just a small embroidered ‘dingle-dangle’ destined for our Christmas tree.
I had to remember that we had a 15 kilo limit for the plane.
Oh… and a key ring of Kazakh boots – again for our Christmas tree
But when it came to the wide variety of Kazakh embroidered rugs and mats, I looked, but for once, I resisted buying a rug! Beautiful though they were, and much as we love our floor rugs and carpets from many parts of the world, and even though Jennie’s favourite colour is red…. these colours just wouldn’t go with our decor at home.
Where ever there’s a festival, there’s always food. Lamb kebabs and fish were on offer.
After a great day watching something very different from anything that I’ve ever seen before, it was back to the gers for a short stop. On the way, we passed by a veritable line up of those Russian “oo-warz-ik”, the ‘boxes-on-wheels’ vehicles so popular in these parts.
Late afternoon scene back beside our ger camp.
This old poplar also looked great in the late afternoon sun.
We rounded out the day by attending a concert back in town. Performers at the concert were dressed in embroidered traditional garb and entertained us with their Kazakh music.
We still had another day at the Eagle Festival to look forward to… and so do you!
All photographs copyright © DY of jtdytravels
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