The Golden Eagle Festival

Since the time man domesticated the animals to aid him in his day to day life nearly 12,000 years ago, they have played a special, and a vita part in how civilizations and cultures have developed over the centuries. From dogs for companionship and hunting, to sheep, and goats for milk, wool, and meat, to cows, the relationship between man and animal is symbiotic.


In the history of the relationship between man and animals, one of the most important, and probably the most vital relationship is that with the horse. This relationship has been so vital, and so crucial, that entire civilizations have developed around it. The horse’s ability to carry a man has had perhaps the greatest impact on our world history. The largest empire in the world, the Mongol empire, was an empire that spread from Mongolia where nomadic horsemen and tribes were forged together to form one of the greatest armies of the medieval world, all the way to the shores of the Danube in Hungary. The nomadic tribes of the steppes of Eurasia is another example of how the horse has influenced our world history. Another interesting human-animal relation that has been developed by these horsemen is with the Golden Eagle. Trained for hunting small mammals such as foxes and hares, Golden Eagles have become synonymous with horsemen of the steppe. What would be more fitting to celebrate this relationship than  the annual traditional Golden Eagle Festival that is held in  Bayan-Ölgii aimag, Mongolia. The festival was started in 1999 to preserve the unique culture, tradition, and to protect Golden Eagles.

Kazakh Eagle Hunters celebrate their heritage and compete with specially trained eagles, showing off the skills, both of the birds and of their trainers, with prizes being awarded for speed, accuracy, agility, among other things.

Kazakh horsemen with their Golden Eagles prepare for the start.
A horseman and his Golden Eagle.
On horseback, the young Kazakh competes with his eagle.
Preparing for launch…
A Eagle hunter and his Eagle
Men, young and old alike, take part in the festival.
The mountains make for a spectacular backdrop for the festival.
And away flies this magnificent hunter!
The hunter in action
The festival celebrates the unique culture and tradition of the horsemen of the steppe.
Golden Eagle Portrait against a black background
A Male Golden Eagle
A Golden Eagle in flight



Image sources: Cover imageImage 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4, Images 5 – 8, Image 9, Image 10, Image 11, Image 12


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