Monday, October 18, 2010

Monthly Montage: Eagle Fest!

A few weekends ago I hit up Eagle Festival with some friends. Held out in Bayan-Olgii, the Kazakh-dominant province west of Hovd, the entire journey was incredibly interesting. Everything from fixing the car's engine with bubble gum to watching the hunters call their eagles down from a mountain held a flavor of exoticism. At times I couldn't help feeling a little strange about the 'human zoo' vibe of the event but then again the volume of tourists and the cash flow that they bring to the remote economy is hard to argue with. So take a walk back in time and a peek at the scenes and faces of Eagle Fest:
Our purgon required an old school crank start. We got a wee bit stranded here.
Sunset over yaks on the journey to Olgii.

Eagle hunting is a family oriented tradition. It is passed down  through the eldest boys.
A makeshift market.
Passing down tradition.
Cooking is woman's work here. They were making huushuur- meat in fried dough pancakes.
Such a proud papa!
The ties that bind.
The hunters would ride down off the mountain and call their eagles to them.
A spectator.
Baby's first camel ride!
Sweetest mustache at Eagle Fest no question.

The women were also quite present at the event.

An eagle hunter in his furs. To give some perspective, just the lining on some of these hats (see the shot 4 pics above) takes 25 foxes to make.
Hanging out with some friends.

They captured a young wolf and let the eagles kill it at the end of the festival. Not one of the more pleasant parts about the weekend. I wanted to free it E.T. style but then reconsidered.
Interesting old/new juxtaposition.
Hugely arid terrain, bright Central Asian sun.
The bearers of history.
With an eagle! Those things are actually incredibly heavy.
I thought this young girl was striking. The Kazakh look is so unique.
A young boy in traditional dress.
Horseback Contrapposto.

Our crew!
The judges panel sat in a raised truck bed sort of thing and presided over the event.
A game in which women chased men on horses in an attempt to beat them with sticks. Some things never change. I loved this woman though. She was the only older woman who participated in the entire event and was so very Eleanor or Aquitaine.
A game that was essentially tug-of-war with an animal skin on horses.
A victory.
This man was quite intoxicated and curious about the cadaad huun or foreign people.
A rather dusty ride back in our old school Russian van.
The road back to Hovd.

1 comment:

E in Atlanta said...

I love these pictures! And the game of women chasing the men with sticks sounds like one that could be developed at the Olmypian level! Great pictures and thanks for sharing.