Hunting Wolves with Eagles in Mongolia
In western Mongolia, an ancient tradition of Hunting Wolves with Eagles is still alive.
We know from history that Genghis Khan had 1,000 hunting birds – eagles, falcons and gyrfalcons – and so did Kubla Khan. There were protected areas in the steppe marked with stones where only the khans were allowed to hunt. Hunting wolves with eagles was the “sport of kings”. The Kazakhs of Mongolia train their eagles to hunt wolves and here the bird of prey is often considered a family member. The Berkutchi is a falconer who hunts with the golden eagle. The training of this bird was seen as difficult and even perilous even by the experienced Synchy. The bird is never a slave of its owner, only a partner in hunting.
From ancient times, berkutchi-falconers in the nomadic herder societies had the role of preserving and stocking furs. The high social status of the berkutchi and his family was conditioned by the climate, as warm strong and durable clothing for the people during the winter seasons was a vital necessity. Best-suited for this were the pelts of wolves and foxes.
Apart from hunting, berkutchi can give spiritual support to pregnant women, who experience or may experience difficulties in childbirth. Through the owner of the bird, which in the imagination of Asian peoples is a symbol of well-being and power. According to folk wisdom, a berkutchi is the indisputable authority in the sphere of childbirth or of renewing fertility. In the cultures of many nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples of Asia, it is said that a berkutchi, regardless of age, can make pregnant a woman who for a long time had not had children.