Spring Golden Eagle Festival will be held

B.Chimeg GoGo.mn

2018-02-12 16:30 GMT+8

The official Golden Eagle Festival is arranged during the first week of October every year in the most western - and most remote province of Mongolia, Bayan-Ulgii. This province is home to ethnic Kazakh nomads who train Golden Eagles for hunting. The Eagle Festival is one of the best opportunities to catch a glimpse into the area’s unique culture, which is different to other parts of Mongolia.

Since 2008 the festival is being organized in the outskirt of capital city-Ulaanbaatar. In 2018 it is going to be held at Jargalant Valley by the Bogd Khaan Mountain range, the strictly protected area.

More than 20 eagle hunters all over Bayan-Ulgii province will be selected and brought to the city to attend the festival during the period of March 4-5, 2018. For two days, Kazakhs compete to show off whose eagle is the most skilled at catching prey and following the command of their owners.

Most Kazakhs are excellent riders, making this game quite competitive.  

The festival begins with a parade of hunters holding their eagles marching with their horses. The competition of best traditional costume and equipment is held followed by games to test best communication techniques between the eagle and the hunter. The other main competition involves the fastest and most attractive descent of an eagle from top of the mountain to the owner on the valley floor. Other authentic games are enjoyed by the Kazakhs such as kukbar (tug of war on horseback), archery and horse racing. Hunters put on their best costumes while decorating their eagles with the traditional “eagle costumes”.

The first Golden Eagle Festival was held in the fall of 2000. The chief idea was to promote this ancient art of hunting with eagles among younger generations of the Kazakhs so that the tradition would be kept alive to the future generations. Over the years, it has become one of the most popular events in Mongolia drawing attention of both the locals and the foreign travelers. Many documentaries have been made. 

In order to support activities of the festival and to make it more rich, the organizers have kept adding more events over the years such as a local bazaar featuring art works, traditional tools used for training eagles and hunting equipment as well as horse racing. Archery contest by a local Uriankhai tribe has been added most recently. 

The Association has initiated and accomplished registration of the Eagle hunting with Convention for the safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage under UNESCO in November of 2010.

Best costume and equipment

The hunters assemble in front of the judges showing off their outfits and equipment used during the hunting. Often, hunters dress in fur or their traditional costumes of colorful design.

Chargai

One of the main events of the day. The goal is to test whose eagle is most skilled at catching their pray. The owner drags a fox or animal skin behind their horse while his or her eagle is released from a mountain top. The speed is timed by a stopwatch by the judges. In addition to the speed, judges also considers the techniques of the eagles’ flight and style.

Eagle calling

The main goal of the game is to show whose eagle is best at following command of their masters. The eagle is released from a mountain top while the owners calls onto her from the valley. Judges use stopwatch to measure the speed and the time.

Kokpar (goat dragging)

Very physical and dynamic game. The object of the game is to possess a goat skin to their team by defending or chasing after fellow riders.  It is played either in teams or by individuals based on elimination. The game consists of two main forms: Tudabarai and Qarajai. Tudabarai is considered to be the simpler form of the game. In this version, the goal is simply to grab the goat and move in any direction until clear of the other players. In Qarajai, players must carry the carcass around a flag or marker at one end of the field, then throw it into a scoring circle (the "Circle of Justice") at the other end. The riders will carry a whip, often in their teeth, to fend off opposing horses and riders.

Tenge-Alu

The object of the game is to pick a coin up from the ground while on the horseback and on the run. It is believed to have been a form of training for young kazakhs in the early years. Most Kazakhs are excellent riders, making this game quite competitive.  

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