GOLDEN EAGLE FESTIVAL
GOLDEN EAGLE FESTIVAL
During the communist period in Kazakhstan, many Kazakhs fled for Mongolia, settling down in Bayan Ulgii, an area that has been designated for the Kazakhs of Mongolia today. Kazakhs (Altaic Kazakhs or Altai-Kazakhs) living in Bayan-Ölgii Province of Mongolia continue to hunt with eagles today. There are an estimated 250 eagle hunters in the Western Mongolian province. Their falconry custom, so-called ‘horse-riding eagle falconry’, is unique in practice only with trained Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos daphanea) on horseback. Their hunting target is almost limited to Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) or Corsac Fox (Vulpes corsac). In the first week of October, 70 eagle hunters gather for the annual Golden Eagle Festival of Mongolia They use eagles to hunt foxes and hare during the cold winter months when it is easier to see the gold colored foxes against the snow. Many Kazakh traditions have been preserved by the Kazakhs in Mongolia, eagle hunting being amongst them. Although the Kazakh government has made efforts to lure the practitioners of these Kazakh traditions back to Kazakhstan, most Kazakhs have remained in Mongolia. The Golden Eagle Festival has been the largest gathering of eagle hunters and their eagles in the world since it started in 1999 with 70 eagle hunters participating in this event. It is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Event. The festival starts with display of eagles and hunters, and then goes into the events of eagles displaying their talents. The first event is the eagle catching fox skin dragged behind a horse, returning to their owner from a distance on command, as well as a camel race and Kazakh games of Tiyn Teru (a race to pick up a coin on the ground while on horseback), Kyz Kuar (“girl chase,” a man and woman race on horseback while the woman whips the man), and Kokpar (tug of war over a goat carcass while on horseback). On the evening of the first night is a concert of traditional Kazakh music at the theatre included in the price of a ticket.
GOOD TO KNOW
Annual Golden Eagle Festival will be held on 7th, 8th of October, 2023 “Sayat tolgoi” site of bugat sum of Bayan-Ulgii province.
SATURDAY, 7TH OF OCTOBER, 2023 (DAY 1)
- Registration and credential of Eagle Hunters
- Opening ceremony of Annual Golden Eagle Festival
- Competition of best Kazakh costume, eagle and horse harness
- Horse race
- Competition of how eagles adapted to hanters
- “Tenge Ily” competition(Traditional coin grabbing game while ride a horse)
- Urainhai archery competition
- Competition of the best Kazakh costume of couples
- Folk concert in local theatre at Ulgii town
SUNDAY, 8TH OF OCTOBER, 2023 (DAY 2)
- Competition of how eagles adapted to hunters “Shyrga tartu”(eagles will be qualified how fast and smoothly catch a lure that made of rabbit or fox skin)
- Camel race
- “Khyz khuar” game show(Traditional horse back riding fan game for youth, boys whipped by girls if they reached by them)
- Continuation game
- “Kukhbar” competition(Traditional horse back riding game fight over for goat skin)
- Award ceremony for winners of festival
- Closing ceremony
Gloriously, this event is officially billed as the Thousand Camel Festival and it certainly lives up to its name! The Bactrian, known as the “ship of the Gobi”, is the undoubted star of the show here in the heart of the desert.
During the communist period in Kazakhstan, many Kazakhs fled for Mongolia, settling down in Bayan Ulgii, an area that has been designated for the Kazakhs of Mongolia today.
March is normally the month of two infamous and popular festivals. Due to severe winter weather conditions, either one or other or both, can be cancelled at short notice,