The First Eagle Huntress?

However admirable Ashiolpan seems (and she is), and however fine the movie the Eagle Huntress is (and I suspect it is, and I want to see it), SHE IS NOT THE FIRST EAGLE HUNTRESS. This mistaken belief is particularly promulgated by American reviewers and I know I shouldn’t expect much of them; I should only be happy they’re saying a form of hunting is good.

But for the record, with leaving out dubious semi-contenders like Princess Nirgigma in the 20s, who I very much doubt trained her own eagles, or Frances Flint Hamerstrom, who as far as I know never hunted with her eagle or participated in Asian culture, the FIRST eagle huntress is Lauren McGough, originally of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who I originally helped achieve her dreams when she was 16, when she went over and hunted with the late Aralbai. She was so taken with this that she won a Fulbright Scholarship and spent a year in remotest Bayaan Olgii Aimag in the westernmost point of Mongolia learning both the Kazakh and Mongol languages while training her first eagle, Alema (“Milky Way”) which she trapped herself. She subsequently caught 30-odd foxes with her, plus other game. She has not yet written up her experiences, but everyone who knows her knows that she is the real thing. She’s hunting right now with her eagle…

Lauren at 16 with Aralbai
With Alema soon after capture

Ataika and her mother in Almaty; Almaty life

Could it be ten years ago? More?

Ataika at 6 weeks, in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in Konstantin and Anna Plakhov’s back yard, the day we met her, with mother Oska.

A month in our apartment, with days riding around in Askar Raybaev’s (Mitsubishi!) stretch limo; visiting museums and supermarkets and restaurants and archaeologists; then to New Mexico on KLM. What a strange postmodern dog’s life! Scenes of that month following…


Leon Gaspard was a Taos painter of the early 20th  century, with an eccentric style that makes him marginally less popular than some of his straightforwardly impressionist colleagues.

He was a Russian who traveled in the the Soviet Union in the 20’s. Like his predecessor , the poet and novelist Lermontov (grandfather Scot “Learmont”), his was a transformed western name– his grandfather was a Huguenot refugee fleeing persecution in France.*

For now, a simple image, very real despite romanticism… photo’d from Frank Water’s book. I would be interested in seeing any better version, or any of the other falconry images that exist…

* Or the great 20th century ornithologist Vladimir Flint, whose “Flint’s Rules” for toasting with Vodka have brought  many to their knees…

Snaphance Locks

The first, made by a Mongolian blacksmith,  is younger than I am. No date on the ornate Italian one, from a Twitter photo recycled by David Zincavage. But remember, the invention of the flintlock , in this form, dates back to almost 1600,  and Cherkassov who published the drawing, called them “Primitive” in 1865…

Visual Free Association

David Zincavage sent me this striking image of a Kazakh girl and eagle. The rather formal gold- braided pattern on her coat is common among all the Turkic peoples of Central Asia, from Uzbekistan through Kyrgizstan to the (Kazakh) western “Aimag” of Mongolia. Jack and Niki wore Uzbek versions for their wedding in Santa Fe.

Update: The first photo is from Blog friend and Central Asian scholar and Blogger Dennis Keen; more in comments below.

Old Photo

From Tim Gallagher.

Caption from Lane Batot: “Upon opening an insurance office in Kyrghistan, agent Smith visited a local village in hopes of raising payment rates in regard to the residents keeping exotic and dangerous animals on the premises. Agent Smith has not been heard from since….”

Central Asian Dogs and Falconry

First, a wonderful film from Kyrgizstan– in English!

Next, an amazing album of photos by our friend Jutta, who traveled there this spring. I have already posted a few of her photos.

Another film, from Turkmenistan. Notice the smaller Sakers there, more like Prairie falcons than Gyrs. The style of hunting is much like ours, only they use camels (and wear rather different hats).

The next video is on Vimeo and I don’t know how to imbed it so will just give a link. It is Soviet- era and not the best quality, but has some glimpses of local falconry I have not seen anywhere else.