Falconry in Turkmenistan: Call of the sky


Falconry, the art of capturing wild quarry in its natural environment. Originally a way of capturing food, falconry is today more synonymous with camaraderie and connecting with nature than with a subsistence way of life. Great commitment is required to train and a handle hawks and falcons – consequently falconers have developed a spiritual bond with their birds. Falconers from different countries and backgrounds share in the common traditions, values and practices in the training and caring of birds and in equipment used. It forms the baisis of a wide cultural heritage that can bridge the gap of national boundaries social class, ethnicity and ideology.

Hunting with falcons in Turkmenistan has been a pastime for the Turkmen people since time immemorial. A falconer, a falcon and a hunting dog are the perfect formula for hunting and create a physical and spiritual bond between man and nature. Folklore and ethnographic artefacts, as well as traditional writings and personal records, are testimony to this centuries-old tradition and clearly draw inspiration from the deep bond between man and bird. The warriors of Oguzkhan – the founder of Turkmen nation, the citizens of ancient Parthia and the sultans of the Seljuk’s have all let loose their hunting birds on the territory of Turkmenistan; from the steppes of the Balkan Mountains, the sands of the Karakum desert and the foothills of the Kopetdag Mountains. As well as popular sayings and moral tales that still survive within the culture today, there are also numerous artefacts that depict Turkmen people astride an Akhalteke or a camel and carrying a hunting falcon on the hand.

A falcon