Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Golden Eagle Festival - Bayan Olgii, Mongolia 2013

I am glad Dr. Stewart, Sister Stewart and Ulziika made it to the Eagle Festival at Olgii. Dr. Stewart takes a lot of pictures - great pictures! His pictures are the next best thing to being there.

The town of Olgii 

He shared his top 300 with me. I winnowed them down to over 50 to tell the story of the Eagle Festival and save the rest for those non-descript winter weeks when photographic opportunities are sparse in Mongolia.

The landscape is almost desert but with a lot of rocky terrain and barren mountains. 

This is Khazak country and the dominant language is Khazak and not Mongolian. The Golden Eagle Festival is held once a year in the fall.

Photographers and tourists were there from around the world (the reason why we couldn't get rebooked on a flight), almost outnumbering the Khazak Eagle hunters and their birds.

Eagle hunters have competitions for best outfit,

a timed event where eagle are released from a cliff and land on their owner's arm and he races to a finish line, and a timed event where an eagle lands on an animal skin (simulating an attack). A grand parade kicked off the event. There are food vendors and Khazak handicrafts for sale.

There were other events held the next day but the Stewarts and Ulziika needed to be in church in Khovd the next day.

The Grand Parade:

Two riders on a camel

The Stars of the show:

A hooded eagle - the hood is taken off before the bird is released to hunt or to fly it it's owner.

The competition

Eagles were released from a cliff and would land on their owner's arm.


Some eagles weren't perfect
The judges

Informal Scenes from the Golden Eagle Festival

Feeding his bird

Three old-timers celebrating their common heritage
Portraits of eagle hunters


The oldest participant - 80 years old





The gathering of the Khazak eagle hunters was a cultural and visual feast.


1 comment:

  1. Wow! Those pictures are amazing. Brings some meaning to the poses we do in Ulaanbaatar with the birds, doesn't it. I love all the wonderful clothing. They look so festive and colorful. The eagles are beautiful, especially when they are in flight.