Eagle Hunter from the Mongolian Steppe

Gerard Mignot

Highgate, Australia

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Artist's Description

Professional hunters from Kazakhstan call the practice berkutchy or kusbeguy in Kazakh; it is also called berkutchi by the Kyrgyz people of the Bugu clan.

Berkutchy is a life’s profession, and in Kazakhstan is often a hereditary one. The relationship of the bird and its master is constant and all-consuming. In the training of a young eagle, the berkutchy must sacrifice his sleep for a long period. For weeks, the growing bird is rendered sightless under its hood until its dependence on its master becomes complete. Such intimacy must turn into a lifelong trust with the eagle – twenty years or more. It is said that as the man trains the eagle, so does the eagle train his man. There is a proverb in Kazakhstan: "There are three things a real man should have: a fast horse, a hound, and a golden eagle.

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