Twenty four-year-old photographer Asher Svidensky traveled to west Mongolia with the intention of documenting the lives of traditional Kazakh eagle hunters, people who tame eagles for the purpose of hunting smaller animals. In Ulgii (or ölgii), the capital of the far west, he photographed the young 13-year-old boys as they trained with their fathers, a tradition from which girls were usually excluded. He was surprised to meet a young eagle huntress, 13-year-old Ashol Pan, the daughter of an experienced eagle hunter. Svidensky photographed her first forays at handling an eagle. “I was amazed by her comfort and ease as she began handling the grand eagle for the first time in her life. She was fearlessly carrying it on her hand and caressing it somewhat joyfully.” Pan’s forward-thinking father, who encouraged his daughter to learn the eagle hunting practice, says, “It’s been a while since I started thinking about training her instead of [her brother], but I wouldn’t dare do it unless she asked me to… Next year you will come to the eagle festival and see her riding with the eagle in my place.”

Asher Svidensky via
Asher Svidensky via

We think the image at the joyful Pan is incredibly heartening, a tonic in itself first thing in the morning, a perfect example of “Why not?”   Meanwhile, Svidensky seems to be carrying on a photographic tradition started by Jimmy Nelson, of Before They Pass Away.   via My Modern Met

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2 replies on “Role Model: 13-year-old Girl Eagle Huntress

  1. Thank you! What a fabulous and inspiring view into another world – what beauty of human and animal spirit and coexistence. I followed it to the photographer’s blog and also learned that they train and work with their eagle for 8 years.

    “Kazakhs capture their eagle in his early years and raise him themselves. They feed the eagle, give him a warm place to rest in the cold Mongolian nights and they teach him how to hunt. Eight years later, in spring time, the hunter will take his eagle to the mountains, will lay a butchered sheep on one of the cliffs as a farewell present, and he will send his eagle away for the last time. That’s how the Kazakh eagle hunters make sure that the eagles go back to nature and have their own strong newborns, for the sake of future generations.:

  2. Thanks for hunting down the extra info, Josh. It makes the image even more compelling.

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