Библиотека нематериального культурного наследия Республики Башкортостан
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Painting by artist Franz Alekseyevich Roubaud «The Bashkirs in the presence of Emperor Alexander II during falconry», the 1880s

There are mentions of falconry in Bashkir family trees, various
sources of the XVIII–XIX centuries, the works of local-history researchers of the XIX–XX centuries. But already in the XIX century hunting with the help of hunting birds is rarely observed, only occasionally Bashkirs trained golden eagles for their subsequent sale to Kazakhstan and Central Asia.

The Bashkir (1909). Photo by Hungarian ethnologist and linguist Gyula Mészáros

In order to learn how to hunt
with golden eagles boys, first of all, are taught to find chicks.

As a rule golden eagles nest on the edges of the forest or on rocks, and their nests look like caps worn on the tops of trees. The fact that birds use the same nest for several years and fly around it in pairs also makes it easier to find. With this knowledge the Bashkirs plan the place of catching birds in advance and wait for the hatching of chicks.

In the notes of researcher Gabdel'akhat Vil'danov
a method of catching chicks is described, when the
hawk itself lowers chicks to the ground to teach them to fly. Hunters are looking out for weak chicks that will not be able to fly away. Wet with dew, the chicks cannot take off, and then they are caught.
Another way to get chicks is to descend on a rope from the top of the mountain. To access the nests located on the ledges of the rocks ropes twisted from horsehair and tied between each other were used.
A. Timofeyev wrote in his work
«Sobranie opisaniy Orenburgskoi gubernii» («Collection of descriptions of the Orenburg governorate»):

Taking young falcons out of the nest is very interesting.

The falcon usually has its nest on high stone mountains in the steepest cliffs and in gorges above rivers and rapids, where neither man nor beast can approach; three or four Bashkirs on the top
of the mountain drive two thick, but low stakes in front of nest, tie a strong hair rope to one stake and wind it up on the other one, leaving the end, on which a simple seat is attached.
One Bashkir, covering his face and shoulders with thick leather, sits down, taking a basket, and
ties a rope to himself. His comrades unwind the rope and lower him down until he, holding on where
he can to the protruding rocks and gorges and having reached the nest, lets them know, then
the Bashkirs remaining on the mountain, giving time to the lowered down Bashkir to take the young falcons and put them in the basket, again wind up the rope and lift him up.
While the Bashkir descends to the nest, takes out the falcons and rises the falcons, flying high into the air and rapidly descending, strike the Bashkir with their claws so hard that sometimes they tear his leather covering and make painful scratches on his head and shoulders.

Both adult birds and chicks were most often caught
by the Bashkirs at the coming of spring.
As researcher Ivan Ivanovich Lepyokhin noted,
«it often happens that in such a dangerous, but for Bashkirs tempting work they break their arms and legs, and sometimes crash to death».

The transformation of birds
of prey into a hunting tool is a very
complex and lengthy process.

The hunter must have a lot of experience, knowledge of bird biology and methods of its training.

The chick is brought home, a 70 cm long belt of soft leather is tied to its claws and the bird is put on a block or carried with oneself. Every day the chick is stroked for 2–3 hours, not looking into his eyes, in this way endearing it to oneself. If the chick was carried with oneself, then when the trainer got tired he put the bird on a stick suspended from two ends (in Bashkir – «bewelsek», which means «swing»).
The stick, swinging, did not let sleep, and the sleepy and half-starved chick was well trained. Three times a day the chick is fed meat, but if it starts to squeak, then meat of mice or wolves is added to its diet. Then the training process itself begins: owner tried to keep the bird half-starved, then he put a piece of meat on his hand and, pointing at it, he called with a whistle or a «tfffou» sound so that chick flies up to the food.
Also the sounds «ku-uuh», «tah, tah, tah» (in Bashkir – «eyeleshtereu», which means «taming») were used for calling. «The hunter performs
such kind of operation until the bird completely gets used to the whistle
of its owner and at the first signal will not take off on his hand», –
Vasiliy Cheremshansky wrote in his notes.
The distance was gradually increased,
chick was trained in the yard, for this
the bird was put on a pole or fence.
The next stage was training in the field: instead of
meat was a live bird with clipped wings.
From a long distance owner emitted a familiar signal,
a bird of prey flew up and caught a bird. This is how they were taught to catch prey on the fly. To reduce the weight of birds of prey the daily food allowance was decreased, reducing the amount of food or replacing it with meat of lower fat content. As soon as the bird was trained enough to fly and land on the hand at the first call, then it was possible to start hunting.

The owner starved the golden eagles directly before hunting and did not let them sleep, at the same time teaching them to fly on a long
rope to meat bait. Then he took a stuffed dog and, tying a piece of meat to it, attached it to something. As soon as the owner removed the cap from the golden eagle's head the bird, seeing the bait, greedily rushed at the «prey» and, plunging its sharp claws into it, began to eat meat. This was repeated several times.

Bashkir-hunter with a falcon.
Russian Empire, Shadrinsky uyezd
of the Perm
governorate, beginning of the XX century

Hawks were trained at shallow lakes. Hawks could catch
up to 10–12 ducks per day. A falcon, a harrier, a white gyrfalcon,
a male gyrfalcon and an eagle were trained in the same way.

How was the hunt going

According to Sergei Timofeyevich Aksakov,
hunters carried a golden eagle on a stick attached to a pommel of the saddle.
Sergei Ivanovich Rudenko described that when

going hunting the riders held falcons in their arms.

In the photo: hunter Gabdul Dzhepar' Kinikzhakayev and his sons on falconry
Photo source: vk.com
Approaching the lake, birds were let out, hunters themselves started
to gallop, the dogs started running and barking, scaring away the ducks that took off from the surface of the lake. One falcon, flying very low to the ground, forced the ducks to fly higher, and there they were overtaken by a group of hunters, who attacked from a height. The falcons beat the flying ducks with the claws, knocked down, attacked and smashed their skulls with beaks.
With the golden eagle the Bashkirs usually hunted from the hill,
and with the young eagle they went to the beast only from the mound. The hunter's companions drove a hare or a fox out of
the grove. As soon as the hunter saw a wild animal he threw golden eagle into the air (in Bashkir – «kosh syoyeu», which means «throwing a bird»).
Having risen up and discovered the beast,
the golden eagle flew
like a bullet at its prey.
This process is colorfully described in the study of Il'ya Mikhailovich Kazantsev: «An eagle, launched by a hunter, usually sits on the animal's rump, plunging its claws, it forcefully blows its beak into
the head and eyes, if it does not kill the beast, then, weakening its strength, commits it into the power of the hunter».
The hunter finished off the caught animal and awarded the golden eagle with a piece of meat from
the carcass of the killed animal.

XIX–XX centuries
Since the end of the XVIII century this craft has been
in decline. In the XIX and the beginning of the XX century Bashkirs rarely used golden eagles while hunting wild animals. One of the factors that led to this was the reduction of forest areas in Bashkortostan and, as a result, the reduction of the population of these birds. There was also
the fact that falconry required a long preparation and
was dangerous.
With the time Bashkir hunters began to specialize only in
the training and teaching of winged predators in order to sell them profitably at large fairs and retail outlets. Subsequently this occupation became a kind of narrow specialization of some groups of Bashkirs of the mountain-forest and steppe zones of the Southern Urals. Pavel Ivanovich Nebol'sin wrote: «Bashkirs living in forests catch golden eagles and falcons, train them to hunt and then resell them to rich Kirghiz people (an outdated name used in the XVIII–XIX centuries for a number of peoples – Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, Karakalpaks) and Central Asian merchants visiting our customs».

Bashkirs with falcons

By the beginning of the XX century falconry had almost completely disappeared. In studies and descriptions of Bashkir life at the beginning of the XX century, particularly in the works of Dmitriy Petrovich Nikolsky and Sergei Ivanovich Rudenko, there is no mention of the use of the golden eagle as a hunting bird. «Although they caught golden eagles, they did not hunt with them themselves, but usually sold them to Kazakhs», – Sergei Rudenko wrote.
To check whether this hunting craft really disappeared among the Bashkirs we began
to look for a master of this craft – and found him.
Khasanov Vil'dan Salavatovich, a resident of the village of Karlaman of the Karmaskalinsky district of the Republic of Bashkortostan. Since childhood he has been fond of small-scale hunting, and for the last 15 years he has been training birds of prey, at the moment – sparrowhawks.

According to Vil'dan Salavatovich, hawks are surprisingly brave birds, they often hunt prey larger than itselves, for example, hares.

In practice he teaches his wards
to hunt small birds for the time being.
The bird only needs to be taught
to sit on the owner's hand, instincts
are manifested in everything else.
Unlike steppe zones it is difficult to hunt with a bird in our region. The relief, the presence of tall grass and shrubs affects. In such thickets it is difficult to find a hawk that, having killed the prey, sits on it for a certain time until it loses its strength. And intuitively it gets food for itself, so it tries to remain unnoticed. Previously a bell was tied to hawk's claw to detect it.
However, hunting with a hawk has its advantages. It never flies far from the hunting ground. Being tired, it sit in the field of view on the ground or on a tree. But the falcon flies away at a distance of up to 10 kilometers, and it is very possible that it will not return back. Probably, that's why our ancestors sold falcons to the steppe regions: due to the complexity of hunting in our places.
Meanwhile, according to the master, Bashkirs hunted with many birds, such as golden eagle, gyrfalcon, falcon, hawk. An example of this is the historical fact when Bashkirs took part in the coronation
of Alexander II in 1856.

Information source: posredi.ru
Golden еagle
Imperial eagle
Peregrine falcon
Vil'dan Salavatovich considers bird meat the best food for hawks. For this purpose he specifically raises chickens in the incubator. The best option, in his opinion, is chicken necks.

In order to develop hunting skills in a hawk it cannot be fed for a long time
from the hands, since the bird will not look for food on its own, but will wait
for it to be fed. It is necessary to create simulators that are close to the natural environment. A wild hawk, unlike a trained one, will not attack large birds like
a pigeon, a crow, because it will not be able to carry off prey. And while eating
the prey it itself can become someone's target. A tamed hawk is more confident
in human support. There were even attempts to attack a hare, but it was too big
for it, the hunter confesses.
The complexity of the development
of hunting with birds is related to legislation,
believes Vil'dan Salavatovich. Large and rare hunting
birds like the golden eagle are protected by law and there is a ban on their exploitation. It's easier with hawks, you can buy a permission and train them.
It is better to take 10–15 days old chicks from the nest, at this age it is easier to wean them from their parents, and they are easier to get used to. Interestingly, the female hawk is larger than the male. The male is obliged to provide food to the female while she incubates the chicks. It is not difficult to provide one female with small birds for a male until the chicks hatch, which also need to be fed. And if the male does not cope, then it can be eaten by a hungry female. Therefore even during mating rituals the male, if it cannot feed the female and create comfortable conditions for incubation eggs, may not be chosen.

Painting by artist Mikhail Alexandrovich Zichy
«The Bashkirs in the presence of Emperor Alexander II during falconry»
Thus, hunting with the help of birds of prey is one of
the oldest occupations of the Bashkir people, and there are many historical documents confirming this. In the process of mastering this craft Bashkirs have mastered a complex system of taming birds
of prey and methods of hunting wild animals and birds.


1. Aksakov S. T. (1910). Okhota s yastrebom za perepyolkami [Quail hunting with hawk]. In: A. G. Gornfel'd (ed.). Sobranie sochineniy S. T. Aksakova [Collected works of S. T. Aksakov]. Saint Petersburg: Tipolitografiya tovarishchestva «Prosveshchenie», vol. 6, pp. 287–310 (in Russian).
2. Cheremshansky V. M. (1859). Opisanie Orenburgskoi gubernii v khozyaistvenno-statisticheskom, etnograficheskom i promyshlennom otnosheniyakh [Description of the Orenburg governorate in economic, statistical, ethnographic and industrial respects]. Ufa: Tipografiya Orenburgskogo gubernskogo pravleniya, 472 p. (in Russian).
3. Kazantsev I. M. (1850). Opisanie bashkirtsev [Description of the Bashkirs]. Orenburgskie gubernskie vedomosti, no. 20, May 20, pp. 95–101 (in Russian).
4. Lepyokhin I. I. (1772). Prodolzhenie dnevnykh zapisok puteshestviya akademika i meditsiny doktora Ivana Lepyokhina po raznym provintsiyam Rossiyskogo gosudarstva v 1770 godu [Continuation of the daily notes of the journey of academician and Doctor of Medicine Ivan Lepyokhin in different provinces of the Russian state in 1770]. Saint Petersburg: Tipografiya Imperatorskoi Akademii nauk, pt. 2, 338 p. (in Russian).
5. Mullagulov M. G. (2010). Otlov i dressirovka okhotnich'ikh berkutov u Bashkir [Trapping and training of hunting golden eagles among the Bashkirs]. Vestnik Chelyabinskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta, no. 30 (211), pp. 86–90 (in Russian).
6. Nebol'sin P. I. (1854). Bashkirtsy [The Bashkirs]. In: P. I. Nebol'sin. Rasskazy proezzhego [Traveler's stories]. Saint Petersburg: Tipografiya Shtaba voenno-uchebnykh zavedeniy, pp. 240–258 (in Russian).
7. Rudenko S. I. (2006). Bashkiry. Istoriko-etnograficheskie ocherki [The Bashkirs. Historical and ethnographic essays]. Ufa: Kitap, 376 p. (in Russian).
8. Rychkov P. I. (1887). Topografiya Orenburgskoi gubernii (sochinenie P. I. Rychkova 1762 goda [Topography of the Orenburg governorate (essay by P. I. Rychkov of 1762)]. Orenburg: Tipografiya B. Breslina, 406 p. (in Russian).
9. Salikhov A. G. (2019). Sokolinaya okhota u bashkir po publikatsii G. Vil'danova «Materialy po etnografii bashkir» [Falconry among Bashkirs according to G. Vildanov's publication «Materials on ethnography of the Bashkirs»]. The Problems of Oriental Studies, no. 3 (85), pp. 81–85 (in Russian).
10. Timofeyev A. A. Sobranie opisaniy Orenburgskoi gubernii [Collection of descriptions of the Orenburg governorate]. Nauchnyi arkhiv Russkogo geograficheskogo obshchestva [Scientific Archive of the Russian Geographical Society]. Fund 26, Inventory 1, File 19, fol. 79 (in Russian).