National Geographic : 1936 Jan
WITH THE NOMADS OF CENTRAL ASIA OFF FOR THE HUNT WITH A TRAINED EAGLE, AS IN MARCO POLO'S DAY Kirghiz sportsmen catch eaglets and train them to falconry. During the hunting seasons, men ride deep into the mountains, each owner with a bird strapped to a leather-gauntleted arm. When the hunter sees prey or suspects its presence, he unhoods the bird and sets it free. Soaring upward, it pounces on the game, and then is recaptured. In the Tekes, hunting with falcons and eagles is a traditional sport.* There are gay hawking days when the men go off on horseback, the hooded birds fettered to the hunter's leather-protected arm. When the quarry is seen or suspected of being in the vicinity, the bird is unhooded and released; it soars up and pounces on the prey, to be recaptured again with the prize. In addi tion to the small game and illik hunted with eagles, there are ibex, ovis poli, bears, snow leopards, wolves, and foxes. A NOMAD WOMAN'S WORK IS NEVER DONE The scene around the yurts in the en campment was typically nomadic: the men were sprawled on the grass, conversing; the women were toiling at household duties. In nomadic life the woman does almost * See "Falconry, the Sport of Kings," by Louis Agassiz Fuertes, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, December, 1920, and "Eagles, Hawks, and Vul tures," 28 illustrations in color from paintings by Maj. Allan Brooks, July, 1933. all the hard work. She must keep the fire and prepare the food, except for feasts, when the men cook the meat in special def erence and honor to their guests. She weaves carpets and ribbons, winds ropes and yarns, milks, and tends the flocks, children, and household. It is the woman who catches, saddles, and bridles the horse, and brings it to her liege lord, holding the stirrup while he mounts; and on his return she must be waiting to catch the bridle rein when he dismounts. In moving, the woman again bears the brunt of the labor; it is she who must pitch and strike the yurts, pack the goods on the oxen, and drive them to the next camping ground. The males live a life of ease, lying about smoking or listening to one of their number plucking at a two-stringed lute. Every now and then they rouse themselves to call for some more tobacco, shout some directions to their women, or organize a horse race.