In academic work, findings from the field must usually be taken on trust — if a writer makes a claim, we must simply take their word for it. This project explores a new kind of research transparency, where claims can be directly documented. Every interview and recording, thirteen hours in all so far, have been uploaded as streaming mp3s. Anything in English has been transcribed, and we hope Kazakh and Kyrgyz speakers can help with further transcription by commenting on SoundCloud.

Kyrgyz falconer Sary Satylganov on his 68-year hunting career

Recorded: October 21st, 2010

Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 21, 2010. Part 1 of 7. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. Only English is transcribed:

Kyrgyz

He said yes, he born here, grew up here, never moved to other places, so this place, part of Bokonbaeva is called Ak Sai.

Yeah, and what year was he born?

So just count, he’s 81.

Oh, 81.

So, he’s 19 years old, no not 19, but 29.

Kyrgyz

Yeah.

Kyrgyz

He said that since he was a child, he started also hunt with a gun.

With a gun too?

So he’s a universal hunter.

Yeah. Was his father a hunter, how did he learn how to hunt with birds?

Kyrgyz

Because of his father. His father was also a munushkor, and a hunter. And his father teach, taught him all that skills.

And was his father’s father, you know like, how long has the tradition been in his family?

Kyrgyz

So he said yes, from the beginning, all his fathers and ancestors was hunters. Eagle hunters.

And his sons too?

Kyrgyz

Yes, they do.

Kyrgyz

So it’s his grandchildren.

Oh.

Kyrgyz

He says he’s also teaching his grandchildren…

Kyrgyz

He says also one his grandchild, Shamil, he is study at the high school at the seventh grade, he’s also learning hunting.

Did he have any brothers that also learned hunting from his father?

Kyrgyz

So he said that there was three boys and one girl in his family, and he and his little brother they learned it but the elder brother he didn’t learn it because of that he was study other education and he never did that, so his little brother is in the age of 75 and he live and he know. So he knows it.

Can he tell me about growing up, what it was like when he first learned to hunt. So I mean, I think if he was born in 1929 or 30, that must have been, he must have lived during World War II, and he said he learned when he was 13, and it was that time, so maybe he can tell me what it was like during that time.

Kyrgyz

He said in the time of the war he was 10, 11, 12 years old and he started learning it because of his father.

Um.

Maybe you would give some specific questions.

Well I like if its open-ended than hopefully he will talk more, but I guess he is shy. So what was hunting like during this time of the Soviet Union, were there many hunters and what did the Soviet government think about it?

Kyrgyz

He said in that time and now it was everything, everybody was free in their hunting, and they didn’t opposite them in their activity and now its still that way, keeps in that way.

Yeah cause, tell him that because in some books, in the West, they write that hunting was banned and the Soviet government thought it was a sport for elite people, for rich people, for the bis, so he said they banned it, but I always thought this couldn’t be, because if they banned it, than it couldn’t survive to the current day.

Kyrgyz

No, it’s a false. He said at that moment there was no banning for hunting, and most of the hunters of that time were old men as he now because the younger generation and the other people used to go work to the farms and the fields, cause it’s a kolkhoz, sovkhoz. But the old man, most of them were free of doing that.

Sary-Ata on catching and identifying a good hunting bird

Recorded: October 21st, 2010

Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 21, 2010. Part 2 of 7. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. Only English is transcribed:

Kyrgyz

So he said that he catch him in the nine days ago, yeah.

Kyrgyz

He’s learning him.

Kyrgyz

He said he gonna take him to the festival, that’s why he’s teaching him, the kite.

Kyrgyz [itelgi, chuylu, kush]

So it’s also kite, but it’s him, but this is a she, a female kite. It’s a male kite.

This is a female?

This is a female kite. He said also he has one falcon, and they’re going to take all three of them.

How or where did he catch the bird?

Kyrgyz

He said it’s really easy to catch him, catch them, because they’re taking one bird.

So what is that?

So that’s a stick, you have to have four sticks, you will put it to the ground, and then you will, with the rope tie that bird…

Kyrgyz

And then they use a net, and putting in that stick, to that stick, the top of the stick, and the inside of the net they’re putting that bird…

What kind of bird?

Just a bird, what they can eat. Later I will look to the vocabulary. So when he’s flying, he can’t see the net, he just see the bird.

Yeah, so this bird just wants to eat the other bird?

Yeah, the small one. Not predator bird. When he’s going down and trying to get that bird, he just catches it in the net and they just take him. He said me tomorrow you can see that trap, it’s here, and you can take the picture of that.

Yeah I’d like to see that. Does he think it’s a good bird?

What do you mean a good bird?

I mean, like, will it be a good hunter.

Kyrgyz

He said yes, he believe that to be a really good hunter.

So when he looks at this bird, what does he look for to know if its a good hunter. Like, are there some physical characteristics?

Kyrgyz

Yes, there is some kind of physical characteristics.

Can you tell me about them?

To tell about a good bird. For example, he says that first, how is that, in the skin.

The feathers?

Yeah, the feathers. He said first the feathers.

Kyrgyz

He says you see that white one and the black, good kites will have the white. If it’s not good hunter, it won’t have the white lines in the wings and in the backside.

Kyrgyz

He says also it’s calling “rings” in his, hows it calling, his foot, the foot of the

These? On his feet? Talons

In the talons, if its a good bird for hunting, it will have three rings on his talons.

Did he say something about the beak too?

Kyrgyz

There are three rings, but the bad kites will have only this kind of…you see there are no rings. Also about the, here, he says…he said do you see here that it’s more blue, after the nose? If it’s not a good kite, it will be more yellow, but as its a good kite, here after its nose its coming more blue, and then only yellow.

So, when he caught this bird, did he say, oh I want this bird, or was it just the first bird that flew by?

Kyrgyz

He said, so, of course when it’s in the sky you can’t define is it good one or bad one, and he said so he was lucky that his first bird who got into the net in the trap was the male kite was also was good and also was first one and the female kite was also first one. But he said that it sometimes will be that first will come the not good kind.

And then they will let it go?

He said they will not let them go, because he will also be a good hunter but you have to also learn and teach him. Maybe it will take more time.

Sary-Ata on how to catch a falcon from a tree in the dark of night

Recorded: October 21st, 2010

Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 21, 2010. Part 3 of 7. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. Only English is transcribed:

For this kind of bird, do they ever catch it, like, another way? Do they ever catch it from the nest?

Kyrgyz

He says, yes there are different ways to catch it, as you told they also catch it from they nest, but also there other way, when in the night the bird is flying in the sky and everything is dark and there’s no light, he can’t fly and he’s seeking for a light place where he can see where to land, and they take the light and with the light they are giving kind of signals that there is light and they see it near the tree, and they do the light, and they landing near the tree and people catch it.

How do they catch it from the tree?

Kyrgyz

He says so, they, when the kite is landing for a tree, and you’re just, so it’s not even in the night, it’s in the daylight, and they’re landing to the, so when the sun is going and it’s coming a little bit dark, they landing to the place, and you waiting for the landing, and when thhey will land to the tree you will not go and catch him but go and see where is the location of that tree, and later when it will be more dark, then in the night you will catch him because he can not fly away. In the night, for the darkness. And about the falcons he says actually they do not land to the trees but only to the rocks. You can catch them only in the rocks. So also before to catch it you have to see where is that location of the rock where they landed and in the dark you will go and catch him. And he said for two days some of the birds not eating, like they are protesting and they want to be free so they will not eat anything for two days but after they will eat, start eat.

And when they catch it this way, to they throw a net on it, or just grab it?

Kyrgyz

Just grab it.

Kyrgyz

He says the only thing you have to do that…

Kyrgyz

He, they have one tool, it’s called kultak, but I don’t know what is that exactly, why they use it, and he’s gonna bring it and show us. Because they using it…

Kyrgyz

So when they catching it they use kultak, and also you have to grab two his foots because if you will not do that he can fight or just fly away, so that’s why you need to grab the foot.

Kyrgyz

You see how it works? It’s just squeezing, yeah?

Kyrgyz

The longest kultak would be five meters. So then with the five meters kultak you’re just putting it on his head and when they fly away you’re squeezing it.

Kyrgyz

And when you got him in your kultak you just pull him down to the ground and grab his foots, this is how it works.

And how does it work when you catch it from the nest? Where do they find the nest, and how do they go to the nest?

Kyrgyz

So he said it’s also easy, so first they’re just watching around with the binocular, so they will see that the flying birds, and then when there would be a period when they have to born new generation, new birds, then they born that in the trees, and you have to take the meat.

Wait what do they do in the trees?

They…

Oh they have their nests in the trees.

The females of the birds they born birds not in the box, but in the trees, he says. So that’s why when she will born it, then you just can, as you know where it was flying, you will go to that place and watch around and listen to the sounds of the little birds, also when you, you can use the meat, for example when they mother she is seeking for the bird’s food, you will take the spoiled meat that smells really bad, because she can smell it, and when she will take it and fly back to the nest, you will follow her, by the binocular or if you run fast, and you will find where the nest is. He said also some birds born regularly for three birds, but some for four, or some for two.

Four like me.

Yeah.

And what month of the year is this? That they usually give birth.

Sary-Ata on falcon behavior and scaring off eagles

Recorded: October 21st, 2010

Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 21, 2010. Part 4 of 7. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. Only English is transcribed:

March, April

Kyrgyz

He said so they give the birth in the March and April, but in the September they will teach them and get them to fly, but also about the food he said that they will seek for the food and will give them both of them, and female and male is hunting for food and will give to children both of them, so they equal responsibility in the family, and he said that female and male will stick together for whole life. And also important thing is when they are giving the food, if the little birds will eat it all, it’s okay, but if not eat them all then after when it’s getting spoiled, they will not eat because they are choosing the fresh one and not fresh one, and flies and bees are coming to eat that spoiled meat, and also they will then spoil that place, you know what I mean, it will get all the worms and the bees and the flies, that’s why they’re taking that spoiled meat from the nest and throw it not to spoil the nest. And also the important thing he says that this bird when they changing they feathers, they not doing it in the area of the nest, they go to the other place far away from the nest and cleaning, changing, throwing their old feathers. So it’s a really smart birds.

And he’s caught eagles too, yeah?

Eagles, no, he didn’t talk about eagles, just about falcons.

Can you ask him if he’s caught eagles and if they’re different to catch?

He said it’s difficult to catch the berkut because actually he said they don’t catch them, they are strong. The only you can do is watch about the neset and about ,watch the female berkut, because she’s always secure her nest when she give the birth and that’s why, she’s also, her nest will be on the rocks, you have to use that special gun, taking off the female berkut for a while, taking off,

To scare her?

Not to scare her, but that she will sleep for a while, yeah?

Oh, like something that they shoot her with this…

Drugs?

Drugs? Really?

Drugs…

I think I understand, it’s called a tranquilizer.

Kyrgyz

He said actually its not get to sleep, just to scare, because when the man going down to the nest to take the berkut, the little bird, child, then of course he will not do it alone because the other man or other people will hold the rope and to take care of that man who is going down to the nest because the mother of the little eagles will secure and attack that people who are on the top of the rocks and to be insecure and to defend themselves they’re just shooting and to make the voice of the gun, shoots, and it will scare to make her fly away for a while.

That’s interesting because I read that before they had guns, when they would lower the person down to the rocks, to the nest, in order to protect this person, they would take some wood…or like, you know in a ger, I mean in a yurt, there’s this kind of wall, the wall of a yurt is like that, okay you know what I’m saying, so they would take this and use as a shield so that the eagle couldn’t hurt them. Tell him I read that.

Sary-Ata on how to climb cliffs to snatch eagles

Recorded: October 21st, 2010

Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 21, 2010. Part 5 of 7. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. Only English is transcribed:

Kyrgyz

It’s also true. The main thing is to scare the bird. To defend yourself.

But this is something that people don’t do anymore because they have guns?

Kyrgyz

Yes.

Kyrgyz

Because they shoot with the, how’s it calling, that, so you can hurt anyone to whom you shoot, a bullet, it’s not armed bullet, it’s a blank, just sound. They use just the blank bullets just to scare it but not to hurt the animal, the bird.

Kyrgyz

He says that when that man is going down from the nest, he has a long stick, because when he will go down and in the process, in the moment he is catching the, grabbing the little eagle he will protect it and also he will not turn around because there might be wind or rainy or the people who is holding the rope, if they will move, so he will not turn around, because the stick will be stand near his belt and will control his position. And also he says about the, what was the name, the place where the nest was located. On the cliff, but inside the cliff. Like the cave. The birds create their nest and that rocks and its inside of the cave, when its even rainy the rain never goes inside the cave, and so that’s why, the man he will have his bag, and puts the bird to the bag and can go up.

So they just tie the rope around his stomach?

Yeah.

Kyrgyz

So its go down on your hands, the rope, and also between your foot. So your hands will be free, and also tied your belt, and then after that its long stick, and so, because its important to not spin around, and also that your hands will be free. And when you are going down you are holding the rope and slowly going.

I think it’s really interesting because it seems like it would be so dangerous to go down, like, this steep cliff, and maybe sometimes somebody might get hurt.

Kyrgyz

So he says actually it’s really dangerous, it’s really high rocks and most of the people when they see from the top of the rock the down, they say no I will not go, so he used to go most of the time, most of the time he was that volunteer, he was always going down to the rocks where the nest, and he said the person who is going down should be not big person, not heavy, he should be small and light, and also its important that, and the only dangerous thing is that at the top the people that hold that rope, they should be slowly let him down because the rope can slip and also, also stay but locate under, not under but on the rocks, so, if you do it fast the rocks can cut the rope. And also he says it’s important also that there would be another person who is watching who can see not only, who can see a person, a man who is going down, and a man who stands, and he will kind of give the commands, to hold it, or slowly go down, or he’s in the place, so he will shout and give the commands. So he said that also when he’s got to the nest, the people who stands at the top of the rocks, they giving the other rope, and when you’re taking the bird to the pack, you’re tying that bag with the bird to the other rope, because its danger if you take with you, it can hurt you, and then you will go slowly climb up, because its not dangerous and its not difficult as the rope holds you, just the thing you need is to help them with your foots, to climb up, and sometimes to stop and you stay on your foots to breathe, not to breathe but to have a rest, and then you go up.

It sounds sort of fun. If they plan to do that this spring, I would like to be here so that I can see it.

Kyrgyz

Yes, he told, he told me…

Kyrgyz

So he said that, of course he can show it, and if you would like to see for example the eagle, berkut, or falcon, and actually they give a birth earlier than the other birds, they give a birth in January, not January in February…

What kind of bird is that?

Berkut and falcon.

Give birth in January?

Yeah.

And which birds give birth, he said April and June

March…

March and April

It was kite. In the spring. But berkut and falcon give birth in February, in the cold time, and that’s why he said it’s the most strange and powerful and best hunters. They also as early they give the birth as so early they also teach them how to fly in August. So yes, you can come and see that and take to the camera and take shoots, and you can do that with Almaz too, and he has a movie about that too that you can see.

Sary-Ata on the legend of Abayilda and his loyal eagle

Recorded: October 21st, 2010

Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 21, 2010. Part 6 of 7. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. Only English is transcribed:

[Question about conservation?]

Kyrgyz

So what is the reason that I told him?

I thought maybe he would be interested in this, and that , I was just wondering if he has ever spoken with biologists about this kind of thing, and if he thinks its a good idea. And that maybe we can make that happen, I don’t know.

Kyrgyz

He said he belivees that there’s no problem with the quantity of the eagles, of the berkuts, because as he knows in the area, Issyk Kul lake area, there are enough berkuts, many berkuts, and he said that berkuts is never sick with some kinds of diseases. The only thing when they die is that when they feeding and going back to their nests and sitting on their rocks in their cave, when they’re full of their food in they stomach, and if its cold and windy the only problem is that the food in their stomach is gets cold, and they can’t afford it, to make the food for energy and for blood, as we do, and at that moment they could die. That they couldn’t produce…the food in their stomach.

Well I mean, because what I was interested in, is that, like, in America there are all these biologists who always, who, they count the birds, so you know they capture birds and they put tags on their legs, you know, and in this way because they like to have an exact number so that way they know how many birds there are and whether the population is healthy, so, I mean, they don’t have to do that here, but at least if biologists knew what he knows, that there are a lot of eagles, and that they are healthy, that they could know that they don’t have to worry, and that, you know.

Kyrgyz
He said actually it’s impossible to count the berkuts because the place location of they living and hunting it depends on the animals in the area, to that animals that they hunt, so if there will be the hot year and less animals, they just move, they can move to China or to Kazakhstan to other oblasts of Kyrgyzstan. And actually it’s impossible and It’s stupid thing to count the eagles, he said. For example, he said here it will be really hot or sunny they can move to another place, because Kyrgyzstan is a big country, and the other side of the mountains is China, and they can easily move to that area. So yeah, he don’t…he doesn’t admit this kind of idea. But as he believe that birds is release more, he believes that they never will, their counting will never go down.

How about the animals that they catch, we call it the prey, what does he know about the prey population here? Are there a lot of foxes and rabbits? In some years are there not many animals and maybe this is a bad thing? So what does he know about the prey population?

Kyrgyz

So he said that, logically you can think about it, and explain it. You can also explain by the weather, for example one year there was snowy, eighty centimeters of snow, and of course at that moment all the rabbits, all birds that hunting for, hunting the eagles, died, and he said of course at that time all the birds left the area. But after a couple years they get more that animals and the eagles return to this area. So it depends on the prey. But the prey quantity depends on the weather, on the winter.

Because I read that, let’s say a hunter during hunting season catches many foxes, and he knows many hunters that catch many foxes, and they notice that there are not many foxes left, they will so okay, we must stop catching foxes, so that…

Kyrgyz

He has a question. As you’ve been in different places, and talked to many eagle hunters, his question is, do you know for how many years live berkut? So that hunters, what they told you?

Well that’s interesting, because I read that eagles, that berkuts live to be 30 or 35, but that hunters never keep them, never have birds this old, because owning them for maybe ten year they let them go or the birds will die maybe, but that’s something that was never clear to me.

Kyrgyz

So he says, he told me about one history, that there was one eagle hunter, Abayilda, in Tong village, and it was before when the people used to live in the yurtas with their stuff and was moving from one place to other place. And so he had, from the first days of the bird he had it for forty years, that eagle, and then he wanted him to give a birth, so that’s why when they were moving their tribe to the other place, so he killed the one horse’s child for him, so he can feed, and he left that eagle there, but he put it on his foot one ring from gold or might be from silver, and he put there his name, Abayilda, his name was Abayilda, and then after when he left that eagle there, and the other eagle hunter catch him and saw that ring and the name of the eagle hunter, and as that eagle hunter was famous, that man knew him, but he also was after, when he catch it he was hunting with that eagle for thirty years. And he says that the thing is that bird is lives for a long time, and also the reason is that no other animal hunts for eagle, and there’s no bigger or powerful bird than the eagle, who can kill the eagle.

But I think maybe most hunter don’t keep their birds for this long, for thirty years, it seems like maybe most hunters keep it for a short time and then they let it go, is this true?

Kyrgyz

No, it’s not true he says.

Kyrgyz

He said that in the, there is a difference between the wild eagle and the eagle of the hunter, because the wild eagle eats every day fresh meat, and whenever he wants wherever he wants, and he move, as he is free in his life and his move, he flies where ever he wants to fly and he flies to the good places, but the eagle of the hunter he can’t eat fresh meat every day, for example he eat the old meat and not fresh every day and he can’t fly wherever he want whenever he want, like he is in a cage, like in a prison, so that’s why the wild eagle they live longer he says, also, for example, he explained, and I asked about your question, so how long do usually eagle hunters hold their eagles. He told me that usually more than ten years, for example he gave the example of one of his one relative, that he catch a eagle not from the first days or first weeks but he got the big bird an older eagle and he hold him for twenty years, more than twenty years.

And they never release it, they always keep the bird until it dies?

Kyrgyz

He says no actually they let them go after not too, not when they will die but after they will finish to hunt with that eagle, of course they respect their bird and also they want to thankful them, and that’s why before to set them free, they give them a lot of meat and make them more bigger and healthy and fat and then free them, set them free.

Sary-Ata on bird funerals

Recorded: October 21st, 2010

Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 21, 2010. Part 7 of 7. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. Only English is transcribed:

But does it ever happen that their bird will die? And if this happens, what will they do?

Kyrgyz

He said that yes, it could be, it might be happen that you bird will die, because of the meat, of the food that you are giving to them, because if you will give the salted meat, he will at the moment you give it he will die, they not eat salt, their organism is not adapted as our organism for different kind of meat, for old meat, and origin they eat the fresh meat, so if you give the old not fresh meat they first get sick and they will die, and you cannot give any medicines, because it’s not people, because before they not used to get injection, and so if you give injection they will die, but when it will die we, he said, we will take him and take him to the ground, yeah?

Bury it?

Bury it, and we will for the respect we will remember him and we will think about good moments and like we are burying a person, a close person, you think a little bit and maybe somebody is crying, you will become upset that your bird dies. That’s it, he says.

What was the funny part that you were laughing about? You were laughing?

About that, they don’t go to the doctors, because there are no doctors.

There are no bird doctors.

And they don’t never get injection like we do.

Note-to-self about a conversation with Salburun Federation leader Almaz Akunov

Recorded: October 22nd, 2010

Note-to-self, recorded while walking from Ak Sai Sovkhoz to Lake Issyk Kul on October 22, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov discuss the names of Sary Satylganov’s family and recount a previous conversation with Almaz Akunov. Transcript:

Okay I need to remember their names. There’s Rustam, Kelechek, and Meirim. Do these names mean anything in Kyrgyz?

Yes, Rustam it’s not Kyrgyz, but Kelecheck means future, and Meirim it’s kind of a mother’s love. Because not in Kyrgyzstan but also in every country, every nations mother do love their children and that special love for their children it’s calling meirimdu, meirimdulik, merim, so her name is Meirim.

What a nice name.

Like Dengyz. Meirim.

Dengyz. You could call me Dengyz. Hey so since on the car ride over here we were talking with Almaz for a long time, but I wasn’t recording it or writing anything down, let’s try to remember what he was talking about so we don’t forget. He was talking about how he wants to make hunting into a sport, so that the public can enjoy it and learn about it. How this was his idea.

So they main purpose of, to switch it from that traditional hunting and all that stuff is for the sport of activity, sport is that he’s thinking about the development of the hunt, traditional hunting, ways of Kyrgyz people.

And he, his this federation, the Salburun federation, he talked about as, organizes like national sports, so it included hunting with birds, with dogs, with taigans, horse games, and archery. And he said a little bit about archery, he said that he has developed industrial-level equipment, he said it’s better than some equipment.

And they has a kind of little factory where Almaz is producing archers.

Oh, it’s called bows.

Bows. And he mentioned that the quality of the bows is much better than the bows that’s coming from the United States, Hungary, and Turkey.

I told him for me that’s really neat, because in Mongolia archery is really popular and it’s an interesting sport, but here would you agree its not as popular?

Yes, I am, because as you know the political situation in Kyrgyzstan don’t let people to think and learn about the traditions of Kyrgyz people and rest of the people except hunters they’re thinking and living by the policy of Kyrgyzstan and yes, I was yesterday explaining him that people now don’t think about even their traditions. The main goal that Almaz and his federation is pushing now is that they’re want to find the sponsors who will give the funds for their federation and the development of the funding.

And he said that Almaz is the vice-president of the federation, but the president is some businessman who isn’t a hunter but is just interested in supporting it. Did he say anything else about this man?

He said before that man who was now the president of the federation, there was also one businessman but he didn’t sponsor the federation and its activities, that’s why they had to change the president

Okay that was the old president

And now they have for one year new president of the federation and Almaz is the vice president.

He also explained a lot about the word salburun, what did he say about that?

So the word salburun it’s a Kyrgyz word that means, that means the group hunting complex, of the tribe or for several hunters.

He said complex, what does that mean, it’s like a system?

Yeah it’s a system.

Note-to-self about falconer Rustam Satylganov’s description of hunting birds

Recorded: October 22nd, 2010


Note-to-self made after conversation with Rustam Satylganov in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 22, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov speaking.

So they told me that there is different kinds of falcons, you know, and the one also it’s not actually a falcon but they call them, call it shaheen, it’s smaller than the falcon. And also they know that here they also has for falcon that is white color, and they said also that in the night they’re helpless because they can’t see anything, the falcon and the hawks and the kind of the, that see good in the night, owl, that’s right, the owl can win them and eat them in the night but in the daylight they can easily eat the owl. Can win the owl.

So what are the white birds called?

White one is the falcon, but the other one is the shaheen.

So they don’t have shaheen?

No.

Shaheen, how is the shaheen different?

Shaheen is different than the falcon. But the shaheen’s wing is bigger than the falcon’s wing.

Recording during a field outing to check raptor traps with Rustam Satylganov

Recorded: October 22nd, 2010

Recording made during field outing to check raptor traps with Rustam Satylganov in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 22, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. Transcription of English only:

This is what I saw from over there before. Can you ask him what he’s looking for through the…?

Kyrgyz

He’s looking for is there any bird in the trap.

Kyrgyz

There are not two but more there.

The nests?

The trap…[distortion]…Eat it but it flew away.

Supposed to catch the bird if it can just fly away?

So he see the bird and just flying straight and then he just get into the net and he can’t fly away.

Does this kind of trap have a name?

It’s just a net.

Net is tor right?

Or setka in Russian. Inside of that river there is no river there, there are two traps. Here one, there one, and there one. And under that hills there are also traps.

Kyrgyz

He wants to show us a trap where it has a bird for falcon.

Rustam Satylganov on a BBC falcon experiment he saw

Recorded: October 22nd, 2010

Recording made during field outing to check raptor traps in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 22, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. Transcription of English only:

Falcons are really fast, they eat more meat than berkuts.

Kyrgyz

So they eat less meat than berkut and other raptors, the falcon, and they fly faster, and he was watching the one, from the BBC channel the movie about the falcons, and there one hunter and scientists wanted to check its speed, and he fly to the airplane flies and then he take his falcon and take to his other hands the meat that was tied by rope to the missile, and he…dropped the meat down and…check the speed and then he, when he check the speed of the meat that was going down it was 390 kilometers per hour, and the falcon was also flying over the meat, and he got it and that man is also flying down and he proved that the falcon is the fastest raptors bird in the earth.

Rustam Satylganov on how to catch pigeons

Recorded: October 22nd, 2010

Recording made during field outing to check raptor traps with Rustam Satylganov in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 22, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. Transcription of English only:

How do they catch the pigeons?

He said that they catch them in the Bokonbaevo village, in the roof of the houses, side of the roof, they’re catching them.

With a net, with one of the things we saw last night?

Kyrgyz

So they do it in the night, just with the light, in the night when they can’t see anything and they can’t fly away. They just looking by the light, switching on switching off, just grab.

Kyrgyz

He said sometimes the raptors not got into the trap, into the net and they just take the pigeon eat them, sometimes it can be that into the net will get berkut. You can see the net also there, on that hill.

Do you see it Abay?

This hill. I can’t see it because of bad vision.

On the top of the ridge?

Kyrgyz

I ask him what if now we can see that there’s no raptor in the net, I was telling that and I asked what if after this time when he just checking the traps that there’s no raptor in it, I said what he will do then, he told me now is the moment when the raptor is go to hunt for food, it’s the best time to check, is this moment for the raptors, and in the morning at ten or eleven o’clock to check the nets, but sometimes it could be that when it’s really cold, the pigeon could die.

Yeah. So how often does he check these?

Two times a day.

Two times a day, and every day?

Kyrgyz

He said also it’s important to give a food, a (wheat) and a water one time per two days because he can die. And he will die, they will not do that.

Note-to-self about raptorless nets

Recorded: October 22nd, 2010

Note-to-self made during field outing to check raptor traps in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 22, 2010:

We checked the nets and there are no raptors in the nets, so we will come tomorrow morning to check it again. There are two nets with two pigeons, hope we will find something tomorrow morning. Over and out.

Fact-check about flight of Kyrgyz itelgi

Recorded: October 22nd, 2010

Fact-check with interpreter Abay Aitikulov during field outing to check raptor traps in Ak Sai Sovkhkoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 22, 2010:

So there were those two birds, two falcons…Itelgi? Yeah and they were playing.

They were playing while they were going back to the mountains.

Flying back to the mountains, so their nests are in the mountains…

Nests in the white mountains.

He said they would be there in five minutes.

They are really fast than berkuts. Told us when they flying they can fly up to 300 kilometers per hours, like a plane, airplane.

Rustam Satylganov on raptor feeding and body heat

Recorded: October 22nd, 2010

Fact-check with interpreter Abay Aitikulov during field outing to check raptor traps in Ak Sai Sovkhkoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 22, 2010:

Heated their body with food.

Yeah, because when you are eating something its giving fresh blood and the blood is going heating your body, and now he told me also that after they heated their blood, the fresh food, they will go back.

So they were playing because they had already caught food, he said.

Discussing family history, falconer Sary Satylganov claims to have a dragon egg

Recorded: October 22nd, 2010

Recording of conversation during dinner at the home of Sary Satylganov in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 22, 2010. Conversation regards Sary-ata’s grandfather, who travelled with Przhevalsky and brought a talisman (thought to be a dragons’ egg) back from China. Transcription of English only:

Kyrgyz

That that family is actually they relatives, and before it was using as a kind of talisman to protect from bad spirits and from satan, so when the woman was pregnant and they were starting to give a birth to their child, they were using it to protect her and she could easily give a birth, but later the one from their other relatives she wants to use it, she was need it, she asked, and they gave it to her. But a couple years she died, and her children now keep it. A couple years ago they met them, and they told they would give it back but they’re still waiting.

Kyrgyz

It’s in a size with the chicken’s egg.

Kyrgyz

So they’re talking about the dragon, in Kyrgyz would be aitzadar, in Russian drakon, and they are telling that he was really huge dragon and he could eat the one deer, and when they shoot down him and they started to cut him for parts they found his stomach one deer with a baby that was pregnant and it had a baby, the deer.

That’s interesting, you don’t have to translate this but…

Will you have tea?

No thanks, it’s my fifth cup, so….I don’t think there’s such a thing as dragons, do you? What do you think it could be?

I don’t know because I don’t know the animals in the Gobi, in the China desert, what kind of animals there are.

It must be some kind of large reptile.

Might be.

Sary-Ata on the wisest eagle hunters of South Issyk Kul

Recorded: October 22nd, 2010

Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 22, 2010. Part 1 of 6. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. Only English is transcribed:

So let’s see. We may not ask all these in order, because some are more important than others. Let’s see. How many hunters do you think there are in Kyrgyzstan?

Kyrgyz

So he said that in Soviet times there was fifteen eagle hunters, but now there are less experienced than professional eagle hunters, but he says that now it’s more students, more hsi students whom he’s teaching, who’s learning from him about the eagle hunting, so he said I was learning from that people at the Soviet time to hunt, so they gave me the education, and now he’s giving the education to the young generation and it’s coming more and more eagle hunters now.

Kyrgyz

He said so there from the Ak-sai village and Tort Kul was eagle hunters whose name was Mukash, Toktogul, Sydyk [Sydykbek Sabaev - Simakov], and Bashvik, so they was very experienced and professional eagle hunters at that moment.

So they were like the masters?

Yeah.

Kyrgyz-language segment of interview with Sary-Ata

Recorded: October 22nd, 2010

Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 22, 2010. Part 2 of 6. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. This segment is Kyrgyz-only.

Sary-Ata on famous Kyrgyz falconers

Recorded: October 22nd, 2010

Part 3 of 6 in an interview with falconer Sary Satylganov in his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan, on October 22, 2010. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. Only English in transcribed:

Kyrgyz

So what is the next question?

What were you guys just talking about?

He was talking about the eagle hunter Abaiyilda, and I can’t tell you all the history…

Yeah don’t tell me everything, just…

…All the history, because he was telling the history yesterday.

Is that the one that had the hunter for forty years?

Yeah, who kept his eagle, berkut for forty years and set it free. So, maybe later I will tell you the history. Let’s go to the other question.

Well there was another question I had that was maybe related to that, which was, are there stories, like very old stories about eagle hunters, and can he tell us any of these legends?

Kyrgyz

So he is answering about the Abayilda, that he was really experienced and best eagle hunter for the history of eagle hunters that he knows.

Sorry, did he tell you when he lived?

No he didn’t.

Maybe can you ask him?

What is your next question?

Mmhmm. What kind of things are you writing down? What he’s saying, because you know we can listen to it later and transcribe it, that way it’ll go faster.

Kyrgyz

Next question?

So he was just telling you about Abay, the famous hunter?

Not Abay, Abayilda.

Oh I thought it was Abay. So I read in one book about Kyrgyzstan, they told a story about this legendary man and hunter, and it was written his name was Moit-Ake. do you think maybe you can ask him if he knows this name?

Kyrgyz

He’s asking you, what do you know about Moit-Ake?

I don’t know the exact details, I just remember that he was a man and legend who was famous for being a very good hunter, and that many hunters consider him a hero because he is someone to aspire to because he was the best hunter.

Kyrgyz

So next question?

Did he know anything about that?

Kyrgyz

So he just told you a story about…

Yeah.

Kyrgyz

Sary-Ata on protecting traditional knowledge about bürküts

Recorded: October 22nd, 2010


Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 22, 2010. Part 4 of 6. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. Only English is transcribed:

So could he name every kind of raptor that he knows in Kyrgyzstan, and be specific about, not just saying kush, but ask him to be as specific as he can?

Kyrgyz

He’s, as I asked the first question, not the first but the last question about the types and categories of the raptors, he told me that he will not tell all of them for us because there was one accident where one person from local area came to him and asked the same question for him, and he told him about all the categories of the raptors that he knows to him, and then he publicated on the newspaper and he had a program on the TV and on the radio, broadcasting, his name was Kasymbek, and he didn’t notice that the material he got from Sary and didn’t say anything about the Sary and he’s now kind of angry that these kinds of people are coming and want him to help them but then they do not notice or tell to the people when they talking, giving they imagination, not say his name, that the resource he get from them, and it makes him angry, and he told me about the French lady that came, nut they was doing they Phd study, when she did it in France when she give her Phd work she he said she didn’t notice and write down his names and take his picture so she dealed with him as a person should deal as he was helping to them, right, and she was also giving after she graduated her Phd and admit her work, research she come here and give them gifts and were thankful for them for his children for his grandchildren and everything, he brang for gifts, and so he told me if you gonna on your research on your book put the right information, the truth that you got that information from him, and put his name, then he will give, he will answer fully to your questions, because first he said me when I asked about the berkuts how many types and categories of the berkuts, because in Talas when we asked they said twelve, but he told me that it is twenty as I was trying to tell him that you will do that and you will take the responsibility that you will put his name to your works everywhere where you will talk to people, you will say and you will tell that people that it’s all, most of the information that you got from the Bokonbaeva its from the Sary. He told me that actually it’s forty types of berkuts in Kyrgyzstan.

Well you can tell him that it’s part of my profession…

He wants academic honesty.

Something I learned in school to be a good anthropologist is that I always must cite where I get my information. So if you’re writing a serious book, you can’t just say something, you always must say where it comes from. So because I’m an honest and good researcher, he can trust me that where ever I write any information, I will always cite where that information came from. And as long as he gives me permission to, I will put his name and photo and anything he requests.

Discussion about properly citing and respecting Sary-Ata

Recorded: October 22nd, 2010


Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 22, 2010. Part 5 of 6. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. Only English is transcribed:

Kyrgyz

So he said that the important thing that he wants to tell you is he’s one of the professional eagle hunters here in Kyrgyzstan, and most of the eagle hunters is coming to consult with him because he knows a lot and you have to believe him that he’s also honestly with you and he’s giving the right and true information to you, and he’s not cheating and will never cheat and he also explaining that as most of the people coming and ask for consultation and to ask for the hunting and about the raptors, it proves that he knows a lot about them, and that’s why the people come to him. And so you have to understand that he will never say something wrong or lie. And there are no eagle hunters who will opposite to him or say that he is wrong because most of the professional eagle hunters to him and close area to Kyrgyzstan they know him, and if they will know that, if they know him they will not opposite him. As he wants to tell you.

You can tell him that I understand that he’s the authority in this matter, which is why I’m so glad that I am able to work with him, and that I trust everything he says, and because he will be our best resource, I will treat him with the respect he deserves, so if he ever needs anything from me, we will give it to him, you know. If I ever write the book, I will give him the book, if I ever take photographs, I will give him the photographs. I want to be able to show him that I care about about him and that we can work together like that.

Discussion with Sary-Ata on preserving his name

Recorded: October 22nd, 2010


Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 22, 2010. Part 6 of 6. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. Only English is transcribed:

Kyrgyz

He wants to say that for him it is important always to say the truth because it’s no matter from where the man or what is his nationality, he will always say the truth, because it’s important not to hide the information, not to save the information, because when he will die he doesn’t have for his publications or movie where he can put all that education and information, it’s important for him to share and to leave his education and knowledge. And that’s why he believe on your words, so you have to also understand him and just want to leave his education and also to put his name on the history of the eagle hunting, that his name will leave more than he.

Kyrgyz

So he wants to tell that as he is treating to you kindly and honestly and honorably, and he’s treating you as a guest and giving you food, giving you, sharing with you a house and place to sleep, so he’s want to treat you, treat us as best as he can do.

Kyrgyz

So I told him as he’s repeating again and again as he can’t say specifically what he wants, I told him if you gonna publicate a book or when you will share that material, of course you will have some profits from it and you will be the author and you will have the rights to the information of the book, and when the publication the centers or the companies that are working on the publications of the books, as you will be by the law the author of the books, he also want to have a kind of profit of it, as he is also co-author of that material as he is giving you the knowledge, he will also have something of it.

Sary-Ata on how a falcon eats a pigeon

Recorded: October 23rd, 2010


Part 1 of 3 of a conversation with falconer Sary Satylganov while feeding his goshawk at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 23, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. English transcript (Kyrgyz has been edited out):

So it’s not an itelgi, it’s a kush.

Kyrgyz

How do you call that, with the white head…

Bald, bald eagle.

Bald eagle. Blonde.

Bald means no hair.

Oh, bald eagle.

So is there more than one kind of kush, or more than one kind of itelgi?

Kyrgyz

So they says here only one type of hawk, but there are different types of falcons, and there’s not a big many differences between the falcon and the hawk, only difference is the color of the feather, some might be stripes, other things in the feathers there can help to define the raptor.

Kyrgyz

I asked that, so they know where to eat, the pigeon, they eat always the breast of the pigeon

It’s the best meat?

There’s more meat actually, as you know. And also ask, they always when they eating they just biting a small piece and then they just eating, but not chewing. I asked him so do you gonna give that one pigeon to three raptors for other hawk for other falcon, he said yes.

Kyrgyz

He said they hunt for the biggest prey that they hunt for is the rabbit, and the goose, and then the other small birds or animals they hunt for them too.

Discussion while feeding a male goshawk, or chüylü

Recorded: October 23rd, 2010

Part 2 of 3 of a conversation with falconer Sary Satylganov while feeding his goshawk at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 23, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. English transcript (Kyrgyz has been edited out):

Why does it make the sound?

Kyrgyz

He said so, so it’s a hawk, yeah? And it’s a male hawk, and he said that the female hawk would be more bigger and the male hawk actually it’s not calling them kush, they’re calling them chuylu and a female hawk would be kush. Why he go there because it’s too dark and he couldn’t see the meat and now he see that.

Sary-Ata on chewing off a pigeon’s head

Recorded: October 23rd, 2010

Part 3 of 3 of a conversation with falconer Sary Satylganov while feeding his goshawk at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 23, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. English transcript (Kyrgyz has been edited out):

Kyrgyz

He said that the hawk, when he starting to feed, first he kill the pigeon with his talons, and then he bites it with a beak, the hawk, but the falcons they kill the pigeon or the other animal with the beak and then eat.

Kyrgyz

He says the falcons beak is much stronger and harder than the beak of the hawk’s, and when they starting feed they just come with the beak cut over the pigeon’s head and then eat, but hawks can’t do that, they can’t cut over the head from the body, the pigeon’s head.

Kyrgyz

He said the falcon has good vision and he can see for a distance 24 kilometers.

Rustam Satylganov on modifying steel traps with sheep fur

Recorded: October 23rd, 2010


Recording made during field outing to check traps with falconer Rustam Satylganov in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 23, 2010.Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. Transcription of English only:

Invisible, because it’s similar flat with the ground, and when he’s coming from this way or this way he get into the trap.

So the trap is sort of invisible. And what do they put in the trap? Do they put anything into the trap?

No, nothing.

It’s just sort of hidden…Oh I see. And what is that piece of cloth?

Just to hide. This thing, this little thing just kind of for safety, yeah, it’s not working. It’s just small thing. This is how it works.

Kyrgyz

Actually so the idea, and this is from the factories, is producing this trap, but in the middle that thing that you can see is made by them, and some people do it also by themself.

The middle is that just sheep fur?

Yeah.

Cool.

Rustam Satylganov on the interpretation of fox prints

Recorded: October 23rd, 2010


Recording made during field outing to check traps with falconer Rustam Satylganov in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 23, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. Transcription of English only:

But his foot is small, just walking.

So when it’s a long print, it means that its foot is just dragging along. And can he tell when these tracks were made?

Kyrgyz

So it was tracks from the night, when they was still going in the snow and it was walking here.

He can tell because there is some fresh snow on top of the track?

Yeah.

Kyrgyz

The thing is that, he said that in the night he was just walking around of the net he was kind of afraid to come closer and to get the pigeon out from the net and that’s why he walking around here.

Note-to-self about training a goshawk with a floss-like lure

Recorded: October 23rd, 2010

Note-to-self made during field outing to check traps with falconer Rustam Satylganov in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 23, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen. Transcription:

Walking to see the other trap. He immediately noticed, Rustam immediately noticed rabbit tracks in the snow, and before we were feeding rabbit to I believe it was the kush, also a pheasant but it was interested. They were taking this sort of floss and tying that onto the leash to extend it. The bird went for the rabbit’s head slash neck and then Sary had I think it was the paw and it was like a good chunk of meat connected to the paw and that was it and he gave it to the little kid.

Note-to-self about fox tracks

Recorded: October 23rd, 2010

Recording made during field outing to check traps with falconer Rustam Satylganov in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 23, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. Transcription:

So Rustam saw some fresh fox tracks here in this river bed, he said that the fox must have been going through here this morning. We also saw some fox tracks up by the pigeon trap, and Abay, what were you saying about the snow and the fox, that it must have come before the snow? When we were up at the top by the pigeon trap, you said the fox must have come…

Before snows starts. And that pigeon he left it. And snow started. But we couldn’t this walking

Right, the tracks,

But we did see those tracks, so it must have been when he was leaving?

But we didn’t see the tracks near the trap, and that’s how we know he came before the snow

It means maybe, it means that he come in the night, and not in the morning, not in the daylight.

Discussion about the difficulty of reading tracks

Recorded: October 23rd, 2010


Recording made during field outing to check traps with falconer Rustam Satylganov in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 23, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. Transcription:

He was catch a rabbit, not rabbit but fox too, because then he will catch it he will take it to the festival, to Salburun, and as a gift, and as there will be many eagle hunters and for the events, for the contests, need fox and rabbits too. To compete, he will bring to Salburun to compete the eagle hunters and eagles. So he sorry, he’s upset that fox ran away.

Yeah it was very close.

He’s really smart, huh.

Yeah, to know all these kinds of things about the traps, I’d like to ask him more about that later maybe. Like, how you can tell how fresh it is, and how you can tell what kind of animal it is. I mean for some it’s obvious, right, with the rabbit the tracks along because they have long feet, and the foxes are sort of long too, right? But yeah. Have you ever learned anything like that?

I heard, but no. There’s a lot of movies, programs about hunters.

Because I’ve learned, when I was a kid I learned how to find these things, but because we don’t have snow we learned how to look for them in the dirt and the mud, and it’s not as easy.

Rustam Satylganov on his system of setting traps

Recorded: October 23rd, 2010


Recording made during field outing to check traps with falconer Rustam Satylganov in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 23, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. Transcription of English only:

Abay, how many traps are there in total?

There are about ten traps.

And when did they set the traps and how often do they move them?

Kyrgyz

So he said this traps was set fifteen, twenty days ago. And it’s usually they’re checking it regularly. When some prey got into the trap after that they know where the trap is, but they didn’t get into the trap they will know it and they will be afraid of it and that’s why most of the time when they see the trap it is work and there’s no prey, they will change the place.

Sary Satylganov’s son Bakyr on crafting leather hoods

Recorded: October 23rd, 2010


Conversation with falconer Sary Satylganov’s son, Bakyr, in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan on October 23, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. Transcription of English only:

Kyrgyz

He said that Rustam knows everything about the hunter, and he knows how to do the traps and do all the equpment, how to make it, so he’s a new, he’s a freshman.

Who is?

Shamil. And he starts.

How old is he?

Thirteen. He said if he will continue to learn he will be good hunter, but if he will be late when he will grow up he will not do that, he will forget.

Kyrgyz

He said that now he is in the age where he starts to learn and to, also his body, to train his body, his hand, because when you hold for thirty minutes, for example you or me, after thirty minutes our hand will just tired, and so Sary can hold it for two or three hours, because he is trained. Rustam made it.

In Kazakh we call it tomaga.

Tomogo. It’s from bular, you know bular? It’s from the skin of the animal, cow it might be.

It’s the same material that your shoes.

Leather?

Yeah leather.

And where do they get the material from?

From animal, I told you.

From their own animals?

Yeah, of course. They not buy it.

Kyrgyz

He said also to make this, the need to first know the size of the head and then they will do that.

Kyrgyz

This is falcon, typical falcon, ninety-five percent of the falcons are the typical falcons, but the others are ak shumkar

So those are rare?

Yeah. Ak shumkar is really white. Kara would be black. And kok, blue. Guyku it’s a bird.

Yeah, the yellow ash.

Sary-Ata evaluating golden eagles at the Salburun Hunting Festival

Recorded: October 23rd, 2010

Recording of falconer Sary Satylganov evaluating eagles at the Salburun Hunting Festival in Bokonbaevo, Kyrgyzstan on October 23, 2010. Recording is in Kyrgyz only.

Recording of post-festival feast

Recorded: October 23rd, 2010

Recording of falconer Sary Satylganov and other falconers during feast after a hunting festival in Bokonbaevo, Kyrgyzstan on October 23, 2010. In Kyrgyz only.

Recording of post-festival feast, part two

Recorded: October 23rd, 2010

Recording of falconer Sary Satylganov and other falconers during feast after a hunting festival in Bokonbaevo, Kyrgyzstan on October 23, 2010. Kyrgyz only.

Salburun Federation leader Almaz Akunov on codifying the rules of competitive falconry

Recorded: November 26th, 2010


Part 1 of 4 in an interview with Almaz Akunov, President of the Salburun Federation, in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan during the last week of November, 2010. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. English-only Transcription (Kyrgyz responses have been edited out):

Organization GEF that and so he’s saying until December until the new year, there’s a lot of work to do.

So he was talking about writing a book about Salburun, the pointing system, and then a different book? There’s another book about just Salburun? Or, will it be in Kyrgyz or Russian or English or…

So this book Salburun will be only in Kyrgyz language, He said I don’t have enough to publicate in other languages, enough funds, he said so this book Salburun will be about the providing and doing that contests, like he do, and about the rules and the contest, what kind of rules should be, would be appropriate for this kind of contest. He says its not would be a big book, and not a big book, but some kind of brochure. He said it’s possible to print it and publicate it in Russian and English too.

Almaz Akunov on working with the government of Kyrgyzstan

Recorded: November 26th, 2010


Part 2 of 4 in an interview with Almaz Akunov, President of the Salburun Federation, in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan during the last week of November, 2010. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. English-only Transcription (Kyrgyz responses have been edited out):

Maybe I’ll write a story about him, like an article, and then try to find some magazines in America who would be interested in it, like falconry or hunting magazines, because there’s not any information about hunting in Kyrgyzstan to be found in America so I think they’d be interested. So now I’m a published author, so maybe he’ll be interested in it. So what, so that event that happened this weekend that we missed, what was that?

So it was an event that they have regular, per each year, and he’s telling that the goal of this event was to define the best burkutchu, the best falconer, and the best dog breeder. The best people, the best ones, and also the best archery.

But just for this region? I mean like how was it different from the other festivals?

So they’re giving for the nomination, that he’s the best archery of the year, yeah or best falconer or best burkutchu of the year, dog breeder, best taigan of the year, so it’s a kind of last event for this year and now he’s telling me that by this event they close the hunting season, the event season of 2010, of this year. So the reason why they held that, this, hold that events in this time because after it will be really freezing cold and it’s important to hold it until the cold winter, and so they organize it in the November.

He says five years ago when he only just started these festivals, this contests, there were only five burkutchus in that, 2005, but now, nowadays there are more than 20, about 25 burkutchus who can participate in the contest, but there were some troubles with the people who couldn’t come and participate in the event, in the last event there were only 20 burkuts and 20 burkutchus.

So was that from all of Kyrgyzstan or just Issyk Kul?

He says that burkutchus only from Issyk Kul. There are some people who some people who brought Issyk Kul oblast who have the burkuts but its just as a hobby, they not as skillful or as professional, just have a burkut or raptor.

They don’t hunt.

Maybe they hunt, but he says it’s just like their hobby, hobbies, but not as activity as a hunter who’s hunting. He says now he can see the development has some progresses that the other places, for example in the Chui oblast and the Kemin, some people is calling to him and telling to him that they captured the burkut, it means that some people is starting to attract interest in it, even in Talas he says.

There are a lot of examples where peoples is calling him and telling that they captured a burkut, for example especially from Bishkek, and every time when he visit the Bishkek the people when he is visiting that people he see that most of the time it’s not burkut but the other birds, birds of prey that looks like burkut, but actually its not burkut and he’s telling at that moment that they have to set it free because its not burkut and he wants to tell that people is attracting and their interest every year is growing up and increasing, and the important thing that he wants to point out that, there are a lot of, as there are a lot of people in the Issyk Kul oblast who is interesting and wants to do eagle hunting but can’t do because of their lack of specialist or professional hunters in that places in the location, the local areas, for example he says the professionals are only in the Tong Raion, and the Cholpon-Ata, but there in the Chui oblast and other places there are no professional eagle hunters, and its hard to develop, to help with the advisement the people who wants to do that activity with the advisement because the systems is not developed, and he, there was one man who just advise it to for the next year for the budget to include the funding one trainer in Issyk Kul oblast, or two trainers in Issyk Kul oblast from the governmental budget that they will have the salary, so one specialist here in Cholpon Ata and the second one in Bokonbaevo, in Tong Raion, and they will have the salary for their job by the government, from the local authorities.

His name was Ishen Kadyrov, he was a post-head of the National Olympic Committee of Kyrgyzstan. So Ishen Kadyrov, Ishen Kumaliev is the previous head of the National Olympic Committee and he’s the brother of Rosa Otunbaeva, president of Kyrgyz Republic.

Brother or cousin?

He told me…not even just relative, from one place, one town from Talas he’s telling now. So I ask who initiated this idea and he told me actually they initiated even like…when Askar Akaev was a president, when Tanaev was the prime minister, they wrote a lot of letters to the people but they couldn’t implement their ideas because the country was always rejecting their ideas or advises to help to cooperate with them and then they started to think oh the government never will help us or never will listen to us, so we have to figure out this by ourselves and we have to move, and then he started his own private business by himself, by themselves they started to move forward, and then he called the couple days ago when we were in the vent, and that man called to him and they were talking. He’s calling to Ishem.

He was talking to that man Ishem and he told him to make it faster, the budget sheet of the two trainers in Bokonbaevo and Cholpon Ata and to include the not only falconry, the eagle hunting, but also the archery and the horse, on horseback. And that man is told that he have to hurry, in a couple weeks be in Bishkek because they have to be in a, when the parliament and the government will look through the new budget sheet for the next year, they have to be in the time and give them they advisement, they budget for this whole that he was talking about, and then the government first will adopt this and then the parliament will adopt it.

Is it, what ministry would it be a program of? Is it forestry, or…

It would be under the policy of the ministry of the education. This is the project. And he’s telling that also that Jorgoo is a kind of horse trekking that first was initiated in the United States by a one French people, French woman, it’s more local for the United States, he says for America, and there special even types of horses for the horse trekking.

Horse trekking?

Trekking. Horse trekking!

Just going through the mountains on a horse?

Not mountains on a hose but horse riding, horse trekking. Trekking.

That’s a sport?

I don’t know. I am not horse trekker.

Riding a horse in the mountain?

I don’t know what that is about, but he told that jorgoo, with archery the man in the horseback on saddle with archery, they want to approve this and to proper this as an international standards as in the United States he said.

Almaz Akunov on fundraising and future projects

Recorded: November 26th, 2010


Part 3 of 4 in an interview with Almaz Akunov, President of the Salburun Federation, in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan during the last week of November, 2010. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. English-only Transcription (Kyrgyz responses have been edited out):

So I don’t know to tell you about all the truth what he was telling us about or not because he was telling about the criminals too, and I know that you are going to write everything as it is.

Well he told me.

I don’t know maybe he was just so…

He likes to talk, yeah. Wait but what about criminals?

So the thing is what he was talking about now is that if it is really hard to work in this sphere, like on the development of this traditions of Kyrgyz people because as you know government is not supporting, not giving funds and he says that from the beginning, nowadays he still, he was and still working with the, trying to negotiate and find the resources, organizations, people, the businessman people, the, so he went and going everywhere to everybody, speak with everybody, and trying to find the resources, funds for the events, for the projects, for the activities on the development of this traditions, and the realizing of all this that he was talking about, and he said that if even I will hear from somebody information like in the one place or the one region in Kyrgyzstan there is burkutchu I will go there and I will have to find out him and find out what kind of person is him and what he knows, what about he knows, and he’s telling that all the, when I also ways do something, working on that I always spend my money because nobody thinking of that, nobody helping me, and I always have to find somebody or find some organization to help this and nobody’s kind of assisting on his project on his works, and he’s kind of alone on this work and even he talk not only with the politicians, or business people, but also with the criminals, crime world that they will understand him, support and give the funds, so next year there will be one, the one event, one festival will be held by sponsored by one criminal who wants that event named by the his father, so in honor of his father, in memory of his father, and he says you see that just I’m trying to retain the events and to develop and attract the people, that’s why I have to talk to everybody who will be interested in it, and most of the time it’s difficult too with the politicians and the authorities and the business people, most of the time people say yes yes let’s do that but nothing happens, they don’t do anything. He said that there is a man who is a kind of secretary of the central asian falconry federation or association, and he used to come regularly every year to visit the Tong, the festival in Bokonbaevo, but this year he couldn’t come because of the he used, he had to leave to Czech republic to falconry festival there for ten years, falconry hunting. Bakyt Karymakbaev.

What organization? The International?

IFA. IAF. So he’s kind of coordinator of Central Asia, for Central Asia of IAF. And he told me that there also, in Kazakhstan there one kind of the best burkutchu Abylhak, he says he’s the best, as the Sary, so Kazakh burkutchu, and most of the time when he’s hearing about these kinds of people, he just because of his interests he going and spending even, spending his money, to go them, to see them, to visit them, and one time he bring him to Kyrgyzstan and kind of to compare with the Sary, to see who knows how the, who knows how much, and the interesting thing is he’s telling that he’s not a kind of most burkutchus just I know and that’s enough, but he’s also interesting in the other experience, the other people’s experience, like the Mongolians, the Chinese, the other falconers, burkutchu’s experience, and he kind of, he has the habit that he always collecting information from abroad, and from different people, from different experiences, different skillful people, and he says why I’m doing that, because I feel myself I have a duty, and…

This is Almaz who has this habit?

Yeah, he is telling about himself, and he’s saying why I’m doing that, because the reason I feel myself that I’m responsible, I have a duty, a moral duty, and I kind of feel that I have to be patriotic and do that all, If I’m not doing that, because he don’t see that anybody else is doing that.

He’s telling also that as he has enough funds to have his family and for his food to live, and to exist, so he’s saving some money to take his own funds for that activities for his work, he’s telling that maybe, he understand that the god giving him the money, and the god is also telling him I’m giving you one tiin so you have to not only help to your family, to your children maybe, but also to help this people, and do that work. So this is kind of his higher…call of duty?

Higher calling. Can you, can he tell us about this project that he’s working on with the UNDP and how that got started?

It’s not the exact the UNDP project but it’s a the UNDP branch, project department is GEF, the Global Ecological Foundation.

That’s part of the UNDP or its a different organization?

It’s an independent foundation, Global Ecological Foundation, it’s international, but why it’s under the UNDP, that project, because the UNDP is coordinating their project, under the policy of the UNDP.

Is it the same people as the ones who work with Jety Kazyna? Is it the same kind of project?

The same project.

He’s saying that so actually it looks like the same project because it’s the main goal is to retain, to retain save the decreasing number of the golden eagles and the other birds of prey, that is decreasing, the quantity, and he, so it’s a project with the Global Ecological Foundation, but in Kyrgyzstan its not as a global like in Kyrgyzstan because of the, they funds they’re giving to the Kyrgyz, to the Kyrgyzstan its a more smaller few money than, few funds than they’re giving to the Kazakh, Kazakhstan, and so he’s telling the grant really is not so big as Nura’s burkutchus’ have and work with, and he says it’s about 6,000 dollars, US dollars, and so the main goal on this project is to figure out the number of the burkuts in the Tong raion of Issyk Kul oblast and also do the other activities to safe and increase the number of the burkuts like to prohibit catching the burkuts with the traps that we saw, how the family of Sary do, and also…

They would prohibit that?

He’s saying that it’s one of the goals of the project, and to help with the patrolling of the area, of the nest area, this kind of things, and he said there was a lot of different also supplements and activities in the project when he was writing the project and giving to the GEF but they cut the most of, the rest of the other activities on the project, just left the statement for the patrolling, for the prohibiting trap…

So just the conservation?

Yeah, they just changed the concept of the project, because they told its the same as the Kazakh sign, and it won’t, can’t be continue…

What about that, the center that he said, that he was talking about, he showed us the land that he bought and he wants to start some sort of falconry center there, is that part of the same project, or is that a different project?

He didn’t tell, told anything about the center, he just told that also about the museum that they have, that he has in the Bokonbaevo, he said it’s also part of the project that he has to open the museum, and he’s gonna put their information about the rare birds of prey in the Kyrgyzstan, like burkut, falcons, griffons, that is of, because their numbers decreasing, it’s in the red book of the Kyrgyzstan, and the main goal of the museum is also informational, kind of informational center. He said that actually he didn’t kind of copy the project of the Nura’s burkutchus because he heard about this project and he first time met it in the internet and then when he visit the London to the United Kingdom at that festival, he saw the Kazakhs’ experience, and the only problem about the project why the GEF didn’t accept all the project but cut it out some parts because of the he was late, and he did late he wrote the project really late and he thinks that’s why it might be the Kazakhs was first because it looks like the same the Kazakhs had and maybe that’s why the GEF cut out the other parts.

Okay well you can translate the rest later. Can you ask him about that, about the center though that he was telling us about?

He says it’s his private, his own idea about the falconry center, because he says that that was his dream, and he bought that land for his own money in 1999, and, but as he doesn’t have enough funds for start the building and creating the center, falconry center, but he still believes and planning that future, and he will build up their informational, this center will be kind of informational center, and resource center for the falconry studying, and he says why here in Cholpon Ata, because Cholpon Ata it’s the kind of center for visitors, most of the people from abroad, and from Kazakhstan, from Kyrgyzstan comes to Issyk Kul to use Cholpon Ata, and it’s on the main street and they will see it, I will be there and the people who wants to know, who wants to learn will come there, visit him, and he can talk with that people. That’s his dream to open the falconry center.

So what other projects did he tell us about. He said that he was working on some book with UNESCO? He was working on a book?

Brochure maybe?

No, when you told me about the brochure you said he was working on another book maybe?

He was telling about the book Salburun, you forgot. I told you that it would be about how to organize these festivals and events, what kind of rules the point giving system will be, he told that it’s not so big that it can be called as a book, a small book like a brochure, it will be only in Kyrgyz language. And he told me now also he has an idea that he also want to add to this book about the horse breeding, horses, and to join it with the, unite it with the salburun, horse breeding, Kyrgyz horse breeding.

So the concept, he has a concept of the book that he gonna publicate with the UNDP is that the Kyrgyz salburun is not only falconry, it’s also the archery, the taigans, dog breeding, so hunting with the dogs, and he’s always with the horses, and he’s saying it’s coming from the ancient times, it’s the symbol its the signs the stones in the caves in the local area, and he says that he wants to, not as Kazakhs do only the burkut, the eagle hunting, because Kazakhs has the concept the eagle hunting, and they has the books, the brochures of the events of burkutchus, the hunting, the reels, the other things, but he, in the his book he planning to have the complex, the concept of the Kyrgyz hunting, so its the falconry, it’s a archery, and the dog breeding, the taigans. He was also thinking of…horses, of the horse breeding.

He said that actually its not something new, it’s really origin for Kyrgyz people, because as we was nomadic people, our Kyrgyz man really in ancient times used to hunt, and not only hunt but also move, travel on the horse, and hunt with the burkut, or any other bird of prey, with the taigan and his weapon was the archery, and this is actually in history and he just wants to give a new birth for the history, but in the case of the sports, and he says that in Kazakhstan they, and even Turkmens, Turkmenistan, they actually they also was nomadic as we, and they did also this things, but they forgot it and they just doing the falconry, he wants to again initiate the complex salburun, and this is his concept, and he also would like, was thinking to join the horse racing, horse breeding but as horse racing is different and is actually developed where in Kyrgyz too, we have the kok boru, the other things, and he said that he felt not to join it with the salburun and just left as it is now, nowadays. But he says for a Krygyz man it can’t be without horses because since ancient times the Kyrgyz man he loved horses, dogs, birds, and he always like to do archery.

Can you ask him about, to tell us more about the film? Remember like he’s always telling us about this movie, and then I think today we saw some scenes from it. So can he tell us about that, who he worked with, how long he’s been working on it.

Almaz Akunov on his Kyrgyz hunting film

Recorded: November 26th, 2010


Part 4 of 4 in an interview with Almaz Akunov, President of the Salburun Federation, in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan during the last week of November, 2010. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. English-only Transcription (Kyrgyz responses have been edited out):

He said that the first he had an idea to shoot a movie, film about the salburun, and he had a money and he told to his friend let’s shoot the film about the salburun and he said I have an idea, I have an a concept and I have a final scenery of the film, and the only thing that now we need to do is just to that you have to organize the people, photography people, to shoot the film and he had a money, he spent his own money for that, and they were shooting this movie for twenty seven days in Tong, and he said actually it was really grateful to shoot this film because the local inhabitants help them for free for the movie for the casting and also while they were hunting and doing the other sceneries, acting the other parts of the scenery just local inhabitants was acting, playing they roles for free and…

Oh, so it’s not like a documentary film, it’s a story?

It’s a documental film. He said most of the people who cooperated with them just did it for free, the local inhabitants, and then after when they finished the movie, when it was the time to do the, how it’s calling when you have to work on the records, on the films and to…

Editing?

Editing, yeah, on the editing, yeah his friends so his friends who started with him he actually likes to drink alcohol and it was hard, because first months, after one months he asked, they was planning that he would be his co-producer for the movie, so from, as he gave the money and take, spend the money for five photographers for the movie, so he was feeding them, giving the salary and other things, and he asked his friend so you will be co-producer, and you have to give up money for editing and transcribing the words, the afterword words, text that has to be spoken while the movie is going, the comments on the movie, when the woman was talking remember? In the movie. Narration.

Wait so tell me the important stuff. So is the film finished?

Yeah film finished, but he wants to tell that his friend didn’t finish even in the three months, and then he just did it by himself, he writed the narration, he spent one thousand dollars for editing, he found a woman, Russian woman who helped correct the narration because he’s not a perfect Russian speaker and don’t know the literature, Russian literature, and the woman did everything and they finished the movie. And he, as they worked with one professional editors, he has the copies of the movie, and he said me now he doesn’t have any copies of the movie, he has only one disc, but later he will give you one copy, and he told me also he has a brother also is the same dreamer as he, and he sold his house in Bishkek and shoot a movie about the Kyrgyz taigans, and later he write a book about the Kyrgyz taigans, and Almaz assisted to publicate the book about the taigans.

Does he want to sell the movie to a TV company, or like, what does he want, how are people gonna see the movie?

He say so that movie was shooted in four years ago, finished four years ago, and he said that now, at that time it was just my dream, an idea, I just wanted to shoot it, shoot a movie, not for just have money, earn money from the movie or to show it to the people, but just follow to my, he followed his dream, and he made his dream real, and then, but didn’t do anything like sell it to some channels or show it in the cinemas or in some channels, he just shoot it and he realized his dream. But now he says he just giving that movie for people for who is, whom him visiting whom he meeting, like the Frank Bond, and he said also now he grow up for this four years, and that movie its like the movie of the Almaz who was the four years ago, but now the Almaz who is now he’s more experienced, more progressed, developed, and he has the new ideas, new concepts, and he has new dreams to realize.

He says he’s really make…he really became upset when the couple people who we know from the Sanat federation they take his idea and his experience of the salburun to the Bishkek and they initiated their festival where you’ve been, it was calling the Sanat-Kumayim, and he says it was really make him, became upset with the people, he said he know the people and he didn’t thought the people even would not tell his name there, would not change the name of the salburun, because its the salburun on his concept, on his idea, and now he, as he be initiated the offer of the salburun, he wants to authorize it, this concept of salburun, the salburun, and to make his own property, salburun, and now he’s working on it, that’s why he’s writing a book also, and then nobody will do that.

Note-to-self about politicians and falconry

Recorded: November 26th, 2010


Fact-checking during a visit to the home of falconer Farkhad Musaev near Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan, during the last week of November, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. Transcription:

I just wanted to note the price of the eagle was a hundred dollars and they were watching this movie and there’s the festivals, and they showed Almaz talked and the head of Ak Shumkar party, what was his name?

Temir Sariev.

Temir Sariev. And the governor of Issyk Kul, the head of Tong Raion spoke, all these politicians, all of them you know giving their politician’s speech about the importance of developing falconry, blah blah blah.

Note-to-self about Almaz’s pet fox

Recorded: November 26th, 2010


Note-to-self during drive from falconer Farkhad Musaev’s house near Cholpon-Ata to hunting grounds in Grigorievka, Kyrgyzstan, during the last week of November, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen. Transcription:

Almaz was talking about keeping a fox. How it had become like a pet, and plays with them. And also a wolf. And so he said they’re definitely not going to kill the fox, but he didn’t say what they’re gonna do with the wolf. Now we’re riding in the car. Three eagles.

Note-to-self on public images of falconry in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan

Recorded: November 26th, 2010

Note-to-self during drive from falconer Farkhad Musaev’s house near Cholpon-Ata to hunting grounds in Grigorievka, Kyrgyzstan, during the last week of November, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen. Transcription:

Eagles on one of the like welcome signs, or actually it was going out of Cholpon-Ata towards Farkhad’s house, it was also on some of the streetlights there was some of these pictures different of dancing and stuff, and also there were some pictures of eagle hunter. And I was just thinking about, about going to the south and how, finding hunters in the south could be a good sort of uniting thing between North and South, common cultural heritage, maybe invite northern hunters down to the south to have some kind of event there, so maybe that’s something we could do in the spring.

Note-to-self about tourist worker with eagle

Recorded: November 26th, 2010


Note-to-self during meeting at the hunting grounds in Grigorievka, Kyrgyzstan, during the last week of November, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen. Transcription:

So that guy over there was named Tolai, the one who was petting his eagle like a baby, and Almaz gave his chicken bird to him, he doesn’t hunt with eagles or raptors, he just keeps them to photograph tourists. And earn money. That’s interesting, that’s something I’ve been wanting to ask, you know, the hunters, like Almaz, what they think about these kind of people, so maybe we’ll have to ask them later.

Evaluating eagles’ weight by touch

Recorded: November 26th, 2010


Conversation with interpreter Abay Aitikulov during meeting at the hunting grounds in Grigorievka, Kyrgyzstan, during the last week of November, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen. Transcription:

This is a thick burkut.

A thick burkut?

Yeah.

Because they’re feeling it between the legs, like on its belly, sort of lifting it up to feel the weight.

How to identify a starving eagle

Recorded: November 26th, 2010


Conversation with interpreter Abay Aitikulov during meeting at the hunting grounds in Grigorievka, Kyrgyzstan, during the last week of November, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen. Transcription:

Burkut was not feeded well and his tongue…

Yeah. Goes to the side.

Yeah.

Because he’s not fed well. Because he’s starving. He’s really hungry? Which one? One of these?

No, they are talking about another burkut.

A different bird.

Just sharing stories, experience

Proper eagle posture

Recorded: November 26th, 2010


Conversation with interpreter Abay Aitikulov during meeting at the hunting grounds in Grigorievka, Kyrgyzstan, during the last week of November, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen. Transcription:

What’s he saying now?

Talking about how the eagles or burkut can be defined his good character while he’s sitting, so that burkut is sitting like not this, like this, if this his tail, he sits like…

With the tail pointed down

But a good burkut sits like this.

With the tail flat, horizontal.

Close to horizontal. Not quite horizontal.

Right.

Reading an eagle’s feathers

Recorded: November 26th, 2010

Conversation with interpreter Abay Aitikulov during meeting at the hunting grounds in Grigorievka, Kyrgyzstan, during the last week of November, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen. Transcription:

They have to, he have to train him, train burkut more.

So they were reading the symbols in the feathers.

A lot of potential.

Because of the kind of bird it is

Kind of, because of his, that he, it’s a touch burkut, bigger, can hunt for a wolf, now it can’t because it’s not so skillful.

Because it just hasn’t been trained yet.

Yeah. Maybe because of that the falcon is not so experienced. Maybe that’s why.

Flying eagles on deer

Recorded: November 26th, 2010


Conversation with interpreter Abay Aitikulov during meeting at the hunting grounds in Grigorievka, Kyrgyzstan, during the last week of November, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen. Transcription:

So they said that Farkhad’s burkut can even catch for deer, I mean is that just something that they brag about me, I mean like, this burkut is so strong it could catch deer, or do they ever, do you know if they ever actually do that?

They didn’t talk that it catch it, but they all talking that his burkut can even catch a deer

Yeah, it seems like it would be too dangerous to put his burkut on a deer maybe.

Note-to-self about cleaning eagles’ beaks

Recorded: November 26th, 2010


Note-to-self during meeting at the hunting grounds in Grigorievka, Kyrgyzstan, during the last week of November, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen. Transcription:

Abai was just noticing the difference in how they clean the bird’s beaks, how in Kazakhstan they offer their hand to scrape it, but here they either like pinch it off the end, or the eagle wipes his beak on the end of the glove.

Eagle classification systems

Recorded: November 26th, 2010


Note-to-self during meeting at the hunting grounds in Grigorievka, Kyrgyzstan, during the last week of November, 2010. Researcher Dennis Keen.

So they were saying that two years ago they couldn’t, yeah but they couldn’t get the wolves and so now they haven’t come back. And what else, that they don’t have the same amount of classifications that Kyrgyz do, because Kyrgyz have forty but they don’t have the same system.

Sary Satylganov on Kyrgyz bird of prey taxonomy

Recorded: November 27th, 2010

Part 1 of 6 in an session to document Kyrgyz falconry taxonomy with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. This segment is in Kyrgyz only.

Sary-Ata on the predation habits of kuukumpai

Recorded: November 27th, 2010

Part 2 of 6 in an session to document Kyrgyz falconry taxonomy with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. Transcription of English only:

So I think that he will not gonna tell about the other types of gyrfalcons and falcons because he says the rest are just the usual, typical that we saw everyday, we saw at Salburun, but this is really rare, keenest sharp-sighted falcons and gyrfalcons, so in the falcon the best one is tuygun.

Yeah.

And in the gyrfalcon the best one is kuukumpai. So when they hunt, for example when kuukumpai hunts, the falcon, not falcon but the partridge will see kuukumpai it can’t fly because it’s shocked, can’t fly away, and kuukumpai easily takes it, and he says kuukumpai when it hunts, it not hunt just for one time, one prey, it takes more than ten fifteen, it will just kill everybody, all prey that it sees, as a, I don’t know, as a just a game for him, hunting just a game. And but if the for example partridge will see the typical, usual, the other gyrfalcons it will fly away. But partridge is really scared of the kuukumpai, and kuukumpai will eat, not kuukumpai but… tuygun is easily hunts for rabbit. He’s the fastest one. So this is the keenest ten of the falcon and keenest seven of the gyrfalcon. And kyryk, hawk, kyrgy hawk, is also in the falcon group, number six.

So, okay, we can just start with this then. Fill in more information, and then later if he wants to tell us more, we can get more. Did you write down the burkuts at all or just the falcons?

Burkuts too. Do we need to write the bad burkuts?

I would like to be as comprehensive as possible, so as to get every bird that he knows.

He says two more bad left.

Kyrgyz bird of prey taxonomy, part three

Recorded: November 27th, 2010

Part 3 of 6 in an session to document Kyrgyz falconry taxonomy with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. This segment is in Kyrgyz only.

Kyrgyz bird of prey taxonomy, part four

Recorded: November 27th, 2010

Part 4 of 6 in an session to document Kyrgyz falconry taxonomy with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. This segment is in Kyrgyz only.

Kyrgyz bird of prey taxonomy, part five

Recorded: November 27th, 2010

Part 5 of 6 in an session to document Kyrgyz falconry taxonomy with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. This segment is in Kyrgyz only.

Kyrgyz bird of prey taxonomy, part six

Recorded: November 27th, 2010

Part 6 of 6 in an session to document Kyrgyz falconry taxonomy with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abay Aitikulov. This segment is in Kyrgyz only.

Sary-Ata’s family tree, part one

Recorded: November 27th, 2010


Part 1 of 4 in an interview about family history with falconry Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. This transcription is from the English edit; the Kyrgyz has been edited out and can be found in Part 2 and 4:

So here, Satylgan is his father. His second name is Bokchiev. And his second name is Satylganov.

And also if he, if there’s any more information, like when they were born or when they died… So what else was he saying about him?

So his father was a hunter, and he was eagle hunter too. And he died in 1950 and then this year he was 96 when he died, so I thought, count he was born in 1854

It would be 64 wouldn’t it? Oh no, no you’re right, you’re right. And then who was his grandfather?

And his grandfather, he was a person who was healing a man or cattle who broke they feet or hands

LIke a veterinarian, animal doctor?

Not only animal, but also a man, later maybe I will tell you.

Was he a hunter too?

No, he wasn’t. So he was just a doctor. He, so, do, he was doing healing at the time, not by the traditional methods, because there was no medicine, medicals. Do we need his children?

Mmhm.

Means he was older than Alseit. Alseit is his little brother. So there was two brothers, and from the two brothers there, so Mamat is Tynymseit’s son, but Alseit had his own children, so they’re the other branch. But he don’t know the Tynymseit’s and Alseit’s father.

Is there anything else we can fill in here like dates, or did they all live here in Issyk Kul, or anything else we can about these…

What was the name of this man he was speaking with Sary? Samir?

Samirbek. So can you fill me in on what this stuff was?

So I asked some background. So they, his clan is Besh Bala, his branch from the, they clan is Tynymseit, by the name of his ancestor, and the group of the, of this clan is Besh Bala, so he’s from the Besh Bala, and the history of the Besh Balas is that in the time of Tynymseit they moved, actually they used to live in the Naryn, but because of the thin snow…

A bad winter?

Bad winter, hard winter, difficult winter, they used to, they were pressured to move to Issyk Kul, to have a food for their cattle. When they moved, at that time, there was a man, Aga Khan, who was kind of a leader in the Bokonbaevo, and he went to the uyezd, uyezd it’s the Karakol, Karakol is still the oblast center, and at that time it was the area center, and in the uyezd he told the authorities, asked them to force this clan or this group to move back to Naryn, but as the Tynymseit’s, Ata Khan’s wife was the sister of Tynymseit, he let the one son of Tynymseit stay here, so Mamat stay here but other five children, son of Tynymseit left to, left back to Naryn. And from that time the group that stay here is calling Besh Bala, of the Tynymseit clan. And so, from this…he says, I asked him again, but he’s now telling the different one that all the children and also the Tynymseit moved back to Naryn because of the Ata Khan’s order, because the reason why he make those people to move back is because there were two many people in this area, they used to call this place Kyrdar, and then after…the people who was living here their clan was Kydyk, of this area, and as there was too many people in the Kydyk clan, so they forced to, the Tynymseit clan to move back to Naryn to the origin area, and then they moved back to Naryn, they clan, clan of Tynymseit, but in the, by the help, by the assisting of the wife of Ata Khan, who was from Tynymseit, she helped later to Jantai come back to Issyk Kul and from the Jantai they again started to live in this area, in Tong raion. He says, I asked him what additional information he can add to this, he says nothing because it was really far ago…

It was a long time ago.

A long time ago and he can’t remember anything else, or he doesn’t know anything else because it’s just by orally coming information. He’s telling that his father Satylgan went for kind of trip with the Przhevalsky, with the Russian explorer Przhevalsky for four years. They were with Przhevalsky in China and Mongolia, were exploring.

Does he know which years?

So he was thirteen years old.

Thirteen years old? He was that young?

Yeah, thirteen years old when he left this places. So if he born in 1854, it would be ‘67, 1867 when he was thirteen years old he gone with Przhevalsky. So he says that his father when he was with a Przhevalsky for his fate, the Przhevalsky honored him, give him the special gun, the rifle, with the silver, with the silver metal, with the silver…

Bullet?

Not bullet, but plastins on the rifle, with the name of the Satylgan, and also gave him the silver medal with his name, but all was in Russian. But, what else…when he, when the ürkün, you know ürkün? When the Kyrgyz used to leave this places to China, his father was kind of, as he was the hunter, eagle hunter, his father was also the warrior of the tribe, and he used to protect that people, and that’s why when they were moving with the border of Chin and a Kyrgyzstan, he couldn’t take the rifle and medal with him because of the Chinese, it might be that they just kill him, that’s why he was necessary to hide it, his rifle and medal, and he hide but then he forgot where it was, he just couldn’t find out where because he forgot where he hide it on the ground somewhere, somewhere on the ground..

He buried it?

Yeah, he buried it. And he’s telling me also as Przhevalsky, Satylgan was, at the time, because of the time they was worry that Chinese can just shoot him down, and that’s why he, at the time of the trip he gave him a Russian name, he thinks might be Ivan, so that’s why in the Przhevalsky’s pictures, they have a picture also of the father with him, but it’s with the Russian name but not the Kyrgyz name, and we can see, find out this picture in the Karakol, in town there’s a monument to Przhevalsky, his pictures where we can see his father, but with the Russian name. But in the Przhevalsky’s diary, he putted that he gave that gift, the rifle, and medal, and he Przhevalsky wrote in his diary that his name is Satylgan Bokshiev, and couple time ago, long time ago here come the journalists, two journalists to talk to Sary and also to find, to see that rifle and medal, and when they asked, he said we don’t have it because my father just lose it, and ask them to find it or maybe to ask the Russians for the other equivalent things and medals and rifle just for memory in honor of his father.

So his father Satylgan was a münüshkör, so can he tell us more about he did in the ürkün, and what the hunters did? Did they bring their birds with them or were they forced to let them go? What was that period like for eagle hunters?

He said, when they, in the time of the ürkün, when they moved to China, at that time most of the cattle died and some cattle they just selled to have food, but when they after some time they moved back to Kyrgyzstan from China on the way to Kyrgyzstan his father gathered from one man a burkut, the Chinese burkut, that man gave it just for free, he take it the berkut from China, as he didn’t has, as they didn’t has the horses, or any horses to walk back, they just walk through the mountain, through the Zhmaan Eskey pass, and on his hand there was a burkut he says. And I asked about the other eagle hunters, I asked about the other eagle hunters and he told me that at that time, because of the urkun, when the Russians were killing the Kyrgyz people, the Russian soldiers, they didn’t take burkut, they just leave it, because it was important to save they lives, and not the lives of the birds or cattle or other things, but they families, and of course all the, most of the eagle hunters moved to China without they burkuts, and he told me that as his father was a soldier, a warrior of his clan, of his tribe, and there was of course the other man who was protecting, saving the, and who was responsible for the safety of his tribe, they always were with the rifles, and as his father was the, also hunter, he was skillful, and at that moment of urkun not only they try, but the other tribes of the areas like the, of Tokmok and the Chui, they also were leaving for China but as they leave later, they all was shooted down, the one tribe, they all was shooted down, they all was killed by Russians on the way to China, near the mountains, near the pass. And they didn’t, they try, didn’t wasn’t killed all because they were prepared and they moved earlier, and the, his father and the other soldiers, warriors of the tribe was kind of taking the soldiers’ attention and letting the other people to move safely to China, because they were in the back of the tribe while they were going to China and just win some time to move safely. And then in the 1918 they come back to, his father with other people come back to Kyrgyzstan. Some people died at that moment, and on the way to Kyrgyzstan he got that burkut from China and come with the burkut to this place.

Did he say how long they were in China?

Two years they been in China, from the ‘16 to ‘18.

And then most people came back?

He says most of the people who moved to China they died, but there some people who left there and some people came back.

Well because I’m planning to go to China in the spring and…

He says there are some old men, some old people who was born in the time of urkun when people was moving to China, in that time when the people just was moving, for example died one aksakal who was 80 or 90 years old, he was born in the urkun when the people was moving to China and he died this year.

Yeah he must have been 95, 94, hm.

So what about China you was telling?

Oh I was just wondering cause since I’m going to go there in the spring, I was wondering if, to where Kyrgyz people now live, if he knows the name of the place…

He says he actually don’t know anythign exact, specific about it, but he says just the other side of the border, Kyrgyzstan’s not far.

Okay. So, let’s…so then Sary’s information, let’s just start a new one here for Sary’s family. Then we’re going to get Sary’s sons, his grandsons, so we can start here and work your way down, maybe this way because he has lots of grandchildren, right. So Sary, when was, what date was Sary born?

Actually he was born in the late days of December, the end of the 1929, but by the identification documents people wrote that he was born in 1930. So maybe, he says 24th of December…

Christmas Eve.

1929. It’s not official, officially 1930. And he’s 81 years old.

Okay.

He will soon be 81, he’s 80. And now his children.

Yeah.

Do we need his brothers? His brothers and sister, or just his children.

Just his children is fine.

Do we need the names of his grandchildren? No? Because he’s just giving the number of his grandchildren. Who has how many children.

No I think it will get to big if we do that, if we get the names.

So Shamil and Dastan are Talai’s sons, and Nurlan is Zamir’s son, and Rustam is Baktybek’s son, the eldest child of Sary. And only Baktybek has grandchildren, the others don’t have grandchildren, just the children. And so there are Baktybek, Tulum, no Baktybek, Taalai, Zamir is his sons, so it’s the boys.

So here, this is boys. This is ladies, Gülüm, Tynym, Sovetkan and Nazgul.

And none of his sons themselves were münüshkör?

No, no of any sons were münüshkör, just grandchildren. So Gülüm and Sovetkan is in Moscow, in Russia, Nazul lives in At-Bashy in Naryn, with her family, and Dastan, Talai’s son, who is 16 years old, he’s hunter but not eagle hunter, he’s good shooter, as Rustam. So what else do you think we need to know about this family? So here ul it’s a sons and kyz it’s a girls, in total it’s a four, four, four, two, five, four, three, seven, twelve, fourteen, sixteen, twenty, twenty-four. And he has twenty four grandchildren and three grand-grandchildren. Is it grand-grandchildren?

Great-grandchildren.

Great-grandchildren. So two of his great-grandchildren is Rustam’s children, so he Ermek and Erbol, and the third great-grandchildren is the child is the girl, Sabyna, and she is the Rustam’s sister’s daughter. He’s a really rich man, twenty four grandchildren, three great-grandchildren.

What is that?

So from the Bokchu, his pre-name is Kary Bokchu, Kary means elder, or older.

Okay it’s just a title.

Yeah, just a title, like mister.

So this is his grandfather.

Yeah, his grandfather from the, grandfather this, so there are seventy of his relatives, so seventy families of Satylganovs, of Bokshievs.

Seventy families or seventy people?

Seventy people with their own families, so seventy families.

Wow.

Like, your family, your brother’s family, your sister’s families, so that will be five families of the Keens if we begin from your father, from your grandfather, right.

If we all have children.

If you all have families.

Right, right.

Sary-Ata’s family tree, part two

Recorded: November 27th, 2010

Part 2 of 4 in an interview about family history with falconry Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. This segment is in Kyrgyz only.

Sary-Ata’s family tree, part three

Recorded: November 27th, 2010

Part 3 of 4 in an interview about family history with falconry Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. This transcription is from the English edit; the Kyrgyz has been edited out and can be found in Part 2 and 4:

So there will be twenty-four grandchildren, yeah, and three…great like this?

G-r-e-a-t. Like good-great. And then he is the great grandpa. Great-grandfather. That’s how it works. For example his great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, great-great-great-grandfather, great-great-great-great…

Like in Russian, pro-pro-pro. But we doesn’t have this. We have ata, chong ata, baba, buba…he also can’t remember.

I have it written down actually. At Aigine they did some research and so I have it written down that each one has its own name.

Actually Kyrgyz people knows to the ninth father, the title. And every Kyrgyz man, Kyrgyz woman has to know seven fathers. He knows eight.

Jeti ata.

Jeti ata.

So that’s great, he knows more than you have to, than is required. So he has three sons but none of them became hunters. Why didn’t they want to learn?

So he says, as we were talking to three of his sons, no of them is hunter or eagle hunter. He says they know, some knowledge of the eagle hunting, but they not interested in it, And I ask him the reason, and the cause is that of the Soviet era, that they were studying at the school campus, they were living the campus and so they most of the time were spending the school and the other town, other places, not with him, and he couldn’t teach them the eagle hunting and they weren’t interested in the education in the school, classes, and that’s he think is the reason why none of his children, his sons, is eagle hunters. But he’s, as he, we see his grandchildren is more interested in it, and he see, he’s telling that three of his grandchildren is eagle hunters.

Does he think that during the Soviet era, that this happened a lot, that fewer people wanted to become hunters because there were different opportunities for them? That during the Soviet era maybe tradition shrank because more people were going to do other things?

He’s saying that he also believe that the Soviet era was the kind of, the Soviet government was pressured and shranked the eagle hunting activity and hunting culture, eagle hunting world, because everybody was pushed to work, because everybody had a job like there was many plants, factories, everybody was doing in the rural area agriculture, farming, or the, cattle, livestock, taking care of the cattle, and that’s why most of the young generation of that time they also was forced to work at the factories, plants, and nobody had the free time, or nobody was kind of out of this industry or economy or employment of the Soviet era and everybody was working. For example he says his two sons Baktybek and Talai they were studying in the institute and they graduated with the red diploma, and afterward they worked by they profession, and his sons, youngest son Zamir, he left to, he served in the army, and after three years of army he came and started to work as the driver of the tractor and the truck, and all of them was busy. But here was some people who had, who was free from all of their duties because of their age, they was too, they were too old to do that all job

So they were just pensioners.

Like him, aksakals, that’s why they could follow the eagle hunting, could do the eagle hunting, that’s only safe that people, and the eagle hunting, and that’s why still we have that eagle hunting. And he says that at that time there were eagle hunters like Toktokkhojo Zatna, old man who was doing the eagle hunting, and also he was telling that in Tong Raion there was 24 collective farms where everybody was working for the collective farms.

What was the name of the farm where he worked?

So there was one collective farm in this area, it was calling the Tong collective farm, and that collective farm have three subgroups, three farms, and he was working for Ak Sai farm. His parents also died here. His mother and father.

So I’m interested more in about this Soviet period, maybe the earlier Soviet period when all these farms were put together, collective farms were created, and the people’s livestock, cattle were all collected, right, collectivization, so when that happened, were hunters allowed to keep their eagles? Was there ever any consequence for the hunters, result for the hunters, because of this collectivization?

He says yes everything, when the collectivization start, everything was like that, but nobody no one, from the authorities didn’t do any consequences, or didn’t say anything, any rules or laws, nothing was like that about the eagle hunters or even just hunters, they wasn’t prohibited or they didn’t collect they guns, just leave it as it was before and didn’t say anything. It was just the case of if the people who was doing the eagle hunting or hunting, if they by they will drop that, so I will not do be anymore, I will not do anymore eagle hunting because I have other things to do, business, or I don’t have enough time, if they were just doing by their will, dropping that, they were doing that, but nobody was telling them to do drop it, to stop it.

And in the Soviet era, did hunters every receive a salary, or a job position, or a title for being hunters, or was it just sort of an informal hobby, you know?

He’s telling that at the Soviet time as from the authorities nobody was telling don’t do eagle hunting or hunting, but they was just even promoting the eagle hunters and hunters, like, they was at the Soviet time was a kind of hunting, hunter’s union and all, most of the eagle hunters or hunters was joining to the unions and they get the money from the unions like for the fur, they was selling the fur of the wolf, of the fox, of the marmot to the unions and they was give, they had all unions had one price for the different furs, and they getting the money for the furs, and also in the time when they were free, for example in the spring and autumn til the fall, the beginning of the fall when the cattle was in the fall, they were kinda working also in the union as forestries, or just the security of the jailoos, or how it’s calling, the places where the cattle is going to feed…

Pasture?

Pastures, there was kind of the security for the pastures, as there was a different collective farms they had a responsibility not to protect the pastures of the one collective farm from the cattle of different collective farms, so don’t let that collective farms cattle get into our pastures and eat the food, because we have our own cattle to feed, and at that time they had the salary from the union, hunter’s union, as they was securing the pastures, and also he remembered that kiyik, I don’t, my vocabulary of the animals is so poor that I don’t know what is it, some animals, is translating, it’s an antelope, or wild animal, antelope, so he says at that time there was a lot of antelopes in the local area, and they also was selling the meat of the antelope…

But that of course they would just hunt with guns, right, considering it’s a really big animal, right?

Guns or, I don’t know, he’s just telling me that also the hunters, yeah just the hunters was shooting down the antelopes and they were selling the meat of the antelopes in the markets.

Were there any awards or medals for hunters?

No.

So how else was it, was the tradition promoted during the Soviet Union? Now it’s promoted in festivals, and there are some movies on TV about it, these kind of things, how did the government then promote the tradition?

He says at that Soviet time, there was a celebration of the October Revolution, on the 7th of November, in the local administration centers and in the capital of the Kyrgyz SSR, and on the, to the Bishkek was invited all the, only the advanced, professional eagle hunters, and there they was showing they birds, raptors, and they was gathering the, just to kind of money, for they, for they art, for they doing the eagle hunting, some money, like some kind of, as a kind of award, honorable, honored, but here in the administration centers of the raions also on the 7th of November, local authorities was organizing this and the celebration of the October Revolution was organizing the national sports like kyz kumai, kosh, and all the different sports, and of course they also was inviting the eagle hunters to show the eagle hunting skill, the art of eagle hunting, and they also had the not contest, but showing how the eagle, the raptors work while they hunt, yeah all of that, but nothing special, nothing else on the other celebrations or holidays, just on the October revolution.

Just on that one day.

Yeah, in the year.

I meant to show you, I found this one picture a long time ago in a book in America, and it’s a picture of a bunch of Kyrgyz hunters and Chingiz Aitmatov, and Chingiz Aitmatov is carrying a bird, and I was looking at this picture the other day, I have it on my computer, and I think Sary was in the picture, right next to Chingiz Aitmatov. So can you ask him if it was him, if he remembers this?

He’s saying that he met only the Bolot Mambetov, and the Bolot Mambetov is also from this town.

Who is that?

He was a ministry at the Soviet era.

A minister?

So after the Kulatov, Mambetov was the secretary of the ministry, cabinet of the ministry, now it’s the kind of the prime minister, but at that time it was the secretary.

Of the Kyrgyz SSR.

Not the secretary of the party, but of the cabinet of ministry, now it’s the prime minister, yeah, but the secretary now is like the president, but at that time was the head of the cabinet of the ministries, so he was head of the, he was the prime minister of the Soviet era.

But he never met Chingiz Aitmatov.

He didn’t told us Chingiz Aitmatov, because he didn’t met.

I’ll have to show you that picture, I swear to god it’s Sary.

He said no I didn’t ever met Chingiz Aitmatov.

Maybe, Sary must have someone who looks just like Sary, who met Chingiz Aimatov… okay, anyways. So it’s interesting that I’m learning all this about the Soviet era, because the books in the West, they don’t know, they don’t, there’s no information about it, and they say, oh, you know, hunting was banned during this period, and the Soviets didn’t like hunting, and now I know the truth.

That’s not true. Brezhnev was really lover do hunting. He was hunting with the gun, the rifle.

So it sounds like, of course hunting was strong before the Soviet Union, because it was a more traditional hunting way of life, and it survived strongly during the Soviet Union. When was hunting at it’s lowest point, when were there the fewest hunters in Kyrgyzstan?

When the Kyrgyzstan became independent?

When does he think was the lowest point for eagle hunting in Kyrgyzstan, when there were the fewest hunters?

He says the most few number of the eagle hunters, bürkütchüs, was coming for 1945-1946, the end of war, but after that years when Soviets started to develop the farms and people started to do, not to war but to work, that time again the numbers started to increase and to develop, but as he was telling before most of the people, not most but all people, abolutely all people who was doing eagle hunting at that time the Soviet era was old people, like Sary now, because they were free and all the young people who can work they always was employed and they worked, for example he said that in Kadji Sai there was a plant where they, where the 3,000 people was working and employed at that plant, and people was producing the technical, electrical machine, or facilities, utilities, but now this plant is not working, it’s empty. Most of the people, maybe ninety percent of the people who can work here, local area is unemployed, and some of them left to the other places, other countries to work, some here is free, and of course that’s why we can see many young generation, young people who is doing eagle hunting. But he says in the Soviet era, in the hunter’s union there was really young people, but they were not doing eagle hunting, they were just a hunters, was shooting antelopes and the marmot.

But for example, Sary was young during the Soviet period so was he an exception, or did he not hunt until he was older?

He says that he started do falconry when he 13 years old, so in 1943 during the war, and be believes that he started that because of his will and because of his interest, because of his father, as he always was with his father before the Soviet era, no at the Soviet era, but always was with his father and he was listening different other eagle hunters, he started to interest in it, and while he, as everybody he also was working for the collective farm, he was the shepherd, but he always was with the raptor, because he wanted that and he couldn’t imagine him without the raptor, and he was sad if he didn’t have the raptor, and when he was doing the shepherding, taking care of the cattle he also was with the raptor, because he had also a horse, so it was suitable to do eagle hunting, because the horse and it was easy to move, transport the falcon, the raptor, and he said that his brother, his elder brother, he also can be, he also could be doing falconry but he didn’t do it because he started for a counter, and later he worked as a counter.

As a what?

Accounter.

Accountant.

Accountant. And he says that’s why he believe that it’s important for somebody if he wants to became an eagle hunter that someone like his father will support him and give him education, because its really hard to start without the education, without the advisor, who can coordinate you,advise you and take, teach you how to do the eagle hunting, for example he says his son, one of his son is doing hunting but not eagle hunting, and one of his brother is also can handle with the hawks but never had a falcon or burkut, but he knows how to do that, but he never did it with a burkut or a falcon, just with a hawk he says. Not hawk, but gerfalcon, and he said that also he’s just a good hunter, not eagle hunter, so one of his brothers.

Kyrgyz bird of prey taxonomy, part four

Recorded: November 27th, 2010

Part 4 of 4 in an interview about family history with falconry Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. This segment is in Kyrgyz only.

Note-to-self on dietary restrictions for eagles

Recorded: November 27th, 2010

Note-to-self made while training an eagle with a bagged fox at the home of Sary Satylganov in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. Transcription:

Sary said that if you slaughter a young horse, you should always feed your bürküt. Slaughter, it’s a good word.

I knew that you’d forget it.

Yeah, but if you slaughter a cow or …what else was the bad animal?

Goat.

Yeah, a goat, then you shouldn’t feed that to your burkut. Kubat also told us that he thinks it’s a shame if you set your burkut on a rabbit, because it’s too small it should, that should only be for falcons or hawks, that you should only set it on foxes or…

Bigger.

Or bigger prey. Oh yeah, then before Kubat was telling us that at one of the Salburun festivals before, there was some drunk guy who was bothering one of the Kazakh’s burkuts and it was trying to get him with its claws, and then after when they had the event where they were throwing it from the hill, it went after him. We don’t know what happened. It may have eaten him alive.

Story about cow-on-eagle murder

Recorded: November 27th, 2010

Note-to-self made while training an eagle with a bagged fox at the home of Sary Satylganov in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. Transcription:

Sorry, tell that story again.

You know now that story, you will speak much better than me.

He was saying that a friend of his, another burkut, burkutchu, caught a chick from these mountains here, the mountains are called

Orokh Kyr. Orokh Kyr.

Orokh Kyr. And when the eagles are young it caught many foxes. How many?

Nine.

Nine foxes, it was a very good burkut. And then one day a tragedy happened. There were these savage cows who were feeding at the river, and saw the eagle and they thought…”Fuckin’ eagle”, so they surrounded it and rammed it with its horns, and the eagle didn’t make it out alive. So the moral of the story is, never leave your burkut near cows. You can’t trust them.

“Mantling” in Kyrgyz

Recorded: November 27th, 2010

Note-to-self made while training an eagle with a bagged fox at the home of Sary Satylganov in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. Transcription:

Is there a word for, for this position that the eagle has when it feeds?

He says it’s just they jealous because they think that they master will take the animal and then that’s why they just keeping it, don’t touch it. And kush also, falcons, when they feeding in the wild they also do that because they’s afraid of the bürküts, that bürküt will saw the piece of prey and try to take it.

Mmhm. Do they, do they call it by any name though?

Just say they say [Kyrgyz]. They are jealous of the animal.

The jealousy position.

I was telling, “Don’t touch, it’s mine! It’s mine!”

“Get away! Get away!”

“Fuck, stay away!”

Feeding an eagle a fox

Recorded: November 27th, 2010

Note-to-self made while training an eagle with a bagged fox at the home of Sary Satylganov in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. This segment is Kyrgyz only.

Note-to-self on hovering bird of prey

Recorded: November 27th, 2010

Okay the hovering bird was called what, güykö?

Güykö

Alright we need to remember to ask him later which kind of birds hunt like this, the hovering. Cause I’ve seen that before with birds in America, but it’s a kind of bird called a kite, so it could be the same kind of bird.

Note-to-self about how to trick an eagle into thinking it’s full

Recorded: November 27th, 2010

Note-to-self made while training an eagle with a bagged fox at the home of Sary Satylganov in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. Transcription:

So Sary was teaching a trick about when feeding a fox, feeding with a fox, that when the eagle is done eating you put the tomogo on, and then take the fox away, and then take the tomogo off and the eagle sees no fox and thinks “Oh, I ate all of it.” And then he’s very happy with his master.

A Kyrgyz custom for when receiving something new

Recorded: November 27th, 2010

Note made by interpreter Abai Aitikulov about a Kyrgyz custom when receiving new things (in this case, a new goshawk):

It can be relatives or people who know me they say, майлап берейсин бе, маштан жуып берейсин бе, and it means you have to make them thankful also, and to be thankful for you, and you have to give them a meal, food, or put vodka on the table and drink together.

Because since you have a new thing it shows that you’re grateful for what you have and you’re wealthy so you can share.

It’s a tradition.

That’s a nice tradition. I wish we had something like that, but…

Okay.

Sary-Ata on cleaning eagle beaks, feeling for flying weight, and making hoods

Recorded: November 27th, 2010

Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. Only English is transcribed:

Um, so since we were talking about cleaning, it was making me think about how they clean the beaks after eating, so you remember in Kazakhstan, we saw that they offered their hands, and the eagles went like that, but here we haven’t seen that, it seems like usually they clean their beaks on the glove

Or they, just the man cleaning it by himself, like this, taking.

So I guess just tell him about how they do it in Kazakhstan, and ask if they ever do that here, and if there’s a reason why there’s that, that difference.

Kyrgyz

So I explained him, I told him what the difference is, and I asked him…

Kyrgyz

He says that also, so he knows that Kazakhs do that, they offer they fingers and then bürküt cleaning its beak to the fingers, but here he says people not offer they fingers but bürküt by itself cleans to the glove here, and sometimes with the two, this fingers, eagle hunters cleans its beaks…

Just pinching the beak…

Yeah, but he used to use also his hands, like he was offering like this. Like this.

With the fingers sort of curved around

Here, like this. And then even his bürküt, the falcon was putting his beak inside and was cleaning itself, he was telling.

So he’s kind of cupping his hand and then the eagle…

Like this, and they was cleaning. And he says actually there’s no difference, the important one when they feeding the raptors, you have clean the holes in the…

The nostrils.

Yeah the nostrils where they, he is breathing, it’s important that it be clean, not dirty, not bloody, if it will be bloody than inside the hairs, the lips stick together, stick to each other, the hair, and it will be hard for him to breathe, that’s why you have to clean the nostrils.

But also, I mean, it seems like maybe it’s not good for the bird to clean itself on the glove, because then the glove, I’ve seen it gets very, very very bloody. Is that hard to wash out?

Kyrgyz

He says yes that’s true, but…

Kyrgyz

He says it’s better not to offer a glove, but offer a hand or fingers to clean the beak. In the wild, in the nature, the wild eagles they actually clean it with a talons, a talon, his beak, and his nostrils, but as his talons, his feet is rope, tied with a rope, it’s better to offer a hand or a fingers to clean, that’s the better one, best one, he says.

But when the gloves do get bloody, do you just wash it out with soap and water and then it’s clean?

Kyrgyz

Yeah, could be washed out.

The other thing that I was thinking about was, he was talking about that one man that didn’t hunt with his bürküt for two years, and about how you know, that’s not good for the bird, and I was thinking about how there’s, maybe there’s a lot, there’s a lot of people like that now, because there are all those men, like especially on the north shore, on Issyk Kul, who have their birds to take photographs with tourists. So, does he know anything about these men, and like, are they, I mean, do real bürkütchüs sort of look down on these people?

Kyrgyz

He says yes that man was not setting, or even training, hunting with his eagle for two years, two years, twenty four months, a long time for a bürküt not to hunt, he says, and he says actually I didn’t like that man after that, because even he could come to me and ask me to give one live bürküt, to train and to set his bürküt to that fox, and I could do that even, he says, but I didn’t like that man, and he said that it might be that he think that that man was also doing that, earning money with his bürküt, like showing taking pictures with the tourists, he says actually it’s not good, I don’t like it, the bürküt is not just an animal, it’s your partner. It’s not good to treat with the bürküt, with the raptor like that, he said, because its like a child getting used to you, trust you, but you are using him in this way, not good he says. He also don’t like this people.

I was just thinking, is there a name for this kind of people, because you wouldn’t call them a bürküt, because you wouldn’t hunt with them.

He says actually, they are not münüshkörs, they are not bürkütchüs if they are not doing hunting, and if they are not doing hunting they have to just set it free. But there are no names for these kind of people.

It seems like maybe now there’s a lot of them just because the economy in Kyrgyzstan is bad, so maybe people think, well this is an easy way to make money, to sell these photographs to tourists. But is this a recent phenomenon, or did people do this during the Soviet era with tourists then?

Kyrgyz

He says yeah, that’s the Soviet time there were no that man because there were no tourists because the country was closed for the tourists, but now as the Kyrgyzstan became independent, and as the tourists, visitors, a lot of tourists, visitors are coming to the Cholpon-Ata, to the Issyk-Kul, he saw on the TV one guy had the baiköbök raptor [Eurasian marsh harrier], and it looks like a kush, falcon, baiköbök

Is it this one, baiköbök?

And he’s telling to the visitors that’s its a falcon, but it’s a not falcon, it’s a baiköbök, and he earning money from it.

I remember when we were in Cholpon-Ata there was that man who, remember we met one of these people who, he had, he had do you remember that?

In Grigorievka

Yeah, he had the eagle and he was hugging it and petting it, and he said that it was a male eagle. Is there any other situation, example, where someone would have a male eagle? Or is it only people like this who don’t hunt?

Kyrgyz

I asked is it true that münüshkörs just have the, the taking the female bürküt only, he says no, same with the male bürküt he says, münüshkörs have and the male bürküt and the female bürküt, not depends, there is no difference, just the female one little bit bigger than male bürküt, but the they are both same skills.

Really? Because I thought it was almost always women, female…

No, he says female bürküts just bigger, that’s it, just tough, they are both same, no difference.

But for example, I imagine that female bürküts are preferred then, because they’re bigger. so when they’re going to the nest, to find a bird, do they check first to see if it’s female or male, because they want the female?

Kyrgyz

He says when they going to the nest, it’s impossible to define the sex of the burkut, when it will start to fly, it will start to hunt, and that time you can define the sex, he says now they don’t care about the sex.

So how can you tell that, you said when they start to fly, when they start to hunt, then you can tell the sex. So how?

Kyrgyz

He says it’s easy to define, just from the beak. So female beak, female has a long beak, but the male eagle has a short, shorter beak, and it’s more like, not…

Straighter?

Not thin, not straight, but it’s more like this…

Thick?

Thick, yeah, but with female it’s bigger, longer, and thinner.

Um, what was I gonna say. Oh is there, do they have different names for a male eagle versus a female eagle, because remember there was a different name for a male itelgi, right, it was like…

Chuylu, itelgi. Not itelgi, chuylu and kush.

Uh huh.

Kyrgyz.

No. Just the bürküt. Erkek bürküt, urgaachy bürküt. Female bürküt or male bürküt.

So the only difference is the size? Because I thought I understood that in the wild, the female bürküts are the ones who do most of the hunting, so that they have, they’re more naturally better hunters.

Kyrgyz

It’s a bullshit.

Yeah?

Kyrgyz

Same male too would be sharpsighted.

Kyrgyz

He says so in the nature, in the wild if the parents would be good, good bürküts, if they will treat well as the parents to the chicks in the nest, the two chicks, female and male, they both will be sharpsighted, but if the parents will not treat well, so one will be sharpsighted and one will be weaker, he says.

Alright, I think my last question is about, is about the weight of the eagles, how you know, cause this is the most difficult part is that you don’t want it to be too thick or fat, and you don’t want it to be too thin, sort of this optimal weight, right, that you want to keep it at. And one of the ways they tell is feeling it, right, and that’s how they can know how fat it is, know know how thin it is. So what I want to know is that, is this something you just have to learn by experience, or is there some rule of thumb. Do you know what a rule of thumb is?

Rule of the…

Rule of thumb means like a simple thing to remember, so you know…

Yeah.

Kyrgyz

So he says so it’s easy, that you have to check also the breast, here, the breast, the meat on the breast, here also…

Armpit.

Yeah, here, the bones. Here. And…

Kyrgyz

And here the bone will be just, like can be touched because if it will be thin, here the long bone

It’s like below the breast…

Can be easily touched by the finger, and also from the wing, you also can see from the wing and the feet, and he says…

Kyrgyz

He says it’s easy that if he thin, than here his meat will be too soft.

This is on the wing?

Yeah on the wing. When you put, touching his meat here, then you can just even move, it will be thin. Here you can touch his bones if it thin, then there will be no meat, just the bones and you can touch, and here too just the bones will be, like I have, I have only bones so I am thin, you don’t have the bones, you are fat.

Fuck you fucker.

I have only bones and I have also here soft, it means I am thin, same as the bürküt. And if he has, if he’s fat as you, it will have more hard meat here, and here too it will have a meat, and here too it will be a meat. But you can feel the bones. But if you want to set your bürküt and if you want that he will hunt successfully, it’s important then he will be little bit, he will be thin, like me, not hard and not soft, a little bit you can touch the bones, as he will be hungry he will easily get prey.

Kyrgyz

He says now he’s telling his secrets that knows only he. So his claws, yeah, these two…

Kyrgyz

Two Zhem basars.

The first finger, it’s sort of like the index finger, it’s the first one after the thumb.

Yeah it’s calling zhem basar. And the range will be only this, so it’s like five six centimeters, and you have to tied it up with a rope here, in the soft place of the talon, of the claw.

Wait, what is five or six centimeters?

So the distance between the left, between the right and the left fingers. Distance.

Oh like, but can’t they spread their legs? I don’t understand.

Kyrgyz

So now it’s a, this is five, yeah? This is ten, the distance between the two feets, two these fingers should be only like this, like six or five centimeters, see, see? From here to here, like six centimeters distance.

Okay. This is just when it’s sitting down?

At this distance it should be tieded up, two fingers to each other, then he can’t take off his tomogo or he can’t, he can’t touch you with his claws when you’re feeding, because he’s a child, he wants to get it, and when you’re getting meat, he will try to get it by his claws, by his talons, and he will not hurt you, because his talons, two talons, two his fingers tied together at the distance fix six centimeters, and he can’t take off his tomogo, and he will get used to it, and when later…

Kyrgyz

Do you understand the centimeters?

Yeah I just didn’t understand what you’re saying, I thought we were still talking about the weight.

Not weight.

No, now we’re just talking about tying their feet together, six centimeters apart.

Tying this fingers, zhem, zhem basar fingers. Two zhem basar of the right and left feets

With a rope.

With a rope, but softly, not hard, not to a talon, to a nail, fingernail, just for this place, softly you tie a rope and the distance between each other five six centimeters, like this, and you tying up this, and then he can’t take off his hat, his tomogo or he will not hurt you like, he will not do, I don’t know, to hurt you with this claws, with his talons, and when you’re feeding he will not try to take from you the meat, but just will be like a nice boy.

Kyrgyz

Because as his fingers will be tieded up to each other, he can’t take his other feet, or this feet because it’s tieded to the other! Иf he will do this he will just drop down, and that’s why for him it will be not comfortable, and he will not take from you a meat, but it will eat as you are giving. And so he will be calm, and he will get used to it, and you will understand when he will get used to it, and you can just not tied it, and he will not take off his tomogo, so it’s a just a psychology.

This is just at the beginning, it’s training. So you keep it on there all the time for this first period, do you keep it on there all the time?

Yeah all the time, but when you are, of course the one time you will take it off, when you are doing the training set, you are setting, you will take it off right? Because it’s, he needs it to move. And he says that you will understand when you will take it off this, he will not try to take off his tomogo, or to hurt you or to get from you the meat.

Kyrgyz

He says, so, secret number two, about the tomogo. he says when you first teaching, training for tomogo to your eagle, when you make the tomogo, you’re putting the tomogo to his head, after three minutes you take it off, and see is it not wet, that it’s not squeezing his eyes, or his eye, and then you are again putting it, after a couple minutes you again take it off, and you again putting that. So it’s important to never hurt the eagle, because never make the pain his meat or his some places, feets, eyes, everything, that he will not be disappointed with you, or will upset you, and, because he will gonna remember that remember that bad things too and never forget it, that’s why it’s important to when you first using the tomogo also it’s important he says when you’re putting that things, that, here, with the leather actually, it’s origin one, but he says it’s important for first time to train him and to get used to him with the, how say, it’s the plastic, not plastic, but it’s a…maybe I will tell to write in english, it’s a rezina, like in a condom, soft…

Rubber?

Rubber. So it’s not as hard as a leather, and it can not hurt, and he will faster get used to tomogo, because it’s soft here, and then you will switch it, change it with the leather, kayish, this thing…

Because this part is often annoying to the eagle, they don’t like it?

Yeah. So important thing is never hurt the eagle, make them pain.

So, so if you put it on first, and you see that it’s wet,

You have to..

Is the, is the leather, the leather can stretch, you can just *tch tch* and the leather will bend?

Kyrgyz

So it’s important only not about the eyes, he says, if his eyes are hurt, you take a stick and making it bigger, yeah? That it will be more bigger, and you will put it back and check, but also important thing the tomogo can also squeeze his head, and it’s important you can put inside a sticks to make it bigger, or actually the smart one is to put the metal things, like decorations and it helping it to make it bigger the leather on his head, like you’re putting it and I don’t know, settling it, with a, like, stuffing it…

Stapling the decorations into the tomogo…?

Into the leather, like making it bigger, and it also makes more do the tomogo decorative, like look nice, but it also helping to make it bigger, and you putting it back to the head.

How do you know if its too small for the head?

Kyrgyz

He says that, so some bürküt has bigger head, some has smaller, and it’s easier to understand that because when you’re putting it you can feel it, he says and some bürküts also they here, sometimes they doing like this…

The back of the head there’s like a bump…

Yeah bump, and it’s important like here will be more little bit space, that he will not never squeeze it, sometimes it will get a bump, or sometimes it just will get down.

Oh the feathers, it will sort of flay its feathers up, right.

Kyrygz

Yeah.

Remember when we were in Kazakhstan and we saw that metal stencil for the, for the tomogo, it was like the example for it, and that’s how they cut out from the leather, does he use something like that? And, you know, how do they determine how big to do it? They just have to make it one size and then fix it?

Kyrgyz

He says yeah, it’s same here, there one model, like, for construction, construction model, and they doing, cutting from the, by the help of the model the size of the model, and it depends is it has big or small hands, you can make it smaller or bigger, but the example is always wide, he says, the model.

It’s sort of like just an average size head, and then they have to just fit it and see how it fits and then change it

Change it, make it bigger or smaller, and he said as the gyrfalcons has smaller head, they also has for the other model, for tomogo construction, and tomorrow Ruschek will show us that. Okay, shut up.

Sary-Ata on his newly-captured bird, a gift from god

Recorded: November 28th, 2010

An interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. Transcript of English only:

Why don’t we just repeat what we were talking about, so we get the English.

So he was telling about the stripes on his wings, so here one, two, three. And this is like…

Three stripes of white.

…[black of] letter on the middle stripes, the brown spots.

He said it’s like letters.

Like letters. Looks like a letters.

The white blocks in the middle have brown inside of them.

And so his tail…

And you were saying before that the tail is like a goat’s hoof, like the track of a goat’s hoof.

Goat’s, or sheep’s, he says. And he’s telling about the beak, he says. You see this yellow on the top of his beak? He says the usual, typical falcons has this yellow part of the beak until this place, so he’s most of the part of his beak is the black part.

The black part. And also he said before that the legs are longer.

Yeah. And he told me that it’s a female falcon.

It’s a female falcon.

And I asked him how he defined is it female or male, and he said me it’s bigger than male. But I can’t still understand how exactly small than male and how exactly is bigger than female, because it’s hard to measure, yeah, actually.

So he was telling about the claw

The talon.

The talon. That this one is like a nail, it’s not big at the end, it’s still thin, and it can deeply and fully get into the meat, the body of the prey.

Because the talon is thin all the way to the base, it means it can more deeply penetrate the meat. How old does he think it is?

Three monthses that he started to fly, three monthses from that time that it started to fly.

How does he know?

He says this is a falcon falcon, chick of the falcon of this year, so he born this year, and was taughted to fly from September, he says most of the falcons start to fly from September, the chicks, and three months from September, he estimated, like September, October, November.

But he can just tell it’s a young bird, that it was born this year. When was it born?

So it was born in May. Learned to fly in September.

From the eggs.

Yeah, hatched.

Yeah, from the eggs.

Yeah, you can, when you look at it you can tell that it’s young, because all its feathers are sort of very nice and neat.

And he also was telling that I told him, is the male falcon can be only blue or grey, and female will stay for always brown, he told me no, after the one year, it will also will be grey or blue. The dark blue. And, yeah, so…

Say again the name of this bird, this kind of…it’s a kush, yeah?

Tunjur.

Tunjur.

You have it on your…

Yeah we have it listed. Yeah.

Second one, Tunjur.

When we come back next time, we will have the chart printed for him and we will make a copy.

Okay.

Yeah he’s surprisingly calm for only yesterday he was out flying and now he’s here and he doesn’t…

He said so yesterday he captured it at four p.m., and from the fifty, when the fifty minutes left to six he started to treat with him, to teach, to adopt him, to adopt the falcon to Sary, and til, until twelve he was sitting, he was with the falcon. From the twelve he go to bed. And then, so, still now this time he didn’t give anything, any food, because he told me that he will not eat anything, and he says…

The bird doesn’t want to eat?

He said also that, as the bird, he says also that he’s making shit and it means that he’s not hungry or…

He already has food

Or he’s full. He was captured or he ate meat and he says me that it’s a actually good raptor, keen falcon, as it’s tunjur, and that’s why he never will be hungry. And uh, pause. He…

Yeah he was saying because tomorrow is his jubilee…

Jubilee, and it’s a gift of god for him. He said yes, because also that he captured not just a typical falcon but one of the best ones, yeah, the keenest one. After tuygun, of course.

So when he first caught it yesterday, are there any rituals that he should do this first day after he got it, because we’ve talked before about how they put the sary mai on the eagles sometimes, this kind of thing.

He says yes, there are some traditions, and he did it yesterday. First he, so they cooked nine nans, nan is a local bread, not lepyoshka, but the bigger one, Kyrgyz bread, nine Kyrgyz bread. And then they do the, not praying but just read the koran, and then he said they wrap it, wrap his beak and his talons with the sary mai…

Rub the sary mai on his beak and talons.

And then they called, invited the people from the neighborhood and give them dinner, chai, tea, yeah, these things.

Puh. Puh. Yes, because he didn’t had anything from the…

Yeah, no training yet.

He’s saying you should only say that when you have food?

Yes, he was saying that, I remember that you didn’t feed anything, don’t pay attention to him.

So can he tell me more about how he caught it, you told me a little bit before when we were in the other room, but maybe we can just, tell me again.

So he said, so he, they captured it when before they saw that he was trying to get the hen, which was just walking around in the yard, and saw it, the people, his grandson, this people here, they saw that, and then when they come, when they came to the hen, he flied to a tree, and then they decided to put this thin ropes, which one they calling kultak to a hen, so a hen’s stomach side, breast, and then hen’s back, and then with a long rope they tied a hen to some heavy metal that then the falcon can’t fly away, because it’s heavy, and then he was waiting, he didn’t fly away, and then when they step back for a far distance from the hen, he again set himself to a hen, but he get into, got into that trap on the hen…

The net.

Yeah, this small nets on the hen, and his all, all his talons, his claws, was in the nets, and then it was lying down and couldn’t fly away, he was lying down in the ground, and then the children, the guys captured it.

So what was the first thing they did to capture it,when it was on the ground, like, to put the things on this legs, like, how did they restrain it, because it was trying to fly away, yeah.

So when it get, got into into the net, the hen, he tried to run away, to fly away, but he couldn’t do that because of his legs that was in the net, of his talons, claws, and then he just fall down to the ground, his breast, to the ground, and then Rustam came and just captured. Because he was lying down by his face on the ground.

But they never put a hood on it, right?

He said it’s nots bites.

But was it dangerous, I mean do they have to be careful to put the things on his legs because his talons are very sharp.

Because he couldn’t, couldn’t do that because was in the nets, his talons.

So these rituals that he did yesterday, like baking the nine pieces of bread, is it specific for this kind of bird, or does he do it every time he catches a bird.

Same for all the raptors, all birds.

And is there any meaning behind the nine pieces of bread?

He says to do a omin, when I’m doing this, when we’re doing always…

The Muslim prayer.

Yeah, it’s, he says it’s important to cook the nine bread, but actually it’s not nine, it’s seven, I don’t know why they do it nine, but actually we do it seven breads to do a pray, koran, for a special ceremonies or special days…

For special events.

For special events.

So normally it’s seven pieces of bread, but he said nine, and he didn’t say why it was different?

He says nine is more Kyrgyz, like Kyrgyz tradition.

Oh yeah.

Because they wish, he wish for his raptor to be keen, to be good hunter, ak zholtoi, and jakshy bolsun, he says.

So it’s for good luck.

He says the crow will never sit on the man’s hand as a falcon, but a falcon is close to a man, and that’s why he sits, just take a look, he says.

It’s very comfortable.

Like he understands what’s happening.

Yeah he’s like, “Oh, here I am.”

“You got me. Okay, I’m yours.” Maybe it’s mother was telling, “One day you will be captured by Sary and be ready, don’t do anything bad, yeah, he’s a good person. We call them munushkor, yeah, and this is ritual.”

“It is an honor if you will be caught by Sary Satylganov.”

Yeah.

So how, how rare is this kind of bird, how often has he seen this kind of bird?

He says yes, it’s really rare, and he did capture it only one time, and it was tuygun, the number one falcon.

Number one falcon.

He said, if he will bites it one time, then he will start to eat.

What kind of meat is it that he is giving him?

It’s a bird’s meat.

What kind of bird?

Taranchi.

Taranchi?

I don’t know actually what is that mean, is the translation, I will tell you later.

Is there, is this a special kind of meat that he’s giving, or this is just the meat that he has already.

See, it’s a bird.

Oh, it’s a very small bird, I see.

He was saying it’s a really good meat of this bird, it’s really nutrition, full of nutritions. He said, they are many have of this bird, they have, tomorrow we can see it.

I think I know what kind of…

He said it doesn’t want to eat, don’t want to eat.

Yeah.

So I ask him first that I guess that he good before when he was captured, he said yes. And he said that he can’t, it can’t eat for three days even, if you would like, and then he said but also the other way to start feed it and end up is just to leave him alone with the meat and he will start, he will do it, and then it’s important to come at that time, to come to the falcon easily, not to scare, and then take a seat near, and then it will adopt you, and get used to you.

Because I mean, the bird must think it’s strange to be eating meat from this man, so maybe that’s why he’s shy, about eating.

I am telling that as the falcon see, and know Sary for almost one day, and maybe he got used to him, but he see, it see us for just now, and maybe he shy of us, and maybe if we will leave it will start to eat, I was telling that.

So last night did Sary try, remember when there was that first bird, he was poking it, trying to keep it awake, did he do the same for this bird, to try to keep it awake?

Yes he did, last night too. He says now if he could be in the, that room, that place, that small house, one-room house, as there are no man or nobody, he will do sleeping, but as now as it’s with us, he can’t sleep.

So tonight too, does he want to keep the bird awake, like how long should the, should the bird be kept awake?

He says it depends if you will not tired and get asleep, and so you can stay awake for a long time…

If the hunter?

If the hunter will not get asleep. Because he will not touch himself awake, yeah, make himself awake, but hunter have to push him with a finger, with a hand to keep him awake, that’s why if I wll not get a sleep, I will sit for time until I will get asleep.

So…

He says when younger, just sit near the raptor like now, and was looking at the, at it, and not letting to sleep, falling asleep. He says, that actually, this is how it works. I ask him maybe you will leave for a while, that maybe he will start eat, he says no he will not even do that, if you will leave.

Is there a reason he uses the stick to poke the bird and not his fingers?

He says because your hands not long enough to touch him, because you are sitting in this distance, and that’s why it’s easier to use a stick to touch him. And when it fall to sleep you just touch it with a stick, that things that he did, and he will keep himself awake. And you can sleep here, even have a longer stick, while you sleep lying down. This long stick you can take.

As long as your arm. So obviously, I guess the reason why you’re at a distance is because for one thing you don’t want it to shit on you, for another thing you don’t want it to fly in your face or something…

And also he can grab you with his talons, that’s why just keep you safe.

Sure.

He says yes that’s true, it grabs with the talons too, that’s why he has this long rope, can’t fly to the hunter and grab him. He says that it’s also as a one reason that, it sits on this chair, that because if you will have a falcon on your hand, you will, your hand will get tired, and this is easier. And if you will get tired, you want to sleep, that’s why…you also have to give yourself. He’s also telling that, like you told it’s a god’s gift, like this, gift, this kind of thing he’s telling. He’s also wondering, he got it this date, when it’s his birthday.

Yeah.

Sary-Ata on making leather falconry hoods

Recorded: November 28th, 2010

Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. Only English is transcribed:

This is, he says this is Arabic tomogo.

Okay.

Arab’s tomogo.

Kyrgyz

This is usual tomogo. That one.

Kyrgyz

Also for not itelgi but for burkut also this kind of model.

Yeah.

Yeah.

So…

The thing is when the burkutchu needss to make it bigger, here he stretch it, then if he make make it bigger again…

Sews it back up again.

Yeah.

So where did, did, he made this he himself?

Kyrgyz

Yeah.

And where did he get, where did he get the material?

His son sewed it. He used to it before but now his eyes not so good as before.

Yeah.

Kyrgyz

He said it’s just a fabric, leather, they bought it in the shop.

These are just two different kinds of leather?

Kyrgyz

This is the other from the shoes, from the…massy? You know massy? So he got it also from the shop.

And this one? Did, did he make this or did he buy it?

Kyrgyz

So he gathered it from his friends who were in Arabic countries.

Oh. Does he know why there are these holes right here?

Kyrgyz

Because he says the air, he says the air comes from this hole and his eyes will not be, how to say…

Dry or something?

Yeah it will be dry but not wet. Same with the glasses he says.

Same with what?

Glass. Spectacles.

Oh. Do they ever, do they ever put those holes on, on these ones, on the ones that they make?

Kyrgyz

He says they also do if they have the shuege, shuege it’s…I’ll look for it. Actually it’s just long nail, sharp nail [шеге in Kazakh].

Okay.

Sary-Ata on catching fish with bald eagles

Recorded: November 28th, 2010

Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. Only English is transcribed:

Kyrgyz

He said that there also burkut, golden eagle, that fish, that hunts for fish and duck, but only on the water, that is on the water, never it hunts for prey on the earth, on the ground, ground prey, just the prey of the water, and he hunts for fish and for duck, so he is flying on the, over the water and when the fish is playing close to the top of the water, he is catching it, and the ducks when they see it they going to the water, and he just waiting for them, and as the duck need to…

Breathe.

Breathe and went up from the water and then he captured at that moment and eats it on the, goes to the land and eats it, his prey. And he says it also looks like usual burkuts, it’s also big but it has short tail. And I asked is it possible to adopt him to a man and teach him to hunt not only for water prey but also for ground prey, he said I dunno, he never heard of one munushkor do that, did that.

Well maybe even just you could capture it and not teach it to catch land prey, but you could just go to Issyk Kul every day and go fishing with your eagle. That would be cool.

Kyrgyz

So he said that he never heard that somebody capture it and set it, so but he says also as a duck can land to a water and sit on the water for a while and wait his prey, he said when he catch his prey he easily fly from the, fly from the water side and land and dry himself. And never sink to the water, that eagle, just as a duck has the special feathers and not let him to make wet.

I mean I know that we have lots of these kind of eagles, bald eagles, in America and there’s lots of falconers, but I never heard of anybody doing that either, it would be interesting to see.

Sary-Ata on the holiness of owls

Recorded: November 28th, 2010

Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. Only English is transcribed:

So mykiy ükü is the holy, holiest, only holy bird of the all birds in the world, and nobody has to touch him or has to capture or kill him even, that’s why nobody can’t capture this owl. Because of the fairy tale that he told me, and now I know why it’s holy, there’s a fairy tale about this owl.

So maybe these other owls sometimes people capture them for their feathers, but with this owl nobody ever captures it?

Kyrgyz

He said actually that all the owls is holy, and the people who understand that and who know that they don’t touch them, they don’t kill them.

Kyrgyz

So this three is a, can be, is an owl..

The first two, one, two, and three

The first three. It’s holy, but this one not counts an owl, because it’s small one.

Zhapalak.

Yeah zhapalak, this is not act like this three, it’s really small. And he says the people who knows about this owls, who knows that it’s holy, they don’t touch, don’t touch them, but as for your question, when I asked your question, that people kills it and take their talons, the feathers for the head, he said this is the people that don’t know that, that it’s holy.

No I don’t mean that people always kill them, because they say they will capture the owl, and then, you know once a year they shed them, like the eagle sheds their feathers, right, and that’s how they get the feathers. I don’t think they necessarily catch them.

But he even telling that people don’t have to catch them.

Don’t even catch them.

Yeah. If the owl get to the net, because you put the net to the raptors, right, but not for owl, and if the owl got to the net and he died here, he said then it’s okay, because its get to the net and its died so you can take the feathers and the talons.

Interview with Sary Satylganov in Kyrgyz Only, Part One

Recorded: November 28th, 2010


Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. This segment is in Kyrgyz only.

Interview with Sary Satylganov in Kyrgyz Only, Part Two

Recorded: November 28th, 2010


Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. This segment is in Kyrgyz only.

Interview with Sary Satylganov in Kyrgyz Only, Part Three

Recorded: November 28th, 2010

Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. This segment is in Kyrgyz only.

Interview with Sary Satylganov in Kyrgyz Only, Part Four

Recorded: November 28th, 2010

Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. This segment is in Kyrgyz only.

Interview with Sary Satylganov in Kyrgyz Only, Part Five

Recorded: November 28th, 2010

Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. This segment is in Kyrgyz only.

Interview with Sary Satylganov in Kyrgyz Only, Part Six

Recorded: November 28th, 2010

Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. This segment is in Kyrgyz only.

Interview with Sary Satylganov in Kyrgyz Only, Part Eight

Recorded: November 28th, 2010

Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. This segment is in Kyrgyz only.

Interview with Sary Satylganov in Kyrgyz Only, Part Nine

Recorded: November 28th, 2010

Interview with falconer Sary Satylganov at his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. This segment is in Kyrgyz only.

Sary-Ata while checking a falcon trap

Recorded: November 28th, 2010

Recording of conversation with falconer Sary Satylganov while checking falcon traps near his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. Transcript is of English only:

Kyrgyz

He says first they, the falcon or the raptors they sitting on the trees and they then see the chicken, the hen, then they flying to catch it, attacking, and when they attacking, especially falcons, they can get the hen by their feet, and it’s important for kultak, the role of the kultak in this case that they feet will get into the kultak, and they can’t kill it or eat it, because their feet also will be in the trap, the kultak.

And this is weighed down with a piece of lead?

Lead?

Is that what that is?

It’s not lead it’s just something heavy metal that hen can’t run away

Sary-Ata on ancient techniques for making nets

Recorded: November 28th, 2010

Recording of conversation with falconer Sary Satylganov while checking falcon traps near his home in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. Transcript is of English only:
Kyrgyz

He says from the ancient times the…

Kyrgyz

He says from the ancient times, people used to, as there was no factories or plants where they can buy a rope, there was a technique to produce a rope, so from the wool? Maybe, or from the other fabrics, then, they asking, they was asking to their wives to make, to the womans make the rope, and then from the rope they make the nets and capturing the raptors. And he says before the Issyk Kul munushkors, burkutchus used to go to At Bashy, because he’s telling that At Bashy’s, Naryn’s burkuts are more excited one, and they were taking their nets and pigeons, or kekilik partridge, and catching, catching the eagles there in At Bashy.

Oh so they used to take the equipment to At Bashy to capture the eagles there. Where’s At Bashy?

In Naryn.

In Naryn.

Falconer and artist Mairamkul Asanaliev on the Sanat-Kumai Federation

Recorded: December 24th, 2010

Interview with Mairamkul Asanaliev, artist and vice-president of the Sanat-Kumai hunting federation, at a Chinese restaurant in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and Abai Aitikulov. The recording has been lost, but the transcription of the English parts of the interview has been saved:

He’s telling they now busy with creating the new international federation of falconers. Kyrgyz International Falconry Federation. And they want to do all that competitions, hunting competitions, that we saw in the other festivals that was held by the other federations. And also he said he’s a person who was organized the festival, the competition, that you saw last time in Bishkek. He was also telling that in the picture [pointing to a photo Mairamkul had given me] this is the people, the eagle hunters from [unclear], this one and this one, they do falconry, they set falcons, this is eagle hunters.

Yeah I remember we met both of them in Talas [pointing to two hunters we met at a festival in the city of Talas], and we met him in Bokonbaevo [pointing to Tenti Dzhamanakov, a hunter from the province of Issyk-Kul].

Kyrgyz

Where was this? [pointing to a photograph of hunters in a mountainous locale]

Tong Rayon.

Mm.

They were doing hunting. Eagle hunting.

Kyrgyz

Is this his dog?

It’s not. His taigan’s at home.

Kyrgyz

Where’s this?

Kyrgyz

This is, it is Bishkek. Before they leave to Talas to this festival they had a press conference in Bishkek, give a press conference and had a picture.

Kyrgyz

Did you remember him, that he was also in Talas and he was there?

Mairamkul was?

In October.

Yeah? Well I guess I don’t remember.

Kyrgyz

[describing another photograph] Picture on the road from Bishkek to Talas

Kyrgyz

So where is Mairamkul from originally?

Kyrgyz

Originally he’s from Bokonbaevo, and Almaz is his classmate, they graduated together.

Oh yeah?

Yeah.

Almaz Akunov?

Yeah. And he said actually all these festivals and the Sanat…not Sanat-Kumai, but all these festivals were organized by he and himself.

Oh, cool. So, Sanat-Kumai, who is the leader of that federation?

Kyrgyz

He’s the vice-president of this federation and the president is Turusbek Mamashov. He was, previous, in the previous government he was the head of the tourist agency, or industry.

Mmhm.

Kyrgyz

He said, in brief I will tell you what he was talking about. He’s just talking about now he’s planning…[inaudible]…so in brief he was talking about that, so the last festivals theys not actually was good, and requesting level that he want to see, and because it all was messed up and most of the things, most of the competitions was not on the, was not well-organized, and next he wants to organize it that it will be more, more will be professional, and he want also to, to create to make a kind of norms, rules for the competitions, for the festivals and, uh, for the people who can, who would like to participate in these festivals, in these competitions, they also have to pass through this norms, and if not they will not let them to participation, and also he was telling about Almaz Akunov, that he, that he, Almaz Akunov, he messed up all the festivals and he don’t do it as well as they would like to do it, and they now wouldn’t like to work with him, and now they won’t invite him even, not will let him participate in the festival, in their work. He said that Almaz was doing bad, nothing good with the festivals, he’s just spoiling all that, things. But this is in short.

Mairamkul Asanaliev on falconry federation drama

Recorded: December 24th, 2010

Note-to-self after interview with Sanat-Kumai vice-president Mairamkul Asanaliev. Discussion between interpreter Abai Aitikulov and researcher Dennis Keen. The recording has been lost, but the transcription of the English parts of the interview has been saved:

Tell me the last part.

Yeah. The last part. So when I was talking to him and explaining about your study, about the proposal, that you’re planning, as there no information about the Kyrgyz falconry, Kyrgyz burkutchus, you want also to, I didn’t tell him book, but that you want to share, put this information after you collect it all on the internet resources, and also to make it valuable for Kyrgyz people and for the rest of the world. The people then can learn the study and maybe even practice the study, to do falconry.

Yeah.

And also, the main purpose, why you doing this research is because, the reason is that, compared to Kazakhs, Kyrgyz falconry is not as developed as in Kazakhstan, you want by the result of your study, if you will give your advice to retain this tradition and to develop it, the Kyrgyz falconry. And also he was telling that, why they, before they was working with Almaz together, and he gave to Almaz all his ideas…

So he was working with Almaz before…

Yeah, they started together. And he is telling that actually Almaz, he shared his idea with Almaz and they started together to work on it, but then Almaz is kind of, he’s telling that, the person who take all that ideas, but he’s not good at executing. He’s just interested in the beneficial of that idea. Like, to earn money, and…but Talant, he’s not the person who’s good with the finance, with the grants…

Wait, who’s Talant?

Oh, Mairamkul, sorry. He’s not good, he’s not advanced to work with different organizations like Almaz, with the projects, with the grants, and earn, and take a grant.

Right.

And that’s why Almaz was working on it actually. But then, when they was working, Almaz couldn’t, couldn’t make all this work successful, and that most of the people in the federation was upset with him, with his work, that he can’t do, that he’s not as useful as they, as the people of this work would like to. Then the people just divided from him and left him alone. Because they maybe became upset because of his work. He was taking the grants, he got the money, he got the idea, but he couldn’t implement the idea. And that’s why these people left him. They left him alone.

I’m still sort of confused though, because it’s very vague, very unclear, exactly what happened.

Of course. Because these people will not tell you the truth, what actually happened. The thing, the fact is that now they are not working together.

Yeah.

Of course, by the logic, everybody would like them to work together, to cooperate, to make it work, because he’s experienced, these people are experienced how to make it work, but because they don’t do that, it’s of course sad.

Yeah.

But I don’t know, we will see that, because time will give us the truth.

Yeah.

What is the truth. And then maybe we will do the right conclusion.

Yeah. Did he ever say about the timing? Like, when exactly these things happened, like when they were working together and when they…divided?

No. He didn’t give me any numbers, or figures.

Because honestly, I think it’s really holding them back, holding back the tradition in this country, not having a united organization.

Kyrgyz TV Reporter interview falconer

Recorded: January 15th, 2011

Recording of interview given by an unidentified falconer to a television program at the home of Sary Satylganov in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. In Kyrgyz only.

Almaz Akunov on the extent of falconry in Central Asia

Recorded: January 15th, 2011

Interview with Almaz Akunov, leader of the Salburun Hunting Federation. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. Only English has been transcribed:

…doing science, like ornithologists, and the others is just as doing it as a hobby, who has a raptor but not…

So you’re talking about the different groups that are, that know about the tradition, scientists, hunters, and hobbyists, also said about Almaz’s friend who is the coordinator for the Central Asian…what’s it called, Central Asian…?

Kyrgyz

International Falconers Association

Yeah, International Falconers Association?

Yeah, so his friend is the coordinator for Central Asia.

For Central Asia. So he’s looked in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and hasn’t found any hunters, but Almaz was talking about the falconry in Turkmenistan, how it was strengthened by Turkmenbashi, that the hunters there are very respected and it’s written in the law.

His dream, it is his dream to find, to have, to connect with that people, the connection with that people, but he met Kyrgyz woman from the area and he ask her to help with that to him, but he’s still waiting, but he wants to go there too, to meet the people by himself and talk to that.

Almaz Akunov gives advice on research at the Academy of Sciences

Recorded: January 15th, 2011

Interview with Almaz Akunov, leader of the Salburun Hunting Federation. Conducted by researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov. Only English has been transcribed:

He was asking what you are doing in Bishkek and I said you were doing study and learning the Kyrgyz folk music and he said actually about the eagle hunting you can do the study only here and in Bishkek too, because in the national science academy they have many old books, documents of the old scientists who was doing the study, but it’s really difficult to work on this material because it’s too old, and difficult because it’s more wrote in the scientific way, because as people were scientists, and their terminology and these kind of things, he means the language how they way the put it all the material is difficult for people who are not scientists, didn’t study, has the special, how say, knowledge. And most of the people of the scientists, he said, they copied from each other, take from each other some kind of materials, and then, most of them repeating each other, he said, but it’s, he said, that books as it’s really old, and at that time the technique, the technology is not developed as now, most of the books just has letters, less photos, pictures, but now it’s important to make materials that have more photos than letters because people is getting lazy and not love, not like to read as much as people did like a century ago or in the last century, and people more want more to see kind of visually, they choose just see the pictures, videos, these kinds of things, that’s why it’s kind of method to give this to the public is different, he said.

The National Academy of Sciences, is that like, it’s an organization right? Is there a building?

Yeah.

That we can go to?

Yeah. At the Soviet time this institution was one of the important institutions in the countries, in all of thirteen, fifteen countries of Soviet Union. Every republic has they own national science academic. It’s really big institution and big building.

Yeah. But I mean now…

It’s in Bishkek and it’s, actually the IREX, American IREX orgnanization, it’s in the national academic sciences building, it’s really huge building.

So that’s just where scientists work and they get funded by the government? Different academics?

Mmhm.

And so they have some kind of archive?

I think so.

Note-to-self on falconry politics

Recorded: January 15th, 2011

Follow-up conversation between researcher Dennis Keen and interpreter Abai Aitikulov after interview with Almaz Akunov, leader of the Salburun Hunting Federation. Transcript:

…maybe give some falcon or burkut to him .

So you think maybe he gave a falcon or a burkut to him?

Because we heard that Sary gave him burkut, right?

To, to Temir Sariev?

To Temir Sariev, yeah.

Really?

Yeah, he was telling it when we was doing it, when we visited him second time, I think. And then Temir Sariev gave back to Sary ten thousand soms. Remember? It was the first, no not first…

Actually yeah no, it was the first time we went cause remember they had that money and he brought that money to the toi, right?

Yeah yeah, it was festival, yeah, and he was drunk and he come back from the toi and he was telling that to me, yeah, I remember.

So, and it was interesting because, I mean, before Almaz mentioned that there was a businessman who was the president of Salburun. But did he say before that it was Temir Sariev?

When I asked that he said I can’t tell you that, but now he telled it even I didn’t ask him.

So it’s pretty much just like another gift to him to try to earn his attention?

Mmhm. This is a business, man. Business, this is how people do business here.

Yeah. Give and take.

Yep, everywhere.

Yeah, I mean, I want to ask Almaz how much money they gave him.

Gave who?

How much Ak Shumkar gave to Salburun.

For what?

For everything, I dunno.

Oh. I dunno, I don’t think it’s, we can’t ask that because we’re doing this study, but I don’t think that he will tell.

No?

If even he will tell, will not tell the truth. Because maybe it was much money, and Ak Shumkar already gave to Salburun.

Well I also wonder why did he choose Ak Shumkar? Because it’s Ak Shumkar? Because he likes shumkar?

We’d have to ask that.

Almaz Akunov at his museum, discussing a falcon conservation project

Recorded: January 15th, 2011

Recording during a tour of Almaz Akunov’s falconry museum (in progress) in Bokonbaevo, Kyrgyzstan. Transcript of English only:

Kyrgyz

This is all about the project, the project that they worked with GEF, and this is the place that, with the small picture of the birds, it’s a place with the nest of the raptors, and they took a picture of the nests, they monitored it, so this is all Tong Raion.

Kyrgyz

Almaz Akunov on the artifacts at his museum

Recorded: January 15th, 2011

Recording during a tour of Almaz Akunov’s falconry museum (in progress) in Bokonbaevo, Kyrgyzstan. Transcript of English only:

About the Kyrgyz life

Kyrgyz

He was talking that it’s actually there’s a whole building that needs for payment for construction, so this room was constructed, the GEF gave them funds to do that.

And how did they collect these materials?

Kyrgyz

From everywhere.

Okay.

Kyrgyz

The most priceless things is this one, the things of the hunters.

Kyrgyz

So this is his meet, and that was in the Cholpon-Ata schools they organized a competition for the falconry topic, and one guy, one boy did it, made it, and of course he was winner of the competition, and he bought it from this boy.

Almaz Akunov on museum admission and eating wolf meat

Recorded: January 15th, 2011

Recording during a tour of Almaz Akunov’s falconry museum (in progress) in Bokonbaevo, Kyrgyzstan. Transcript of English only:

He was telling that they were planning to organize here kind of all of that things that are related to a falconry, Kyrgyz falconry, and first when he was writing you, doing fundraising and send you letter first time, he was ask you help with funds for…and construction and kind of..that things and this room he said. But then he was also telling that actually our ancestors most of them as we was nomad people all the men of the Kyrgyz was a kind of also warriors because of the nomadic life we used to always secure our tribes and our families and he said that’s why he wants to also collect more things for the like nomadic life, like warriors, and falconry, and to put here kind of big shelf that is glassed that people can’t touch it and it will be well and safe.

He said something when we were first coming inside about how the museum got started, and how the project started five years ago or something?

Yeah he said something like, couple years ago GEF kinda supported the idea to have a museum, and they fund, give a funds, and they bought this part of building which was just rooms and this kind of things.

So I mean is the museum open in the summer for tourists?

Kyrgyz

He said in the wintertime it’s a kind of dead season when there are no tourists and even local people are not interested in the winters, and the last year it was a hard year for Kyrgyzstan and all Kyrygz people, there was less tourists and because of the political events that is happened, in the summer there was few people, but the good season for the museum is the summer, he said. But the two years ago before the last year there was good season, there was many tourists who visited this museum. And he said that now he is trying to develop and to organize well the museum, and he is kind of seeking for funds from the international organizations, different institutions, and he also was taking part in the conference of museum of the Kyrgyzstan, and most, except his museum all the museums were state museums, funding from the government budget, and he defined that actually government if it’s a private it can’t give a funds from the governmental budget, and it’s the same with the Ministry of Culture, they also don’t support the private museums, but now he trying to work, he is working actually with international organization to develop his museum, business.

In the summer when the tourists come, is the admission free?

Kyrgyz

Actually it’s not for free, it’s a fifty soms, for first it was twenty soms just to attract the people, to attract the tourists, but now for tourists it’s fifty somes, and for local people it’s ten soms.

So you know, most tourists when they come to Kyrgyzstan they, you know, buy some kind of guidebook where it says the different museums they can visit, and this museum isn’t in any of the guidebooks, so if he wants I can submit his museum to the different guidebook companies so when they print their new editions the museum will be there and more people will come.

Kyrgyz

He said the kind of museum is ready for sixty percent, and he needs more things, more about the falconry, pictures of the old falconers, eagle hunters and this kind of information, different information, then this is will be only museum room, where people can see this stuff, and there will be just a kind of office where people, museum staff will sit and service, serve the visitors of the museum.

So he thinks it’s not ready to publicize? What was the answer about the guidebooks?

The guidebooks? The guidebooks, he didn’t answer anything, he said just, shake his head like, yeah, it will be good.

Okay.

…the museum in Jety Kazyna. They have all the things that he want to have. The pictures of the old eagle hunters, the equipment, but not, I don’t think they have any lifestyle of Kazakh things, of ancient Kazakh like him

Yeah I mean I think really they should focus on hunting, because you can see these kinds of things in other places but hunting is sort of the special thing about this region.

…is it eatable, the wolf meat, is it eatable? He said no but there is no eatables, but there is some stupid crazy people who eats it, the wolf’s meat, wolf’s.

Why did you ask that, if it was edible?

Because he said that he boiled that in kazan.

Oh he boiled that, okay. But before that he was saying some more.

He was saying about that, yes you are right, I translated that things that you said about the museum, about what kind of things should be making next…

Focus, yeah.

He’s agree with you and he says of course it will be focused more about the falconry.

Almaz Akunov on cooperating with the Ak Shumkar political party

Recorded: January 15th, 2011

Recording during a tour of Almaz Akunov’s falconry museum (in progress) in Bokonbaevo, Kyrgyzstan. Transcript of English only:

He was explaining why they give for rent their office for Ak Shumkar political party and he said we are trying to find money from everywhere, how we can do that, that’s why they give for rent their office for Ak Shumkar party and even they, he, they made Temir Sariev the leader of this political party the president of Salburun, and he’s actually, Sariev he’s a businessman he has been, he has enough money for help for Salburun federation. And he said actually it’s really difficult to do the fundraising and to develop the eagle hunting traditions, falconry, and to develop the federation because there no local people who is interest in even not falconry but just in the culture, and that’s why most of the time it’s hard to do and everything that is related to the tradition, sometimes they failed, sometimes they are successful, and what he says…difficult to do fundraising in Bishkek, and even he said as there’s no support from the government and this is now it’s really difficult time when the people even don’t have the enough money for they food and that’s why of course if they don’t have enough money for food they don’t have enough food or good life conditions they will not interested in the culture that they have to survive.

Kyrgyz

This is for museum.

Okay, yeah, no problem.

The others he will take and…

Short biographical interview with Aitbek Suleiman for a census of falconers

Recorded: January 15th, 2011


Short interview for a census of falconers, conducted with Aitbek Suleiman and one unidentified falconer at the home of Sary Satylganov in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Only English is transcribed:

Kyrgyz

Actually we met them in the Salburun, we saw them but we didn’t talk

Yeah, but we never got to talk.

Kyrgyz

They both from Tong Raion, in Bokonbaevo.

Kyrgyz

So you wanna ask questions?

Yeah.

Kyrgyz

[Suleiman Aitbek. I live in Tört Köl. 34 years old. Hunted with eagles 8 years. Father is Suleimanbekov Kutuldu.]

Short biographical interview with Talgar Shaibyrov for a census of falconers

Recorded: January 15th, 2011

Short interview for a census of falconers, conducted with Aitbek Suleiman and one unidentified falconer at the home of Sary Satylganov in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. A gloss of the Kyrgyz:

Talgarbek Shaibyrov, 34 years old, grandfather was munushkor, Shaibyrov Ernazar.

Falconer Adilet Esenov on why he spits saliva on his bird’s meat

Recorded: January 15th, 2011

Short conversation with falconer Adilet Esenov at the home of Sary Satylganov in Ak Sai Sovkhoz, Kyrgyzstan. Transcript of English only:

Kind of have a two meanings, so first is a ritual that you are spitting but not somebody else, as his, his partner, his falcon partner, they becoming closer like real friends, real partners, and the other meaning that the meat was cold, but his spit was warm and he’s kind of warm the meat.

Where did he learn how to do that?

Kyrgyz

From his father.

Oh, his father. Who’s his father?

Kyrgyz

Esen. You know Esen?

No.

The man who was sitting with you when we had a beshbarmak, and who, who is in Bishkek actually, who doesn’t have a second leg.

Oh okay. Is his father. And what’s his name?

Kyrgyz

Adilet.

Adilet?

Adi.

Adi.

Kind of translating as справедливость, or in English, fair, fairness.

Fairness. How’s it in Russian?

Справедливость.

Mm. How old is this bird that he has?

Kyrgyz

He has it for two months.

Oh.

Kyrgyz

He already adopt him for two months and now he’s good training to him, and to that man.

Did he catch it from the nest, or in a trap?

Kyrgyz

Net.

Did he make the hood himself? It’s a very nice hood. It’s very well, well-decorated.

Kyrgyz

It’s Arabian.

Arabian. Where do you buy this kind of hood? Or, how do you find it?

Kyrgyz

He doesn’t know exactly where they found it, but as he know that his father bought it.

His father?

Kyrgyz

He’s saying it’s Arabian tomogo, it’s different from the Kyrgyz tomogo.

Kyrgyz

I think it doesn’t fit very well on his head. It’s very loose.

Kyrgyz

You’ve got nothing for me Abay?

Just telling that it’s a gerfalcon, right, itelgi, and he was telling things that we already know form Sary, that when we capture the prey he taking off his hat, slaughtering the hat for his bird, then they was talking about the different kind of, for example, among the Arabs the gerfalcon is a symbol of the power.

Sary-Ata on feeding a puppy to an eagle to treat a lost talon

Recorded: January 15th, 2011


Short conversation with falconer Sary Satylganov in the mountains of Tuura Suu, after Talgar Shaibyrov’s eagle lost one of its talons to a captive wolf. Only English is transcribed:

Can you ask Sary, what can Talgar do about his bird’s claw. What can he do to make it better.

Him?

Yeah. Ask Sary.

Kyrgyz

He said the new talon will be out soon, it will grow out soon.

Kyrgyz

Two, three months.

And so then the eagle won’t hunt right?

Kyrgyz

No. No.

But is there anything they can to it’s foot before then to help it grow faster or to make sure it stays healthy?

It’s important to feed well.

Yeah.

Meat of a puppy?

Uh huh.

A dog?

Dog’s puppy, yeah.

A puppy.

Yeah.

Feed the puppy to the eagle. I’ve never heard of that. They would kill a puppy just to feed it?

They believe that it’s good for burkut and they will do it of course.

Oh. That’s fucked up.