Following the film, the “Eagle Huntress”, there has been increasing interest outside Mongolia about the unique traditions of the inhabitants of the majestic mountainous west of the country.
The New York Times has just written about Zamanbol, another eagle huntress from the Sagsai soum of Bayan-Ulgii province of Mongolia. A Kazakh nomad from the Altai region of Mongolia, fourteen-year-old Zamanbol is part of a generation of nomadic youth who are embracing centuries-old customs as they seek connection with their roots and the wild in a world being transformed by technology.
A popular 2016 documentary film about Aisholpan, a young eagle huntress who won the festival’s hunting competition in 2014, has helped bring the Altai Kazakh culture to international attention.
Now, for perhaps for the first time in its history, the art, and its essential role in Altai Kazakh culture, is being shared with outsiders. Every October, hunters come together for the Golden Eagle Festival to compete in a two-day gathering open to tourists. The event takes place in Bayan-Uulgii which is the only one of Mongolia’s 21 provinces, to have a Kazakh majority.
The number of foreign tourists coming to the festival is growing, with a record of more than 1,000 this year, according to government officials. This year, 120 eagle hunters took part.