Altai Kazakh falconry as 'heritage tourism': The golden eagle festivals of western mongolia

Takuya Soma, Battulga Sukhee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Falconry (or hawking), a centuries-old method of hunting, survives in the Altaic Kazakh pastoralist community in Bayan Ulgii Aimag (Province) , in Western Mongolia. The hunters specialise in hunting foxes with female golden eagles. Over the last decade, the spread of heritage tourism has brought about positive and negative changes in the tradition. It has also changed the attitude of local eagle hunters towards people and especially towards tourists. Since 2000, the establishment of the Golden Eagle Festival has changed falconry from a way of hunting into something that provides demonstrations and entertainment for tourists. This research reports on the ambivalent situation of the Altaic Kazakh eagle hunters with (1) a survey of the attitudes of local eagle hunters in the Altai, Sagsai, Tolbo and Ulaanhus Sum (Counties), (2) interviews with the authorities concerned, and (3) ethnographic documentation based on participant observation. The research describes the role of the Golden Eagle Festival which has become the force for major changes in the tradition of hunting with eagles. New eagle owners are coming on the scene while at the same time traditional hunting activities are almost disappearing. It seems that some eagle hunters now hold eagles without having any knowledge about taming and hunting. The local falconry culture is more complex than ever before and the hunters have various views of the situation. Finally, to focus on this cultural transition from 'living tradition' to 'post-contextual culture', this study sets out to identify criteria and create a master plan for the cultural sustainability of Altaic Kazakh falconry in order to conserve it as 'on-going' intangible cultural heritage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-147
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Intangible Heritage
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • 'Demonstration falconry'
  • Altai Mountains
  • Animal herding
  • Bayan Ölgii Aimag
  • Cultural change
  • Decontextualization
  • Eagle hunting
  • Ethnic identity
  • Falconry (hawking)
  • Heritage sociology
  • Kazakh
  • Kolbala
  • Minority groups
  • Sum
  • Traditional art and knowledge (tak)
  • Transhumance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Museology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Conservation


Dive into the research topics of 'Altai Kazakh falconry as 'heritage tourism': The golden eagle festivals of western mongolia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this