KirghizIstan

BETWEEN TWO WORLDS

Photo essay
Travel diary

betweens two worlds

Once a crossroads on the Silk Road inhabited by nomadic tribes, then a country under Soviet political and cultural influences, today Kyrgyzstan is a young nation torn between opening up to a globalised world and a desire to defend its way of life. Intimately linked to the steppe, the Kyrgyz people are seeking balance. Among them, twenty falconers try to carry on the tradition of hunting on the wing, an art that took root on the high plains of this region of Central Asia.

Our journey took us to meet Arstan and his family who live in the isolated village of Bokonbayevo, perched on the edge of Lake Issyk Kul in the east of the country. In Kyrgyz, they are called Bürkütchü: "golden eagle tamers". 
Against the backdrop of an exceptional panorama, we watched a golden eagle taming session. Used for a long time by nomadic tribes to protect wolf packs and hunt, falconry is considered a noble sport in Kyrgyzstan and is handed down from father to son. Taming a raptor takes several years and requires faultless dedication from the tamer to build a trusting relationship with their bird.

We also followed Arstan in his everyday life as a child of the village and captured moments in the life of a people seeking balance, wavering between modernity and tradition.

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