History of Falconry

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History of Falconry

Falconry was said to have originated in the mountainous plains of Central Asia. However, there are also early references to hunting with birds in Al - Rafidein region (Iraq) that show it was practised as far back as 3500 BC. that date back to 3500 BC. Hunting with birds in Iraq is also mentioned in the Gilgamesh Epic said to date from 2000 BC.

Al- harith Bin Mu'wiya Bin Thawr Al-Kindi, a king of an area that included the current kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 4th Century AD was said to be the first Arab to train and use falcons in hunting. Falconry remained popular as Islam developed and it is said that the Umayyad Caliph Yazid Bin Mu'wiya (680 - 683 AD) had special houses built for his falcons. The first book about falconry, called "The Advantage of Birds" was written around 710 AD by Adham Bin Mehrez Al-Baheli.

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Falconry was not restricted to Arabia and Central Asia, it spread across Europe with the earliest evidence of it in Europe thought to be in the writings of Paulinus (5th Century AD).  It was seen as a symbol of status and power and was practiced by the Great Khan such as Genghis Khan (1167 – 1227). When Marco Polo visited, he found more than 10,000 falconers and falconry workers. Louis XIII of France had 140 falcons whilst Czars in Russia owned upwards of 3,000 falcons.

Across Europe, India and Arabia a love of falconry was shared. Right up until the 17th Century falcons were used as diplomatic gifts. It fell out of favour when hunting with guns developed.  The tradition of falconry just survived in Europe and more recently there has been renewed interest in the sport.

Arab culture maintained and interest and love in falconry and it is even mentioned in the Qu’ran.  There is a verse that permits falconry as an allowable hunting method. It is now considered a symbol of the region’s civilisation and 50% of the world’s falconers exist in the Middle East.

 

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