The tradition and custom of hunting with falcons have left an indelible mark on the life of the people of Turkmenistan and are part of the nation’s spiritual roots.
“Gushchy” is what falconers have been called in Turkmenistan since ancient times. Hunting with birds of prey is a pursuit for agile, daring, wise, and persistent men. In many countries, this activity was considered a privilege reserved for the highest nobility. But not among the proud, free-spirited Turkmen, who have always existed in harmony with the surrounding world. Here, anyone could become a falconer, but not everyone was gifted with this art. That is why gushchy have always been treated with such respect and admiration, and why to this day, all the traditions of falconry have been carefully preserved in Turkmenistan as a national treasure.
The history of falconry dates back many centuries. It was well known to Chinese emperors, Persian sultans, and in the Middle East; in the Middle Ages, it came to the imperial courts of all European dynasties. In the 13th century, Marco Polo wrote about Khan Kublai’s hunting in his memoirs. Falconry in Turkmenistan has been a pursuit of the Turkmen people since time immemorial. The falconer, falcon, and hunting dog are excellent components of hunting that create a physical and spiritual connection between man and nature. Folklore and historical artifacts, as well as traditional written accounts and personal records, are evidence of this centuries-old tradition and draw inspiration from the deep connection between man and bird.
The warriors of Oguz Khan, the founders of the Turkmen nation, the inhabitants of ancient Parthia, and the sultans of the Seljuk dynasty all released their hunting birds on the territory of modern Turkmenistan; from the steppes near the Balkan Mountains, the sands of the Karakum Desert to the valleys near the Kopetdag Mountains. Popular sayings and moralistic narratives about hunting have been preserved, which still exist in the national culture of the Turkmen people.
There are many artifacts depicting Turkmen riding an Akhal-Teke horse or a camel with a hunting falcon in hand. Decorative motifs on Turkmen carpets also testify to the ancient culture of falconry in Turkmenistan. The “Tazy guyrugy” pattern represents the tail of the hunting dog “tazy,” and “gushun ayak yzy” is the traces of the predatory bird’s claws.