Historical perspectives on falconry

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categorie: Diverse

nota: 9.86

nivel: Liceu

The sport of falconry (sometimes referred to as 'hawking,' albeit often erroneously) has taken a pretty terrific tossing around in literature over the past few centuries. The term 'falconry' (introduced by the Normans as faulconnerie) connotes for many people a pleasantly pastoral image of lords and ladies on fine horses spending a summer's morning with noble birds perched on their gloved wrists. [...]
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The sport of falconry (sometimes referred to as 'hawking,' albeit often erroneously) has taken a pretty terrific tossing around in literature over the past few centuries. The term 'falconry' (introduced by the Normans as faulconnerie) connotes for many people a pleasantly pastoral image of lords and ladies on fine horses spending a summer's morning with noble birds perched on their gloved wrists. Like other forms of hunting, falconry served not only to secure food, but also to satisfy a primeval urge to participate in the chase and taste the thrill of triumph over a cunning and worthy adversary.

With the heightened emphasis on personal valor and skill-at-arms, the medieval warrior was naturally attracted to the concept of falconry and to the birds themselves, who apparently followed much the same code. Although the importance of falconry as a sport and diversion for the nobility cannot be denied, it was for a great many people simply a way of putting food on the table. The earliest recorded reference to the use of raptorial birds (i.e., birds of prey) in obtaining food comes from a Japanese work whose title translates to Extract from Writing on Falconry, both Ancient and Modern.

It tells of a grand hawking expedition, led by King Wen Wang of Tsu, in Jun Meng, north of lake Tong-ting, China (Hunan Province), circa 680 B.C. Aelian (c. 220 A.D.) quotes Ctesias the Cnydian, court physician to Shah Artaxerxes Mnemon of Persia, as reporting that eagles, crows, and kites were trained to hunt down hares and foxes in central Asia around 400 B.C. Ctesias was quite fascinated by this procedure and considered it quite a novelty, from which fact we may deduce that falconry was at that time unknown, or virtually so, in Persia and India. This conclusion is further strengthened by the lack of allusions to falconry in contemporary Sanskrit literature or Indian and Persian sculpture.

The Japanese apparently knew of falconry, as previously noted, and a reference exists to falcons being sent as gifts from Japan to Korea in 247 A.D. There are no references to falconry in classical literature, however; the Greeks and Romans were apparently ignorant of the technique, as were the peoples with whom they traded and whom they colonized.
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