Every year in early winter, the eagles hovering above the kamchatka peninsula in Russia would fly across the strait of Tartary and spend the winter in the forests of northern China. First originated in oriental world, eagle hunting has a history of more than four thousands years.
Eagles have always been regarded as the sacred bird in northern China. Taming the eagle is a traditional custom for Manchu, the history of which could be traced back to thousands years ago. Their ancestors liked eagle hunting and named it as the “Haidong qing”, meaning the cyan-colored eagle flying from the east side of the sea. The old custom still can be seen now, from some small village in Jilin province.
Yulou village is a small village besides the Souhua River, Jilin province. It was once the origin place of the culture of Jin dynasty. The eagle hunting tradition was so famous in Qing dynasty so it became the tribute for the imperial court. The machu villagers inherited the eagle hunting skills from their ancestors and live in harmony with eagles in this white world covered with snow.
There is a proverbs in the village, “In February and August, yellow eagles flying on the sky. “ Every year in August and September, the villagers begin to hunt the eagles with net and doves. Doves are of great importance for the hunting, only eagles can be hunted when they say those doves. Before the hunting, there is a ritual needs to be done-to worship the eagle god of Mac. They would build a temple with three stone boards, which symbolizes the fancy eagle palace in heaven.
The eagle hunting place is a prepared flat ground, with eagle hunting net made from semitransparent thread on the side. And the bait, those doves, would be tied on a thin wooden stick that can be pulled freely. So how does this work? Eagle’s retina is formed with 82,000 cone cells, 8 times better than human being. Even they are hovering in the sky, spotting uneasy tied dove on the ground isn’t necessarily a hard thing to do. And the doves got 20,000 more cone cells than eagles, with eyesight of 360 degrees, they can sense the tension up in the sky easily.When doves look up to watch their enemies, eagles would wait for the perfect chance to come down, all the hunters need to do is pulling the net.
After hunting the eagles, there comes the most torturing part-taming the eagles. Eagles are a proud animal and it requires tons of effort and patience to build relationship with them. At first they wouldn’t eat anything given from hunters, a week or ten days later, they would start to eat bit by bit reluctantly. Hunters would have to spend seven or eight nights with their new prey and during the time, eagles need to stand on their shoulders and let them get used to human beings and finally get tamed completely.