Photographer Asher Svidensky captured a stunning collection of images that shed a light on Mongolian girls and their golden eagles.

Svidensky was focused on the story of one particular girl, 13-year-old Ashol Pan, who was asked by her father to take the place of her brother after he left for the military. Pan took up the challenge, and even though she still attends school, developing a lifelong bond with her eagle has quickly become her sole focus in life. It’s no easy task – training a young golden eagle involves blindfolding the animal for prolonged periods of time so that it develops a dependence on its handler, and can often involve sacrificing sleep in order to care for the bird of prey.

Unlike many of the young boys, who seem uneasy alongside their hunting companion, according to Svidensky, Pan is at peace with the animal by her side. This is an essential part of the pair’s bond, especially as the village relies on the eagle to hunt down elk and  rabbits, all of which provide food and pelts to survive the harsh winter months.

Golden eagles are deeply engrained in Kazakh culture, and make an appearance in many ancient proverbs, such as, “Fine horses and fierce eagles are the wings of the Kazakhs.” It’s beautiful to witness the next generation ensuring the legacy of a hunter and their eagle lives on for all to see. Should you ever find yourself in Mongolia, an annual Golden Eagle Hunting Festival allows more than 50 eagle hunters to showcase their skills.

Images by Asher Svidensky 

Responses to "Mongolian Girls Carry On a Cherished 6,000-Year-Old Tradition With Golden Eagles "

  1. Anonymous says:

    Do all girls do this? Or only girls who have to fill in for brothers who are away? Are the girls part of a patriarchal or matriarchal culture?

  2. Anonymous says:


  3. Anonymous says:

    'Patriarchal' and 'matriarchal' refer to different types of domination & control. Mongolian nomads traditionally are not strong on 'control'! Young contemporary Mongol women often seem more confident than their male peers.
    Very few of either gender hunt with golden eagles: it is a highly specialised activity that takes an awful lot of dedication.

  4. Anonymous says:

    These photos are so very inspiring and hopeful. I extend love and deepest appreciation for your work!

  5. Anonymous says:

    What does it matter? If I could've... I'd be that girl, too. This is amazing and inspiring. This girl, and all that practice this, should be very proud.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It's generally a sport that is passed down father to son. Ive read about this girl before and she's making up to her Dad the fact that he couldn't teach it to his son. His son went into the army or something like that. I can't quite remember so if you find something that contradicts what I just said, it's probably right. But I know that she's stepping in for her brother.

  7. Unknown says:

    Lucky courageous girl....too bad I was born a Czech and not a Kazakh!

  8. Anonymous says:

    This makes me proud to have Mongolian heritage in my roots and to have been born with a Mongolian Bluespot on my back.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful photographs showing the relationships also between the eagle and the girl handler. What a great opportunity for her to test herself with this honour.

  10. LisaF says:

    This article appeared in the BBC some time ago, but it is about ONE girl and the photos here are of some men.

  11. Anonymous says:


  12. Anonymous says:

    totally amazing story....gave me the goosebumps.....well done for your achievement......your dad should be sooooo proud of you...I bet he is..well done ..lovely pictures look so happy with your golden eagle.....

  13. Anael says:

    Absolutely amazing :D

  14. Anonymous says:

    Her name is Aisholpan Nurgaiypkyzy, which means Aisholpan, daughter of Nurgaiyp.

  15. Dave Robinson says:

    I saw the documentary on this girl some time ago. At that time she was believed to be the only girl in the world to actively hunt with a golden eagle . I was and am completely enthralled by the obvious joy she shows in handling this magnificent raptor. must confess to a slight tinge of envy for her lifestyle

  16. Unknown says:


  17. Unknown says:

    Powerful and beautiful

  18. Unknown says:

    Looks like these Girls Just Want to Have Fun!

  19. Unknown says:

    A big heart and dedication.

  20. Initriguing and great pix.

  21. For both of them I imagine life is very hard and basic to live and survive where they are. There are very few places on earth where this could take place.

  22. Unknown says:

    Incredible :)

  23. Unknown says:

    It would be an honour as well as a huge committment a lovely look at their life

  24. jul says:

    Stunning photos!

  25. Robin S. says:

    I loved this. TY

  26. Jo Ellen says:

    Beautiful tradition...

  27. janey says:

    so great the big eagles are so majestic.The girl does an amazing job of training

  28. robboman says:

    Fantastic and the bond between girl and eagle magnificent, i wish them all the luck they need in there hunts.

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