The Royal Sport


Falconry or hawking is a sport which involves the use of trained raptors (birds of prey) to hunt or pursue game for humans. There are two traditional terms used to describe a person involved in falconry: a falconer flies a falcon ; an austringer flies a hawk ( Accipiter and some buteonines and similar) or an eagle ( Aquila or similar). In modern falconry the Red-tailed Hawk ( Buteo jamaicensis ) and the Harris hawk are often used. The words " hawking " and " hawker " have become used so much to mean petty traveling traders, that the terms "falconer" and "falconry" now apply to all use of trained birds of prey to catch game.

Some views of falconry state that the art started in Mesopotamia , but some say that it started in the Far East . The earliest evidence comes from around the reign of Sargon II (722-705 BC). Falconry was probably introduced to Europe around AD 400, when the Huns and Alans invaded from the East. Frederick II of Hohenstaufen has been noted as one of the early European noblemen to take an interest in falconry. He is believed to have obtained firsthand knowledge of Arabic falconry during wars in the region (between June 1228–June 1229). He obtained a copy of Moamyn 's manual on falconry and had it translated into Latin by Theodore of Antioch. Frederick II himself made corrections to the translation in 1241 resulting in De Scientia Venandi per Aves.

Historically, falconry was a popular sport and status symbol among the nobles of medieval Europe , the Middle East, and East Asia ; in Japan the sport is called takagari . Eggs and chicks of birds of prey were quite rare and expensive, and because the process of raising and training a hawk or falcon requires a great deal of time, money, and space, it was largely restricted to the noble classes. In Japan, there were even strict restrictions on who could hunt which sorts of animals and where, based on rank within the samurai class. In art and in other aspects of culture such as literature , falconry remained a status symbol long after it was no longer popularly practiced. Eagles and hawks displayed on the wall could represent the noble himself, metaphorically, as noble and fierce. Woodblock prints or paintings of falcons or falconry scenes could be bought by wealthy commoners , and displayed as the next best thing to partaking in the sport, again representing a certain degree of nobility .



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