Falconry, centuries-old tradition


In 2010 Falconry was recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity .
 
Falconry is the art of hunting with a hawk. It has very ancient origins; the first evidence dates back to 3000 BC and comes from an area of Central Asia between China and Mongolia. Hence the flow of diffusion of falconry has followed two main lines: one leading to Europe, the other to Asia Minor.

As far as Italy is concerned, Falconry came through two roads: from Sicily, by the Arabs and Normans, and from Germany. The first Norman lover of Falconry in Sicily was Roger II, but Federico Barbarossa was also an excellent falconer.

The greatest exponent, however, of Italian Falconry was Frederick II emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (1194-1250), nephew of Frederick Barbarossa. Emperor of fertile intelligence, he wrote one of the best treatises on Falconry on the ethological and naturalistic themes concerning birds in general and falcons in particular: the "De Arte Venandi cum Avibus". The importance of this book for Falconry is still very high. Federico's idea was that the Falconer practiced this activity not for the game bag, but to train his hawk better than the others and to honor himself while hunting.

In the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance, falconry did not remain the prerogative of lords and ladies, but began to be practiced also by bishops and abbots.

Falconry has had in the life of the most illustrious families, for the space of about four centuries, an importance which today would be difficult to imagine, since nothing is similar in our modern customs.

Today Falconry is no longer the prerogative of a specific social class. The only thing required is respect for the animal and an accurate knowledge of its needs as well as a deep passion rooted in consciousness.

The essence of falconry training, as the master falconers of Oltremare teach us, lies in the rapprochement between man and bird of prey for which it is based on trust and friendship .

Nothing is taught to the animal that it would not already be able to do in nature; it is necessary to make sure that he is more interesting to him than his surroundings and this is achieved with the help of tools that simulate real prey. Only the ability of the falconers and the friendship between them and the birds of prey can stop these unpredictable flyers from leaving.

An invisible thread seems to exist, which binds falcons and falconers. The invisible thread can break at any moment, just a wrong move, a strange noise, a strong wind blow and the spell vanishes. These animals are and remain wild, ready to run away at the slightest sign of danger.
The extraordinary thing about this art is precisely being able to dialogue with birds that are emblematically among the wildest and freest on the planet.
 
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