Title: The Eagle Huntress
Brief Bio: Aisholpan’s story takes place high in the Mongolian mountains. Her father, Rys Nurgaiv, a two time champion at the annual golden eagle festival in Ölgii, observed his daughter’s love and natural affinity for working with eagles. As an infant, she would crawl over to her father’s hunting eagle to pet it. Her parent’s support and open-mindedness was likely as revolutionary as was Aisholpan’s dedication and skill. After her older brother was conscripted into the Mongolian army, Aisholpan began to take over a lot of his household chores – chores that were largely considered “boy’s jobs.”
If I am doing all these jobs, why can’t you teach me the eagle stuff?
A scene from the documentary The Eagle Huntress, by Otto Bell, captures the moment where Aisholpan and her father scale the side of a mountain to catch her first wild eagle. The eagle must be old enough that it can be taken from it’s mother safely, but young enough to train. Most of this scene was captured with a go-pro strapped to her chest.
The success of the documentary has lead to an educational trust being set up in Aisholpan’s name. Her plan is to pursue her lifelong dream to become a doctor.
Dear girls, you can do anything!
Pearl of wisdom: My grandfather and father are brave people. I think I inherited their fearlessness. My advice for girls trying to make changes – BE BRAVE.
Winning Fact: My people tell me now that they are proud of me. I did not know this would be an extraordinary story but it feels good to hear that!
Vital stats: Aisholpan is the first Mongolian woman to compete in the country’s Golden Eagle Festival.
Golden Rules: Be brave and keep moving forward no matter what happens.
They say: “She loves to win – whether it is chequers, wrestling with boys, or hunting with an eagle.” – Otto Bell
Images by photographer Asher Svidensky
Interview, in part, by Charline Jao