I keep an inspiration notebook of images that I come across that move me for some reason. I try to write down why I am drawn to each image- is it color or line or pattern or composition or emotional power? An image I find profoundly moving and come back to again and again is this one:
The photographer is Asher Svidensky. The girl is Ashol-Pan, a Kazakh girl living in the Altai mountain range in Mongolia. These people have been hunting with golden eagles since the 15th century. Check out more pictures here. You must. The landscapes are haunting, the people are beautiful and the Mongollian ponies and golden eagles are stunning.
Boys are trained to hunt with the eagles starting at 13 years old. The girl in the photos, apparently is the daughter of the leader of the people. His son was killed and so permission was given for her to learn to hunt with eagles, though girls are not usually allowed. And she is truly amazing. The photographer says about her, ""To see her with the eagle was amazing," he recalls. "She was a lot more comfortable with it, a lot more powerful with it and a lot more at ease with it."
Why do I love these images besides their beauty? I love the image of the girl hunting with the giant bird because it connects what is wild outside with the wild inside. It is an image that at once is about freedom and strength and courage and connection. Connection with the natural world, connection to our inner sense of truth. It is an image of true power residing in a young girl. This is not a picture we are often shown.
The look on her face in the picture above... it makes me ask myself, what are the moments in my life like that? What is my standing on top of a mountain and letting a huge bird fly free off my arm moment? What gives me that sense of joy and freedom and connection and aliveness?
These photos remind me of the 2002 movie Whale Rider about a powerful young Maori girl with a connection to nature. There is no lying to a hawk or to a whale. There is only authentic hawk and whale and authentic you. In that authenticity is power. These are images that young girls should see. And the rest of us as well.
This is a little pen and ink sketch I did inspired by the Mongolian eagle hunters.