UNESCO recognises falconry as a cultural icon

Straz, Jan 19th. Falconry reception, European parliament. Véroniqute Mathieu, Chairman of the Hunting Intergroup; Angus Middleton, CEO of FACE; RFH

UNESCO, the United Nations’ Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, has recognised falconry — the hunting of small game with trained birds of prey — as “An Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”.  The accolade was awarded in Nairobi last November, after the largest ever nomination in UNESCO’s history, presented jointly by eleven nations.
This recognition came after a long and intensive campaign by practitioners of the sport from many countries, including especially the Middle East, but also from many European countries, the USA, Turkey and beyond.  Representatives of the falconry organisations from sixteen of these countries, together with officers of FACE, the European Hunting organisation, converged on the Strasbourg parliament on January 19th for a celebration, a colloquium on falconry, and a subsequent reception.
The history of falconry can be traced back to around 2000 BC in the Middle East, making it about as old as hare coursing.  It is believed to have been introduced into the UK in the Ninth Century, and in Mediaeval times became a popular sport and a status symbol.  It was the sport of kings, and important folk loved to be painted while on horseback with a falcon on their wrist.  While I say “Falcon”, a range of raptors was used in the sport, and the choice of species conveyed social status.  Gyrfalcons were well up the list, above peregrines, goshawks, and sparrow hawks — with the kestrel at the bottom, used and owned by the common man.
The picture above shows me with the Chief Executive of FACE (www.face.eu) Angus Middleton, and Véronique Mathieu MEP (France), the Chairman of the parliament’s Sustainable Hunting group, who hosted the event.  Some of the game served at the reception was actually shot personally by Véronique.
The real importance of this UNESCO recognition is the status it confers on hunting in general.  In the East Midlands in particular, hunting is woven into the fabric of rural life, an unbroken thread of culture that binds man to his natural world.  And if falconry is an intangible cultural heritage, then undoubtedly English fox-hunting is as well.

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2 Responses to UNESCO recognises falconry as a cultural icon

  1. An interesting post, from a factual and historic perspective. Thankyou, Roger!

  2. Jonny says:

    So why not foxhunting?

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