My Friend on the Asian Steppes

Art can lead to some amazing friendships and adventures. Years ago, while attending an international falconry festival I met one of the most interesting people I have ever came across. He is an eagle falconer or berkutchi as they are called in the Asian steppes. I am not sure why he was so intriguing from the moment I saw him but he really stood out from all the other people I met. So much Ive sketched him more than once.

He reminds me of the late great actor, Charles Bronson. Not an exact look alike but his resemblance. He is a man of little words but behind those eyes and silence is an amazing life, at least thats what my intuition was telling me.

His name is Abilkhak Turrlybayev but to his friends he is known as Alik. Alik is an eagle falconer in and Kazakh in the steppes of Asia. A tradition he has followed in the footsteps of his family. If I remember right he is a 9th generation falconer. His demeanor alone made me jump to so many conclusions about him. I have seen those kinds of rough working hands before. That silent personality and the way he observes things such as leatherwork and equiptment reminded me of my late cowboy grandfather. Maybe thats the attraction to Alik. 

Ive had the pleasure of knowing him for several years and have had great talks with him thru translators, mostly around flying eagles and living in the steppe. I'm not the only one that takes notice of this great man. My friend whom spent some time with Alik in his home said there was a giant picture of him at the airport arriving Kazakhstan. He has been on the cover of several books and photographers seem to follow him taking candid pictures of him. 

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From what I have learned about Alik and my assumptions of him having an amazing story behind him was right. He does have an amazing history behind him. A story worthy of a movie. From escaping a province in China to Soviet Kazakhstan with his family. To being imprisoned and accused of being a spy. Aliks life has been quite an adventure all of course ending in the steppes, flying his eagles.  I thought I would share some of the sketches and artwork I have made of this legendary eagle falconer, Alik. One day I will have to post the story of being with him in a mall of all places! I will never forget the day. Remember...search and create

Manny

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Alik signing his name on a print I took to Al Ain UAE

Alik signing his name on a print I took to Al Ain UAE