Although this painting is entitled “Old Berkut”, for me it is as much about the old berkutchi as the berkut.
My love of the tradition and way of life of the Kazakh nomads is their strong family community and their passing of knowledge from generation to generation.
I have stayed in many houses where grandfather, father and son are all berkutchi’s and the experience and understanding of their berkuts and their hunting ground flows through the generations as it has done for millennium.
We in the west, with our reliance on technically advancement, sometimes forget the value and importance of guidance from our older generations.
Vadim tells me this berkutchi is Ablakim Soltankulov, When he visited him he was about 90 years old, he is a high, noble, reputable man. He was awarded with highest medals of WWII and lived in the Kazakhstan village of Aksai not far from the Chinese border. After the war during the hungrey years he supplied the villagers with meat of the black-tail and saiga antelopes with his berkut. During his long life he had about 25 berkuts, but only two were capable to take wolves (young wolves).
When Vadim drew him (he made several pencil sketches) he was dressed in a wolf coat with snow leopard collar and belt with old silver buckle and fox hat. He was old and his last berkut died a month before. She had been frozen as it was winter and the ground to hard, he wanted to wait until spring to bury his last berkut.
Vadim, says the colours in my picture is bright red-orange. Colours of sunset. Last light of the sun, last days of life. There is another title of this picture, "Last Light".