BĀZDĀRĪ (or bāzyārī, lit. “bāz keeping,” now an obsolete Persian term), falconry, as a practical art and as a sport.

Like falconry in the West, which was concerned primarily with keeping and training falcons, bāzdārī in Iran originally involved only the bāz—a generic term for some species and varieties of the genera Falco (falcons) and Accipiter (hawks)—though subsequently it was extended to include some other birds of prey (for the raptors more or less worthy of training by the bāzdār/bāzyār “falconer” see below).

As the privileged sport of sovereigns and high dignitaries, bāzdārī seems to have flourished in pre-Islamic Iran. According to a legend related by Ferdowsī (Šāh-nāma, Moscow, I, p. 36), the mythical Iranian king Tahmūraṯ was the first to tame the bāz, the šāhīn (shaheen), the yūz (cheetah), and the sīāh-gūš (caracal) for hunting purposes (cf. the historian Masʿūdī, Morūj II, pp. 278-80, who reports that “Alexander’s successor, Ptolemy, was the first to obtain and train bozāt [plur. of bāzī, one of the arabicized forms of bāz] and to entertain himself with them,” that “after him the kings of other nations—Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Persians, etc.—­went in for this entertainment,” and that “later the kings of Rome added to that the playing and hunting with šāhīns”). Ferdowsī also gives semi-legendary—or at least much exaggerated—accounts of the fantastic hunting party arranged by the Sasanian Bahrām V (Gōr), which included bāzdārskeeping “one hundred and sixty bāzes and two hundred čarḵs (saker falcons) and šāhīns” (VII, pp. 340f.). A similarly extravagant party was organized by Ḵosrow II (Parvēz) “after the fashion of the šāhanšāhs who had preceded him in the world”—a hunting train including “five hundred bāzdārs” keeping (in addition to bāzes?) vāšas (or bāšas, sparrow hawks), čarḡs (sakers), and sporting šāhīns (IX, pp. 211f.). To the same extravagant Bahrām Gōr is attributed the legend (reported by Qalqašandī, p. 63) of his having been the first to train the yoʾyoʾ/jalam (Ar., merlin) for hunting. So far as Sasanian monarchs are concerned, historical records also confirm their en­thusiasm for hunting and falconry: The imperial court personnel of Ḵosrow I (Anōšīravān) included bāzdārs along with the naḵčīrbaḏ “master of the hunt” (see Christensen, Iran Sass., p. 395).

In Islamic Iran the expensive sport of hunting with the bāz and the yūz continued to be a favorite entertain­ment of the rulers and high dignitaries, enabling them to parade military prowess in times of peace. The prestige of such sport was enhanced because the Arab overlords in Baghdad and their provincial deputies, after having come into contact with the Persians, the Byzantines, etc., had developed a keen enthusiasm for falconry, which they called bazdara or (by metathesis) bayzara, Arabic derivations from the words bāz and bāzdār/bāzyār (for the rekindled interest of ʿAbbasid and Omayyad caliphs and high Muslim dignitaries in hawking, see “Bayzara,” in EI2). The Persian influence on Arab bayzara is reflected, among other things, in a comparatively large number of arabicized terms related to bāzdārī:In addition to the names for the art itself and the principal bird involved (bāz/bāzī), we find šāhīn (already mentioned), ṣaqr (saker falcon, from Pers. čarḡ/čaḡr/čarḵ, by metathesis and arabicization), zor­raq (black-winged kite, from jorra[k]), bāšaq/bāšeq (from bāsa/vāša), bayḏaq (Accipiter badius brevipes, from pīāda), dastabān (falconer’s glove; from dastbān), etc. (see Aḏkāʾī, pp. 6-7; Schapka, s.vv.).

As amply evidenced by Persian literary and historical references, the sovereigns and grandees of the succeeding Turkish and Mongol dynasties in Iran (particularly the Ghaznavids, the Saljuqs, and the Atabegs) had a passion for hawking (comparable to the infatuation of the Arab caliphs) and for hunting in general—probably a remnant of their earlier pastoral nomadic life and feudal society in Central Asia, where hawking was practiced until modem times as a means of sustenance (see, e.g., Moser, p. 63, who reported in 1885 that the Kirghizes of the Central Asian steppes had developed falconry into a science and that, however poor a nomad might be, he would possess a falcon or a hawk, which he would never sell. “Perhaps he would sell you his wife, but never his falcon!”). In the Nowrūz-nāma (p. 56), a book attributed to the poet and mathematician ʿOmar Ḵayyām, the bāz is eulogized in these terms: “The bāz is the boon companion of the kings at the hunting grounds; they love it and rejoice in it. The bāz has some dispositions shared by kings, such as magnanimity and cleanliness. . . . Therefore, it is more proper to kings than to other people.” Credible stories have also been told about the high esteem in which the bāz was held. The Nowrūz-nāma (pp. 58-59) relates the following two. In one the Ziyarid ruler Māhān-Mah Vošmgīr (lit. “the quail catcher”), who was also “an unequaled expert in eškara/eškera (collective n., “[trained] birds of prey”),” one day saw his bāzdār drink water while holding the bāz on his fist; he ordered him to be thrashed with a stick one hundred times for that irreverence toward “the birds’ king” and “the kings’ darling.” The other story concerns a Buyid prince (Amīr Abu’l-ʿAbbās, brother of Faḵr-al-Dawla) who in his childhood incurred the wrath of his tutor because he had spat while holding a sporting sparrow hawk. ʿAlī Nasavī, a native of Ray (5th/11th century) and a scholar, as well as an accomplished falconer, states in his authoritative Bāz-nāma (“Treatise on trainable birds of prey”; pp. 103-04) that the bāzyārs were very close to the kings and mentions, as a contemporary example, a certain Bāzyār Ebrāhīm, who was one of the intimates of the Kakuyid ʿAlāʾ-al-Dawla, and was allowed to enter the latter’s bedroom every morning to take away the bāz, which was always with the prince even in his private gatherings and was fastened to his bedside while he slept. Another Ziyarid ruler, Kay Kāvūs (5th/11th century), author of the Qābūs-nāma, a treatise on practical ethics written for his son, warns him in a chapter on hunting (pp. 94-95) of the great risks in coursing on horseback and advises him to prefer hunting with the yūz, bāz, čarḵ, šāhīn, and dogs. As to the manner of flying the hawk, he provides an interesting piece of information: “The kings of Khorasan do not fly the bāz by their own hands, but those of ʿErāq customarily do. Both ways are all right, but if, as an [eventual] king, you wish to fly it yourself, do not fly any bāz more than once, for that is unbecoming to a king. . . .”

The importance of the bāz and some other raptors in the past is also indicated by references in legend and history to the fact that they sometimes constituted valuable gifts presented to sovereigns or high-ranking officials. Ferdowsī (VII, p. 340) relates that the precious gifts from the Ḵāqān of China to Bahrām Gōr included a ṭoḡrol (“crested hawk eagle”; see below), which was the most valuable in his eyes. Masʿūdī (p. 38), reports that a trained ʿoqāb (eagle) was sent by Qayṣar (Caesar) to Kesrā (Ḵosrow I?) as a gift, with a note that “it performs much better than the ṣaqr, whose hunting [prowess] amazed him [Kesrā].” The Nowrūz-nāma (p. 18), describing the New Years Day ceremonies in the presence of “the Kings of ʿAjam from the time of Kay Ḵosrow down to the time of the last one, Yazdjerd,” relates that a bāz was among the prized gifts that the mōbad-e mōbadān (the highest Zoroastrian priest)—the first person outside the family to be received in audience on that occasion—used to present to the king (along with a golden cup full of wine, a horse, a good-looking page, etc.).

The considerable number of works on the art of hunting (šekār-nāmas, ṣayd-nāmas, etc.) and/or hawking in Persian, Arabic, and other languages mentioned in bibliographies and other sources also indicates the continued interest in falconry and the need for training bāzes and bāzyārs for the rulers. Most of these works are lost or remain unpublished. So far as Iran is concerned, chronologically the treatises on hunting/hawking begin with the Jawāreḥ-nāma-ye šāhanšāhī (said by Ḵodāyār Khan Dāwūd ʿAbbāsī, author of Ṣayd al-morād fī ­qawānīn al-ṣayyād, a treatise in Persian on hunting, to be a Persian translation commissioned by the Samanid ʿAbd-al-Malek b. Nūḥ of the Bāz-nāma-ye nūšīravānī supposedly originally compiled by Bozorgmehr at the order of Ḵosrow I; see Ḡ.-Ḥ. Ṣadīqī, “Ḥakīm Nasavī,” MDAT 6/1, 1337 Š./1958, p. 23). Next come “the Bāz-nāma of Parvīz, King of the Zoroastrians” (studied and quoted by Nasavī, p. 127, in connection with an eye disease in bāzes) and “the šekār-nāmas of the Samanids, the Sogdians, the Persians/Zoroastrians (pārsīān), the Turks, the people of Iraq (ʿerāqīān), the people of Khorasan,” and so on, all of which have been studied by Nasavī (pp. 76, 90, etc.). The last such work published in its own time was Bāz-nāma-ye nāṣerī, written in 1285/1869 for the Qajar Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah by a professional falconer, Teymūr Mīrzā.

Contrary to expectation, Persian poets did not show notable interest in the fancy for the bāz and falconry. Of course, the bāz and other trained birds of prey are frequently mentioned in Persian poetry, but generally in a casual way, in connection with particular legendary or historical figures (see, e.g., the 5th/11th-century poet Faḵr-al-Dīn Gorgānī’s references to the bāz, the bāša, etc., in Vīs o Rāmīn, a romance of Parthian origin, ed. M.-J. Maḥjūb, Tehran, 1337 Š./1959, pp. 252-53 passim). We do not find anything comparable to the extensive popular and learned Arabic poetry dealing with bayzara (EI2, s.v.). The longest piece of Persian poetry devoted to the bāz consists of twelve beautiful distichs in Farīd-al-Dīn ʿAṭṭār’s mystical Manṭeq al-ṭayr (6th/12th century; ed. Ṣ. Gowharīn, 4th ed., Tehran, 1365 Š./1986-87, pp. 53-54), in which the bāz excuses itself from joining the suggested search by the birds for their ideal king (sīmorḡ), boasts of its privileged position at the court of worldly kings, and flatters itself that it has the kings’ hands to sit on.

As for the pictorial arts, although animals and hunting scenes were favorite subjects for miniaturists illustrating manuscripts of such works as Ebn-al-Moqaffaʿ’s Kalīla o Demna, Ferdowsī’s Šāh-nāma, Neẓāmī’s Ḵamsa (Five books), and Rašīd-al-Dīn’s Jāmeʿ al-tawārīḵ, no particular preoccupation with the bāz and hawking is visible before the floruit of Safavid painting (16th-18th centuries). As in contemporary Mughal painting in India, pictures of trained bāzes and the like, as well as portraits of sovereigns and other men of distinction, are more common; furthermore, when artists do portray their subjects in other than hunting contexts or without relevant accompanying text, the bāz seems to rest on the fist of the Persian or Mughal personality as if it were an attribute of sovereignty or authority (for the treatment of bāzdārī in Islamic art, see Māher).

As a source of inspiration, the bāz has played a role in dream interpretation too. The unknown author of Ḵᵛābgozārī (p. 106) interprets a docile bāz as “a tyrannous king, for the bāz’s job is to tyrannize the birds and to devour their flesh.” He says further: “If some­body dreams that his bāz has left him, there remaining in his hand only its jess or its leash or some of its feathers, [that indicates that] he will lose his sovereignty and most of his possessions.” Similarly, the bāz’s movements lent themselves to fortune telling by its royal owner or his close attendants. According to the Nowrūz-­nāma (pp. 56-57), “if the [returning or called] bāz alights on the king’s fist lightly and effortlessly and then looks at him, that indicates that he will gain a new province . . . ; if then it looks up toward the sky with its right or left eye, that presages [respectively] a betterment or a disturbance in the realm’s affairs . . . ; if a bāz falls to fighting with another one at the hunting grounds, a new enemy will arise [for the king]” (for other royal interpre­tations, see Nowrūz-nāma; for interpretations by the eškaradārs, “fanciers of beasts/birds of prey,” see Nasavī, pp. 103-04).

The rise of the Safavid dynasty (1499-1736), which restored relative internal order and peace in Iran after the devastating Turkish and Mongol invasions, brought a revival of the passion for hunting and falconry, as attested by numerous foreign travelers or envoys. According to the French traveler and merchant Jean Chardin, the hunting establishment of the sovereign (ʿAbbās II, r. 1052-77/1642-66) included eight hundred bāzes (quoted in Shoberl, III, p. 58). ʿAbbās I—a hawking enthusiast like his grandfather Ṭahmāsb I—paid what is probably the greatest tribute ever paid to a single bāz when in 1001/1592-93 he ordered a small but striking mausoleum built atop a mountain facing the town of Naṭanz for his favorite bāz (nicknamed Lavand “the valiant, gallant”); the latter, while tenaciously chasing a partridge inside a deep well during a hunting party in the vicinity of Naṭanz, fell into the water and, after having been rescued, died, to the great affliction of the shah (for this burial tower and historical details about this event, see ʿA. Eqbāl, “Qabr-e bāz-e Lavand dar Naṭanz,” Mehr 7/5-6, 1321 Š./1943, pp. 295-99).

Some sovereigns of the Qajar dynasty (1794-1925), as well as some of the princes and high dignitaries, were infatuated with hunting and hawking, as reflected both in native contemporary sources (including hunting memoirs like those by Masʿūd Mīrzā Ẓell-al-Solṭān and Dūst-ʿAlī Moʿayyer-al-Mamālek) and in reports by foreign observers. The French colonel G. Drouville (II, pp. 61-63), on a military mission in Iran (1812-13), described hawking parties led by Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah or the crown prince: “The Persians love venery passionately; so the grandees spend weeks and even months on it. . . . The flying hunt, always on horseback, is done only with falcons, and there is no country where these birds are trained so perfectly as in Persia.” F. Shoberl (III, pp. 57-­60) reports, also from the time of Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah: “All people of distinction keep falcons, sparrow hawks, and other birds of prey for sporting. . . . Upon the whole, the Persians make but little use of dogs in hunting, consider­ing them as the most impure of animals; hence they employ birds in their stead. . . . They have brought their hawks to a great degree of docility, particularly one class which they call the churkh [i.e., čark] . . . , trained to catch antelopes. . . . The churkh is reared with infinite pains and trouble. [John] Fryer says that in his time [i.e., during his travels, 1672-81] one of them cost from one hundred to four hundred pounds.” During the reign of Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah (1848-96), the increasing popular hunting with modern guns gradually superseded tra­ditional hawking. Although this shah, a fervent and boastful hunter, asked the Qajar princeling Teymūr Mīrzā Ḥosām-al-Dawla to write a new bāz-nāma for him, he does not boast of any prowess in hunting with the qūš (a Turkish word, originally meaning “bird,” that had already replaced bāz in hunting parlance) in his diaries and memoirs. His son Ẓell-al-Solṭān, who was very fond of hunting with guns, even expresses disdain for qūščīgarī or qūšbāzī, “falconry” (see his hunting memoirs in his autobiography Tārīḵ-esargoḏašt-e masʿūdī, Tehran, 1325/1907-08, facsim. repr., Tehran, 1362 Š./1983-84, p. 354). Another factor in the gradual decline of hawking was the increasing cost of keeping and training bāzes properly (see Polak, private physician to Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah, who wrote (pt. 1, p. 181) that in those days “the keeping of one falcon cost at least one hundred ducats a year”), which was inconsistent with the rapidly dwindling fortune and power of the Qajar monarchy and nobility. But, as several foreign ob­servers remarked (e.g., Polak; d’Allemagne, IV, p. 230), bāzdārī lingered as an indication of nobility among some tribal chieftains (particularly Kurds and Lurs) and among some aristocrats bent on luxury. D’Allemagne wrote that such aristocrats “just to show off, keep an attendant for each qūš, not to take care of it, but to aggrandize their retinue of servants when they start out for hunting” (he mentions incidentally that a trained falcon costs at least 15 tūmāns and sometimes five or six times as much (p. 229).

Although it appears from Persian bāz-nāmas that theoretically with patience and ingenuity any diurnal or nocturnal raptor could be tamed and trained for hunting game or capturing other birds of prey, rela­tively few species were actually flown by the early Persian falconers. In the oldest published Persian work on hunting with trained animals of prey, Nasavī’s Bāz-nāma (5th/11th century), the author, who claims to have known and studied a great many bāz-nāmas of various origins (see above), mentions only the following: 1. bāz (in his terminology, a common name for various falcons and hawks, except for the species specifically named below); 2. bāša (plur. bāšagān: “the consensus is that bāša is [applied to the] female and that the male is [called] ʿaṣfī [sic]” (p. 150); ʿaṣfī is probably a misreading or an alteration of the Ar. ʿaqṣī, mentioned by Damīrī, Ḥayāt al-ḥayawān I, pp. 154-55, as “the smallest bird of prey . . . looking like the bāšaq, but smaller than it”; Ghaleb, on the other hand, equated it with the baydaq, both identified by him as Accipiter velox or A. fuscus); 3. čarḡ (the variety caught at the seaside is called baḥrī, [Ar. “marine”]); 4. šāhīn (the variety caught at the seaside is also called baḥrī); 5. yūha (kestrel, Falco tinnunculus; see Schapka, s.v.); 6. sonqor (Turk., gyr-­falcon, F. rusticolus; “it is not found in these regions; I have been told that it used to be taken from Turkestan to the courts of [the Ghaznavid] Maḥmūd and Masʿūd. . . . I guess the sonqor is a large čarḡ”; pp. 155­-56); 7. ʿoqāb (Ar., eagle, not trained for hunting game but trapped and killed for its gallbladder, which was used in a suppository; for its tail feathers, used in arrows; and for its talons, used as children’s amulets to ward off the evil eye); 8. ṭoḡrol (Čaḡatāy Turk., crested hawk eagle, Spizaetus cirrhatus; Nasavī, p. 164, says that he has never seen one but that “it is often spoken of in the Bāz-nāma of the Samanids, which indicates that the Samanids owned ṭoḡrols, but there is no truth in this.” He further adds: “Once a hunting bird, looking like a white čarḡ, said to be a ṭoḡrol, was brought from Turkestan for [the Buyid] Faḵr-al-Dawla”). Nasavī remarks quite casually (p. 154) that, save for the bāz and the bāša, these birds are šekaragān-e sīāh-čašm “black-­eyed birds of prey” (cf. the more precise distinction between “yellow-eyed” and “black-eyed” made by Teymūr Mīrzā; see below).

Many centuries later Teymūr Mīrzā (pp. 8-56) first classified the ṭoyūr-e šekārī (hunting birds) into zard-čašm (yellow-eyed) and sīāh-čašm (black-eyed), with­out, however, explaining the pertinence of the color of the irises. His “yellow-eyed” category comprises the following genera, species, and varieties (rearranged by the present writer in separate ornithological groups):

Accipitridae: 1. ṭarlān/tarlān (Turk.), goshawk, Accipiter gentilis; 2. tīqūn (Turk., “it is not a separate species but the albino offspring of two white goshawks; accordingly, the people of Turkestan, past masters in falconry, qualify it as kāfūrī [lit. “camphor-colored”] or lāzeqī [probably “jasmine-colored”]”; see Schapka, s.v.); 3. bāša (Pers.) or qerqī (Turk.), A. nisus; 4. pīqū/pīḡū, Levant sparrow hawk, A. brevipes; 5. šekara (Hindi, from Pers., orig. “bird trained to hunt”), shikra, A. badius (“an Indian hunting bird, very rare in Iran”); 6. qezel (Turk., lit. “red”), a variety of tarlāṇ  (?), or red kite, Milvus milvus (?); see Schapka, s.v.

Milvus: bīl-bāq(a)lī (Turk.; in Kurd. called dayštamāla or kūrkūra; see Mokrī, s.vv.), kite (“both yellow­-eyed and black-eyed varieties exist”).

Aquilidae: 1. ṭoḡrol (Teymūr Mīrzā says he has never seen any, that he has only heard or read that it has yellow eyes); 2. sanj, short-toed eagle, Circaetus gallicus (“it feeds exclusively on snakes”; see also Schapka, s.v.); 3. damīr-dīrnāq (Turk., lit. “iron-nailed/-clawed”), os­prey, Pandion haliaëtus (“the black-eyed variety is also found”; no mention of its use in falconry).

Gypaetus: homā (Pers.), bearded vulture, G. barbatus (“renowned for its living on carrion bones; if somebody kills it knowingly, he will not survive it more than forty days; the general belief is that, should the homā’s shadow fall on somebody’s head, he certainly will accede to the throne”; no mention of its use in falconry).

Strigidae: 1. būm/būf (Pers.), owl (“of the eight or nine kinds of būf, the best is the šāh-būf [lit. “king owl,” the eagle owl, Bubo bubo],” sometimes trained at great pains to serve as a decoy to attract and capture other birds, especially some diurnal raptors much sought after by falconers); 2. yāp(a)lāḡ/yāp(a)lāq (from Azeri Turk. yāpālāq, orig. “owl”; the author distinguishes two kinds: y.-e ṣaḥrāʾī [lit. “field y.”], probably the short-­eared owl, Asio flammeus, and y.-e bāḡī [lit. “garden y.”], probably the long-eared owl, A. otus; “the ṣaḥrāʾī one is better, and abler to hunt”; see also Schapka, s.v.); 3. bāy(a)-qūš (Turk., orig. “owl”) or joḡd (Pers., “owl”), a kind of owl (Athene noctua? see Schapka, s.v.; “its only use in falconry: when training the male shaheen to hunt the čāḵroq [stone curlew], the shaheen must be previously flown at a joḡd a couple of times”); 4. morḡ-e ḥaqq/morḡ-e šabāhang (Pers.), the scops owl, Otus scops (“one can train it to hunt, but at great pains”).

Teymūr Mīrzā’s “black-eyed” category comprises the following:

Falconidae: 1. the šonqār (Mongol.; see Schapka, s.v. šonḡār, etc.); according to Viré, the sonqor, gyrfalcon, “which, unknown in the Arab countries, had to be imported at great expense from Siberia and which often figured among the ceremonial gifts upon an exchange of ambassadors” (Teymūr Mīrzā says he had never seen any until one, bought at an exorbitant price in Russia, most probably from a zoo, was brought as a gift for [Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah] in 1284/1867-68 and that, after several months of painstaking care and training, he succeeded in preparing it to knock down a large crane from the sky in the presence of the shah); 2. šāhīn and baḥrī, Falco peregrinus, var. peregrinator (in Teymūr Mīrzā’s opinion, “if taken when an eyas, it is "the [Anatolian] šāhīn", but if netted as a haggard, it is [called] baḥrī”); 3. bālābān (Turk.?; in Kurd, bālāwān/­bālevān; see Schapka, s.v.), saker falcon, F. cherrug (“there are ten or twelve varieties of it,” hence its importance in falconry; one variety, “if netted as a haggard, is called b.-e lafīf but, if taken out of the nest, is called aytalgī in Turkish, wačrī in [dialectal Iraqi?] Arabic [lit. “nestling”], and čarḵ in Persian”); 4. čarḵ (see preceding); 5. toromtā(y) (Turk.), merlin, F. columbarius; 6. leyl, hobby, F. subbuteo (from Ar. layl “night,” because the hobby prefers to hunt at dusk? see Schapka, s.v.; and Moʿayyer-al-Mamālek, p. 74, n. 51, passim); 7. sangak (Pers.) (“the only difference between the sangak and the pīqū [Levant sparrow hawk] is that the former has black eyes and the latter yellow eyes”); 8. dalīja/dalīča (Azeri Turk.), kestrel, F. tinnunculus.

Aquilidae: ʿoqāb, eagle (Teymūr Mīrzā describes seven or eight kinds of ʿoqāb, including ʿo.-e do-barā(da)r, lit. “the two-brothers eagle” (so called “because they always hunt in pairs”), Bonelli’s eagle, Hieraaetus fasciatus, which he claims he trained in forty days to catch the francolin, the moorhen, the hare, etc.).

Vultures: 1. kalāḡ karkas (Pers., lit. “bald vulture”), probably the Egyptian vulture, Neophron perenopterus (use in falconry: in training the čarḵ to catch the eagle, it must be previously flown at immature Egyptian vultures); 2. dāl (Pers.), griffon vulture, Gyps fulvius (no mention of its use in falconry).

Corvus: kalāḡ-e (sīāh-e) qozqūn (in Azeri Turk. qoz­ḡon “crow”), raven, C. corax (“In ʿArabestān [i.e., Ḵūzestān] they net it and train it to capture the bālābān and other raptors, just as the kestrel is trained in Daštī and Daštestān in Fārs [for the same purpose]; in Kermānšāhān and elsewhere the qozqūn is captured with a decoy eagle owl”).

Lanius: ālā-gozkena (said by Teymūr Mīrzā to be called so in Persian and bāzorī in Kurdish, but the word is of Turkish origin; see Schapka, s.v.), shrike, L. excubitor, etc. (it can be trained for fun, e.g., by children, to catch small birds such as sparrows; see also Mokrī, s.vv. bāzor and bālzer).

As to the provenience of traditional raptors as a major factor in their later training, Nasavī (pp. 84-88) distinguishes the āšīānī (from āšīān “nest”), the eyas; the goḏārī (“migratory”; captured during the goḏār, “pas­sage”); and the waḥšī, (lit. “wild”), haggard, caught with different snares and tricks. According to him, the āšīānīs, fed and trained in captivity, “are bold with people but not very eager [to hunt] or very audacious [in attacking prey]; passage falcons are superior to them in audacity and swiftness.” Teymūr Mīrzā considers only two sorts: the āšīānī and the tūrī, adults captured wild with a tūr “net”; for most species he details the advantages and handicaps of each sort.

The classification of raptors into “yellow-eyed” and “black-eyed,” practically useless by itself (which is probably why our authors have not justified its relevance), is meaningful in the sense that, so far as traditional raptors used in falconry are concerned, the color of the irises is concomitant with such other natural features as relative length of the wings, bodily strength, hunting proficiency, and innate hunting technique. As shown by Teymūr Mīrzā’s inventory, the “yellow-eyed” category includes the accipiters—short-winged, hovering, chase-and-catch raptors, traditionally prized for hunting low-flying game birds (pheasants, partridges, quails, bustards, etc.) or small animals (hares, fawns, etc.). The “black-eyed” group includes the Falconidae—long-winged, very swift, swooping raptors particularly suited to catching or knocking down high­flying game birds (cranes, high-flying waterfowl, pigeons, etc.) or to stopping (blindfolding) such large animals as the gazelle. Further, according to some modem Persian authors, the “black-eyed” raptors are far superior to the “yellow-eyed” ones in agility, audacity, tenacity, flying performance, etc. (see e.g., H. Tājbaḵš, “Parandagān-e šekārī,” Šekār o ṭabīʿat 24, 1340 Š./1961, pp. 26-28).

The methods of training the raptors seem to depend largely on the two factors just mentioned: the nature of the genus and/or species involved and the provenience of the bird to be trained. Actually our authors prefer not to generalize but to deal with training technique and tricks for each species, sometimes even each variety, individually, with a view to the types of prey for which they wish to “specialize” a given raptor. Thus various practices, more or less common to Arabian and old European falconry—taming, abating, starving, seeling, fleshing, recalling, luring, etc.—are recommended in various degrees or when needed. Nasavī (p. 96), aptly sums up the training issue: “[The art of] developing nimbleness, proficiency and docility in the bāz, of emboldening it to attack small and large birds, and of teaching it other tasks can be learned partly [through masters), partly by experience, and partly from the birds of prey themselves.”

Much more important to the falconers as responsible custodians of “the kings’ darlings” seems to have been the health of these “darlings,” the training and keeping of which were formidable, strenuous tasks and very costly. Consequently, the bāz-nāmas contain detailed chapters on keeping them healthy and in form and on treating their diseases (the same preoccupation or emphasis is also visible in old European works on falconry, e.g., La fauconnerie de F. Ian des Franchières, Poitiers, 1567, pp. 30-160; La vollerie de messire Artelouche d’Alagona, Poitiers, 1567, pp. 13-37). Diagnosis in accipitrine medicine, as practiced by our authors, depended mainly on symptoms (ʿalāmāt, lit. “signs”; e.g., “the sign of headache: the bāz pants, and its nose runs,” Nasavī, p. 125) and on examination (e.g., to detect vermin or broken feathers). As in human preventive medicine, much attention was paid to proper diets for various birds, to precautions to be taken during the molting period, to moderation and common sense in handling and flying them (Nasavī, p. 107, deplores “the unfairness of people who want the bāz to catch bus­tards, cranes, herons, etc., or the čarḵ and the šāhīn to catch gazelles”). Internal and external diseases, as well as accidental injuries, were distinguished (Nasavī, pp. 111-­50, deals with well over thirty ailments, including head colds of various origins, catarrh, headache, amaurosis, leucoma, pterygium, nyctalopia, surdity, pip, asthma, emaciation, flatulence, intestinal worms, podagre, ver­min, wing laxity, and various wounds). Treatment included much materia medica originally destined for, and tested on, man (administered in the form of pills, suppositories, ointments, powders, etc.), minor surgery, bloodletting, and cauterization (the sovereign remedy in some cases of head cold, etc.). Medications included simple remedies like hoopoe blood (for curing amaurosis, p. 127) and the flesh of a still blind puppy (to be taken internally as a cure for asthma and panting, p. 131), as well as such complex recipes as a mixture of pounded tortoise eggs and minced goat heart (to be taken as a cure for catarrh, p. 122) and a mixture of pounded grains of dill, celery, hemp, horseradish, and fennel (in a suppository to cure the same). Nasavī (p. 106) justifies the drudgery and toil of his profession when he says that “one must love the bāz more than one’s child” and when he quotes a well-known fellow bāzyār as having ad­monished his son in these terms: “This bāz is better than thy son for thee, because thou hast to maintain thy son, whereas this bāz keepeth both thee and thy son.”

See also bāz; bāz-nāma.



P. Aḏkāʾī, “Bāz o bāz-nāmahā-ye fārsī,” pt. 1, Honar o mardom 15/176, 1356 Š./1977, pp. 2-13.

Ī. Afšār, ed., Ḵᵛābgozārī, Tehran, 1346 Š./1967.

H.-R. d’Allemagne, Du Khorassan au pays des Backhtiaris, 4 vols., Paris, 1911.

K. M. Damīrī, Ḥayāt al-ḥayawān al-kobrā, 2 vols., 4th ed., Cairo, 1970.

G. Drouville, Voyage en Perse pendant les années 1812 et 1813 . . . , 2 vols., St. Petersburg, 1819.

E. Ghaleb, Dictionnaire des sciences de la nature, 3 vols., Beirut, 1965-66.

Kay Kāvūs b. Eskandar, Qābūs-­nāma, ed. Ḡ.-Ḥ. Yūsofī, 3rd ed., Tehran, 1364 Š./1985.

ʿOmar Ḵayyām, Nowrūz-nāma, ed. M. Mīnovī, Tehran, 1312 Š./1933.

S. Māher, “al-­Bayzara fi’l-taʾrīḵ wa’l-āṯār,” paper delivered at the International Conference on Falconry and Conservation, Abu Dhabi, 10-18 December 1976.

D.-ʿA. Moʿayyer-al-Mamālek, Waqāyeʿ al-zamān (Ḵāṭerāt-e šekārīya), ed. Ḵ. N. Māfī, Tehran, 1361 Š./1982.

M. Mokrī, Farhang-e nāmhā-ye parandagān dar lahjahā-­ye ḡarb-e Īrāṇ . . . , 3rd ed., Tehran, 1361 Š./1982-83.

H. Moser, A travers l’Asie centrale . . . , Paris, 1885; Pers. tr. Safar-nāma-ye Torkestān o Īrān, by ʿAlī Motarjem, ed. M. Golbon, Tehran, 1356 Š./1977.

Abu’l-Ḥasan ʿAlī b. Aḥmad Nasavī, Bāz-nāma, ed. ʿAlī Ḡarawī, Tehran, 1354 Š./1975.

J. E. Polak, Persien. Das Land und seine Bewohner, Leipzig, 1865; Pers. tr. Safar-nāma-ye Polāk (Īrān o īrānīān), by K. Jahāndārī, Tehran, 1361 Š./1982.

Abu’l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad b. ʿAlī Qalqašandī, Ṣobḥ al-aʿšā II, Cairo, 1963.

U. Schapka, Die persischen Vogelnamen, doc­toral dissertation, Julius-Maximilians-Universität, Würzburg, 1972.

D. A. Scott, et al., Parandagān-e Īrān, Tehran, 1975.

F. Shoberl, Persia, 3 vols., London, 1821-25.

Teymūr Mīrzā Ḥosām-al-Dawla, Bāz-nāma-ye nāṣerī, Tehran, 1285/1869.

See also Camb. Hist. Iran II, pp. 579-80; III, p. 497 (references to falconry in ancient Iran), and Survey of Persian Art, index, p. 22 (for representations in art).

On falconry in Afghanistan see G. Kühnert, Falknerei in Afghanistan, Schriften zur Geschichte und Soziologie der Jagd, ed. K. Lindner and S. Schwenk, Bonn, 1980.

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(Hūšang Aʿlam)

Originally Published: December 15, 1989

Last Updated: December 15, 1989

This article is available in print.
Vol. IV, Fasc. 1, pp. 53-58