John Delaney has spent over fifteen years as Master Printer working closely with such eminent photographers such as Bruce Davidson, Richard Avedon, Patrick Demarchelier, Steven Klein, Annie Leibovitz and Irving Penn. His series “The Golden Eagle Hunters of Mongolia” has garnered him the prestigious International Photography Awards 2008 Discovery of the Year. The Farmani Gallery is proud to exhibit this first solo show of his award winning series.
“Fine horses and fierce eagles are the wings of the Kazakhs.” – Ancient Kazakh Proverb
Nobody knows exactly when man tamed the Golden Eagle of Central Asia. Herodotus refers to nomadic eagle hunters in 5th Century B.C. Genghis Khan is said to have had over 5,000 “eagle riders” in his personal guard. We do know that since the 15th Century, nomadic Kazakh tribes on horseback with Golden Eagles have roamed freely across the borders of what is today Russia, China, Kazakhstan and Western Mongolia.
History has also shown these legendary horsemen have long had their way of life threatened: the Bolshevik Revolution, Stalin’s purges and China’s Cultural Revolution drove roaming Kazakhs to the mountains and valleys of Mongolia, where they found refuge and freedom to live as they have for centuries. But at the dawn of the 21st Century, the nomadic way of life is once again in danger of being eradicated. Globalization and the encroachment of the West is irreversibly changing the eagle riders’ way of life. My ongoing project is documenting these remarkable people before their traditions are lost forever.
With classic large format B&W portraits, I’ve tried to capture their pride and nobility. In the mountains, on horseback, I shot medium format B&W and color film to document the hunt and the vast beauty of Mongolia.
The nomads warmly welcomed me and to them I am grateful. I am also honored to have observed their way of life in such an intimate and personal manner and hope my images do their traditions justice.
-- John Delaney, New York, NY