Naxi Falconer with goshawk, China

Mr. Li Shi’s father and grandfather were falconers. It was in his blood, he was a quite and studious man and had his Cang Ying so well manned that you would have thought he had had her from an eyas. In fact a few weeks ago she was wild and free but that was before she came into the gentle and calm hands of Li Shi.

The Chinese use the ancient method of waking a hawk, a method that is not unknown to ancient European falconry. In the modern West it is remembered as an exhausting method for both falconer and hawk purely due to T.H.White’s book “The Goshawk” where he recounted his attempts at waking minute by minute.

The Chinese take a much more relaxed and calm approach, with all family and friends walking and handling the hawk in short shifts day and night until she is manned.

It is a process that usually takes a couple of days, then after that the hawk is never on her perch for more than a half hour before someone picks her up to go for a short walk in the crowded streets.