x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Poet keeps alive the verse tradition of passing on lore about falcons and praising favourite birds

Manuscripts on falconry are not part of the UAE tradition. Instead falcons were immortalised in poems passed from generation to generation.

When Ahmed Al Mansoori recites poetry in praise of his falcon, Miraj, he is in line with a centuries old tradition.

Manuscripts on falconry are not part of the UAE tradition. Instead falcons were immortalised in poems passed from generation to generation. These days, falconers store poems on smart phones.

Mr Al Mansoori’s 20-line poem describes the breeding techniques for hybrid falcons composed in response to friends’ teasing him for his choice of a farm-bred 1.3 kg gyr-saqr cross.

“To those who are looking for my information on what my falcon did,” the poem begins, “listen and slowly all my information will come to you.”

It ends with an invitation for the rival hunting party to join the next hunt.

“When you say it in poetry people say, ‘oh, this is something we use every day but you have made it poetry’. This is the attraction,” said Mr Al Mansoori, who is 36.

The art is also instructional. “Before I did not have a full idea about how they mix breeds,” said Mr Al Mansoori’s friend, Abdulaziz Al Mansoori. “If people explained it to me for two days I would not understand [breeding] but when Ahmed explained it in this poem I understood everything very well, like the difference is between the Siberian falcon and our falcon and the purpose of mixing.”

In another poem, Miraj’s ivory breast is compared to an elephant’s tusk. “With Miraj,” he wrote, “There is no need for a rifle.”

* Anna Zacharias