Several Kazakh names: Aisholpan, Almagul, Samarkan

Eagle Huntress (2016)

The Eagle Huntress (2016) is a documentary film about a 13-year-old Mongolian girl, Aisholpan, who trains under her father to become an eagle hunter.

Though Aisholpan’s family lives in western Mongolia, they aren’t ethnically Mongolian — they’re Kazakhs. (The Kazakhs were pushed into western Mongolia by Russian troops during the 19th century; the westernmost Mongolian province of Bayan-Ölgii is currently almost 90% Kazakh.)

So, Aisholpan isn’t a Mongolian name. It’s a Kazakh name. What does it mean? The ai– element refers to the moon, and the –sholpan element refers to Venus.

Aisholpan’s mother is Almagul. In her name, the alma– element means “apple” and the –gul element means “flower.”

So far I haven’t been able to define the names of her other family members: her father Nurgaiv (nur– apparently means “shine”), her older brother Samarkan (whose name could be based on Samarkand?), her younger sister Saigulug, and her younger brother Dinka.

Aisholpan’s eagle also has a name (White Feathers) but traditionally Kazakh eagle hunters do not give their birds names. Instead the eagles are known by their ages, and these age-names differ from region to region. Examples given in my source article include Balapan (one year old), Tastuluk (two), and Tirnek (three).

Sources: Breaking free: meet the first girl eagle huntress in Mongolia, Kazakhs – Wikipedia, Names – Kazakhstan Adoptive Families

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