Dawei and Eagle Hunting of Daur Ethnic Group
Dawei (To Encircle and Hunt Down Animals) and Eagle Hunting
Once hunting was one of the most ancient and most important production activities of the Daur people. During the long term of production practices, the Daurs have accumulated a lot of knowledge and experiences with regard to hunting, such as laying snares, trapping, burying arrows under the earth, dawei (encircling and hunting down animals) and eagle hunting.
In the early twentieth century and before the introduction to the Daur districts of modern weapons such as the single-shot gun with lead bullets and the rifle with steel balls, bows and arrows and spears are major tools for hunting. These rude and rough tools have a low rate of target shooting. To ensure safety and improve hunting productivity, the Daurs have through gradual exploring formed a means of hunting together, that is, “dawei” or encircling and hunting down animals together. With this means, a clan, or “Hala” in the Daur language, is usually taken as a unit and an experienced “Aweida” or hunting leader takes the general commands. Then those participating in hunting are distributed in a circle, surround the hunting ground determined previously, move forward slowly, tighten up the ring of encirclement gradually, and at last kill the animals such as ermines, roe deer, deer, and wild boars.
Eagle hunting is another effective way of hunting and is usually carried in the morning after a snow. The hunter rides on a gallant horse, holding hunting eagles on his left arm, and wanders among the snow-covered mountains and woods. Once finding small birds and animals such as pheasants and hare, he will order the hunting eagle to strike them quickly, which is also of great nicety and effectiveness. Though the gain from eagle hunting is rather shy, it is not only a kind of production activity but also an amusing sport and entertainment and thus is very popular among the Daur people. A hunter, therefore, even takes pride in having a clever, quick and valiant hunting eagle.