I was led to believe that falconers (in Europe?) always used a glove on the left hand to handle birds of prey. However, this image show Mongol with birds on their right hands.

So, how has the the handness of the falconry glove evolved?

enter image description here

PS: the images might be mirrored...

  • I am not sure this fits into the history.se but could not think of a better site to ask... Maybe sceptics? Anyhow, please let me know how to improve the question. Thanks. – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Nov 11 '13 at 8:53
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    They are also mounted. It is common to use your left hand to control the horse, so you have your right hand free. – Lennart Regebro Nov 11 '13 at 9:51
  • @LennartRegebro: Possibly, however as this images shows, some falconer still use the left hand for the bird and the right hand for the horse. – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Nov 11 '13 at 9:56
  • I see no problem with having this on this site, this may or may not interest some historians, but it's definitely history... – o0'. Nov 11 '13 at 10:37

Based on a German question-answer site:

The left handed based falconry is based on the falconry on horses. You have the falcon on the left hand and the right hand is free to hold the rein. In meantime there are people with the falcon on the right hand.

Other answers: You need the right hand to hold a line. Or they need a free hand and most people are right hander.

There is the similar explanatory statement on another website. (page 5)

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  • I do think the "horses" part is superfluous here. Most people want their right hand free, so they would hold the falcon on the left hand. That seems quite natural. As pointed out above, in the military you would hold the rein of the horse with your left hand to have your right hand free to fight. A military falconer would therefore rather have the bird on the right hand when on a horse. So the Horse as a reason for the handedness actually just complicates things... – Lennart Regebro Nov 11 '13 at 11:17
  • @LennartRegebro - Your logic seems sound. However, I could also see where your typical pampered European noble engaging in falconry might have no other concerns (with retainers to control his horse and protect his person), and thus might prefer to use his right. This is why I prefer examples (or at least references) to logic. :-) – T.E.D. Nov 11 '13 at 14:31

All falconers in Central Asia, not just Mongolia, carry the falcon on the right arm (the "good" arm), I would guess because that is the stronger arm. You can read, for example, the account of William of Rubruck (c. 1220 – c. 1293) who wrote definitively that the falcon is always carried on the right arm and it is the same way throughout Persia as well.

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