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  • Ahmed Saleh

Taif preserves unique tradition of feather imping, known as tawseer

Taif, March 10, 2024, In the vibrant city of Taif, the age-old tradition of feather imping, locally known as tawseer, continues to flourish, offering a glimpse into the intricate craftsmanship deeply rooted in the region.

This meticulous artistry finds its primary application in the care of birds of prey, particularly falcons, where damaged feathers are replaced with healthy ones through a delicate process. Referred to as imping, this technique involves the insertion of a donor feather obtained either from the bird's previous molting or from another avian source of the same or different species.

Following a hunting or training season, falcons may sustain broken or damaged feathers, prompting skilled craftsmen, whose expertise has been passed down through generations, to intervene. These craftsmen employ specialized tools and techniques to mend the falcon's feathers, ensuring their flight capabilities remain intact.

According to imping expert Masoud AlJuaid, the process demands precision and dexterity, with adept craftsmen capable of completing the task in a mere 4-5 minutes. Utilizing simple tools such as wooden skewers, copper wire, adhesive glue, and white powder or wood ash, craftsmen stabilize the newly attached feather to safeguard the falcon's flight dynamics.

Far beyond mere aesthetics, imping plays a pivotal role in preserving the falcon's balance and flight abilities. A damaged feather can disrupt aerodynamics, posing challenges in flight and potentially leading to injury.

Comprising 22 feathers, including 10 primary and 12 secondary ones, a falcon's wing undergoes a molting and growth cycle lasting approximately 3-8 weeks per feather, contingent on its length.

The art of tawseer epitomizes a profound understanding of falcon anatomy, feather morphology, and the intricate process of feather replacement. It stands as a testament to the rich cultural legacy of falconry in Saudi Arabia, underscoring the unwavering commitment of its practitioners to safeguarding this cherished tradition.

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