Buzkashi: A Traditional Equestrian Game

With the meaning of "catch and goat", the Buzkashi has existed as an ancient and traditional equestrian game in Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and has been established as the official national sport in modern times. It is mainly played in team or individually ---- a dead goat (sheep or veal) is launched among dozens of Buzkashi players (tchopendoz) who struggle, sometimes violently, to grab the goat and bring it to the "Circle of Justice" without falling off their horse mount.

During the game that may last for hours, no holds barred. The game ends when the number of points decided at the start of the game is achieved by a rider. The game is very tough for the competitors (the tchopendoz) that fight, and insult each other but also for the horses that receive blows during the game. Horses may be badly injured and sometimes executed at the end of the game.

In this game in Dushanbe, horses had run numerous kilometers to get the dead goat. The game, a mix between polo and rugby, is played in spring and autumn when the weather is not too cold or hot, as to preserve the horses endurance.

This traditional sport is rarely played in an open natural playground. In Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, it is played in stadium. Less striking than in natural playgrounds, it drives numerous spectators far from homes. The winner wins 4 horses, sometimes worth 15,000 USD each. But today, cars have replaced horses for the winner.

(All rights reserved Kares Le Roy)





>> Gallery: Buzkashi

>> Photographer: Kares Le Roy



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