Bushkashi In the Wakhan Coridor, NE Afghanistan - The roof of the world

"Buzkashi (literally "goat grabbing" in Persian), also known as kokpar, kupkari and ulak tartysh, is the Central Asian sport in which horse-mounted players attempt to place a goat or calf carcass in a goal. It is the national sport of Afghanistan, although it was banned under the Taliban regime."

Rules and variations

Competition is typically fierce. Prior to the establishment of official rules by the Afghan Olympic Federation the sport was mainly conducted based upon rules such as not whipping a fellow rider intentionally or deliberately knocking him off his horse. Games can last for several days, and the winning team receives a prize, not necessarily money, as a reward for their win.

A buzkashi or kokpar player is called a Chapandaz or Shabandoz, possibly from chapan, a traditional cloak worn by Central Asian men; however, some scholars opine that the word is derived from the Persian word for 'raider'. It is mainly believed in Afghanistan that a skilful Chapandaz is usually in his forties. This is based on the fact that the nature of the game requires its player to undergo severe physical practice and observation. Similarly horses used in buzkashi also undergo severe training and due attention.

The game consists of two main forms: Tudabarai and Qarajai. Tudabarai is considered to be the simpler form of the game. In this version, the goal is simply to grab the goat and move in any direction until clear of the other players. In Qarajai, players must carry the carcass around a flag or marker at one end of the field, then throw it into a scoring circle (the "Circle of Justice") at the other end. The riders will carry a whip to fend off opposing horses and riders. When not in use - e.g. because the rider needs both hands to steer the horse and secure the carcass - the whip is typically carried in the teeth.

The calf in a buzkashi game is normally beheaded and disemboweled and has its limbs cut off at the knees. It is then soaked in cold water for 24 hours before play to toughen it. Occasionally sand is packed into the carcass to give it extra weight. Though a goat is used when no calf is available, a calf is less likely to disintegrate during the game. While players may not strap the calf to their bodies or saddles, it is acceptable - and common practice - to wedge the calf under one leg in order to free up the hands.

Thanks to Wikipedia.

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