A chapandaz (buzkashi player) on horseback is carrying a boz (“goat”), which is like a ball in this ancient polo-like game, and may weights up to 70 kilograms, or about the same as the weight of a human player himself than a goat. The goat has to be grabbed from the ground and carried by a horse rider to a designated circle on the ground.
Kabul, 2 November 2007
Buzkashi, the national game of Afghanistan, is an ancient game played throughout the steppes of Central Asia. At a glance, it is like a modern polo game, with the ball replaced by headless goat carcass, being the target of grabbing of the aggressive horse riders. The game can be very brutal, and fatal. Legend says that the Mongol Emperor Genghis Khan brought the game to the mountainous Afghanistan in the 13th century. The game is mainly played during the colder winter months, and more popular in the northern part of the country, including Mazar-e-Sharif and Kabul. Buzkashi was banned by the Taliban regime, which condemned it as immoral. During the celebration of Persian New Year (Naoruz), a great buzkashi match is usually held in Mazar-e-Sharif, participated by some hundreds of the best buzkashi riders from all over the world. The great game of buzkashi crystalizes all Afghan qualities: bravado, power, cooperation, struggle, pride and honesty.
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