Buzkashi in Tajikistan

Buzkashi in Tajikistan

Buzkashi is a traditional spectacular equestrian sport in Tajikistan. Physically strong men on horseback take the carcass of a dead goat from each other and score a "goal". The game can be either a team game or on the principle of "every man for himself".

"Buz" means "goat" in Tajik, and "kashidan" means to drag, pull, which means pulling a goat. But a more familiar name for this game is goat-picking. It resembles polo on horseback with one difference – the headless carcass of a goat replaces the ball.

Tajiks have been playing buzkashi for hundreds of years. Thanks to this sport, young men learned endurance and skills of working with a horse in extreme conditions.

Previously, up to a thousand riders participated in this game, it could last all day. Today the game is regulated by time. Each player, sitting astride a horse, plays for himself. According to the rules, it is necessary not only to capture the carcass of a goat and hold it, but also to throw it into a special gate or take it to a pre-designated place.

There are other rules of buzkashi, when players are divided into two teams of 8-12 people each and play for a certain time. Usually these three periods are 20 minutes each, which does not include breaks. There are both attackers and defenders here. The use of physical force against other players is prohibited. The game is monitored by the equestrian judging panel. The referees mark outs (players leaving the field), assign penalties and even remove them from the game.

The buzkashi player is called chavandoz. Most often he wears a chapan (a wide cotton robe) and is protected by a helmet. The player has the right to take the carcass of a goat with only one hand. Also, only physically strong people participate in the game. Because the weight of a goat can not only reach, but also exceed 40 kilograms.

Horses for buzkashi are chosen very carefully, because not everyone is suitable for this game. The horse, like the rider, must be very strong and hardy. Horses are specially brought up and trained for more than one month.

Usually, buzkashi is played from November to April, because it is unbearably hot to play in the summer-autumn period. However, fans of this game arrange competitions in mountainous areas even in summer. Also, the buzkashi game is popular during wedding celebrations. It is usually arranged by the bride's father.

There is a Republican Federation of "Smooth Horse Racing and goat-picking (buzkashi)" in Tajikistan. Each game attracts hundreds of spectators. However, they stay away from the players – there is a high probability of injury. Because amateur games are held with the use of a whip, the use of which is prohibited in professional sports.

A camel was usually given for a victory in buzkashi. But recently, even amateur games have sponsors, and the winners receive money, household appliances and even cars.

In Tajikistan, unlike Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, food from a goat that served as a "ball" is rarely cooked.

The game of buzkashi is depicted on a postage stamp of Tajikistan, issued in 2002.