an ancient equestrian sport played in Afghanistan that dates back
to the 13th century. The rules are fairly simple-- two opposing teams
attempt to lift and carry the 'boz' to the scoring area (a circle
drawn on the ground). The boz is a 150-lb goat or calf carcass that
has been beheaded and gutted, then soaked in water overnight to toughen
The sport tests
the horsemanship and strength of the riders, as well as the endurance
of the horses. The competitions can be hard on both horses and riders,
and can carry on for days or weeks.
In the past, the
number of players were unlimited, as were their actions. Riders and
horses were sometimes injured or even killed, with some players stabbing
or whipping each other. The playing field was not restricted in size
and could stretch for miles.
Riders dress in
in tall leather boots, fur fox- or wolf-skin hats, and and quilted jackets,
which help to protect them during competition.
Today it is slightly
more civilized in some areas, since the Afghan Olympic committee has
limited players to 10 per team, outlawed weapons (except for small whips)
and holds Buzkashi games in stadiums.
The winner of a match receives prizes that have been donated by a sponsor.
The prizes range from money to fine turbans and clothing.
The horses used-- all stallions-- are either the "Qataghan"
pony or the taller horses from the steppes of Faryab and Balkh. They
are trained to not trample fallen riders, to stand still and allow their
rider to pick the carcass up, and to gallop full speed when their rider
gets the carcass. They are generally trained for five years before they
are allowed to compete.
horses are priced at about 20,000 Afghanis, or $700-$25000 USD. They
are often not owned by the players, but by rich men who watch the games.
will supplement the horses' diets with eggs and butter. If a horse gets
too fat, they will perform the 'kantar', which means tying the horse
saddled and bridled in the hot sun every day for weeks. They believe
the sun will burn away the fat and teach the horse patience.
"The origins of the game are perhaps lost in history, but some
believe it was invented as
a defense against the hordes of Genghis Khan who were very adept at
sweeping down on
an Afghan village on horseback and grabbing precious sheep and goats
and other pillage
at a full gallop. Other historians claim that the game was played originally
with the body
of a dead prisoner of war." -http://www.neseabirds.com/Afghanistan/Bushkazi.htm