Playing Buzkashi in Central Asia

by Akhil Kalepu

Aug 26, 2014

A Kokpar Match at the Republican Equestrian Games in Temirtau, Kazakhstan © Tyrin | Dreamstime


If polo gives off too much of a country club vibe, consider a trek down to Central Asia for a traditional game of buzkashi. Much like polo, buzkashi is played on horseback, with the chapandaz trying to get the boz into the goal zone. Unlike polo, the ball is a beheaded goat carcass cured with cold water and salt. The traditional game has a fierce spirit of competition and is a rite of passage for young men, tracing its origins to the nomadic people of the region.


The rules are fairly straightforward; carry the ball to the goal area without fouling other riders. Despite the simplicity, playing can be difficult, with the cured meat being heavy to lift from horseback. Players and horses can take years to perfect their technique. The game underwent standardization with national committees establishing their own rules. Afghanistan even tried to have their national sport become a part of the Olympics, though they were rejected.


Buzkashi monument in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan © Nijethorpe | Dreamstime

Buzkashi monument in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan © Nijethorpe | Dreamstime


The game can get pretty rough, so players will wear heavy quilted cloaks called chapans as well as protective headwear. The rider does not typically own his horse; rather a wealthy landlord will hire players and provide training facilities for 8-10 man squads. Buzkashi players can become regional celebrities in their own right and get sponsorships from wealthy fans. Aziz Ahmad is one of the most famous professional players in Afghanistan, with wealthy lords having him helicoptered to Kabul for games. The Taliban takeover during the 90s put a ban on the game and forced Ahmad out of the country, though he was able to return to Kabul after the 2001 War in Afghanistan, and is now considered one of the best living buzkashi players.


Buzkashi games are a spectacle to see, often played for special occasions like weddings and religious events. One of the biggest matches held is for the celebration of Navruz, the Persian New Year, in the town of Urgut, Uzbekistan. Tourists and local Uzbekistanis alike travel far and wide to come see this extraordinary sport.


Insta Feed
Reviews / Restaurant
Aug 19, 2019

The French Laundry

My husband and I snagged lunch reservations at The French Laundry ahead of our trip to Sonoma and Napa. As people who love to experience unique and exciting dining options while traveling, we were thrilled to try the iconic restaurant.

Leave Troublesome Rideshare Worries Behind

We can see it now and remember when it happened to us: Watching as the black car icon loops around and around, seemingly endlessly, and our wait time on the rideshare app continually changes. Long wait times and confused drivers are just a few bothersome issues that can nag at rideshare users. Need a solution? Ditch rideshares altogether in favor of renting a car on your next trip.

Products / Clothing
Aug 19, 2019

Trendy Sportswear from Year of Ours

Year of Ours is a female-led sportswear brand aiming to create an inclusive community. The Los Angeles-based brand offers products inspired by classic American sportswear.

Products / Entertainment
Aug 19, 2019

Best Apps for World News

There are many different ways to consume the news in today’s world. Traditional newspapers have become a thing of the past with more and more people choosing to get news from digital outlets. In the age of technology, the issue that arises is there are so many different websites and news outlets to gather information. It’s difficult at times for consumers to figure out which app or website gives them the information most important or relevant to them.

Take Me to Tahiti

Mana is the life force Tahitians believe connects all things. Feel the mana for yourself on a visit to the islands of Tahiti, and sample some of these activities as you connect with the breathtaking nature of the South Pacific. Fly Air France from the United States to Tahiti in the most convenient and comfortable way and let your holiday start on board.

North America
Aug 18, 2019

Trazee In-Depth: South Philadelphia Style

South Philadelphia is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods — with attitude to boot. The foodie, Italian neighborhood continues to rise through the ranks as one of the city’s longest-lasting, cuisine-centric locales, but with a lot of new blood moving in.