A game that is played nowhere else in the world but in Afghanistan has got to be a little different - and Buzkashi is more than a little different.
To start with the game is played between two teams of mounted horsemen with 10 players to a team in a stadium the size of a football field. Secondly, the central object is not a leather ball, but a headless calf that weighs about 150 pounds and has been soaked in water all night to make the hide tough.
During my recent trip to Mongolia, I had the chance to witness an event that pitted two riders against each other to see who was strongest... and the reason that they do this in Mongolia can only be answered in the origins of Buzkashi.
The origins of the game are perhaps lost in history, but many 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 as they rode through the villages they were pilfering...
And, after watching these young men battle for a goat carcass on horseback, there is definitely an art.
If you want to consider joining me next year in Mongolia. Check out this link for my trip in 2017 https://kevin-pepper-bcji.squarespace.com/2017-golden-eagle-festival-photo-tour