Saturday, August 14, 2010

Kazakhstan's equestrian tradition

PD Photo: Kazakh horseback riders in traditional dress demonstrate a kissing game, Kyz kuu (Chase the Girl), one of a number of traditional games played on horseback, taken on 13 September 2000 by SSGT Jeremy T. Lock, USAF. In the photo, the Kazakh woman is ‘winning’ by whipping the man.

As part of the Gala concert of CentrAsBat 00, Kazakh horse-riding performers demonstrate Kazakhstan's cultural tradition of the equestrian game called Kyz kuu (also known as Kyz kuumai, known outside Central Asia as ‘Girl Chasing’, ‘Catch the Girl’, ‘Chase the Girl’, or ‘Kissing Game’), a traditional sport among the Kazakhs and Kyrgyz. CentrAsBat was formed on 15 December 1995 by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, under the aegis of the UN and NATO's Partnership for Peace program/ US Central Command (US CENTCOM).

In the game a man on horseback waits at a given point. When a young riding woman starts her horse galloping from a given distance behind him and passes him, he may start his horse galloping. They race towards a finish line ahead. If the man is able to catch up to the woman before the finish line, he is then rewarded with a kiss, which is a victory for him. If the man cannot catch up with her before the finish line, the woman rider turns around and chases the man back to the finish line. If she reaches the man, she may use her whip to beat him, which signifies a victory for her.

PD Photo: Kazakh bride in traditional Kazakh wedding dress on horseback (1911-1914), photo by Russian photographer Sergei Ivanovich Borisov (1860-1935). In the background, there is a yurt, a portable, felt-covered, wood lattice-framed dwelling structure, a home, traditionally used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia.

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