Mar 11, 2011   //   by peretz   //   culture, photos, videos  //  2 Comments

On a down day in Kab­ul, we decid­ed to take a road trip up to Pan­jshir Valley.  Lou has writ­ten about our expe­ri­ences in a pre­vi­ous post.  This post focus­es on the game of Buzkashi.


The objec­tive of Buzkashi is to gain pos­ses­sion of a goat car­cass, car­ry it a full loop around the field, and then deposit it into your oppo­nents goal (which is a cir­cle on the ground).  If at any time you drop the goat, you have to restart the  loop again.   There are ref­er­ees who deter­mine whether the goat has been deposit­ed in the goal correctly.  Here’s a frame of the play­ers look­ing for the call from the ref.

Waiting for the call from the Referee

Los­ing pos­ses­sion means you either dropped the goat or some­one yanked it out of you, like a fum­ble in Amer­i­can football.  Here you see the dead goat on the ground among the pile of horses.  Now one of the play­ers has to lean down off his horse (with­out dis­mount­ing and pick up the ~100lb car­cass).   That is a dan­ger­ous propo­si­tion. Hope­ful­ly your friends have blocked out your oppo­nents well, before you try.  Oth­er­wise you will get trampled.

Mark the Sovi­et Tanker hel­mets many of the play­ers are wear­ing in this


I asked them where they got the helmets.  They said it was form the Sovi­et Tankers they killed.  Up and down the val­ley, there are hun­dreds of scat­tered tanks.  Four hel­mets per tank.  I believe them.  Nowa­days, some wear Amer­i­can Army gear.


The rid­er in the cen­ter is try­ing to reach down and grab the goat.


Mud soaked from falling.


This rid­er got up and rode again.  It is a bru­tal sport.  You show your met­tle to your fel­low villagers.

He got up and rode again

Some­times it takes four hands to brag the goat.


Here you can see a formation.  The three on the right are like the linebackers.  Then one behind them is ready to block out anoth­er team.  And the two behind him are shar­ing the load of car­ry­ing the goat.


Tak­ing pho­tos from the crowd.  And now turn­ing the cam­era at the crowd.

My Fellow Spectators

On the way back home, our car shared the road with Buzkashi rid­ers on horses.  This one tried to grab my camera.  Instead, I got a shot and then reached out and shook his hand.

Reaching for the lens

Now see it all in action (thanks Lou!):