2009.06.09: June 9, 2009: Headlines: COS - Kazakhstan: Sports: The Examiner: Micah Lemons writes: Kazakhstan's Spring Games

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Kazakstan : Peace Corps Kazakhstan : Peace Corps Kazakstan: Newest Stories: 2009.06.09: June 9, 2009: Headlines: COS - Kazakhstan: Sports: The Examiner: Micah Lemons writes: Kazakhstan's Spring Games

By Admin1 (admin) (141.157.64.130) on Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - 11:40 am: Edit Post

Micah Lemons writes: Kazakhstan's Spring Games

Micah Lemons writes: Kazakhstan's Spring Games

Since southern Kazakhstan has a more distinct Kazak culture than the northern part, most of the volunteers came down to my area to observe the festivities. The players line up for the beginning of Kokpar, played for Nauryz in southern KazakhstanOn the 22nd of March, we went to the outdoor stadium in Shymkent and watched their traditional game of Kokpar, which is like polo played with a goat carcass. There are two teams that try to throw the goat carcass into the goal while riding on horses. Thankfully, they soak the carcass in some solution that makes the skin very tough so that it doesn't break open during the game.

Micah Lemons writes: Kazakhstan's Spring Games

Kokpar: Kazakhstan's Spring Games

June 9, 1:53 AM

Caption: Kokpar by rudijamikko Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic

Some Peace Corps Volunteers stand in front of a yurt in southern KazakhstanThis following post was taken from an email I wrote while teaching English as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kazakhstan from 2006-08.

We just had our two-week spring break, which saw me traveling back and forth in southern and eastern parts Kazakhstan. The holidays started on the 21st of March and lasted until the first of April. It's called Nauryz in Kazak and it is their New Years festival. Counting the minimally observed Chinese New Years, Nauryz was the fourth New Years celebration that I've seen in Kazakhstan. They celebrate January 1st, then two weeks later for the old USSR New Years, then the Chinese New Year, and then finally Nauryz.

Since southern Kazakhstan has a more distinct Kazak culture than the northern part, most of the volunteers came down to my area to observe the festivities. The players line up for the beginning of Kokpar, played for Nauryz in southern KazakhstanOn the 22nd of March, we went to the outdoor stadium in Shymkent and watched their traditional game of Kokpar, which is like polo played with a goat carcass. There are two teams that try to throw the goat carcass into the goal while riding on horses. Thankfully, they soak the carcass in some solution that makes the skin very tough so that it doesn't break open during the game.

We watched two games and each time the carcass would be repeated trampled and stretched in every imaginable way as the two teams struggled for control. The most incredible aspect of Kokpar is the way that the players get a hold of the carcass. First, the carcass is deposited in the middle of the field by the referee. Then both teams race from the sidelines to the middle where they create what looks like a rugby scrum. Horses ram each other as they try to jockey for a better position. In this crazy jumble of horse and man, one brave rider will reach all the way down from his horse to the ground and pick up the carcass with his bare hand. Watching this happen is breathtaking. Often another horse will be simultaneously colliding with his horse and the probability of getting hurt seems bordering on one hundred percent.

Players jockey for position around the goat carcass in the game of KokparOnce the rider has the carcass in hand, he slides it under his leg (usually his right since most riders are right handed). Then, he merely has to avoid the other horses en route to the basket. His teammates ride alongside and fend off would-be goat-carcass-robbers. Amazingly enough, the origin of this game is remarkably clear, unlike our own modern sports of football, basketball or soccer. Why would anybody need to put the ball through the hoop? I have no idea. However, Kokpar clearly demonstrates that you need to protect your food from other hunters.




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Story Source: The Examiner

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Kazakhstan; Sports

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