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Kola-ye Buzkashi, North Afghanistan. TRC collectionKola-ye Buzkashi, North Afghanistan. TRC collection

In November 2009, the TRC acquired a set of Buzkashi clothing from northern Afghanistan. Buzkashi is a Persian word and literally means ‘goat grabbing’. It is the name for a very popular game played mainly in northern Afghanistan. It is a team sport that is played on horseback. Essentially, the players are supposed to grab the carcass of a goat or (more likely) that of a calf, and, constantly being harassed by the players of the other team, they will try to drop it somewhere when free from the other players. In its modern and regulated form, the player should carry the carcass around a flag or post at one end of the field, and drop it into a target circle at the other end. Buzkashi is a game that is related to many other sports played on horseback, as for instance polo. It belongs to the world of Central and South Asian horse riding cultures, where horsemanship was, and still is, highly appreciated.

 Padded Buzkashi coat, North Afghanistan. TRC CollectionPadded Buzkashi coat, North Afghanistan. TRC Collection

Padded Buzkashi trousers, North Afghanistan. TRC CollectionPadded Buzkashi trousers, North Afghanistan. TRC Collection










Buzkashi is a rough game, and in its traditional form may last for days. It is no wonder therefore that Buzkashi players wear special clothing to protect them against the boots and whips of their opponents. The clothing, as recently acquired by the TRC, was purchased in the summer of 2009 in Takhar Province, northern Afghanistan. It includes the traditional boots (muza-ye buzkashi); the trousers (shalwar); the jacket (jamper) with its scarve (dismal-e kamar, or dismal-e gul-e seb); the cap (kola-ye buzkashi); and the whip (qamchin). The boots are made of cow’s leather. But before these boots are worn for the first time, they are rubbed in with grease (rohan), and left to dry in the sun for a week. Before putting on the boots, the feet are protected by bandages. The padded trousers and padded jacket are made of thick cotton; the cap is of sheep’s wool (with karakul wool on top); the whip is made of leather.

Literature: G. Whitney Azoy, Buzkashi. Game and Power in Afghanistan. Philadelphia 1982.  See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buzkashi  

 Buzkashi boots, North Afghanistan. TRC CollectionBuzkashi boots, North Afghanistan. TRC Collection

Buzkashi sash, North Afghanistan. TRC CollectionBuzkashi sash, North Afghanistan. TRC Collection












The display which is available for loan comes with the complete outfit (jacket, trousers, sash, cap, boots, and whip), two photographs and a short text describing the history of buzkashi and its importance within northern Afghan culture.

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