Afghans play carcass polo as buzkashi season begins


A cloud of dust swirls around the heaving scrum of three dozen horses competing in the final contest on a vast plain in the northern province of Samangan, where buzkashi riders known an “chapandazan” are revered as heroes. Buzkashi — from the Persian words for goat (“buz”) and drag (“kashi”) — has been played in Central Asia for centuries. Banned under the Taliban’s brutal and draconian regime of 1996 to 2001 for being, there were fears the ancient game would again be barred after the Islamists seized power in August. But things have changed, with Taliban fighters gathered in the crowd after Friday prayers to watch the showpiece buzkashi tournament.

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