Popular throughout much of Central Asia, buzkashi is a form of horse polo in which horseback players wrestle a goat carcass across a playing field. Believed to have its origins as a defense tactic against Genghis Khan’s livestock-snatching Mongols, the sport is played with few rules and no teams – every man fights for himself.
Buzkashi is practiced more widely in Tajikistan, compared to the other ex-Soviet republics, where the sport is occasionally controlled. For Afghan horse traders upholding their own buzkashi tradition, Tajikistan is also one of the chief sources for the prized — and often extremely expensive — buzkashi steeds.
All of the photos in this gallery were shot in Tajikistan, as part of a project on buzkashi culture throughout the ’stans. A selection of photos from this series won a gold award in the 2011 Prix de la Photographie (PX3) and 2nd place in the 2011 International Photography Awards.
A book showcasing some of these photos along with an extended essay detailing the culture and patronage surrounding the sport can be purchased at this link : http://bit.ly/buzbook