Photo Friday: Yak Rugby

Known to many as the “roof of the world,” the Pamir Mountains are home to quite a few superlatives. But nothing in the Pamirs elicits quite as deep a gasp as the pastime of a group of ethnic Tajiks living in China’s Taxkorgan Autonomous County, near China’s borders with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Buzkashi, a popular game among many Central Asian communities, is a sport in which riders grapple on horseback over an inflated goat carcass. In attempting to wrest the goat away from other competitors, riders often fall into large scrums, contorting their bodies while trying to keep their horses upright. Many fall off their horses, and deaths are not uncommon. Buzkashi may in fact be the most dangerous game in the world. In Taxkorgan, a region dominated by curtains of clouds, rocks, glacier ice, and snow, it is played atop yaks one day each year.

Teeth gritting, horns swinging, dust swirling: must be Yak Buzkashi! (Source: Davie Gan).

 

Caked in dust after a difficult day of buzkashi (Source: IamNotUnique/Creative Commons).

 

Glacier ice and snow dominate Taxkorgan’s landscape (Source: llee_wu/Creative Commons).

 

Perhaps the hats offer some protection. Or perhaps not. (Source: Davie Gan).

 

In the distance stands Kongur Tagh, elevation 25,095′ (Source: Yunsheng Bai/Creative Commons).

 

Holy cow! (Source: Davie Gan).
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