Photo Friday: World Nomad Games 2018

The World Nomad Games proclaims its slogan for all to hear: “United in Strength! United in Spirit!”

The 2018 iteration of the biennial games took place in the Kyrgyz Republic on September 2, nestled in the northeast of Centra Asia and the Tien Shan mountains. 90 percent of the country’s land is over 1,500 meters above sea level, and it’s almost entirely mountainous, so it is no surprise that the main source of water is from glacial meltwater.

The games were created in 2012 to revitalize and preserve nomadic culture. This year featured thousands of athletes from 77 countries competing in 37 types of ethnosports. “The mission of the World Nomad Games covers the revival, development and preservation of the ethnoculture, diversity and originality of the people of the world in order to foster a more tolerant and open relationship between people,” states the official website. The event is broken into three sections: ethnoculture, enthnosport, and science. It features diverse activities that range from folklore and traditional intellectual games to traditional wrestling and salbuurun, their form of hunting with local wildlife.

For this week’s Photo Friday, take a look at the 2018 World Nomad Games, as well as competitions from years past.

Promotional material for the 2018 World Nomad Games with the Tien Shan mountains in the background (Source: World Nomad Games).


A nomadic village congregating for the 2016 World Nomad Games (Source: Save the Dream/Flickr).


Athletes participated in traditional forms of wrestling, as featured in the promotional video for the World Nomad Games 2018 (Source: World Nomad Games).


Opening ceremony of the 2016 World Nomad Games (Source: Save the Dream/Flickr).


Nomadic children playing “Ordo,” a traditional game involving teams throwing cow and sheep bones at a coin in an attempt to knock out the other team’s playing pieces (Source: World Nomad Games).



Photo Friday: World Nomad Games Held in Kyrgyzstan

The World Nomad Games, held in Kyrgyzstan on September 3-8, drew participants from 40 countries, most of them from former Soviet Union. Competitions were held in over 20 different sports, including archery  and javelin throwing, horse racing and several kinds of wrestling (some between individuals who stand in a ring, another between mounted riders).  A sort of polo played with the headless body of a dead goat, known in Afghanistan as buzkashi and as kok-boru in Kyrgyzstan, is a particular favorite. A board game, toguz, somewhat similar to chess, is a less physical form of competition.

This event was the second World Nomad Games, following the first event in September 2014. This year’s event, like the earlier one, was held at Cholpon-Ata in Naryn Province of Kyrgyzstan, a small town on the southern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul, with striking views of the glacier-capped peaks of the Tien Shan.

These photographs demonstrate the vigor of the nomad traditions and the excitement of the participants. They document the importance of horses in nomad cultures, and demostrate other skills as well that have developed over the centuries among the pastoral populations who inhabit the high-elevation grasslands, many of them watered by glacier melt.

American and Russian teams playing kok-buro (source: Ronan Shenhav/FLickr)
American and Russian teams playing kok-boru (source: Ronan Shenhav/Flickr)


Kyrgyz men in traditional hats, watching the games (source:Ronan Shenhez/Flickr)
Kyrgyz men in traditional hats, watching the games (source:Ronan Shenhav/Flickr)


Two men reaching for a goat carcass (source: Altainovosti/Twitter)
Two men reaching for a goat carcass in a game of kok-boru (source: Altainovosti/Twitter)


Kyrgyz and Chinese teams playing kok-buro (sourde: Ronan Shenhav/Flickr)
Kyrgyz and Chinese teams playing kok-boru (source: Ronan Shenhav/Flickr)