Buzkashi, Revisited

Travel Blog  •  Michael Yessis  •  09.13.11 | 10:57 AM ET

The Lunatic Express author and World Hum contributor Carl Hoffman looks at how buzkashi, Afghanistan’s goat-based national sport, has changed since 9/11.

What was originally a pickup game played at weddings and festivals has become a game of one-upmanship between rich big men getting richer and bigger every day. Who has the most horses? The most expensive horses, which can cost $50,000 in a country where the average annual wage is $370? The best stable of chapandazan? Players have always been sponsored—given good horses to ride for the glory of the horse’s owner and small profit for the rider—but now a few have made themselves the world’s first professional, full-time buzkashi players.

We published David Raterman’s story about buzkashi, aka buskaschee, in 2002. He recently drew from the story for a scene in his novel, The River Panj.

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