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The Kazakh game of Kyz Kuu (when traditions inspire)

kyz kuu horse racing game

In Central Asia, there is an interesting equestrian game called "Kyz Kuu". It combines elements of romance and Kazakh tradition.

"Kyz Kuu" literally means - catch the girl. This traditional nomadic horse race had a slightly different purpose from other games such as Kokpar. In my childhood, I found this part of the racing day the most fascinating and interesting. 

Essentially this game was a kiss chase on the horseback. A woman sets off on a horse at a gallop. After a small delay, a man, also on horseback gallops after her. The aim of the game is to catch the girl and kiss her while both are still at full gallop. If the man does not manage to catch and kiss the girl is then whipped by her all the way back to the starting line. This certainly beats any western romantic tradition I can think of. 

If the boy still caught up with a girl, the reward for the victory sometimes was not only a kiss but matchmaking and marriage in the future. Some men had to prove themselves during the horse racing that they are marriage materials. These kinds of competitions were organized in the steppe on various festive occasions.

The pictured leather tote bag was made by me in my home art studio and depicts that tradition. The image is based on art work of Eraly Ospanov, Kazakhstan artist.

kazakhsha leather bag

handmade leather tote baghandmade leather tote bag