The buzkachi is a traditional game of Afghanistan and of the Central Asian steppes. The body of a beheaded ram is stuffed with wet sand to make it heavier. A white circle ( hallal ) is drawn with lime on the ground. At an equal distance on the right and on the left sides of the hallal two masts are erected. At a signal given by the judge(s) the participants rush to attempt to grab the carcass and throw it in the white circle after ridding around one of the masts. Once a rider has secured the carcass he may be immediately challenged by other competitors who will wrestle with him all along or be left alone while he goes to turn around the mast and then be assaulted on his way back to the hallal . Buzkachis can be pleasant affairs among members of the same clan or brutal encounters between highly-skilled horsemen of different groups, particularly when the monetary and prize incentives are high.
The pictures were taken in Kabul on a late afternoon of December 2005 with low overcast light. The necessity of a high speed (1/800 th of a second) imposed a 2.8 aperture (70-200 zoom) which explains the shallow depth of field. I narrowly escaped collision twice. The photo reference for buzkachi is still the outstanding work of Sabrina and Roland Michaux.