November 7, 2006

I'd like to believe I was ripped off, but it's much more likely that we're both shameless hacks

"In Borat's Kazakhstan, popular sports include cow punching and 'shurik, where we take dogs, shoot them in a field and then have a party.' In reality, Kazakhs, like most of the world, prefer soccer. But they also like horsemanship, wrestling, and, occasionally, buzkashi (literally 'grabbing the dead goat'). In this popular game (a precursor to polo), players on horseback try to control the "ball"—the headless carcass of a goat or sheep. Then they have a party." —Eric Weiner, What Borat gets right and wrong about Kazakhstan, Slate, Nov. 3, 2006

"The national sport is not shooting a dog and then having a party... So what is the national sport of Kazakhstan? 'The most known ones are wrestling and all kinds of sports that try people in how they master horses,' Vassilenko said... Travel guides mention a Kazakh sport called kokpar, a precursor of polo. When Vassilenko was asked about it, he hesitated, then explained, 'Thatís the one where a goat, a dead goat'—a headless dead goat—'is, um, being held as a sort of a prize. And then one rider has it, and he has to run away with it from others who seek to catch it and snatch it from him.' And then they have a party." —Daniel Radosh, The Borat doctrine, The New Yorker, Sep. 20, 2004

Related: The Wikipedia entry on Kazakhstan is locked due to vandalism, but there are still options for the determined Borat fan. [Update: The Wikinerds have cleaned up my improvement to their Transport in Kazakhstan entry, but it lives forever in the history. And, oh, look: here's a previous attempt by another joker. Did somebody say hack?]

Posted by Daniel Radosh


Yeah, the Discovery Channel doesn't just go to YOUR house.

So is it buzkashi or kokpar?

Without going back over my research, I'm gonna guess that one is Kazakh and one is Russian. Most people speak both.

Nice try, Daniel, but the obvious explanation is that you and Weiner were both pwned by your respective Kazakh spokespeople, who simply make up a new name for this supposed sport every time they're asked about it.

They even wear uniforms:


I heard that a rite of passage for both Uzbek and Kazakh men is to go into the mountains alone with a goat. Is this true? I have looked everywhere for websites referencing this.

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