The Turkic sport kyz kuu involves a man, a woman, two horses, a kiss, and a whip.
The World Nomad Games are a biennial international competition not unlike the Olympics, but focusing on the games and sports played in Central Asia: competitors include Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan. Many of the sports derive from the traditional pastimes of the Turkic peoples. Salburun, for example, combines hunting with eagles, hunting with dogs, racing dogs, archery, and horseback archery. Yesterday I was reading about the World Nomad Games and came across a most unusual sport: kyz kuu.
Kyz kuu translates literally as “girl chasing.” It was a demonstration sport at the first World Nomad Games in 2014, but it’s really more of a game / courtship ritual than it is an actual competitive event. This is how it works.
You need two riders, a man and a woman. The man and his horse stand still at the starting line. The woman and her horse get a bit of speed up, and then race past the man as fast as they can. As soon as they pass him, the man is allowed to begin the pursuit.
The man’s goal is to catch up with the woman and give her a kiss from horseback. If he succeeds, he’s the winner. But if he does not catch up to the woman before they get to the finish line, or fails to plant a kiss, she turns around and starts chasing him back to the start line. All through this race, while the man is trying to land a kiss and when the woman is chasing him back again, she’s hitting him with her whip. (Oh yeah, she carries a whip.) It’s pretty funny to watch, and everyone seems to be having a good time: