Efforts underway to revive horse-riding game in Fereidan

TEHRAN – A working group has been formed to revive Chogan in Friedan country, which was once one of Iran’s popular venues for the ancient horse-riding game.

“The revival of Chogan, an original Iranian tradition and culture, is on agenda in Frieden…. as it would promote sports, health and vitality into the people of the region,” Frieden’s governor, Seyyed Taqi Moeinodini, announced o

“Chogan is an indigenous and original sport that due to its magnetism, has the potential to attract people of the region, particularly the youth,…. ” the official said.

Chogan is a sporting team game with horses and a version of the modern polo game. From time immemorial it was considered an aristocratic game and held in a separate field, on specially trained horses. Nowadays, Chogan is played in Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan.

The horse-riding game, traditionally played in royal courts and urban fields and accompanied by music and storytelling, won the UNESCO world heritage status in December 2017.

In Chogan, two-rider teams compete and the aim is to pass a ball through the opposing team’s goal post using a wooden stick. The bearers of the game include Choganbazan (the athletes), storytellers (Naqqals, Morsheds, etc.), and musicians, according to UNESCO.

Chogan is a cultural, artistic, and athletic element with a strong connection to the identity and history of its bearers and practitioners. It has a strong presence in the literature, storytelling, proverbs, handicrafts, and ornaments that are valuable parts of the symbolism of its practitioners. As an element that promotes the health of the body and soul, Chogan also establishes a connection between nature, humankind, and horses.

Traditionally, transmission has occurred informally within the family or in workshops, and Chogan techniques continue to be actively safeguarded by families and local practitioners. However, over the last decades, Chogan associations have also been established, which hold training courses, support local masters, and assist in transmitting all aspects of Chogan while safeguarding local diversity.

From its Iranian origins in Persia, it spread to Constantinople, and eastward through Bactria and Afghanistan to Tibet, China, and Japan, and from Tibet to India, where it flourished throughout the Mughal (Mogul) dynasty.  The word “polo” comes from the Tibetan word for the willow root from which polo balls were made, which is “Pulu”.

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