Kyz kuumai

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Kyz kuumai (Kyrgyz: кыз куумай; "she feuds") is an equestrian sport among the Turkic peoples of Central Asia, and reflects ancient wedding lore in which the groom-to-be must chase after his bride and attempt to get a kiss prior to the end of a set run.


The name kyz kuumai may be more properly rendered as "girl-chasing" or "chasing the bride".[1] The course itself is several hundred yards long, with both starting and finish lines. It begins when a young woman on horseback rides past the starting line; waiting there is a young man, who spurs his horse to run as soon as she goes by. In order to claim the woman as a bride the man must catch up to her and physically kiss her prior to crossing the finish line. If he is unable to do so, then a return trip to the starting line must be undertaken, with the woman able to claim "victory" if she is able to catch up with him and beat him with her "kamchi" (horsewhip).


Although a cultural attraction in modern times during festivals, the kyz kuumai is ancient, practiced by Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Azerbaijani, and other nomadic Turkic tribes. Folklore among these peoples suggest the combat skills of the bride were "an attractive feminine attribute and necessary for marriage",[2] with close comparisons between the ancient Greek myths regarding the life-or-death footrace between Atalanta and her suitors, as well as the mating "battles" of Queen Tomyris's Massagetae-Saka tribe, in which the writer Aelian stated that the losing men would become the women's slaves.[3]


  2. Mayor, p.398
  3. Mayor, p.398