The Kurds are an indigenous people that live in a mountainous area called “Kurdistan” in the Middle East. This area is spread across several different countries: Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Armenia. The Kurds don’t have an official country, but they are united by a similar culture, history and religious traditions. One traditional game that is popular among the Kurds in Syria and in Turkey is called Cirit.
Cirit was most popular during the Ottoman Empire, which lasted from 1299 to 1453 A.D. It was considered a war game and an important test of courage for men. Today, Cirit is usually played at important events like weddings and holidays. One of the reasons that Cirit was so culturally important is because horses were important to the Kurdish way of life. Today, most people live in urban areas, so horses are expensive and impractical – and the game is dangerous. Many villages continue to play Cirit as a way to keep tradition alive, but it is not played often.
- Cirit is also called “çavgan.”
- The game is played by two teams.
- Teams are placed in rows of 6,8 or 12 players.
- Each player rides a horse.
- A Cirit is a long stick, like a javelin, that the players hold in their left hands.
- The first player to take a turn is called the “çavgan.”
- This is usually the youngest player.
- He rides toward the other team and tosses his Cirit to an opponent.
- He then turns around and tries to return to his line without being hit.
- The opponent who catches the Cirit chases the player and tries to hit him.
- Players go back and forth, chasing and fleeing.
- Teams get a point when a member of the other team is hit by a Cirit.
- A team loses a point if a horse is hit.