Sunday, 26 October 2008

Camel polo!

Winter is coming closer. Mongolia has very fierce winters, but they have fun games for the winter to warm you (and your camels) up ...

We have previously covered the sport Ulak tartysh, or "goat grabbing", which is the original form of polo. There is a newer Mongolian variation of polo - Camel polo, in Mongolian Тэмээн поло or Тэмээн бeмбeг (camel-ball). Basically it's polo on camels. The Mongolian Camel Polo Association developed this game in the early 2000's, not least with the aim to help protect the two-humped Bactrian camel, which is becoming very rare. Today only 1,4 million of the world's about 20 million camels are two-humped. The wild Bactrian camel is officially classified as critically endangered - there are only less than a thousand of them. The rest are domesticated, and are used for transportation, wool, milk and meat. And now, also polo!

Flickr user mongolbob are, as far as I can tell, a husband and wife who are English teachers far out in Western Mongolia. Their photos are really fascinating, and they have a few pictures of camel polo.

Camel polo team, originally uploaded by mongolbob

Champion camel herder, originally uploaded by mongolbob

What a handsome pair!, originally uploaded by mongolbob

Also check out SamboJambo's set of photos from a Camel polo game in Dalanzadgad - there are some very nice photos there.
The Siam polo news actually reported about that very game in Dalanzadgad (a bit below the middle of this page):

"The temperature was -18*C, and there was blowing snow and sand as the tournament opened. Over two days, 32 games (64 chukkas) were played on two adjoining sand fields for a spectacular show of Camel Polo. [...] You whip the camel to go very fast and call out the word "Chuu." There are 4 people on a team, and there are no fouls -- anything goes."

This photo is from, who organise individual tailored trips to Mongolia. I'm sure they can arrange special Camel polo winter trips!

Finally, a photo from the Mongol News Group:, taken by T. Chimgee:



ainur said...

Lovely furry beasts, those camels! The last photo is almost surreal, somewhere between fantasy and historical reenactment. Imagine a charge of the camel cavalry...

Judging by this video (flagged as 'unsuitable for minors' for some weird reason) the game is more like croquet than the original polo...

bubu said...

Niillon sukat jalassa!