top of page

Mongolia – the Ancient Game of “Kokpar”

While traveling in the spectacular Altai mountain range of Mongolia, home of the Eagle Hunters, we came across a Nomad Festival.

The men were playing a sport I had never seen before called Kokpar. This is a traditional Mongolian nomadic game that is actually “tug-of-war with a goat carcass while on horseback.”

It was incredible to watch the strength of these young men as they competed for the beheaded goat. I was told Genghis Khan made this game up as an exercise to strengthen the legs of his soldiers for war.

Horses play a large role in daily life of the Mongolian Nomads. “A Mongolian without a horse is like a bird without the wings,” said Elizabeth Kendall, who travelled through Mongolia in 1911.

Mongolian Nomads have long been considered to be some of the best horsemen in the world. During the time of Genghis Khan, Mongol horse archers were capable of feats such as sliding down the side of their horse to shield their body from enemy arrows, while simultaneously holding their bow under the horse’s chin and returning fire, all at full gallop.

Mongol horses are best known for their role as war steeds of Genghis Khan, who is reputed to have said “It is easy to conquer the world from the back of a horse.”

I hope you find this as impressive as I did.

Two men struggle for the goat carcass on horses
Two men have a tug of war with a goat carcass
Man in traditional dress is winning the pull
Man in modern dress loses the goat carcass
Man in traditional dress leans back with the goat carcass
Kokpar players are watched by men on motorbikes
Man in pink shirt has goat
Man throws goat carcass as men on motorbikes watch
Man in pink shirt on horse
Two Kokpar players struggle for the goat
Mongolian holds on to goat
Two players pull at goat, one man almost falling off horse
Two men struggling for the goat
Two men struggle for goat, one man almost off his horse
Focus on man with goat, horse pulling hard away from other player


bottom of page