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AP photos. Turkish horsemen remember the skills of the Seljuks

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ERZURUM, Turkey (AP) – In the east of Turkey, horsemen play the Zirit, a equestrian sport that originated with the warriors who led the historical achievements of the Turkic tribes of Central Asia.

In a recent game on a snow-covered field in Erzurum, players from two clubs of the season, Friends Փորձ Experts, lined up for a game developed over 1,000 years ago to support the cavalry skills of slaves, including the Seljuks. , which conquered Anatolia in the 11th century.

The sport revolves around a rider who tries to throw a spear at his opponent. These days, a rubber tip is a meter (40 inches long) piece of wood. The Turkish name of the sport translates as spear or dagger.

The riders of each team, which can have up to a dozen players, face each other, taking turns throwing and chasing. The meeting is held in two periods of 35 minutes.

In addition to the points awarded for hitting an opponent with a spear, an evading rider can earn points by performing maneuvers such as hanging from the horse’s neck to avoid hitting or not catching the spear in the air.

Cyclists are punished for offenses such as hitting an enemy mountain or riding off-field, which can be between 70 and 130 meters (230 to 425 feet) long.

Chirit was common in the Ottoman Empire, the successor to the Seljuk domains, until it was banned in the early 19th century as the sultan sought to divide military elites. However, its popularity has returned, and it is now one of the many traditional sports promoted by the government.

Arabian horses are preferred for their agility, they can reach up to 40,000 pounds ($ 5,300). Tournaments are often organized during festivals or weddings.

Irit irit is also played by the Turkic population of Iran, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries.

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