Though many Tuvans have abandoned rural life in favor of new opportunities Tuva’s urban centers provide, rural practices–including several Tuvan sports–remain highly popular spectator events. In particular, many Tuvans possess an unquenchable zeal for horse racing and Xuresh, a Tuvan form of wrestling. TravelTuva clients who attend Tuvan horse races and wrestling events will gain a deeper understanding of Tuvan values, while becoming fully immersed in the excitement of Tuvan sport.
Tuvan horseback racing is typically conducted over lengthy distances along straight tracks that cross grassy, undeveloped sections of Siberian steppe-lands. A wide age range of riders compete in races that occasionally cover over 35 km in distance, challenging both horse and rider to maintain high levels of focus and endurance. Riders perform the subtle and masterful techniques Tuvan horse culture continues to develop in order to gain as much advantage for themselves as possible, while rousing spectators’ esteem and recognition.
Crowds of spectators await the riders at the races’ finish lines and pursue the race in motor vehicles. Though drivers grant the riders a respectful distance, there are often more automobiles in pursuit of the riders than there are riders involved in the race.
TravelTuva clients are invited to view the races from either a static position near the races’ finish lines, or to join Tuvan spectators in a vehicle and pursue riders down track. From either perspective, Tuvan horse races provide a view into the excitement of Tuvan horse culture and the deeply felt relationship between Tuvans and their incredible horses.
In addition to horse racing, Tuvans highly admire their national wrestling form–Xuresh– and the larger than life competitors who lead the sport into the 21st century. Xuresh matches begin with an artful dance, in which all of the day’s competitors take part. Imitating the ubiquitous kites, hawks, and eagles that grace Tuvan skies, the wrestlers take to the stadium field with arms spread in a raptor-like flight. The opening “eagle dance” is met with a rush of sound and excitement from the audience, marking the beginning of an all-day event often punctuated with musical intermission. In Xuresh competition, two opponents combat each other with the goal of throwing their opponent off of balance such that any part of the opponent’s body–other than their feet–touches the ground. The uniforms Xuresh competitors wear provide strategic gripping surfaces to carry out the sport’s sophisticated throwing techniques.
TravelTuva clients enjoy access to Tuvan sporting events and are given guided interpretation of horse races and Xuresh matches. Please feel free to Contact Us to learn more about Tuvan sports and to add Tuvan sporting events to your TravelTuva itinerary.