Horse Racing Fair and Archery Festival

Horse Racing Fair is a unique festival in grazing area of Tibet. It is usually held between June and July in Tibetan calendar, when the pasture is lush and horses and cows are stout and strong. The horse racing is seen every year, but a large one is held every two or three years. It will last several days, with the longest ones over ten days. The most famous ones of them are the Kyagqen Horse Racing Art Festival of Nagqu and Darma Festival of Gyangze.

As the horse racing starts, herdsmen will come from a long way by horse or yak, wearing colourful clothes for festivals, and all kinds of jewels and ornaments. The horse racing field will instantly be surrounded by tents.

The event includes horse racing and horsemanship. The horse racing intends to test the controlling ability of the horseman and the viability, exploding force and stability of the horse. There are long-distance and short-distance horse racing, covering thousands or hundreds of metres. The horsemanship match has such contents as shooting arrows, target practice, chopping, picking up hada and offering highland barley wine on the horse. The atmosphere is comfortable and the event is more a performance than competition. There are no detailed rules for the match. In addition, such programmes as two-man tug-of-war and carrying huge stones are also performed. As night falls, people make a campfire and sing and dance around it.

After the democratic reform was carried out in 1959, especially in recent 20 years or so, the horse racing has been endowed new meanings. The scale becomes larger, the forms diversified and contents more colourful. While preserving the traditional programmes and new ones such as folk dance, art performance, fashion show and folk costume display, people also start inviting bid for business and trade, commodity exchange, science popularization, law publicity and medical care. The horse racing festival has become a grand ceremony to boost economy and accelerate economic development.

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