Ex­pert Ti­betan rid­ers amaze spec­ta­tors at an­nual horse fes­ti­val

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Yushu, Qing­hai

Thun­der­ing across the vast Hi­malayan plateau in tra­di­tional fin­ery, Ti­betan horse­men gather for an an­nual rid­ing fes­ti­val that is a feast for the eyes.

Mul­ti­col­ored prayer flags in­scribed with re­li­gious texts flut­ter in the breeze, and tents line the green hills sur­round­ing the rac­ing ground in Yushu, in the north­west­ern Chi­nese prov­ince of Qing­hai.

The area is home to many of China’s Ti­betans.

Spec­ta­tors at the event — in­clud­ing lo­cal Ti­betan­women in tra­di­tional dresses known as chuba, and monks in red robes — lined up to en­ter a sta­dium where the at­mos­phere was re­laxed and jovial.

One woman in a blue and orange dress stood in front of a pyra­mid of prayer flags, bran­dish­ing an um­brella to pro­tect her­self from the harsh sun­light of the high-alti­tude plateau.

The horses are the real draw — brown steeds bedecked in yel­lowand­green rib­bons, mounted by rid­ers whose long hair flows in the wind be­neath azure skies.

The fes­ti­val, be­gun in the 1990s, lasts for around five days. It was sus­pended for sev­eral years fol­low­ing the 2010 earth­quake in Yushu that killed 2,700 peo­ple.

The Ti­betan peo­ple of the area — known as Kham — are famed for their equine skills.

Shows of horse­man­ship and archery are the fes­ti­val’s main events, draw­ing hun­dreds of spec­ta­tors.

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials say that they hope to use the fes­ti­val to showcase Ti­betan cul­ture and bring tourism to the re­mote re­gion.

“You can see the Ti­betan fash­ion show — the jew­elry, the nice clothes and danc­ing,” said one Ti­betan spec­ta­tor. “A lot of Chi­nese tourists and for­eign­ers come to watch.”

NI­CO­LAS ASFOURI / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Ti­betan horse­men ride in tra­di­tional dress as they demon­strate their skills at the an­nual rid­ing fes­ti­val in Yushu, Qing­hai prov­ince, last week.

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