KAZAKH national games

Kazakh traditional games

Games were one of the vital parts of the festivals of nomad people. Physical contests are massively popular in Kazakhstan; from wrestling in a ring to wrestling on horseback, from archery to various forms of horsemanship, all are popular at the celebrations. Horse racing and other competitions on horseback are without doubt the top-ranking national sports-unsurprising given the crucial role of the horse in Kazakh society. Traditional games are still practiced widely in Kazakhstan, especially during national holidays. 

Horse Games / equestrian


Kokpar is a popular game within Central Asian countries with various names. Today it even becomes an official sport with its own national federations. In Kazakhstan, Kokpar remains a key part of national identity and is often played during Nauruz celebrations. Kokpar has been played for centuries and is by far the most popular Kazakh traditional game. Two teams take part in the game, with each team including 8-12 players. The playing field is approximately the size of two football fields, with a goat’s carcass used instead of a ball. Players on horseback fight to throw the carcass at the goalpost of their opponents as many times as possible. Opponents pull the carcass from each other and pass it on to teammates.
It is basically football just instead of the ball here is the goat’s carcass and players on the horse.


Audaryspak applies to traditional horseback wrestling. Here two wrestlers fight with each other and the winner is the rider who wrestles his opponent to the ground first. The participants are only adult men, who are physically strong and skillful riders. In the past, a wrestler could represent his clan either village. Audaryspak national sport requires great agility, strength, patience and courage from the athlete.


A straightforward race, often involving young boys, is known as the bayga or baige. Usually, without using saddles, the participants set off at breakneck speed on a course either 20km (tok bayga) or 30km (alaman bayga) long.

Children Games

Asyk Atu

Asyk atu is a famous Kazakh national game. Literally, the name means to beat out with one’s own asyk. Asyk is translated as a bone of a knee sheep joint and atu means shoot. In the game several asyks at a certain distance, which then become the property of a player. Neighboring Kyrgyzstan has a similar game just with a different name. Since 2017 it has been part of UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

other national Games


Togyzkumalak is another traditional game that in 2020 has been also been part of UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Humanity, nominated by Kazakhstan along with Kyrgyzstan and Turkey. Togyzkumalak is an intellectual game. Participants of toguzkumalak calculate how many stones are on the boards and what kind of numbers will appear when balls are added to one another. If a player counts wrong, he loses. The rules of the game can be hence difficult, it may take more than five or six hours to complete one game.

Arkan Tartu (Pull the rope)

Arkan Tarty is a popular national game and is often played during national holidays or any other celebrations. Players are divided into two teams of roughly equal strength. The team that pulls their opponents across the line three times in a row are declared the unbeatable winners.

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