The Bull-Leaping Fresco

The Bull-Leaping Fresco
The most famous image of bull-leaping is probably the Bull-Leaping Fresco from the palace at Knossos, Crete, Greece. The fresco was painted around 1400 BCE, and depicts a young man performing what appears to be a handspring or flip over a charging bull. Two young women flank the bull. (We know the sexes of the stylized figures by the way they are painted—women’s skin is usually much lighter than men’s in ancient Greek art)


OPPORTUNITY: fostering social inclusion and gender equality in formal and nonformal educational contexts through applying traditional sports and games
Start: 01-01-2021 - End: 31-12-2023
Project Reference: 622100-EPP-1-2020-1-ES-SPO-SCP
Programme: Erasmus+
Key Action: Sport
Action Type: Collaborative Partnerships
Partners: National Institute of Physical Education of Catalonia (INEFC). Spain (Coordinator); University of Lleida (UdL). Spain; Asociación de Disminuidos Psíquicos “La paz” (ADISPAZ). Spain; University of Coimbra (UC). Portugal - Faculty of Sport Sciences and Physical Education; Associazione Giochi Antichi (AGA). Italy; Croatian Traditional Games and Sports Association (CTSGA). Croatia; Institute for the Development of Sport and Education (IRSiE). Poland; Tunisian Association for the Safeguarding of Heritage Games and Sports (ATSJSP). Tunisia; European Traditional Sports and Games Association (AEJeST/ETSGA). France


The project OPPORTUNITY is an initiative of nine organizations representing different sectors (sport, culture and education) aimed at fostering social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and gender equality within physical activity via TSG scenarios. Within the project implementation, Project Partners plan to develop a Practical Interventional Methodology including six scenarios of applying TSG as a tool of fostering social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and gender equality within formal and nonformal education environments. The Methodology will be disseminated via developed Massive Open Online Course for sport coaches and educators and tested within implementation of TSG Pilot Inclusive actions in seven countries. Social impact of the project will be evaluated and validated by academic project partners and supported by developed digital tool (Mobile App) for collecting evidence and its preliminary analysis. Developed and validated Methodology can be used further by any sport or educational organization interested in applying TSG as a tool for fostering social inclusion and gender equality.

By achieving this aim, the project will contribute in delivering:
- A new Practical Interventional Methodology of applying TSG for fostering social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and gender equality within six interventional scenarios. The Methodology will be tested in different European countries.

-Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) “TSG as a tool for fostering social inclusion and gender equality” in English, Spanish and French languages.

- A pool of 1400 sport coaches, physical education teachers, undergraduate students of physical activity and education faculties, educators across Europe, trained on the new Practical Intervention Methodology via MOOC.

- A set of indicators (social inclusion and gender equality index) that assess the impact of the project Practical Intervention Methodology on beneficiaries.

- An Evaluation App for measuring the impact of Practical Intervention Methodology.

- A group of 2150 beneficiaries male and female participants of TSG Pilot Inclusive Actions with and without intellectual disabilities) with improved index of social inclusion and gender equality. Around 30% of them are participants with intellectual disabilites. Between 40 and 60% of the total number of beneficiaries are female participants.

- Networking, sharing best practices and knowledge generation among local, national and international organizations promoting TSG as a tool for social inclusion. At least 65 new organizations commit with OPPORTUNITY vision and goals.

- Around 60 sport organizations and 60 educational institutions across Europe, interested in TSG as sport and social practice, will be involved into implementation of TSG Pilot Inclusive actions.

- Informal international community of practice (peer-learning online platform) built by at least 1400 sport coaches, physical education teachers, students of physical activity and education faculties, volunteers and other professionals, interested in TSG as a practical tool for fostering social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and gender equallity.

- Practical recommendations for application of TSG methodology into educational sport practice, based on evidence collected within implementation of pilot project activities.

The project creates the opportunity for organizations, representing different sectors (sport, culture and education) to strengthen their joint efforts, aimed on fostering social inclusion and gender equality within physical activity via TSG scenarios by implementing the following set of project objectives:
1. To compile good practices on:
- Applying TSG as a tool for fostering social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and gender equality in different contexts of learning,
- Existing educational modules and courses about TSG, its nature, educational potential and impact on fostering social inclusion and gender equality,
- Existing tools for measuring impact of TSG on fostering social inclusion and gender equality.

2. To develop Practical Intervention Methodology of applying TSG for fostering social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and gender equality.

3. To develop an online course (MOOC) for physical education teachers and sport coaches (professionals and students) with a set of recommendations on application of TSG and measuring its impact for fostering social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and gender equality.

4. To implement TSG Pilot Inclusive Actions, that will be implemented by educational institutions (schools, universities, non-formal education entities) and sport organizations in cooperation with centres and associations working with people with intellectual Disabilities and for gender equality within formal and nonformal learning contexts.

5. To develop a digital tool (mobile application) for measuring impact of TSG activities on fostering social inclusion and gender equality:
- To define set of indicators,
- To develop app for recollecting evidence-based data,
- To implement evidence-based data analysis.

6. To promote Networking and peer learning opportunities among specialists and institutions applying TSG as a tool for fostering social inclusion and gender equality.

Therefore, the project creates three main opportunities for organizations and professionals willing to apply TSG as a tool for social inclusion and gender equality:
- TO LEARN about the inclusive character of TSG and its methodology via the Handbook, the MOOC and the online community of practice;
- TO ACT applying TSG inclusive methodology within Pilot Inclusive and Gender Equality Actions;
- TO ANALYSE the impact of TSG Pilot Inclusive and Gender Equality Actions using APP, developed within the project.

OPPORTUNITY objectives

Foot Ball, Kingston-upon-Thames, Shrove Tuesday, Feb. 24th, 1846

Foot Ball, Kingston-upon-Thames, Shrove Tuesday, Feb. 24th, 1846

Ruslan C Pashayev - Russo-Swiss Belt Wrestling

Special Thanks To:
My Dear Friends Mr. Sergey Kuzmin of Russia, Mr. Alexey Kostyrev of Latvia, Mr. Gernot Freiberger of Austria and Mr. Cay Fabian of Germany.


Russo-Swiss Belt Wrestling

Russo-Swiss Belt Wrestling was a professional wrestling (circus wrestling) style which in the second half of the XIX century was popular all around the Continental Europe, especially in Russia and Germany.

In the early 1880s this wrestling style was brought to Russia. At first by the troupes of traveling German pro-wrestling performers; in Russian towns at the folk festivals and fairs they challenged local men to a wrestling match in this style for prize-money. Later this wrestling style was taught as the “Russo-Swiss Wrestling” at the Athletic and Cycling Club of Dr. Wladislaw Krajewski aka Vladislav von Krajewski (1841-1901) in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire. The Polish native Krajewski also founded the St. Petersburg Amateur Weightlifting Society in 1885, and occupied a very prestigious position of the physician to the Czar (Emperor) of Russia. In Russia Krajewski is still remembered as the "The Father of Modern Athletics".

The professional belt wrestling matches were regularly performed in Russian circuses as a part of the wrestling entertainment, it was a first Russian Pro Wrestling. In Russia this style of wrestling was seen as an ultimate feat of strength, and was strongly associated with the weight-lifters and circus’ strongmen, it was a powerful men wrestling style. All the best Russian Graeco-Roman (French wrestling style) wrestlers had Russo-Swiss belt wrestling background. The best Russo-Swiss belt-wrestler of Russian Empire was Ivan Poddubny.

Around the world this style of wrestling was known under the different names. In German speaking countries it was known as the “Schweizer Gürtel – Ringkampf” (Swiss Belt Wrestling), in the United States, Canada and Australia as the “Swiss Belt Wrestling”, in England as the “Russian Strap Style”. Among the prominent practitioners of this style in the 1800s was German pro-wrestler Emil Voss of Stettin, Pomerania (back then German Empire, now Szczecin, Poland) who popularized this style of wrestling everywhere in the world.

Russo-Swiss Belt Wrestling was an equal fixed hold standing (upright) wrestling. The “crosswise” or above and under holds (right hand over and left hand under) were taken of the two handles attached to the thick leathern belts buckled about the waist of wrestlers. In the front of the belt there were two additional straps attached to it, those straps were tightened around the wrestlers’ legs in the crotch area and buckled to the back side of the belt. It was done to prevent the belt from shifting.

The objective of the match was to throw opponent flat on his back (two shoulder blades touching the ground simultaneously) with or without attacker falling himself. In this style no use of legs or feet for throwing was allowed. The matches were played 2 out of 3 falls. The main techniques of that style were: lifting adversary off his feet and taking him down on his back, or throwing him over the head, or pulling him towards yourself and capsizing him, or simply swaying and swinging opponent from side to side and trying to unbalance him thus causing a fall. The weight of wrestler and his physical strength were decisive factors for winning those contests.

Until now the origin of the Russo-Swiss belt wrestling was obscure. This style of wrestling definitely was not a traditional Russian folk wrestling style but rather a German import, first of all because of the unusual design of the belt (harness-type belt with two handles on the sides) that was unknown in Russian Empire before the arrival of German pro wrestlers.

Russian, Ukrainian and Belarus people in fact did have a traditional belt-wrestling styles of their own. It was called “на поясках“ (in Russian) or “за пояски, поясна боротьба“ (in Ukrainian) and “за паясы“ (in Belarusian) but in those folk wrestling styles the use of legs and feet for throwing was not strictly prohibited and often in order to win the match it was not necessary to put your opponent on his shoulder blades; the matches were decided on “first down to lose” conditions.

Also despite being often called a “Swiss style”, Russo-Swiss Belt Wrestling was unknown in Switzerland either where other two traditional wrestling styles were historically practiced (Schwingen and Suisse Lutte Libre - Swiss freestyle wrestling).

During my intense studies of the various wrestling styles and exercises which were taught in the German Gymnastic Societies, GGS (Turnverein, Turners) in XIX century I came across a book called “Turnschule für die deutsche Iugend” by Dr. Otto Heinrich Jaeger which was published in Leipzig, Germany in 1864.

The “Der Ringkampf” (Wrestling) chapter from that book (which starts on Page 212) provides a detailed description of two kinds of the GGS Ringgurt (ring-strap) wrestling exercises. The picture of the original GGS Ringgurt appears in another book by O. H. Jaeger called “Neue Turnschule” in Chapter “Das Ringspiel” on Page 175 (Stuttgart, 1891 edition). The GGS Ringgurt was a harness-type belt, the two rings attached to it were designed to be worn by the wrestlers around their thighs that prevented belt from shifting during the contest, and taking holds of the rings was allowed in one of the exercises.

The aforementioned two wrestling exercises were described as such:

1. fixed crosswise hold of the belt and of the ring around the thigh; the goal was to unbalance the opponent by lifting and swinging him from side to side

2. fixed crosswise hold of the belt only; the goal was to throw opponent flat on his back, both his buttocks and shoulder blades should be on the ground at the same time (fair back fall)

In that chapter is also mentioned the GGS Back-hold wrestling exercise, it was also a fixed crosswise hold around the body (trunk); the goal was to give opponent a fair back fall.

In all those exercises the fixed hold was performed crosswise (right hand outside/over and left hand inside/under) and no use of legs and feet for throwing allowed. According to the old Germanic wrestling traditions only wrestling with Arms and Hands/Arm-Ringen, Body/Leib-Ringen, and Hips/Hüft-Ringen was considered true and fair trial of strength and skill.

All those three GGS wrestling exercises had their origin in traditional folk wrestling styles of ancient Germanic people, namely breeches-hold (Hosen-Ringen), belt-hold (Gürtel-Ringen), and back-hold (aka Bären-Griff/bear-grip, or Bauern-Griff/farmer-grip) styles.

It appears to me that the original GGS belt wrestling style/exercise (which was taught by the GGS wrestling instructors at least since 1860s if not earlier than that) was at first learned and adopted by the contemporary German pro wrestlers and then turned into a completely new pro wrestling style which they called with a fancy name of “Schweizer Gürtel – Ringkampf.” At some point before 1880 the original GGS Ringgurt was modified by pro wrestlers, the unnecessary thigh-rings were removed from it (since it was a belt-hold only style) and instead the extra crotch-straps were added to it, that made the belt design perfectly suiting the conditions of the game. It was traveling German pro wrestling pioneers who exhibited their Schweizer Gürtel – Ringkampf in different European countries and even on all continents including America.

I summarize my article with this statement - the Russo-Swiss belt wrestling originated from the mentioned above GGS belt-hold wrestling exercise.

The original paragraphs (in German) from “Turnschule für die deutsche Iugend” about the Ringgurt and Back-hold wrestling exercises will follow this article.

© 2021 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.

Turnschule für die deutsche Iugend, als Anweisung für die Turnlehrer in Württemberg bearbeitet von Dr. Otto Heinrich Jaeger, vormals a.o. Professor der praktischen Philosophie und Pädagogik an der Hochschule Zürich, derzeit Lehrer an der Turnschule in Stuttgart, Leipzig, 1864.

Gymnastics school for the German youth, as an instruction for the gym instructor in Württemberg, edited by Dr. Otto Heinrich Jaeger, formerly Professor of practical Philosophy and Education at the University of Zurich, currently teacher at the gymnastics school in Stuttgart, Leipzig, 1864

The Articles 6, 7 and 8 on the GGS Belt-Wrestling and Back-Hold Wrestling exercises. Pages 219-220.

„Der jeweils in der Verbindung von Ziehen und Schieben liegende Kampf um den Stand mit Griff links (rechts) innen hinter Gegners Hüfte am Hauptgurt, rechte (links) außen an Gegners Schenkel am Ring; in Schrittstellung erst linksvor, dann je vom selben Paare sofort auch rechtsvor. Der fürss ziehen von Nr. 1 abgeschnallte Ring wird wieder angeschnallt, und beide Ringer ziehen den Ringgurt an, indem sie mit den Füßen in die Ringe schlüpfen und den Hauptgurt gleichmäßig fest um den Leib schnala len . Haben sie sich gefaßt, so legen sie sich mit den linken (rechten) Schultern an einander und suchen einander vom Plaße zu bringen , aufzuheben und herumzuschwingen . Wer den Andern in die Höhe bringt und hochhält und schwingt, hat gesiegt. Wäh rend aber ein Paar jdwingt, zieht das nächste die Ringgurte an und macht sich vollkommen schwingfertig.“

“The struggle for maintaining the standing (upright) position, with the grip on the left (right) inside behind the opponent's hip on the main belt, right (left) outside on the opponent's thigh on the ring; in-step position first left forward, then by the same pair immediately also right forward. The ring that has been unbuckled for pulling from exercise No. 1 is buckled up again, and both wrestlers tighten the ring belt by slipping their feet into the rings and buckling the main belt evenly around their bodies. Once they have composed themselves, they stand body to body, their left (right) shoulders met, and try to get each other off the ground, to pick them up and to swing around. Whoever lifts the other up, holds up and swings, has won. But while one pair is swinging, the next pulls on the ring-straps and gets completely ready to swing. "

“Ringen um Wurf mit gegebenen Griffen am Gurt, in Schrittstellung erst linksvor, dann je vom selben Paare sofort auch rechtsvor. Die Griffe werden aber an den Ringgurten genau genommen, wie bei 6; nur gilt es jeßt eben, den Gegner nicht nur zu schwingen, sondern im Schwunge auch so zu werfen , daß er auf Gesäß und Schulterblätter zu liegen kommt. Dabei gilt die Regel, daß im Ausholen zum Schwunge auch gefniet, hins hinwiederum mit der einen oder anderen Hand der Griff auch gewechselt und beliebig genommen werden darf.”

“Wrestling for a throw with holds applied to the belt, in-step position first left forward, then by the same pair immediately right forward. The holds are taken directly of the ring-straps, as with Article 6; But it is always important not only to swing the opponent, but also to throw him while swinging so that it comes down on the buttocks and shoulder blades. The rule here is that when backing out to swing, the grip can also be changed and taken at will with one hand or the other. “

“Ringen um Wurf mit gegebenen Griffen um den Leib, links (rechts) innen , rechts (links) außen , in Schrittstellung erst linksvor , dann je vom selben Paare sofort auch rechtsvor. Die Gegner liegen Leib an Leib, halten sich möglichst tief fest um schlungen, und suchen nun einander zu werfen, wie oben bei 7. Die Ringgurte sind dabei ausgezogen und bei Seite gethan.

„Wrestling for a throw with holds around the body, left (right) inside, right (left) outside, in-step position first left forward, then by the same pair immediately also right forward. The opponents stand body to body, hug each other as tightly as possible, and now try to throw each other, as in Article 7 above. The ring straps are pulled out and put to one side. “

Articles 678
© 2021 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.

Russo Swiss Reference

Russian Folk

swiss belt1

Swiss Wrestle

swiss belt 2

Russo Swiss Belt Wrestling Rules

Wrestling Belt

Wrestling Match 1

1912 Reference


1902 Russian Wrestling in London

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Russo Swiss Belt Wrestling Belt Design

Schweizer Grtelringkampf

Ruslan C Pashayev - Ranggeln

Dear Friends,
I am happy to present the article on Ranggeln traditional style of wrestling from the 1908 book by Karl Adrian called "Salzburger Volksspiele Aufzüge und Tänze"

Beautiful pic and article in English to follow.
Source: "Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the Austrians: Illustrated in Fifty Coloured Engravings, with Descriptions". Author: William Alexander, 1814
Enjoy the read.

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Tyrol Wrestler

Ruslan C Pashayev - General Rules of Wrestling, 1840s, Germany

Special Thanks To: Ms. Eva-Maria Schweiger of Germany, Ms. Rosi Hörhager and Mr. Gernot Johannes Freiberger both of Austria.


Dear Friends,
I am happy to present my most recent find, it is the General Rules of Wrestling (German wrestling) as they appeared in the "Mittelfränkische Zeitung für Recht, Freiheit und Vaterland", № 180 (Volumes 13-17), Kürnberg, dated June 28th, 1848.

It is my third report to the Traditional Sports regarding the rules of wrestling (for both the amateurs and professionals) which were used in the 1800s in Germany. In my previous reports I talked about the popularity of freestyle wrestling Kür-Ringen in Germany in the first half of the XIX century. In that style all kinds of holds above and below the waist as well as tripping were allowed and to win the match the wrestler had to place his opponent flat on his back and keep him underneath in the restrained, immovable position called Festhalten for the previously agreed amount of time, or until the latter gives up any resistance from exhaustion not being able reverse his supine position and admits his defeat verbally. The main feature of that style was the fierce ground fight for the dominant, controlling, uppermost position.

My present report is about a different kind of wrestling which was popular in Germany in the 1840s. The reference (article) to this style the General Rules of Wrestling/ Regeln des Ringkampfes im Allgemeinen in German language will follow my report; that article was part of an advertisement of the wrestling tournament for the silver watch which was open to the 6 strongest local men. The promoted wrestling style allowed catch-holds of the body/trunk only (shoulders to the waist holds only); headlocks and holds around the neck, as well as tripping were prohibited. To win the match the wrestler had to place his opponent on both his shoulders to the “satisfaction of the audience” (or “fairly seen by the public”); any non-wrestling or brutal acts were strictly prohibited. The given rules do not specify whether the ground wrestling was allowed or not, but the fact that the fall has to be obvious for everyone present at the match makes it possible that it was a pinning fall which decided the contest – pressing down and holding both shoulders on the ground for 3 to 5 seconds is sufficient (i.e. German Gymnastic Society’s pinfall, or Complete Wrestling/Ganzer Ringkampf) and that assumes wrestling on the ground.

The links to my first two articles on the XIX century German wrestling:

Kind regards,
Ruslan C Pashayev
© 2021 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.

 Ringen Rules 1840s

Buzkashi competition, January 31,2021

01/31/2021 Buzkashi competition in Balkh province, Mazar Sharif, Bozkshi Square, Azadi Town, Afghanistan.
National Buzkashi and Local Sports Federation, Afghanistan is a member of the Traditional Sports Partners Team. It's great that we can work together to promote Buzkashi.

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Iván Sánchez Monroy, Saving the Legacy: The Prehispanic Ballgame


Arturo Iván Sánchez Monroy
Archeologist from the National School of Anthropology and History from Mexico
Member of Mexican Federation of Traditional Sports and Games.

In recent years, the practice of a sport that has its origins more than 3000 years ago has caused interest in several groups of enthusiastic young people in Mexico; it is the ball game, today called Ulama.
Its main characteristic, which is at the same time its greatest attraction, is that it is played by hitting a rubber ball that ranges from 3 to 5 kg and in its most popular version, this hit is made exclusively with the hip (in the other two, people uses the forearm or a mallet) and some records such as ceramic figures found in the area of El Opeño, in the state of Nayarit, show that it was not an exclusive practice of men, but also women played it.

Brenda okadka

The beginnings of the Ulama date back, according to the most recent archaeological studies, to approximately 1650 BC, in the Paso de la Amada region in the Mexican state of Chiapas. There, archaeologists found the remains of what would be the first space built for their practice, the oldest court so far.
Another important discovery about the age of the game is the one made in 1988 in the Manatí region, in the state of Veracruz. There, along with some offerings, rubber balls were found with which the game is carried out, as well as other elements related to it. All this material was dated to 1100 BC, during the preclassic period of Mesoamerica.
The courts in which it was practiced had different shapes, since some have the shape of an "I", others the shape of a joined double "T"; on some occasions they were closed at all four ends while on others one or two of their edges were open. However, the most common pattern in them is the presence of a deck in the lower part, a slope with a variable inclination and height in the middle and another deck in the upper part.

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It was during the Mayan apogee in the classical period that different figures began to appear on the upper part of the slopes, such as bird heads, which serve as markers and which will continue to be appreciated until the epiclassic period in courts such as that of Xochicalco in the state of Morelos. These markers later gave way to the rings, sculptures that were placed in the middle of the slopes and in their highest part. Many of them were decorated with zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures, various symbols and calendar dates, and a few were simply plain.

The largest court that is registered today is the one located in Chichen Itzá, in the state of Yucatán. Its measurements are 120 by 30 meters. In contrast, the smallest field is located in Cantona, in the state of Puebla and measures 14 by 6 meters.
This game is recorded as something more than a simple sport, but as a very important ritual since in the various cultures that inhabited the Mesoamerican region (made up of Mexico and part of Central America) it is part of their mythology.
An example of this is found in the Mayan culture, who developed in the south of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras, because according to the Popol Vuh, the main book that tells their myths of origin, the sun and the moon are two brothers Hun Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué, who earned their place in the sky after defeating the gods of the Mayan underworld one by one in various ball game encounters.

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The Aztecs, correctly called Mexica, used it in different ways, either as part of a divinatory ritual dedicated to specific gods or ceremonies, in some occasions for recreational purposes and in some cases, as an alternative to avoid war (in those cases, the governor became one more player, making a greater effort because the game was inclined in favor of his cause), and it is precisely of this culture that we have more records, since the Spanish conquerors kept in their chronicles the record of all the activities they saw when they arrived in the new world, including the ball game.
It is from these writings that a few rules that applied to the game are known, such as the one that mentions that the game ends if any player managed to pass the hoop with the ball.
According to oral tradition, it is also from this culture that its current name comes from, since the Mexica called the game Tlachtli or Ulamaliztli; however, and over the years, this last name was gradually deformed and shortened to give way to the name by which it is known today: Ulama
For the Spanish, the ball game was such a spectacular event that Hernán Cortés took a couple of players from the state of Tlaxcala in 1528 to demonstrate in front of King Charles V and Pope Clement VII. This moment was recorded by the artist Christoph Weiditz, who made an illustration of that presentation annexing his interpretation: “In this way the Indians play with the inflated ball, with their backside, without touching it with their hands, on the ground; they also have a hard leather on the butt, so that it receives the blow of the ball, they also wear a leather glove"
Unfortunately, its spectacularity was not enough to save it from the judgment of the Holy Inquisition, as it was consider a blasphemous exercise that only heretics practiced.


It was thus that after several years of tolerating its practice, it was banned by Fray Fray Juan de Torquemada a few years after the conquest in order to facilitate the work of evangelization of the natives, being destroyed the vast majority of the fields used to play it.
However, and in an effort to preserve it, the game continued to be played secretly from the friars and the Spaniards; its rules changed as well as the places where it was practiced. The large courts were exchanged for areas of land hidden among the planting bushes and it was no longer practiced in the big cities to be played in small towns far away from the conquerors. All this while in New Spain (as Mexico was called during the colonial era) the new religion, customs and traditions made the people forget, step by step, the practices of the past.
There is little information about the game in those centuries, and it was after the independence being consummated on 1821 when some news talked about that in the north of Mexico, more specifically in the region of Sinaloa, a game of pre-Hispanic reminiscences was played and was called Ulama.
It is well into the twentieth century when news of it are heard again, since in the mid-1930s the Mexican government again tried to ban it, this time considering it absorbing and dangerous, this being a low blow that would cause the game to be losing players until in the mid-80s it was close to disappearance due to lack of practitioners, to which the local government created programs that motivated its return to practice among the descendants of those players of yesteryear.
That is why in 2010, the document that declares Ulama as Cultural Patrimony of the State of Sinaloa was created, serving this to promote its practice again, this time in more regions.
Currently Ulama is already played in more than half of the states of Mexico and also in some regions of Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. The number of practitioners increases every day and for most of them, this is a great opportunity to connect with their roots, learn about their history and be part of social groups within their communities and live with other people outside their environment, all this without neglecting that this game It is also an excellent physical activity that encourages sports and healthy coexistence among its practitioners since, being in the process of growth, it also allows new players to have enough time to familiarize themselves with the rules and techniques and obtain a good competitive level.
At the end, and all of them seek a common goal, not only that the game does not disappear, but also to return the greatness and importance that it had more than 500 years ago.

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Mc Kenzie Satterfield A., The assimilation of the marvelous other: Reading Christoph Weiditz’sTrachtenbuch (1529) as an ethnographic document, Department of Art and Art History, College of Visual and Performing Arts, University of South Florida, 2007
De la Garza Mercedes, El juego de pelota según las fuentes escritas, Arqueología Mexicana 44, pp. 50-53, 2000
Whittington E. Michael, The sport of life and death. The mesoamerican ballgame, Ed. Mint Museum of Art, 2002
Sahagún Fray Bernardino, Historia General de las cosas de la Nueva España, Ed. Porrúa, 1956

Ruslan C Pashayev - Scottish Wrestling in the 1800s

Special Thanks To: Mr. Alexander (Sandy) Laird of the Bridge of Allan Highland Games.

Dear Friends,
recently I have received an inquiry from my dear friend Mr. Robbie Burrows, a wrestling history enthusiast from Leominster, Herefordshire, England, regarding the styles of wrestling which were practiced in Scotland in the 1800s.

My answer to his question will be based on my collection of various contemporary newspaper wrestling matches reports, memoirs of the individuals and on arguably the best book written on the XIX century Scottish sports, the 1891 book by William McCombie Smith called “The Athletes and Athletic Sports of Scotland, Including Bagpipe Playing and Dancing”. The Chapter V from that book called “Wrestling” (Pages 63-69) completely covers this subject.

According to that book there were three wrestling styles in Scotland in the XIX. Those included: the Scottish, the Border and the Scotch styles of wrestling.

a) Scottish, a back-hold wrestling similar to the Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling, the main difference between the two being: 1) losing the hold is not losing a fall; 2) only the flat back falls count.

The certain rules of the Scottish style varied depending on the locality, occasionally the back-hold was “right arm over and left arm under”, and sometimes the use of legs and feet for throwing (tripping) wasn’t allowed which turned contest into the trial of strength, the old Viking Bear Hug wrestling which in Scotland was referred to as the Hawick Hug named as such after the town of Hawick in the Scottish Borders, in historic county of Roxburghshire.

b) Border, a style practiced in the Border Counties, exactly the same style as the Cumberland and Westmorland back-hold wrestling.

c) Scotch, aka Donald Dinnie’s Style, according to whom it was an authentic Scottish wrestling style the ruleset of which was first documented in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1830 (that info was never confirmed nor proven).

In this style wrestlers are given 30 sec to take the over-and-under back-hold i.e. clasp hands behind each other's back in the proper manner, make a lock. If during that time the hold is not taken, they wrestle without it (without an equally taken hug), meaning they would try to catch any hold of their adversary above or under the waist (according to the 1905 interview of the Cumberland wrestling champion George Lowden of Workington, Cumbria see below), attacking him from the front, side, or from behind and endeavor to throw him to the ground from that hold (take down).

Wrestlers were allowed to break their own hold at any time, and catch the new more advantageous one. To win the wrestler not only has to place his opponent flat on his back but he also has to keep him in that position underneath himself for 30 sec, which assumes a struggle on the ground. That is according to the official ruleset, the copy of which will follow my reply, but in some references it is said that the 30 sec hold in any flat lying down position works out as well. Let’s say the wrestler who is lying on his stomach is held in that position for the required amount of time, which counted as a victory.

The collection of various references to the traditional wrestling games which were popular in Scotland in the XIX centuries is to follow my reply.

In the XX century there were only two wrestling styles at the Highland Gatherings in Scotland, the Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling and the Catch-as-catch-can. The official rules of both those styles will follow my reply.

Kind regards,
Ruslan C Pashayev

Dinnie 1880s

Manchester Scottish Festival 1876


Original Scottish Backhold

Scotch Style Rules

Scottish Highland Wrestling

Lowden Interview 1905

Bagchal from Nepal

Bagchal is probably the most popular traditional board game from Nepal. Bagchal literally means "Tiger's Move" in Nepali. Four tigers and 20 goats compete to win the game. Tigers want to hunt all goats; goats want to trap all the tigers.

Ruslan C Pashayev, Devon Style of Wrestling

Dear Friends,
I am happy to present a 1822 "Sporting Magazine" article about the traditional Devon Style of Wrestling called "Wrestling In The West".
Enjoy the read.

Sources: :"Sporting Magazine Or, Monthly Calendar of the Transactions of the Turf, the Chase and Every Other Diversion Interesting to the Man of Pleasure, Enterprize, and Spirit" Volume 9, 1822, Pages 161-164

Ruslan C Pashayev




Carreras de Caballos de Sanlúcar de Barrameda

Sanlucar de Barrameda horse racing is a tradition that goes back more than a century. This is one of the most important annual events of this city on the Costa de la Luz.
Born in 1845, at the foundation of the Sanlucar de Barrameda Horse Racing Society, this tradition was born from the races that the fish sellers made in order to be able to arrive first at the market and sell first.
The Sanlúcar horse races are held annually on the beach of the Spanish municipality of Sanlúcar de Barrameda in the Andalusian province of Cádiz. The peculiarity of this race is the fact that it is organized on the beach, in a natural racecourse. The race is organised every year in August.
Photos: Guillaume Lanouhe, Association Brev’Art

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Ruslan C Pashayev, Traditional Wrestling Games in West Flanders

Special Thanks To:
Hannelore Franck of Yper Museum, Geert Souvereyns of Musea Brugge, Bernard Pauwels of Kortrijk Erfgoed en Musea, Stephane Debonne, Claude Vandewoestyne of Stedelijke Oudheidkundige Commissie Wervik – Geluwe, the staff of Kortrijk 1302 Museum, Wervik, Beernem and Geluwe Libraries and to my dear friends Bernard Vandamme of Bruges (Belgium) and Paul Lengkeek of Utrecht (Netherlands).


Laat Ons Ne Keer Ommeleggerke Doen, Durf-je?
Let’s Try A Fall (Wrestle), Would You Dare?
Traditional Wrestling Games in West Flanders (Belgium).


In his “Canterbury Tales”, the Father of English literature Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) calls the Flemish knight Sir Thopas of Poperinge (West Flanders, Belgium) an undefeated wrestler: “In wrestling, there was no one his peer.” Why did the author choose a Flemish man to idolize? This is explained by the fact that in Medieval Europe the Flemings were well known for their strength and skill in the ancient art of their traditional freestyle wrestling which featured wrestling on the ground and had no restrictions regarding the holds.

According to the 1905 “Children’s Games in the Flemish Belgium” a book which was released by the Royal Flemish Academy of Language and Literature there were two kinds of traditional free-for-all wrestling games (Vechten, Man Tegen Man, aka Worstelen/Worstelinge, Lijf Tegen Lijf which is a kind of wrestling combat in which everything is allowed but without intentionally hurting each other) in the rural areas of West Flanders, Belgium (the “Land of Chaucer’s Sir Thopas”).

1) Ommeleggen. In the 1892 “Westvlaamsch Idioticon” the word “Ommeleggen” is defined as such “Omkeeren en nederleggen langs den grond”, which means “to flip over (to turn around, to turn upside down) and lay down on the ground.” Another name for that kind of wrestling was - “Overhoop Smijten/Gooien” (literal translation, to throw upside down).

Ommeleggen was a standing (upright) wrestling style in which to win the wrestler had to give his opponent a “complete somersault” on his back (a throw in which “heels go over the head”, and back of the head and neck, and the shoulders come to the ground first) with or without falling down himself. The modern international wrestling terminology refers to such falls as the grand amplitude throws, or the five-point throws.

In this mode of wrestling lifting and throwing techniques played the decisive role. The most commonly used throwing techniques were:

a) Buttocks/Throws over the back (for example headlock into buttock throw) and Crossbuttocks/Throws over the hip (arm-swing hold, headlock/arm around the neck hold, arm around the waist hold),
b) Flying Horse/Fireman Lift,
c) Standing Half-Nelson and Crotch (flip over the head),
d) Flying Mare/Throw over the shoulder,
e) Bear-hug Lift (hold around the waist) which is followed by having opponent on the shoulder and throwing him backwards over his head,

as well as various spectacular pro-wrestling kind of throws such as the “Monkey Flip” (flip over the head, upper arms hold and foot is placed against the abdomen), “Back Body Drop” (flip over the head, hold behind the knees and head is placed between the legs).

The execution of such powerful and artistic throws required certain mastery, deep knowledge and understanding of the game of wrestling which could only be achieved in regular training. This style was a very dangerous form of wrestling and often the outcome of such contests were serious injuries or even the death of one of the participants due to spinal fractures sustained by the wrestlers who landed badly on their backs or heads.

2) Haantje Spelen (Cockfighting Game), an up and down wrestling in which to win the wrestler had at first to take his opponent down, and achieve the “on top” position either by landing on top of him or by placing him on his back during the struggle on the ground, after that he had to maintain this dominant uppermost position (his opponent is underneath him on his back) on the ground for 3 (three) minutes.

Haantje Spelen wrestling game was very similar to the Dutch folk wrestling style called Stoeijen (modern spelling Stoeien). According to the information kindly presented by Mr. Paul Lengkeek the Chairman of the KNKF (Koninklijke Nederlandse Krachtsport en Fitnessfederatie/Royal Dutch Strength Sport and Fitness Federation) the rules of Stoeien wrestling which were passed down through generations as an oral tradition didn’t change much over the centuries. The upper body techniques, grabbing legs and tripping is allowed. The joint-locks and chokes are prohibited due to the jocose nature of the contests (vechten/worstelen uit de grap). The objective is to pin the opponent down with his back flat on the ground until a verbal submission (“Genade – “Mercy” or “Ik geef me over” – “I surrender”).

The wrestling game (stoei) called Ondergooi which was popular among the Dutch people of South Africa (Boers) was similar to Flemish game Haantje Spelen. The description of that game was given by Ernst Jacobus du Plessis in his book called Gister Keer Terug (Return of Yesterday), 1994 and it also appeared in Tydskrif vir volkskunde en volkstaal (Journal of Folklore and Vernacular), Volumes 46-49, 1990. In that game two boys were taking holds of each other and then by using various feinting maneuvers trying to take the opponent down, get on top of him and manage to maintain the uppermost position for as long as possible.

Traditionally the challenge matches in both styles were held in the field in a circle formed by villagers who would cheer their champions on and bet on the winner. The wrestlers were referred to as “fighters” – vechters and the challenge matches were to determine who is the “better man” (probeeren wie het sterkst is). Both games were still played by the local men in the XIX century.

The 1920s article by Edward Vermeulen (1861-1934) of Hooglede (West Flanders, Belgium) called “Een Wrongsje Maken” (“Making A Curd”) gives a great account of the Ommeleggen wrestling match from the 1870s-90s. According to that article in the local slang the unrestrained wrestling (Worstelen, Lijf Tegen Lijf) was referred to as – making the curd. 

This descriptive expression stood for the vigorous up and down stirring movement which is required in making the curd, just like in the real wrestling match when the bodies of the two are intensely intertwined. The author claims that the best fighters came from the vicinity of Houthulst (West Flanders, Belgium), especially from the village of Klerken.

The original articles (in Flemish) from the 1905 book on Flemish children’s games and the English translation thereof will follow this article. These articles provide an expressive, vivid description of the two traditional Flemish wrestling styles.

A painting created by the Dutch and Flemish Renaissance genius artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569) in 1560 titled “Children's Games” depicts Haantje Spelen wrestling among other games which were popular in Flanders during the Middle Ages. It shows two men grappling with each other on the ground, one trying to maintain the dominant uppermost position utilizing a basic pro wrestling pin the Cover (lateral or cross press). Another famous painting by an artist of the same school called Jan Gossaert (1478–1532), the 1523 “Hercules Wrestling With Antaeus”, shows the Ommeleggen throw which in this case is the most classic pro wrestling Crotch Hold and Bodyslam.

Flemish Wrestling Games

Notably, in the XIV century both Flemish wrestling games were brought to the Salford and Blackburn Hundreds of Lancashire County, England by the Flemish immigrants who were invited to England by King Edward III (1312-1377), who was married to Princess Philippa of Hainault with Flemish ancestry since 1328. Arrival of the Flemings largely influenced the growth and rise of the textile industry in that region of England. The textile workers from Flanders (aka Flemish weavers) at first settled in the vicinity of the town of Bolton, Lancs, that happened in 1337.

Thus for a very long time in East Lancashire Flemish Haantje Spelen wrestling game was known as the “Bolton Method”, or “feightin after the Lancashire fashion, up and down feightin”. Just like in Medieval Flanders in East Lancashire the wrestlers were often called “fighters”, or to be more precise the “up and down fighters.”

On the coat of arms for the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton, we still see the “Black Lion of Flanders” as one of the shield supporters. The heraldic lion holds a banner with an image of a shuttle on it which represented the weaving industry.

Flanders and Bolton

In 1363 the community of Flemish weavers was established in the city of Manchester, Lancs. Even in the early 1850s in England outside East Lancashire the Lancashire style of wrestling was still known as the “Manchester wrostlin.”

Flemish Weavers in Manchester

For centuries Lancashire wrestling just like its direct ancestor Flemish freestyle wrestling existed in two modes: standing (upright) wrestling for a throw (“Well, awl just have thee one thrut/throw for love”, 1827 wrestling challenge in Crompton, Borough of Oldham, Lancs), and up and down wrestling for dominance and control on the ground (“There’s not a man in the room who can hold me down on the floor for five minutes”, 1836 wrestling challenge at the “Golden Lion” pub, Middle Hillgate, Stockport, historically in Cheshire, now in Greater Manchester).

In the first half of the XIX century these two wrestling games were united into one wrestling style - the Lancashire catch-as-catch-can wrestling - which is an up and down freestyle wrestling for the fair back fall. According to the first official written ruleset of Lancashire catch-as-catch-can issued in 1856 by the proprietor of Snipe Inn Grounds (Audenshaw, Lancs), Mr. Nelson Warren, the fair back fall was defined as “two shoulders striking the ground together (simultaneously) no matter how quickly it may occur (even for a brief instant) to the satisfaction of the referee.” The modern international wrestling terminology refers to such falls as the touch-falls.

© 2021 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.

Koninklijke Vlaamsche Academie voor Taal- en Letterkunde


Gent, 1905

Ommeleggen, Game № 81 (Pages 64-65)

Pier is een kloeke, streusche jongen, die vóór en na de school menigen maat, in het zand heeft doen bijten. Jan is van eenen en denzelfden deeg gekneed. Elk loft en stoft op zijne macht en vechterskracht. Wij zullen eens meten wie dat er de meeste macht heeft, zeggen ze alzoo, en ze vliegen malkaar in 't haar en werken en wroeten, elk van zijnen kant, om den tegenstrever «omme te leggen», d. i. op den grond te werpen ; alles in vriendschap en minne, zonder nijd of veete, zonder malkaar pijn te doen, zuiver uit leute, om te weten wie meest macht heeft. Men stekt (1) malkaar bij het hoofd, bij de schouders, in de lenden; men werkt met handen en voeten, met hoofd en armen en beenen ; men plooit en wordt geplooid; dwingt en wordt gedwongen; men krult en wringt, men zwoegt en pijnt, totdat een der twee op den grond ligt uitgestrekt en overwonnen is. Onnoodig te zeggen, dat de andere kinders eenen juichenden en joelenden kring vormen rond de «ommeleggers», welke ze met woorden en gebaren ophitsen.

Te Gheluwe : «Ommeleggerke doen ».

(1) Stekken = vast nemen.

Pier is a stout, sturdy boy, who before and after school made many of his mates bite the dust in wrestling matches. Jan, on the other hand, has been cast in the same mould. Both are always bluffing and boasting about their physical strength, and fighting capabilities. “Let us meet and arrange a contest to see who is the strongest”, they say. Immediately they attack one another and wrestle hard, trying to flip the other over on his back i.e. to throw him on the ground; all in a friendly way of course; without hatred or malice, without hurting each other. They grasp each other by the head, the shoulders, in the loins area. They are working with their hands and feet, with head and arms and legs, they force, push, even wrap themselves round the other, leaning over, pulling backward and forward, toiling and paining one another until one of them is lying stretched out on the ground and is defeated. It is needless to say that the other children, the bystanders, make a circle around the fighters and tease them gesticulating, cheering, screaming and roaring.

Haantje spelen, Game № 15 (Page 14)

«Haantje spelen» is eenvoudiglijk eene nabootsing van de welgekende hanegevechten of hanekampen. De knapen staan in eene ronde. Twee van hen kiezen hunne vechters uit. Deze dragen in 't spel den naam van «hanen»; zij treden in den kring, en man tegen man vechtende, trachten ze malkaar «omme te leggen (zie dit spel). De «vechter» die drie minuten onder ligt, is verloren. Evenals op de peerdeloopen en de hanekampen, wordt er op de «vechters» in den kring door de omstaande kinders gewed.

This game (Haantje spelen) is simply an imitation of the well-known game of “cockfighting”. The boys are making a circle. Two of them are selected to be the fighters. They are the “cocks”. They enter the ring and in a man-to-man fight they try to throw the other on his back (see Ommeleggen game). The one who is kept underneath on his back for 3 minutes loses the game. Like in horse-racing and cock- fighting, the bystanders can bet on one of the fighters.

© 2021 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.

Article’s Cover Image: Stained Glass window depicting the Flemish Lion and the text Vlaanderen (Flanders) in the Cathedral of Saint Bavo in Ghent Flanders Belgium, XVI c.

Ruslan C Pashayev - Wrestling For The Boar’s Head. 1800’s Hornchurch, Essex, England.

Wrestling For The Boar’s Head. 1800’s Hornchurch, Essex, England.


This article is dedicated to my dear friend, the four-time British Heavyweight Pro Wrestling Champion, Mr. Tony St. Clair.

Dear Friends,
I am happy to share materials from my “English Folk Wrestling Collection” related to the old English Christmas tradition of having an annual knock-out wrestling tournament with the prize of a boar’s head. That Medieval custom survived till the XIX century and was still actively practiced in the village of Hornchurch, Essex till 1869. Unfortunately, the newspaper reports and the memoirs of the witnesses (both these credible evidences will follow the foreword) of those wrestling matches don’t provide details regarding the style of wrestling which was practiced by the local peasants. But most likely it was old English “Hugg Wrastelynge” a folkstyle wrestling of Norse Viking & Norman origin and which was commonly known in Britain as the “Cornish Hug” trial of strength. Below I am giving the “Rules of The Hugg Wrastelynge”.

Pages 501-502.

“The Cornish hug is a tremendous struggle for victory. Both grasp alike, and not much science is required. It only takes place where each conceives himself to be the stronger of the two. It is either right or left. If right, each man has his right hand on the other's loins on the left side, and his left hand on the right shoulder; they stand face to face, and each strives to draw his adversary towards him, and grasp him round the waist, till the hug becomes close, and the weakest man is forced backward - the other falling heavily upon him. This is a very sure and hard fall”. By Sam Sam's Son, October 8, 1827.

There’s a chance that the “Hornchurch Wrestling” could have been less peaceful traditional English “Coler Wrastelynge” with its tripping and brutal shin kicking. The beautiful 1400s watching loft’s wood carving from the St. Alban's Cathedral and Abbey Church at St. Albans in the neighbor Hertfordshire shows such wrestling match between the two local peasants.

Enjoy the read.
Thanks, Ruslan C Pashayev.

© 2020 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.

1842 Hornchurch Winner James Kent

Boars Head 1

English Hug

Boars Head Wrossle

Hornchurch Wrestling

Hugg Wrestlers

Medieval English Wrestling

St Albans and hearts

trophy boars head

Ruslan C Pashayev - The Bear Hug Wrestling

Special Thanks To:
Ms. Sofia Hoas Culture/Heritage advisor at the Gotlands Museum and Mr Per-Ola Nilsson of the Föreningen Gutnisk Idrott and the staff of the Visby Bollklub.


A Father of Them All – The Bear-Hug.

The research I’ve done which resulted in my book called “The Story of Catch” covers various historical traditional catch-hold wrestling styles of Western European origin, such as English, German, French, Dutch and Flemish. Since it was first released in 2019 I have received many inquiries (by mail, email, and on Facebook messenger) about traditional folk wrestling styles, but one main question remains- which one is the most ancient based on my research of 15 years? I decided to go ahead and share my personal opinion which is fully based on facts and historical material that I’ve collected over the years.

During my studies I was able to establish that the there were three traditional English folk wrestling styles (wrastelynge), namely: “by the collar” (wrestling at the arms’ length, tripping feet and hooking legs), “by the belt/holdster” (close wrestling, playing with the hip, i.e. cross-buttocking) and the most common and arguably the most ancient style of all (since it required no special wrestling tools as the other two styles did), an ultimate trial of strength “the hug”.

All three folk English styles were imported to England in the VIII-XI centuries by the Norsemen/Vikings, the North Germanic people of Scandinavia. The folk wrestling styles of Vikings were well researched by the famous Swedish archivist and antiquarian called Johan Gustaf Liljegren (1791-1837). In his 1818 book called Rolfs Sturlögssons eller Gånge Rolfs Saga (“The Story of The Hero of Scandinavian Antiquity: The Saga of Gaange Rolf”) on Page 313 he mentioned the Liftag/Ryggtag wrestling among other wrestling games which were popular among the Norsemen, and thus described it:

“Det enklaste var lausa-tauk, hvarvid de med händerna fattade uti hvarandra (armtag), eller grepo hvarandra om lifvet (liftag, ryggtag), det bästa de kunde, och med armarnes kraft sökte få hvarandra ur jemvigten.”

"The simplest style was lausa-tauk, in which they grasped each other with their hands (arm-grip), or grabbed each other by the waist (waist-grip, back-grip), the best they could, and with the power of their arms sought to get each other out of balance."

Wrestling with the bear

The Viking wrestling styles were still actively practiced in England in the Middle Ages and even during the Modern History. For example famous journalist and businessman, a native of Yorkshire, named Charles Fothergill (1782-1842) says in his diary (dated 1805) that in the hamlet of Fremington, in the Yorkshire Dales in North Yorkshire the local men had two wrestling styles: wrestlers take hold of each others hands and wrestle at “arms length” with their feet and legs, and the old-fashioned hug around the waist in which a lot of strength is required.

I will be describing in further detail my analysis of the Hug wrestling below.

The Hug wrestling was an equal over-and-under hold around the body, and to win the match wrestler had to unbalance his opponent and throw him down on his back only using the strength of his arms and core, i.e. by lifting, pushing, pulling and swaying him from side to side. According to the old Germanic tradition only wrestling with hands and arms was considered a true wrestling, a fair and manly game, the use of feet and legs for throwing was strictly prohibited. The contest itself was an exhibition of sheer strength and in the past many strong men suffered broken backs as the outcome of that brutal game.

In England the Norsemen Hug was known under the names of the “Cornish Hug” (in the West Country) and the “Yorkshire Hug” (in the Dukedom of White Rose). Probably the best description of the original Hugg Wrastelynge which found its home on English soil was written in 1827 by a wrestling sport advocate and practitioner who wrote under the assumed name of “Sam Sam's Son”:

“Both grasp alike, and not much science is required. It only takes place where each conceives himself to be the stronger of the two. It is either right or left. If right, each man has his right hand on the other's loins on the left side, and his left hand on the right shoulder; they stand face to face, and each strives to draw his adversary towards him, and grasp him round the waist, till the hug becomes close, and the weakest man is forced backward - the other falling heavily upon him. This is a very sure and hard fall”.

On the Continent the original ancient Germanic test of strength with equal hold around the body was known as the “Bears’ Fight” or “Berengevecht” (in Dutch) because of its close resemblance with actual bear-hugging in wildlife. The most common names of that wrestling style were: lyfvatten (Body-Hold in Dutch), à bras-le-corps (literally definition is “with both arms around somebody's body” a French term for the old Frankish Hug wrestling style), and bauern griff (Farmers’ Grip in German). The conditions of that game were exactly the same as described above. Over the time this prehistoric trial of strength evolved into a standing (upright) catch-hold above the waist (often holds were restricted to the arms and torso only) wrestling style which was a very popular pro wrestling style (entertainment) in Medieval Germany, France, and the Low Countries. That led to the further evolution which culminated in the early 1800s with a birth of the French style of wrestling aka Graeco-Roman, which nowadays is an International Olympic sport. At the same time In England the original Hug wrestling remained unchanged and as previously shown still existed in its original form of the “test of strength” even in the early 1800s.

The old bear-hug wrestling was revived in Germany in the beginning of the XIX century by the German Gymnastic Society (Turnvereins, Turners) and became one of their official wrestling exercises.

Ryggkast Match 1930s

The ancient Viking Hug wrestling still currently exists. It is one of the sports of the annual Stångaspelen (Stånga Games) competition called Gutnisk Femkamp (Gutnish Pentathlon, or Five-game Championship), which includes running, throwing the varpa-stone, high-jump, caber-tossing and the wrestling match which is a decisive final contest for the overall championship. The first such championship was held in Wisborg (Visby) in summer of 1892; the winner to receive a silver loving cup and 50 kronas in cash. Notably, the very first final of the 1892 Gutnisk Femkamp saw the struggle between the two brothers A. and Hj. Hellgren which resulted in the victory of the former who was only 18 years old.

Here below I am giving a translation of the original 1892 rules of the Gotlandic Ryggkast Wrestling as they appeared on the Page 78 of the 1897 book by Josef Elers called “Gotländska Idrottsminnen”.

Wrestling (Brottning) according to the following rules:
a) A Hold, the body-lock (Liftag) with an over-and-under hold.
b) Grasping the opponent's clothes or tripping/hooking his feet/legs is forbidden.
c) Both shoulders of the defeated wrestler must be on the ground at the same time, for this to be considered a victory.
d) Wrestling match starts with the command "Kör"(run/go) and must be completed within 15 minutes.

Ryggkast Rules 1892 Text

A dangerous game of Ryggkast wrestling truly is a Viking sport in which brutal physical strength is a decisive factor. As recollected by 5-time finalist and the 1990 Femkamp Champion Mr. Lars Thomsson of Vänge, the Ryggkast fight is almost a “near-death experience” in which the wrestlers “get hurt easily and often have their collar bones broken”, it is always the strongest man who wins the combat.

Currently in many countries the bear-hug (equal over-and-under hold) contest is an essential part of the elementary wrestling syllabus. It is a great conditioning game, in which to win there’s no need to give your opponent a fall (throw him), to win the match it is enough to lift him off his feet.

© 2021 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.

Ruslan C Pashayev - The rules of the traditional Austrian Ranggeln Wrestling competitions from the 1870s

Dear Friends, I am happy to present this historical document which contains very important information regarding the rules of the traditional Austrian Ranggeln Wrestling competitions from the 1870s. The document is an extract from the story called “Der Kernschuss” written by Dr. A. Silberstein. The language of the document is German. Enjoy the read! Thanks. Ruslan C Pashayev

Verlag von Leopold Sommer & Comp. in Wien.
Desterreichischer Wolkekalender 1875.

Zur Geschichte: „Der Kernschuss“ von August Silberstein.

Einunddreißigster Jahrgang des Österreichischen Vortskalender:
Pulksbud zur Unterhaltung und Belehrung.

Gegründet und herausgegeben von Leopold Sommer.

Redigiert: 1845 bis 1857 von Dr. J. N. Vogl (gestorben 1866).

Die Jahrgänge 1858 u. s. w. redigiert von Dr. August Silberstein. Wien.

Der Kernschuss.
Eine Geschichte aus den Alpen von August Silberstein.

“Bis zu einem St. Jacobstage vor zwei Jahren waren sie es. Da galt's auf die Spielwiese zu ziehen und zu rangeln . Die Burschen und Männer, welche fich mit Kraft brüsten, sollten zeigen wer der Stärkere ! Das ist ein Spiel und ernstlich Thun zum Aufmerken aller Leute ringsumher! Männer, welche ein reichlicht Gehöft und eine Alm mit nicht kleinem Viehstand haben, schämen sich nicht, ihren Burschen aufzumußen, wenn er gerade einer ist , der fich im Rangeln (Ringen) zeigen könnte. Sie haben vielleicht selbst einmal mitgethan und waren eines Jahres Hagmaier – das heißt Burschen- Oberhaupt für’s Jahr. Vielleicht ist jener Alte dort auch einmal mit strammen Sehnen und nerviger Faust hinübergegangen in’s nächste Dorf oder Chal und hat gerungen zum Jubel der Seinen und zum Aerger der von einem Fremden von drüben Besiegten. Kann ein Bursche sich mit Ringen und Rangeln zeigen, so thut er es sicherlich. Er läßt sich weder den Rang ablaufen , noch das Rangeln abkanfen und ab wehren. Von allen Seiten ziehen sie herbei zum grünen Plaß, wo gerangelt wird, Alt und Jung. Mannleut und Weibeleut' . Es war auch an jenem St. Jakobstag so. Der Loni hatte schon am St. Johannitag beim Sonnenwendfeuer nächst dem See und als die Flammen von oben sich in dem glatten und klaren Wasser spiegelten , gerangelt. Da hatte er es einem kräftigen Burschen abgewonnen . Das war aber nur nebenhin. Zufällig und gerade zu Spiel und Kurzweil bei dem Feuerräderwälzen , Holzschüren und Pechfaßbrennen. Der Sieger that sich zu gute darauf und nicht wenig . Die lustige Gesellschaft feierte ihn , und der Gegner hatte nach kräftigster Gegenwehr doch die Beine in die Lüfte gestreckt, während die Schulterblätter und der ganze Rücken auf dem Boden fast dumpfen Hall gaben. Da dúnkte Sich Loni, als ob er das Thal zu eigen hätte ! Aber am spätern St. Jakobstage sollte sich’8 nochmals zeigen. Das Rangeln war beschlossen, und ehe Einer an Loni herankommen durfte, mußte dieser die Courage haben und einen noch nicht Besiegten oder ehemal fiegbaften Burs schen fragen : Was kost' dein' Feder? So schritt eines Abends der Zieler - Franzl vom Felde heim. Er war ein lustiger Bursche, wenn's Lustig keit galt; sonst aber stil , fest bei der Arbeit und kein Anbahnler, fein Raufer und muthwilliger Rangler. Er hatte sich schon auf manchen Fleck gestellt und den Gegner gelupft, geschußt , daß dieser auf dem Rücken lag nach Regel und Recht, dean Franz war ein kräftiger Bursch und mußte, da er's konnte, sich zuweilen sehen lassen. Er dachte nicht daran, zunächst mitzuthun.”

“Die beiden Männer, die Rangler, die mit einem ausges stemmten Knie, an den Leib gedrückten Ellbogen und ausge breiteten Fingern gestanden, jeder als wäre er nureine eiserne Sprungfeder, dienoch einen Augenblick mit all ihrer furchts baren Schnellgewalt am Boden haftet ... stürzen fich einander entgegen ... fie prallen an, daßman die Brustkörbe und Knos chen förmlich dumpf hallen hört ... und jeßt sind die Armewie Schlangen bald dort, bald da. Die Finger drücken wie Sisen klammern in des Gegners Arme und Handknöchel, da löft sich eine Umschlingung, dort wird eine gemacht. Die Ober leiber schwanken undwiegen, neigen und beugen sich hers über, hinüver, die Füße stehen wie Eisenpfeiler auf dem Boden ... und Keiner hat den Andern noch um eines Haares Breite vom Grunde gehoben.
Die Gesichter und Hälse find roth, förmlich blutig unterlaufen , die Adern an dem False des Loni gleichen blauen Strähnen, die darüber, längs desselben liegen, und die Augen funkeln, treten beinahe aus ihren Höhlen, das Weiß erscheint völlig zweimal so groß und weit. Schlagen, in's Fleisch kneifen und derlei , darf Keiner ; im Augenblicke würden die Altermänner Halt gebieten und dem unrechten Kampfe sofort ein Ende machen. Jebt hat Loni des Franzls Hosengurt erwischt, er krampft seine Fäufte ein und hält das Leder mit seinen zehn Fingerzangen ...ein Augenblick noch und er wird den Franz beben. ... da stößt dieser den einen Ellbogen durch Lonis gebogenen Arm und reißt den festhaltenden Mann mit diesem Rud um feine Achse herum. Er muß nun nachgeben. Dabei sucht Franzl auch nach Loni's Gurt, der zu solchem Zwed doppelt fest ist, und es gelingt ihm in diesem Augenblide, was er früher vergeblich angestrebt, seine beiden Hände einzuklammern.

Jeßt haben sie sich , fie müssen einen Augenblick ver schnaufen, fie halten sich förmlich Brust an Brust, und ein wenig gekreuzt. Man sieht förmlich die kräftigen Brust körbe fich Eeben und senken vom Athem . Ein gutes Auge merkt die Hemdfalten förmlich beben , sich schütteln vom gewaltigen Herzschlage. Der ganze Leib eines Jeden ist in Aufregung und dennoch in besonnenster überwachter Hal tung. Sie drüden sich nun mit den Oberleibern hin und her , sie müssen vom Flede herüber , hinüber ... ießt versucht Franz plößlich einen Anstoß, vergeblich, Loni deos gleichen, einen zweiten rasch darauf ... aber er beugt den Franzl ...dieser drückt schon den Fuß nieder ... er wird im nächsten Augenblice liegen ... nein, er drückt und stößt förmlich empor, der loni muß noch einmal weichen, ja , der Gegenstoß ist so gewaltig, daß Loni wieder vom Flede muß und zu ziehen beginnt. Sie drehen sich um sich selbst, um den Schwung zur eigenen Kraft zu gesellen. Ihr Glück, ihr Geschick, ihre Stärke wechseln sichtbar megre Male. Da benüßt Franžl den Augenblic, in welchem loni eine Kniebeuge zum Werfen stemmend macht ... redt fich empor und läßt sein ganzes Gewicht auf den Gegner förm lich fallen ... dieser wird erschüttert ... Franzl drückt ... und läßt nicht nach, es ist, als ob ein Zittern durch seinen Körper ginge und er denselben vergrößern, bis zum Zerbersten spannen würde, loni ist nach rückwärts gebeugt ... einen Augenblid noch, Franzl reißt mit einer geschic ten Fußwendung Loni's Fuß von der Erde, dieser - stürzt dumpf baut die Grasflåde liegt ! Ju ! juh ! schreit es aus der Menge. Loni jedoch läßt nicht nad ... er ist eingekrampft mit seinen Fäusten , er zieht den Obern an fich ... er läßt fich nicht fällen. Die Männer eilen hinzu, um die Beiden zu lösen . Während sie hinzueilen , steht Loni wieder, denn er hat sich an dem nicht Gesunkenen unlöslich geklammert und so emporziehen lassen, indem er mit einem Beine sich süßend entgegenhob. Die Männer erklären ihn für besiegt. Ja, ja, so ist’s ! schrien Viele. Zornglühend, schäumend war er, er wollte es nicht gelten lassen. Ein gewaltiger Lärm erhob sich nun. Der Kreis schloß sich enger und dichter. Die Disputirenden überschrien fich. Die Weiber nahmen Partei und Freischten darein , mit: unter schrill und keifend. Die Kinder mengten ihre grellen Stimmen in den Lärm . Man jab viele Hände in den Lüften, viel Plagwechseln der einzelnen Erregten . Fast Ale, wenigstens die meisten nahmen Partei für Franz. Loni segte Fehler auseinander, er wäre unrichtig behandelt worden und nicht zuerst gelegen, nicht ganz mit dem Rücken. Er besiegt!“

Er wollt's nicht haben und gelten lassen. Geht's noch einmal, so will ich Euch den Rechten zeigen ! rief er. Mich vom Franz so werfen lassen, das gibt's nit ! Noch einmal recht und richtig, wenn Du Kus rasche bast ! Franz ! schwieg. Er sah ruhig und ernst, nicht hochmüthig und freudig d'rein . » Muß es sein ? sagte er. Esmuß nit sein , sagte Der, welcher das Zeichen gegeben, »wir halten zu Dir. Aber wenn Du magst ... Einen Augenblick folgte Stille. Franz schrie nun auf : Aber gleich ! Gleich ! sagte Loni wild, fast röchelnd. Der Schneider fing zu knallen an und hätte bei einem Haar den Rücken des Loni mit der langen Peitsche getroffen. Da standen die Kämpfer sich schon gegenüber. Sie warteten nicht erst ein Zeichen ab. Sie sahen sich bereits an wie die erzärnten Hähne, glutängig wie solche, roth wie deren Kämme.

Sie drangen auf einander los. Die Blicke und die Uebung hatten ihnen gesagt, der erste Griff gelte den Hüften . . . sie hatten sich da schon im Nu ... sie stampf ten den Boden, sie gerrten, sie drüdten ... Alles ging jeßt viel rascher, viel wilder, wie mit entfesselten Mäch ten. — Loni's Wildheit beraubte ihn des ruhigen, sichern Waltens ... der kühlere Franz merkte dessen Schwächen und Fehler ... er lupfte ihn ... er schußte ihn zum zweiten Male, als der entgleitete Fuß Boden suchte ... er hatte ihn ... ein Ruck , ein Heben ... er schleuderte sich selbst mit der geschleuderten Last cin wenig zur Seite ... und jeßt hatte sie den Grund verloren ... drehte fich auf einer Ferse schwach einen Augenblik ... Loni lank... Loni fiel dumpf und der ganzen Länge nach rüdlings zu Boden. Juhe ! und Hurrah ! und Lärmen und Soben und Dreinstürzen der Bauern, die selbst schon ganz kampfbe rauscht schienen ! Es war entschieden, Franzl hatte den lonigeschußt, gelupft Franzl hieß der Sieger und Hagmaier!“

© 2021 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.

Wrestling in the Salzburg Mountains, Ruslan C Pashayev

Wrestling in the Salzburg Mountains



Special thanks to my dear friends Rosi Hörhager, Günther Heim and Eva-Maria Schweiger.

Foreword by Ruslan C Pashayev

Though practiced in the various parts of the Alpine region (such as South Tyrol, North Tyrol, East Tyrol, Upper Carinthia, Salzburg, in the Bavarian Oberland and in Chiemgau), the Province of Salzburg is considered the home of the traditional wrestling style which is known as Ranggeln. The great arena for this sport is the principal valley of Land Salzburg, the Salzachthal, whose upper part is called Ober Pinzgau and Unter Pinzgau. In that beautiful place wrestling contests have been held for centuries, for in a XIV century chronicle there is a mention of the famous Pinzgau wrestlers. The splendidly muscular and brawny fellows, the peasants from the neighborhood of Zell am See are particularly fond of Ranggeln.

Today I am happy to share my most recent discoveries related to the old rules of the Austrian traditional style of Ranggeln wrestling. The original text of the reference material is in German. According to the presented document historically there were two distinct forms of folk freestyle wrestling (loose wrestling) in Salzburg: Ranggeln (Wrestling) and Stieren (Bulls).

In the former style of wrestling (Ranggeln) the objection was to overcome the opponent twice in the match which consisted of three bouts by throwing him down and keeping him underneath until he admits his defeat verbally by saying “I give up”, then the winner had to let him get up. The decisive final stage of these contests was wrestling par terre/on the ground. Only the fair wrestling grips were allowed, and such brutal acts as “kicking, striking and throttling” were strictly forbidden. That was done for the purpose of not turning wrestling match into the Raufen (all-in wrestling or fighting) match.

And in the latter style (Stieren) the objection was to give opponent a fall on his back from the standing position by throwing him backwards “heels over head” in imitation of the wild bull’s attack. This required enormous strength and skill and was accompanied by the considerable danger for the loser of the match who could suffer the broken legs, arms or even neck. The popular throws in that particular style were: head between legs, lift and throw backwards (the actual Stieren), Kreuzwurf (Fireman’s Lift), Bear-Hug lift and throw (Heaving), and Hufen (throw over the hip or Cross-Buttock).

Dear Friends, Enjoy the read!

Tiroler Volkstypen, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Sitten und Kleinindustrie in den Alpen

By Ludwig von Hörmann, 1877, Pages 14-17

“Für weit größeren Ruhm aber gilt es, sich im eigentlichen Robeln oder Rangkeln (von Rank, ranggen, sich strecken, wenden, krümmen) hervorzuthun. Es ist dies ein förmliches Ringen, wobei ein Gegner den andern zu Boden zu werfen und unter sich zu erhalten sucht. Und zwar muß dies dem Betreffenden im dreimaligen Gange wenigstens zweimal ge
lingen, ehe er als Sieger anerkannt wird. Liegt Einer, so fragt der Obenliegende: „Gibst di'?“ Die Antwort ist ent weder: „I' gib mi'“ oder „I' gib mi' nit“. „Nu! Nacher wehrst Di'“, ruft dann der Andere und die Balgerei geht von Neuem los. Sagt aber der Untenliegende: „La' mi' geh'n“, so erklärt er sich damit für besiegt und der Andere muß ihn aufstehen lassen.

Gefährlicher als das eigentliche Rangkeln ist das so genannte Stieren, das besonders in Jochberg und am Hundsstein in Pinzgau am Jakobitag geübt wurde. Man sucht den Gegner an den Armen zu fassen und mit einem kräftigen Schwung über den Kopf zu schleudern, so daß er auf den Rücken zu liegen kommt. Der Andere, der sich bei dieser Procedur niederläßt und meist selbst fällt, springt schnell auf. Ist der Angreifer ein kleiner, aber gedrungener Mann, so springt er dem Gegner mit dem Kopf zwischen die Füße und wirft ihn so über sich. Diese Variation des Robelns, deren Name von der Kampfweise des Stieres genommen ist, ist begreiflicherweise sehr gefährlich, und mancher hat sich hiebei schon Hals und Bein gebrochen.

Das Gleiche gilt vom Hufen oder Hüefen, so genannt von der Hüfte, weil man hiebei den Gegner über die rechte oder linke Hüfte hinauswirft, und zwar mit einer Hand. Man sucht demselben nämlich mittelst des sogenannten Kreuzsprung es mit der einen Hand über's Kreuz unter die Achsel zu kommen. Daher muß der Angegriffene die Arme fest schließen und an die Brust drücken, was oft etwas sagen will; denn der Angreifer faßt oft den Arm des Andern und preßt ihn so mit der Hand, daß er den „Kram“ (Krampf) kriegt. Freilich muß er bei diesem Bestreben, dem Gegner die Arme vom Leibe zu bringen und ihm unter die Achsel zu kommen, selbst auf der Hut sein, daß der so Angegriffene nicht einen günstigen Moment erspäht und dem Andern das Schicksal bereitet, was er ihm zugedacht hat, d. h. ihn „huft“. Es kommt hiebei, wie leicht denkbar, vor züglich auf Kraft an. Sind beide Kämpfer gleich stark, so bricht leicht ein Arm.

Alle diese genannten Arten des Rangkelns gehen übrigens bei einem Ringkampfe ineinander über und kommen bald die eine oder andere, bald alle zur Ausführung. Ehe die Gegner „zusammenschießen“, werden alle nur möglichen „Finten“ und „Faxen“ gemacht. Mancher schleicht wie eine Katze um den beobachtenden Gegner, neckt ihn und ermattet ihn durch Scheinangriffe, bis er end lich mit einem blitzschnellen Sprung ihn faßt, dreht oder hebt und „schmeißt“. Einige haben den Vortheil, daß sie während des Falles obenauf kommen und Sieger werden. Ein Anderer fingirt sogar ein Stolpern, um den Gegner zu täuschen und aus seiner zuwartenden Stellung zu locken, be sonders wenn Letzterer eine schwerwiegende Herkulesgestalt ist, die sich mehr auf Kraft und erdrückendes Gewicht, denn auf Beweglichkeit und Raschheit verlassen muß*).

Die Robler sind nur in Hemd und Hose. Hut und Joppe wird beim Ringspiel weggeworfen. Oft binden sie sich noch Sacktücher unten um die Hose, um dem Gegner weniger Fassung zu geben.”

© 2020 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.




List of traditional sports - Q

We continue our list of traditional sports, today the letter Q.
We encourage you to jointly create a list of traditional sports. If you know other traditional sports starting with the letter Q, if there are such sports in your culture, please include their name in the comment, and we will certainly add this name to the list.
We invite you! Join, share, distribute, comment. Traditional sports are our common heritage.

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Patolli game

Illustration of the patolli game from the book Historia universal de nuova España Bernardino de Sahaguna from 1545



Foreword by Ruslan C Pashayev

Dear Friends, few months ago I wrote an article called Lutte Provencales. This article featured several historical French styles of wrestling which predated the French Greco-Roman wrestling, such as Lutte Provencales (Provencal Wrestling) and Lutte Bourguignonne (Burgundian Wrestling). I trace the origin of French folk wrestling to the wrestling traditions of ancient Franks which were represented by two styles: Bras-le-Corps (standing catch hold wrestling above the waist, tripping prohibited) and Corps-a-Corps (up and down freestyle, lutte libre).

Today I am happy to share my most recent finds related to the introduction of Pro Wrestling Championships at Nimes, France. The authors give a detailed account of annual pro wrestling championship tournaments in Nimes, France and trace its origin back to the XIV century.
According to the presented material pro wrestling in the form of public prize wrestling matches was first introduced in Nimes by the consuls of the city in 1351 and regular annual championships were held on the day of Nativity of Virgin (September 8th): “Les exercices du corps, la gymnastique grecque, la lutte, y sont recommandés et encouragés spécialement par les consuls.”

The style of wrestling was referred to as the “ancient Greek wrestling” or “lutte à la manière antique, entre deux adversaires armés du gantelet, ou tout luisants d'huile”. This old tradition of having such contests continued till 1800s, and usually featured wrestling matches between the best men of two neighbor villages. The rules of the Nimes’ pro wrestling which appeared to be a freestyle, or pancratial (lutte libre) required “the back and the head to be placed flat on the ground” or “cherchent à se renverser sur le dos ; on n'est vaincu que si le dos et la tête ont touché contre terre”. Originally in the Middle Ages according to the ‘Antique’ tradition the two wrestling gladiators appeared stark naked (often having their bodies besmeared with an oil) in the ring, later the rules were changed and the loincloth became the only attire of the fighters. In this sport taking opponent down wasn’t enough to win the match, in fact takedown was just a beginning of it and the most of the struggle was going on the ground which basically was rolling for achieving the dominant uppermost position, par-terre wrestling: Quand l'un des deux lutteurs est renversé, tout es poir n'est pas encore perdu ; si sa tête n'a pas touché, tout son village crie : « A pas touca ! a pas touca ! (il n'a pas touché) ! » La lutte continue alors, et la fortune peut changer. Quelquefois il y a doute; alors des deux côtés opposés s'élèvent des cris confus: « A toucal a pas touca! (il a touché, il n'a pas touché ) ! » Des arbitres du choix des deux partis décident le point.”

The text is in French. Enjoy the read. The great interest represents the collection of pro wrestling material of the Archive of the City of Nimes. This information is based strictly on historical documents in French the original clippings of which to follow the text.

Vol 1, 1842

By Jacques Nicolas Hector Rivoire


“…Le lendemain les danses recommencent de fort bonne heure , et on ne les inter rompt que pendant le temps nécessaire aux repas , ou à la délivrance des prix . Ces prix consistent dans les grandes communes :

Pour la lutte , en une tasse d 'argent, une montre d ' argent et quelquefois d 'or .

Pour la course à pied , en une tasse d'argent, ou simplement une écharpe.

Pour le saut, en une paire de boucles d 'argent, ou une écharpe .

Pour la course des chevaux , en une bride. Pour la course dans le sac , ou pour la course des femmes avec un vase plein d 'eau sur la tête , le prix ne se compose que de quelques mouchoirs , et d'un chapeau pour les joutes sur l' eau…”


“L'exercice de la lutte était autorisé à Nimes , dès l'année 1351 , on mettait même beaucoup de soin à cette époque à exciter la jeunesse aux combats et aux jeux gymnastiques . La lutte se faisait en public , un seul jour de l'année , le 8 septembre , jour de la nativité de la Vierge. Les consuls décernaient un prix au vainqueur; en 1351 ,ce fut une pièce d 'étoffe. L 'usage de cet exercice à jour fixe, dut varier , puisque nous voyons qu'en 1373 , la lutte se fit en public , au mois d 'août , le jour de la fête de St-Laurent , et que les consuls donnèrent un mouton pour prix . Quelques années après , le jour de la St-Louis fut choisi pour une lutte solennelle ; l'historien de Nimes ' nous apprend que les consuls accordèrent, en 1399 , une pièce de drap au vainqueur. Il ajoute que l'usage de cet exercice dura longtemps , puisqu'en 1483 , malgré la pauvreté générale , on luttait , à Nimes , au mois d 'août, et l'intervalle d ' un exercice à l'autre n ' était plus que d 'une semaine. On avait toujours choisi les dimanches pendant les mois d 'août et septembre ; les consuls y assistaient chaque fois précédés de deux ménétriers qui jouaient du tympanon et de la flûte. Le prix était habituellement une pièce de drap , et une collation pour les lutteurs ; toutes les dépenses étaient supportées par la ville .

Cet exercice fut encore favorisé pendant un grand nombre d 'années , ainsi que les jeux de l' arbalète et de l'arc. Des jeux dontnous venons de parler , il n 'y a que la lutte qui se soit maintenue dansnos meurs. En arrivant jusqu 'à nous , cet exercice a changé de caractère. Ce n 'est plus aujourd 'hui, et surtout dans la ville de Nimes , une réjouissauce préparée par l'auto rité elle -même, et appliquée gratuitement aux jours de réjouissance publique. L 'esprit du commerce s'en est emparé, et l'on est parvenu à exploiter la curiosité des habitans au profit des entrepreneurs qui prennent la haute direction de ces jeux . Dans la campagne , la lutte a mieux conservé les marques de son ancienne origine ; les fêtes votives s'y passent rarement sans que l'autorité municipale ne décerne un prix à l'athlète qui sort vainqueur du combat. Ce prix se compose ordinairement d'une tasse d'argent, d 'une écharpe ou d 'un caleçon d 'honneur ,. quelquefois même d 'une somme d 'argent”.


Histoire civile, ecclesiastique et litteraire de la ville de Nimes, texte et notes, suivie de dissertations historiques. Volumes 2, 3, 1874

Histoire abrégée de la ville de Nîmes avec la description de ses antiquités. Part 1, By Jean-François-Dieudonné Maucomble, 1767

Nîmes, By Désiré Nisard, 1855
Text also appeared in ‘Dictionnaire de la Conversation et de la Lecture’, Vol 40, 1832

Inventaire-sommaire des Archives communales de Nîmes antérieures à 1790, Volumes 1-2, By Archives communales de Nîmes, Alexandre Lamothe , 1877

© 2020 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.


















Ruslan C Pashayev - Parkyns wrestling

The First Nobleman of English Pro Wrestling.

Nottinghamshire's second baronet of Bunny Park Sir Thomas Parkyns (1664-1741) became famous all around England as an author of the first professionally written wrestling manuals. These include, “Inn Play or Cornish Hugg Wrestler” as well as a set of “General Rules of English Wrestling,” the fullest edition of which was published in 1727.

In his wrestling manuals, Parkyns spoke of the popularity and advantage of Close Wrestle (referred to as In Play of Bedfordshire, or Hugging) in comparison to the Arm's Length Wrestle (referred to as Out Play of Norfolk, or Tripping). Those two types were the most common English folk wrestling styles and both were incorporated into the traditional English folkstyle wrestling called the Catch-hold wrestling. Catch-hold was considered a loose wrestling style, or freestyle in his manuals Parkyns says that he "taketh what he pleaseth of him." In that style an initial hold doesn't exist, neither does any applied hold needed to be maintained during the match as opposed to in fixed hold styles. For example, let's say in fixed hold wrestling styles which were popular in Magna Britannia around the same time, such styles as Back-hold and Collar-and-elbow it wasn’t allowed to break a taken hold.

In English Catch-hold the wrestler was allowed to take (catch) any hold of his opponent above the waist and throw him as he could; and the noble art of tripping and hooking (use of feet and legs for throwing opponent to the ground respectively) played very important role in that style as well. The holds were not restricted to any sort of garments (as in Cornish/Devon) but also could be applied directly to the parts of the person’s body (neck, arms, and torso).

The fair fall was counted when any “two joynts” (such joints of the person’s body as shoulders, hips, knees, ankles, elbows, and wrists) simultaneously hit the ground, and 3 foils (if either of two wrestlers fell upon any part of the body) were a substitute for one fair fall. All matches were 3 out of 5 fair falls. The wrestler would wear a waistcoat and shirt. In England the definition of “two joints” differed from place to place. Generally it stood for the combination of shoulder and hip on the opposite side. According to the old West Country traditions it was one shoulder and the heel on the opposite side.

Parkyns also established an annual professional championship wrestling tournament at Bunny, Nottinghamshire. That happened first time in English history. The Bunny Championship Wrestling existed for many years after Parkyns’ death. That pro wrestling title was dominated by the athletes from Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. Also it was Parkyns who basically established a new profession that of pro wrestler. At his place, he had several men whom he employed for the purpose of entertaining his friends and himself with wrestling exhibitions (matches).

A 1745 news report speaks of the "greatest wrestling match that was ever seen in England" (tourney) between the men from Nottinghamshire, Rutlandshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Derbyshire, and Middlesex for the large Silver Tankard. Notably, the wrestling championship’s program doesn't mention if the West Country’s or North Counties’ champions participated in it. This makes sense, since in the first half of XVIII century, the epicenter of organized English Catch-hold pro wrestling (after the Parkyns fashion) was located in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. Neither Cornish/Devon nor Cumberland/Westmorland sportsmen ever competed in Parkyns’ Catch-hold.

Notably, one of the most famous matches of XVIII century made "by the wrestling rules of Bunny" (Catch-as-catch-can above the waist) was between Parkyns' favorite pro wrestler Richard Allin of of Hucknall, Notts (aka "Wrestling Dick Allen”) and Richard Trubshaw of Colwich, Staffordshire (1689-1745). The match took place at Repton, Derbyshire and was won by Trubshaw. Back then, pro wrestling exhibitions (matches) were usually performed on a 15 yard wooden stage which was erected near a wooden stand with seats, with the maximum capacity of up to 5,000 spectators.

The full list of the Bunny Ring pro wrestling champions appears on Pages 205-206 of the book called “Walks Round Nottingham” (published in 1835) by a sailor and journalist by trade named “Captain” Matthew Henry Barker (1790-1846) who wrote it under an assumed name of “A Wanderer.” The mentioned above list of champions as well as some 1700s-1800s newspaper references to the Bunny Pro Wrestling Ring will follow this article.

© 2021 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.

1820s Notts Champion Wrestler - Joseph Butler
1820s Notts Champion Wrestler Joseph Butler

1782 Bunny Wrestle
1782 Bunny Wrestle

Butler Young Ruffian 1821
Butler Young Ruffian 1821

1831 bunny rules
1831 bunny rules

List of Champions
List of Champions

Joutes Languedociennes – Guillaume Lanouhe (Association Brev’Art) photographic exhibition

Joutes Languedociennes – Guillaume Lanouhe (Association Brev’Art) photographic exhibition
Two heavy boats, one red and the other blue, were propelled by eight to ten oarsmen and guided by two coxswains, the "helmsmen". The gamers are positioned on a platform about three metres from the water at the end of each boat. This platform bears the name of tinaine. On the lower part of the tinaine, stand the jousts of the next duels. The two boats then face each other, propelling each other until the final impact. At the time of the assault, the two boats graze on the right to allow the jousts to carry out "the pass". Equipped with their spear and a bulwark, the aim of the gamer is to bring down his opponent in the water.
We invite you to see the wonderful photos of Joutes Languedociennes by Guillaume Lanouhe from Association Brev'Art.
More informations about Joutes Languedociennes:

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Game Of Hounds And Jackals, 1814-1805 BC

Game Of Hounds And Jackals, 1814-1805 BC
Period : Middle Kingdom
Dynasty : 12
Reign : Amenemhat IV
Geography : Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Assasif, Birabi, pit tomb CC 25, debis, Canavations / Carter excavation ,1910
Medium: Ebony, Ivory
Discovered By: Howard Carter in the tomb of Reniseneb
Credit Line : Edward S. Harkness Gift 1926
The Egyptian Game is in the Metropolitan Museum in New York

Ruslan C Pashayev - The Birth of Freestyle Wrestling in Europe and America

The Birth of Freestyle Wrestling in Europe and America – The Wrestling Style of German Gymnastic Society.

Dear Friends,
about a couple of months ago I presented my article called “Pro Wrestling in Munich, 1840s”, today in continuation of this theme, I am happy to share with you the original 1840s rules of German freestyle wrestling (Ringen, aka Kür-Ringen) as practiced by the members of the German Gymnastic Societies, aka GGS (Turnvereins, Turners) in Munich, Kingdom of Bavaria.

The rules appeared in Chapter XIII “Ringen” (Pages 34-36) of the 1849 book called “Turn Regeln nebst Ordnungs” by the GGS instructor named Anton Scheibmaier (1818-1893). According to these rules the GGS wrestling allowed any fair hold of any part of the body and to win the match the wrestler had to pin his adversary to the ground (Festhalten) i.e. restrain him from any movement, and hold him in that immovable position on his back underneath himself until the latter gives up from exhaustion being unable to reverse his locked supine position. The Festhalten conditions of the wrestling game assumed a prolonged struggle on the ground.

The definitions of the GGS wrestling terms such as Kür-Ringen mit freigegebenem Griff and Festhalten are given in the chapter “Ringen”, Pages 338-340 of the 1847 book by Adolf Spieß called “Turnbuch für Schulen: als Anleitung für den Turnunterricht durch die Lehrer der Schulen”, Volume 1. Besides the freestyle wrestling terms in that chapter there also is given a description of the old Germanic Back-Hold trial of strength, an exercise in which tripping wasn’t allowed.

“- Der Ringplaß für unsere Schüler ist ein viereckigter oder runder, mit dünnem Sande einen halben Fuß hoch bedeckter Raum und muß stets von Steinen und andern Hindernissen rein gehalten werden.

- Ningen mit halbem Griff, wobei der eine Arm über dem einen, der andere unter dem andern Arme des Gegners liegt und die Hände sich hinter dem Rücken desselben ohne Vers schränkung der Finger fassen. Die Gegner stehen in einer Schrittstellung mit vorgebeugtem Leibe ; der Kampf endet, sobald Einer der Gegner zum Liegen auf dem Rücken ge bracht ist.

- Ringen mit freigegebenem Griff, wobei auch das Erfassen der Beine des Gegners gestattet werden kann, ein Ringer dem Andern den besseren Griff abzugewinnen hat.

- Ringen, wobei das Festhalten des zum Liegen gebrachten Gegners den Kampf entscheidet, bis dieser sich für besiegt erklärt .

- Ringen in den vorausgenannten Weisen, wobei auch die Beine in mannigfaltiger Weise, .B. durch Beinunterstellen, Ziehen, Schieben und Umschlingen die oberen Glieder in ihrer Thätigkeit unterstüßen.”

The GGS Ringen was strictly based on the historical folkstyle wrestling traditions of the Germanic people, which according to Pietro Monti (1457-1509) a self-defense master and educator from Milan, Italy were described as follows: “They (Germanic people) commonly grab the legs with their hands,” “They consider all things permissible in order to overcome the opponent,” ”They also wrestle with their feet and hands on the ground like quadrupeds.” Notably, a variation of the most popular Medieval European wrestling theme “Jacob wrestling with the Angel”, the 1548 engraving by the German artist called Augustin Hirschvogel (1503-1553) of Nuremberg (Franconia, Germany) shows the two antagonists grappling on the ground for the victory after the “Germanic Fashion”, which was the above mentioned Festhalten pinfall. Not only this visualization of the famous Biblical wrestling contest perfectly matches the Monti’s description of the Germanic wrestling traditions, but it also significantly differs from all other contemporary depictions of the same theme made everywhere else in Western Europe and in Britain on which the two rivals are always shown facing each other in a standing upright wrestling combat.

A Hirschvogel Jacob Wrestling With The Angel 1548

Please see below the detailed explanation (in German language) of Festhalten wrestling techniques as appeared in “Lehr- und Handbuch der deutschen Turnkunst” (1860) by W. Lübeck.

“Das Festhalten eines Liegenden. Der Haltende muß die Arme des auf dem Rücken Liegenden auszubreiten suchen, wobei er ent weder Leib auf Leib liegt und mit den Beinen die des Gegners zu fassen strebt, oder so, das er dabei quer – rechtwinklig – über der Brust des Gegners liegt – während die Hände die Arme ausbreiten. Der Liegende muß hingegen. Das Aufkommen versuchen, indem er danach strebt, sich auf den Bauch zu wenden, wodurch er, die Hände und Beine aufstemmend, sich leicht seines Gegners entledigen kann, der dies wieder durch rückw. Ueberwerfen zu hindern sucht. Das Festhalten kann auch von zwei Schwächeren gegen Einen , versucht werden, wobei der eine über der Brust liegend die Arme und der Andere die Beine festzuhalten suchen muß.”

In his “Katechismus der Turnkunst” (1879) Moritz Kloss thus describes the two ways of winning wrestling matches (depending on the mutual agreement between the wrestlers): 1) Niederlegen/Niederwerfen which is throwing (with or without the attacker falling himself) opponent down to the ground from a standing position onto his back (shoulders, hips, buttocks, i.e. whether he landed “sitting” or “lying” he is considered defeated), and 2) Festhalten (previously explained GGS pinfall) and how to escape from being pinned: “Niederlegen des Gegners aus dem Stande, oder nachdem man ihn gehoben hat. Festhalten eines Liegenden am Boden und das Aufkommen aus dem Liegen.”

In 1867, the GGS wrestling manuals were printed in Great Britain. The wrestling portion of the manual under the name of “Loose Wrestling”/”Catch-as-catch-can” was presented by Mr. Schweizer, the GGS wrestling instructor. In 1866, the National Olympian Association (NOA) of Great Britain had a Great Gymnastic Gathering at Crystal Palace, London. Wrestling was represented by two styles, the Cumberland and Westmorland Back-Hold and the Catch-as-catch-can as practiced by the athletes of GGS.

The best English amateur wrestlers of 1890s-early 1900s were The Gruhn Brothers of GGS, London called Ferdinand (5-time Heavyweight English champion in 1897-1901) and Ernst (4-time Light-weight English champion in 1898, 1900, 1901, 1902 and middleweight champion in 1900). Around that time the GGS style of wrestling was taught in all Turners all around the Europe.

Since the 1870s freestyle wrestling of GGS was introduced in the United States and by the early 1890s it has reached the peak of its popularity. Many of the top American amateur and pro wrestlers from the 1890s and early 1900s were trained in local Turners gyms. Among them 2-time Olympic Gold Medal Winner (1904, 1908) George Mehnert (1881-1948). Here in America the GGS freestyle wrestling was known under the common name of “catch as catch can wrestling”.

The rules of the GGS Catch as catch can (in German language) as practiced in the USA to follow below. According to these rules two shoulders touching the ground at the same time constituted a fall, any kind of such falls to count whether the fall was caused by a momentum (flying and rolling falls) or by a slow action (pinning falls). The evolution of historical German Festhalten pinfall into a modern wrestling touch-fall was caused by the desire of the amateur sports organizations to shorten the overall length of the wrestling matches, which under the former conditions could last for a really long time.

INDIANAPOLIS. Druck der Hottenbeck Prefs 1903. Pages 53-54

119. Ringen.

a) Die Ringer werden von den Kampfrichtern dem Gewichte
nach in drei Gruppen eingeteilt :

Erste Gruppe Unter 135 Pfund (61.2 Kilo).

Zweite Gruppe 135 bis 158 Pfund.

Dritte Gruppe 158 Pfund (71.7 Kilo) und darüber.

• b) Auf dem Festplatze muss eine zuverlässige Wage vor-
handen sein.

c) Für jede Gruppe muss für je 20 angemeldete Ringer ein
Ringplatz zur Verfügung stehen. Das Ringen findet auf
Matratzen statt, die 16 Fuss (4.9 m) lang und ebensobreit sind.
Zehn Fuss ausserhalb des ganzen Ringplatzes muss sich eine
starke, niedere Umzäunung befinden.

d) Bei jedem Ringplatze fungieren drei Kampfrichter. Zwei
derselben beurteilen und entscheiden den Kampf ; der dritte
Richter führt die Listen und überwacht die Dauer des Kampfes.

e) In jeder Gruppe werden die Gegner durch das Los gepaart
und numeriert. Nachdem alle Paare einen Gang beendet haben,
treten die Besiegten zu einem weiteren Gange an. Die übrig-
bleibenden Ringer werden dann wieder den Nummern nach ge-
paart und ringen weiter, wie oben angedeutet, bis ein endgültiges
Resultat erzielt wird. Bei ungerader Zahl der Ringer sollen
die Richter durch das Los einen der Besiegten des vorherigen
Ganges zum Kampfe mit dem Übriggebliebenen bestimmen.
Sollte dieser Ersatzmann den Sieg davontragen, so ist er da-
durch zur weiteren Teilnahme am Ringen berechtigt.

f) Das Ringen ist ein sogenanntes freies Ringen (catch as
catch can, two points down). Würggriff, Stossen mit der Faust,
Arm-, Finger- und Fussverdrehen und Grifffassen an den Klei-
dern sind verboten und haben nach erfolgter Warnung durch die
Richter Ausschluss vom Wettkampf zur Folge.


g) Ein Schwungwurf (flying fall) vom Stand auf dem Ring-
platz zum Liegen ausserhalb desselben gilt ; doch ist ein Ringen
ausserhalb des Ringplatzes nicht erlaubt. Ringer, welche die
Grenzen des Übungsplatzes überschreiten, müssen auf Geheiss
der Kampfrichter den Gang in der' Mitte desselben wieder auf-

h) Die Kampfrichter sollen sich vor dem Ringen über uner-
laubte Griffe und andere Einzelheiten verständigen.

i) Besiegt ist, wer mit beiden Schultern gleichzeitig den
Boden berührt, gleichviel, ob mit Schwung oder infolge langsamer Gewalt.

j) Ein Gang soll nicht länger als 15 Minuten dauern. Wird
innerhalb dieses Zeitraums ein Sieg im Sinne der Regel i nicht
errungen, so gilt der Ringer, der am meisten angegriffen hat, als

k) Für jeden Sieg wird dem Sieger ein Punkt notiert« Die
Punkte werden zum Schluss zusammengezählt. Sollten dann
die letzten zwei Ringer die gleiche Punktzahl haben, so müssen
dieselben zu einem weiteren Gange antreten, von dessen Ergeb-
nis die Zuerkennung des ersten Ranges abhängt. (Vgl. § 117, a. )

l) In jeder Gruppe sind drei Preise ausgesetzt; sollten sich
jedoch in einer Gruppe weniger als 4 Paare beteiligen, so werden
höchstens zwei Preise erteilt. Jeder erste Preis besteht in einem
Diplom mit Kranz ; die anderen Preise sind Diplome.

Cover Page: Engraving, German Wrestling (Ringen) from the “Gymnastics for Youth” (1793) by Johann Christoph Friedrich GutsMuths (1759-1839).

© 2021 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.

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Ringen 1851

Pro Wrestling in Munich, 1840s - Ruslan Pashayev

Dear Friends,
I am happy to present the newspaper articles from the 1841 Dr. Franz Wild's “Baierscher Eilbote“, printed in Munich, Germany. These articles which appear on the Pages 46-47 of the newspaper issue № 6 dated on Wednesday Jan 13th, 1841 and Pages 62-63 of the newspaper issue № 8 dated on Sunday Jan 17th, 1841, speak about the famous champion and the pioneer of Greco-Roman (French Style of Wrestling) called Mr. Jean Dupuis who was visiting Munich (Kingdom of Bavaria) and challenging the local champions to a wrestling match. The language of the articles is German. The articles contain unique information about the contemporary German Style of Wrestling. Enjoy the read. Thanks. Ruslan C Pashayev.

Newspaper Cover Page 1

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Olinda keliya - traditional Sri Lanka game

‘Olinda Keliya’ is a board game also known as Mancala games where a wooden board known as “Olinda Kolombuwa” or “Olinda Poruwa” which has several holes is used. The rules can differ from area to area, but the game is normally played by two players seated on either side of the board. On either side of the poruwa there are usually nine holes in which are placed four beads each. The beads are Olinda seeds that can be found in abundance in villages.
The players have to shift the beads from one hole to the other and collect the seeds found in the hole immediately after an empty one. Ultimately the player who could collect the largest amount of olinda beads becomes the winner of the game.
The ‘Olinda Kolumbuwa’ also showcases the creativity of Sri Lankan traditional wood carvers. These boards are usually made of ebony (kaluwara) wood and beautifully carved. Most of these boards that are with families were designed during the Kandyan period. There is also a large collection of these boards in the Colombo Museum indicating how popular the game must have been in those days. ‘Olinda Keliya’ is also special, since it is mainly played by the women of the house while other traditional games are played mainly by men.
However, the most attractive element of this game is the shiny little red and black seed – Olinda. Crab’s eye is its common English name while the seed is also known as Jequirity, Rosary Pea or Indian licorice. The scientific name is Abrus precatorius. Olinda is a slender creeper that can grow large if the conditions are right. The vine has long, pinnate-leafleted leaves.

Ruslan C Pashayev - Rules of Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling

Dear Friends,
I am happy to share with you a unique historical document which is dated July 15th, 1793. It is the original XVIII century ruleset of Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling which goes under the name of "The Laws of Wrestling as established in the North of England." This ruleset appeared in the July 1793 issue of "The Sporting Magazine" on Pages 245-246. Enjoy the read.

© 2021 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.

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Laws of Wrestling



Fantasia – Guillaume Lanouhe (Association Brev’Art) photographic exhibition

Fantasia – Guillaume Lanouhe (Association Brev’Art) photographic exhibition

We invite you to see the wonderful photos of Fantasia by Guillaume Lanouhe from Association Brev'Art.

In the Maghreb, fantasia is generally called laâb el-baroud («game of powder») or laâb el-kheil (or «horse game»); more local names also exist: tbourida in Morocco
Fantasia is a traditional exhibition of horsemanship in the Maghreb performed during cultural festivals and for Maghrebi wedding celebrations. It is present in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Mali, Niger, and Mauritania.
The photos were taken in 2019 on the occasion of the International Festival of Nomads which is a citizen and artistic festival. This festival takes place once a year in M’hamid El Ghizlane, 90 km south of Zagora in the Drâa valley (Morocco). Traditional dances during the festival are held by the women of the village.
More informations about Fantasia:








Sasanian Die

Sasanian Die, Period - Sasanian, Date - ca. 3rd–7th century A.D., Iran, Qasr-i Abu Nasr - Near Shiraz
Cubic dice have been in use in the Near East since the 3rd millennium B.C. with different systems of distributing the points. The numbering of the opposite sides (1-6, 2-5, 3-4) adding up to seven comes into more general use only later, as reflected by this die from Qasr-i Abu Nasr.
The small town and fortress of Qasr-i Abu Nasr is located near Shiraz in southern Iran at a strategic point at the intersection of defensive mountains, available water sources, and along roads entering the Shiraz plain. The site was excavated by archaeologists from The Metropolitan Museum of Art for three seasons from 1932-1935. The town was occupied, at least intermittently, from the Parthian period (3rd century B.C.–3rd century A.D.) to the Muzaffarid period (13th-14th century A.D.). The major occupation, including the extensive fortress, dates to the Late Sasanian period (6th-7th century A.D.).

Sasanian Die Period Sasanian Date ca 3rd7th century AD Geography Iran Qasr i Abu Nasr Near Shiraz 1


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