BAKU: A traditional Azeri horse-riding game from the disputed region of Nagorny Karabakh has been added on the UN list of “intangible heritage” in need of preservation.  Chovqan- a rudimentary form of polo- was named a tradition in need of urgent protection along with a Guatemalan harvest festival that involves dressing up corncobs in ceremonial clothing, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) said Tuesday.

Envoys picked the new listings at a meeting in the glitzy Azerbaijani capital Baku.  Chovqan is a horse game traditionally played by nomads and was chosen as it in danger of dying out, the communique said.

The name derives from the bow-tipped stick used by herders in the past.  Today the game is played by two teams wearing traditional garb and to the sounds of traditional music.

“The practice and transmission of Chovqan have weakened, however, due to a loss of interest among the youth, combined with urbanisation and migration, leading to a shortage of players, trainers and Karabakh horses,” Unesco said on its website.–AFP