JEJU, South Korea -- UNESCO has inscribed Kazakhstan's traditional game of assyk and Kyrgyzstan's horseback sport of kok boru on the organisation's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of Humanity, a UNESCO statement said Thursday (December 7).
"The inclusion of Kazakhstan's applications into UNESCO international registry serves to popularise the country's ICH at [the global] level and to develop systemic measures for its protection at the national level", Kazakhstan's Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
Kazakhstani representatives played assyk and presented an exhibition to the ICH during the session. The game involves throwing assyk, which are traditionally sheep knee bones, to knock out and collect opponents' pieces.
The game "contributes to the development of cognitive and physical skills, promotes friendship and convergence of cultures regardless of ethnicity among the younger generation", the ministry statement reads.
Kok boru, a horse game, is a synthesis of traditional practices, performances and the game. Two teams on horseback try to score as many goals as possible against each other. The teams traditionally use a goat carcass as the "ball", though in recent years some teams have replaced the carcass with a statue or mould.
Kok boru is known as buzkashi in Afghanistan.
With the 'Islamic State' on the verge of defeat, Kazakhstanis who joined the group are likely to begin returning home, where they will face anti-terrorism measures.
Popular support in Central Asia for Islamist insurgencies in the Middle East and beyond is waning.