The photographer, Fred Maroon, was the father-in-law of a friend of mine until his recent death. These pictures remind us of other things that have passed away, some of which will be eternally missed, others maybe not so much ....
Left (from the gallery):
The Chapandez are the riders who have made Buzkashi the wildest, most uninhibited display of horsemanship in the world. Buzkashi is Afghanistan's national game, played for state visits and also on ceremonial occasions like the king's birthday. Chapandez convene at stadiums (this one at Kunduz), and form two teams of 30 to 100 men. The horsemen then fight for possession of a dead calf. A rider, at full gallop, with the calf in one hand and a whip in the other, tries to round a stake at the end of a 450 meter field — often flattening a few spectators on the way. The Chapandez in traditional costume, line up behind model Ann Cosyns in an American coat of embroidered pigskin, a silk-satin pouf skirt and bodice.
Right: Mullah Umar's nightmare.
Update: Sorry, I forgot to turn off the internet irony filters. Consequently at least one reader has accused me of favoring the imperialist objectification of women. Let me clarify:
What we miss: Bamiyan Buddhas (background, second picture).
Not so much: Western fashion shoots of models wearing haram clothing in front of costumed natives.