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Vietnamese villagers compete in mud ball wrestling festival

In football, a muddy, water-logged pitch could lead to a match being abandoned.

But for this game with a difference, in a village in Vietnam, the more mud… the better. 

The Color Toner Experts

These remarkable pictures show locals competing in a mud ball wrestling festival in Van, in the northern province of Bac Giang, today. 

The festival is held from the 12th to the 14th of the fourth lunar month and celebrates the victory of four brothers – Truong Hong, Truong Hach, Truong Lung and Truong Lay – who defeated a group of demons in a mud ball wrestling match in a marsh in the fourth (possibly fifth) century.

Legend has it that ever since, the demons requested that the game – called Khanh Ha – be played for the amusement of the village elders. 

Loincloth-clad locals competed in a mud ball wrestling festival in Van, in the northern province of Bac Giang, Vietnam, today

The festival is held from the 12th to the 14th of the fourth lunar month and celebrates the victory of four brothers - Truong Hong, Truong Hach, Truong Lung and Truong Lay - who defeated a gang of demons in a mud ball wrestling match in a marsh in the fourth (possibly fifth) century

The festival is held from the 12th to the 14th of the fourth lunar month and celebrates the victory of four brothers – Truong Hong, Truong Hach, Truong Lung and Truong Lay – who defeated a gang of demons in a mud ball wrestling match in a marsh in the fourth (possibly fifth) century

Legend has it that ever since, the demons requested that the game - called Khanh Ha - be played for the amusement of the village elders. Above, a competitor carrying the 20kg ball

Legend has it that ever since, the demons requested that the game – called Khanh Ha – be played for the amusement of the village elders. Above, a competitor carrying the 20kg ball

Each team tries to score a 'goal' by carrying the wooden ball - 40cm in diameter - to one end of the very muddy pitch

Each team tries to score a ‘goal’ by carrying the wooden ball – 40cm in diameter – to one end of the very muddy pitch

Before the festival, local women carry water from the river and pour it into the 200sq metre yard, where 16 unmarried men from two teams will compete for three hours.

An 80cm-deep and 50cm-wide hole is dug at either end of the field of battle to act as goal pits.

Whereas a toss of coin is used in football to see who will kick off, in this tournament, one member from each team has a wrestling bout to decide who gets the ball first.

And then, the game begins between the loincloth-clad men – who would have had three days of intensive training beforehand, and must be unmarried – in a show of male strength. 

Before the festival, local women carry water from the river and pour it into the 200sq metre yard, where 16 unmarried men from two teams will compete for three hours

Before the festival, local women carry water from the river and pour it into the 200sq metre yard, where 16 unmarried men from two teams will compete for three hours

The ball, which is usually stored in a chamber in the Van village temple, is quite special, and is only taken out every two years for this specific occasion

The ball, which is usually stored in a chamber in the Van village temple, is quite special, and is only taken out every two years for this specific occasion

Rapid drum beats performed during the match and the super-slippery arena only adds to the drama. The spectators don't seem too concerned about getting  dirty either

Rapid drum beats performed during the match and the super-slippery arena only adds to the drama. The spectators don’t seem too concerned about getting dirty either

An 80cm-deep and 50cm-wide hole is dug at either end of the field of battle to act as goal pits during the competition

An 80cm-deep and 50cm-wide hole is dug at either end of the field of battle to act as goal pits during the competition

Each team tries to score a ‘goal’ by carrying the 20kg wooden ball – 40cm in diameter – to one end of the muddy pitch.

The ball, which is usually stored in a chamber in the Van village temple, is quite special, and is only taken out every two years for this specific occasion, according to Tuoi Tre News. 

Rapid drum beats performed during the match and the super-slippery arena only adds to the drama. 

The festival takes place for three days – during which the locals also pray for bumper crops and good weather for the rice-growing season.

And then, most likely, there is an awful lot of loincloth-washing. 

The winning side hold a team-mate aloft as they celebrate victory on the pitch, located in front of the temple of their gods

The winning side hold a team-mate aloft as they celebrate victory on the pitch, located in front of the temple of their gods

The festival takes place over three days - during which the locals also pray for bumper harvests and good weather for the rice season

The festival takes place over three days – during which the locals also pray for bumper harvests and good weather for the rice season



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