Competing wrestlers perform a ritual, drinking wine to boost their strength and spirit before the match.
The 20kg ball, made from ironwood, is a sacred object passed down through generations in the communal house.
Pushing the ball into the pit symbolizes harmony between earth and heaven, invoking good weather and a bountiful harvest.
The ball represents the sun, and winning it symbolizes capturing the sun’s power to aid crop growth—a farmer’s ultimate dream.
The game takes place in a muddy field with 16 young men divided into two teams, ready for the challenge.
Their goal: carry the ball back to their zone, capturing the sun and its life-giving power.
The court’s two holes represent the sun’s journey, with the east side signifying sunrise and the west, sunset. A win for the east side foretells a year of abundance and favorable weather.
The festival attracts a diverse crowd, all eager to immerse themselves in the community’s rich cultural heritage.
In 2022, the mud ball wrestling festival of Van Village was recognized as a national intangible cultural heritage, a testament to its significance.
Held once every four years, the festival embodies the farmers’ hopes for favorable weather and abundant crops.
The winning team celebrates their victory, sharing their joy with the entire village.
The game is a time-honored tradition, passed down through the ages, uniting the community in celebration and prayer for a prosperous future.
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