Daur hockey (called Beikou natively) is a ball-and-stick sport from northern China, dating back to the first millennium AD. In this game, played primarily by an ethnic group in Mongolia called Daur, two opposing teams attempt to pass a ball over the opposing team’s back boundary in order to score points. The rules have likely varied throughout beikou’s history, but modern games typically last around 30 minutes, split into halves. It is only played recreationally, not on any professional level, so its rules are fairly flexible. The sport is played among all ages in the Daur community, primarily among men.
Origins and History
Daur hockey originates from a game called bu da qiu, played during the Tang dynasty (618–907 AD) in northern China. Throughout the following centuries, the rules of the sport changed to an unknown degree, though enough for it to be called by a new name: beikou. During this period, the sport lost popularity among most ethnic groups outside of the Daur. Through the Daur, the sport has survived to this day, though most variations of its rules throughout its history are unknown.
How to Play
Because Daur hockey is only played at a recreational level, its rules are somewhat flexible, though its primary elements remain the same. Two teams attempt to pass a ball over the opposing team’s back boundary using only sticks or branches. Each team has one goalie who guards their back boundary. The goalie is typically allowed to contact the ball with his hands and limbs, unlike the other players. At the end of the two halves, typically lasting 15 minutes each, the team with the most points wins.
Throughout beikou’s history, a small variety of balls, called pulie, have been used. In the sport’s modern history, players have typically used a crude, roundish piece of root from an apricot tree. Some balls are designed to be lit on fire for nighttime play, similar to the Mesoamerican sport pelota purépecha. The most common ball for this purpose is typically made of some kind of fabric and soaked in a flammable liquid, such as pine resin.
The stick, called the tarikebei, can take a few forms. The most common kind used in the sport today is a smooth, carved stick, not unlike most other sticks used in field hockey sports. Historically, and sometimes in modern games, players have used similarly sized uncarved branches, preferably with a curve at the end.
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