These Afghan girls have to reject their femininity and pretend to be male. They are called Bacha Posh. In Afghanistan’s traditional patriarchal society, many women can’t leave the house without a male accompanying them. For this reason, if a family has no son, a daughter is often appointed to play his role. Having tasted freedom, some of the girls never want to go back.
Kok Boru is an ancient sport played with a dead goat. Similar to polo, two teams on horseback compete for control of its body and are rewarded for scoring goals at either end of a large field. While other games have evolved into sanitised modern versions, this ancient nomadic tradition is still thriving in the central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan.
In the poorest regions of India, widows are a burden. Formerly, they would be burnt alive while their husbands were cremated. Today, many widows are made to leave their families and forced to beg in the streets. Fortunately, some Hindu monasteries are able to offer shelter and hope to these betrayed women.
“La Sape” is a unique movement based in Congo that unites fashion-conscious men who are ready to splurge money they don’t really have on designer clothes. Dressing in stark contrast with their surroundings, these elegant ambiance-makers become true local celebrities… but this fame comes at a price.
These ladies put on bright bouffant skirts and arrange their long hair in neat plaits. Then they go into the ring and beat the hell out of each other! Meet the Bolivian fighting cholitas, the female wrestlers of lucha libre, a free fight that marries a choreographed show with a full-on punching match.
In Afghanistan women are not allowed to dance or go to parties so an old tradition kicks in, “bachas” are young boys who dress as women and dance for older men. Dancing though is not the only way the boys are used as substitutes.
According to ancient Chinese legend, Daoist monk, Zhang Sanfeng was meditating in the Wudang Mountains when he saw a fight between a snake and a sparrow. He was intrigued by the way the animals moved, their incredible grace and precision inspired him to create the Taijiquan style of Wushu, a Chinese martial art. Legend has it that practicing Wudang Wushu helped him live for 300 years. To this day, monks in the Mountains preserve the art, which remains imbued with philosophy, and pass it on from generation to generation.
In Tanzania, the tradition of child brides is still prevalent. Despite strict laws against this practice, promising harsh punishment for grooms and parents, young girls are still married off to much older men. In exchange, the family of the bride receives cows that it considers more useful than their daughter.
According to a medieval Albanian tradition, a woman can take a man’s place as the head of a family if she renounces her womanhood, following strict rules laid down by a centuries-old code. Surprisingly, a few women, known as "sworn virgins" still observe the custom.
In the Caucasian mountains people like tradition, no matter how violent it may be. In the 1990s public executions were common in Chechnya and Ingushetiya. They have their own justice and their own methods. The times are changing, as people seek forgiveness rather than revenge.
Modern China is a unique mix of cutting-edge technology and centuries-old tradition. It takes pride in its booming economy and rich cultural heritage. In many ways, China owes its complexity and versatility to the Silk Road, an ancient trade route established in the 2nd century BC that for hundreds of years initiated cross-cultural interaction between Eurasian civilisations.