The javelin, or Cavgan, is an ancestor’s game, which has been played by the Turks for centuries. Turks brought with them this equestrian game from the Central Asia to Anatolia. The horse has always been a sacred and indispensable thing for the Turks. They were born on horseback, grew on horseback, fought on horseback and died on horseback. Kimiz, made of horse milk, was the favorite drink of the Turks.
The javelin game can be accepted as the greatest ceremonial and sportive game of the Turks. This game is accepted as a War Game by the Ottoman Turks in the 16th century. It turned to be the greatest show and game of the whole Ottoman country and palaces in the 19th century. The javelin, being a dangerous game at the same time, was forbidden by Mahmut II in 1826; however this ban didn’t last for a long time.
The javelin game was a common game prior to 40- 50 years in Anatolia. In recent years, it continues to live in some regions like Balikesir, Sogut, Konya, Kars, Erzurum, Erzincan, and Bayburt. The youth of the villages and the county people still play the juvenile game in wedding feasts and religious festivals in every corner of Anatolia. This game is generally played in the villages.
The javelin game, organized, annually in Sogut due to the Ceremony of Ertugrul Ghazi on the second Sunday of each September, and on the prompting of various festivals in Erzurum, Kars and Bayburt, is watched by the crowded and excited audiences.
There are two teams in the javelin game. These teams, consisting of 6, 8, or 12 players, form into line reciprocally on the opposite edges of the area, which has a length of from 70 to 120 meters. The javelin players mounted their horses in their local clothes. They take the javelin; they throw first, on their right hand; and, the extra javelins in sufficient amount on the left hand. A rider, from the first rank, rushes towards the opposite rank and he approaches them almost 30- 40 meters. He invites one of his rivals to the area by calling his name. He throws the javelin at his right hand to its rival, then turns back, and spurs his horse to his own rank. The rival player, who is invited, chases him quickly, and throws his javelin to the turning back and escaping player. This time, a second player, belonging to the rank of which the first player left at the beginning, goes to meet the rival. The player, coming from the second rank, tries to riding bask quickly to take his place on his rank. This time his rival chases after him and throws his javelin.
The javelin player, who shoots on the target, gains one point in the name of his team. However, if the player hits the horse, instead of the rival, with his cavgan, then his team loses one point.
The javelin player makes some movements to protect himself from his rival. He slips to the left, the right, under its abdomen, around its neck of the horse and he displays almost a show. Some players collect points by hitting three- four javelins to their rivals, until they escape and reach to their ranks. By the way, some of the players may be injured when they are hit on their heads, eyes, and ears. The audiences scream in various ways, barrack, to prompt them on the game and excite the players.
The javelin game was started to play after the Malazgirt War in Anatolia, and then it spread to the Europe and the Arabic countries. The javelin game was played in France, Germany and in other countries in the 17th century.