Artists from eight countries gathered in Jiangcheng county in China on May 18 to take part in an international buffalo bodypainting competition. The city of Pu’er has held cattle bodypainting competition for the last three years, and this year’s competition coincides with the 60th anniversary of the founding of Jiangcheng County.
A total of 48 water buffalos were covered in brightly colored body paint. Every cow was painted by a group consisting of 3 to 7 artists from United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Finland, New Zealand, Vietnam, Laos and China. A prize money of 100,000 yuan ($16,042) was on offer for the most beautifully decorated bovine. This year, the first pace was won by a team of local schoolchildren.
Painting on the buffalos is an ancient custom in Jiancheng derived from a legend, according to which a group of water buffaloes were once attacked by a large tiger when they were taken to the fields to graze. The tiger caught one unfortunate buffalo and as the two creatures struggled around on the field, mud and blood covered the buffalo's body. The bull looked so terrifying that the tiger got scared and ran away. After that locals started painting on their cattle to keep the predators away. The tradition later developed into a popular festival held each year to celebrate harvest and honor the cattle.