Bull-fighting: Wikis

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Bullfighting, Édouard Manet, 1865–1866.

Bullfighting also known as tauromachy (from Greek ταυρομαχία - tauromachia, "bull-fight"), is a traditional spectacle of Spain, Portugal,some cities in southern France and in several Latin American countries, in which one or more bulls are ritually killed in a bullring as a public spectacle. It can be considered a blood sport. In Portugal it is illegal to kill a bull in the arena, a nonlethal variant stemming from Portuguese influence is also practiced on the Tanzanian island of Pemba.[1]

The tradition, as it is practiced today, involves professional toreros (toureiros in Portuguese; also referred to as toreadors in English), who execute various formal moves in order to subdue the bull itself. Such maneuvers are performed at close range, and have in some cases resulted in injury or death of the bullfighter. The bullfight usually concludes with the killing of the bull by a sword thrust. In Portugal the finale consists of a tradition called the pega, where men (forcados) try to grab and hold the bull by its horns when it runs at them. Forcados are dressed in a traditional costume of damask or velvet, with long knit hats as worn by the campinos (bull headers) from Ribatejo.

Bullfighting generates heated controversy in many areas of the world, including Mexico, Ecuador, Spain, Peru, and Portugal. Supporters of bullfighting argue that it is a culturally important tradition, while animal rights groups argue that it is a blood sport because of the suffering of the bull and horses during the bullfight.

There are many historic fighting venues in the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America. The largest venue of its kind is the Plaza de toros México in central Mexico City which seats 48,000 people,[2] and the oldest is the Plaza de Toros de Acho in Lima, Peru, which was built in 1766.[3]



Bullfighting traces its roots to prehistoric bull worship and sacrifice. The killing of the sacred bull (tauroctony) is the essential central iconic act of Mithras, which was commemorated in the mithraeum wherever Roman soldiers were stationed. The oldest representation of what seems to be a man facing a bull is on the celtiberian tombstone from Clunia and the cave painting "El toro de hachos", both found in Spain.[4][5]

Bullfighting is often linked to Rome, where many human-versus-animal events were held. There are also theories that it was introduced into Hispania by the Emperor Claudius when he instituted a short-lived ban on gladiatorial games, as a substitute for those combats. The latter theory was supported by Robert Graves. (Picadors are the remnants of the javelin, but their role in the contest is now a relatively minor one limited to "preparing" the bull for the matador.) Bullfighting spread from Spain to its Central and South American colonies, and in the 19th century to France, where it developed into a distinctive form in its own right.

Plaza de Acho in Lima, Peru — the oldest bullring in South America, dating back to 1766
Mithras killing a bull.

Religious festivities and royal weddings were celebrated by fights in the local plaza, where noblemen would ride competing for royal favor, and the populace enjoyed the excitement. The Spanish introduced the practice of fighting on foot around 1726. Francisco Romero is generally regarded as having been the first to do this.

As bullfighting developed, men on foot started using capes to aid the horsemen in positioning the bulls. This type of fighting drew more attention from the crowds. Thus the modern corrida, or fight, began to take form, as riding noblemen were substituted by commoners on foot. This new style prompted the construction of dedicated bullrings, initially square, like the Plaza de Armas, and later round, to discourage the cornering of the action. The modern style of Spanish bullfighting is credited to Juan Belmonte, generally considered the greatest matador of all time. Belmonte introduced a daring and revolutionary style, in which he stayed within a few inches of the bull throughout the fight. Although extremely dangerous (Belmonte himself was gored on many occasions), his style is still seen by most matadors as the ideal to be emulated. Today, bullfighting remains similar to the way it was in 1726, when Francisco Romero, from Ronda, Spain, used the estoque, a sword, to kill the bull, and the muleta, a small cape used in the last stage of the fight.

Bullfighting has had its detractors throughout history. Pope Pius V issued a papal bull titled De Salute Gregis in November 1567 which forbade fighting of bulls and any other beasts as the voluntary risk to life endangered the soul of the combatants, but it was abolished eight years later by his successor, Pope Gregory XIII, at the request of king Philip II.

During the 18th and 19th centuries bullfighting was banned at several occasions (for instance by Philip V) but always reinstituted later by other governments. It was during these two centuries that the bullfight acquired the form it has today. During the Franco dictatorship bullfights were supported by the state as something genuinely Spanish so that bullfights became associated with the regime and, for this reason, many thought they would decline after the transition to democracy, but this did not happen. During this time the social-democratic governments, particularly the current government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, have generally been more opposed to bullfighting, prohibiting children under 14 from attending and limiting or prohibiting the broadcast of bullfights on national TV. During the current (2008) social-democratic administration most bullfights are broadcast on regional TV stations.

The Spanish royal family is divided on the issue, from Queen Sophia who does not hide her dislike for bullfights,[6] to King Juan Carlos who occasionally presides over a bullfight from the royal box as part of his official duties,[7][8][9] to their daughter Princess Elena who is well known for her liking of bullfights and who often accompanies the king in the presiding box or attends privately in the general seating.[10]

Styles of bullfighting

Originally, there were at least five distinct regional styles of bullfighting practised in southwestern Europe: Andalusia, Aragon-Navarre, Alentejo, Camargue, Aquitaine. Over time, these have evolved more or less into standardized national forms mentioned below. The "classic" style of bullfight, in which the bull is killed, is the form practised in Spain and many Latin American countries. Interestingly, in general the matador is cheered for in Spain and the bull cheered for in Latin America.

Monument to a bull, Plaza de Toros de Ronda (Ronda bullring), Spain

Spanish-style bullfighting

Spanish-style bullfighting is called corrida de toros (literally "race of bulls") or la fiesta ("the festival"). In a traditional corrida, three matadores ("killers"), each fight two bulls, each of which is at least four years old and weighs 460–600 kg. Each matador has six assistants — two picadores ("lancers") mounted on horseback, three banderilleros ("flagmen") - who along with the matadors are collectively known as toreros ("bullfighters") - and a mozo de espada ("sword page"). Collectively they comprise a cuadrilla ("entourage").

The modern corrida is highly ritualized, with three distinct stages or tercios ("thirds"), the start of each being announced by a trumpet sound. The participants first enter the arena in a parade, called the paseíllo, to salute the presiding dignitary, accompanied by band music. Torero costumes are inspired by 18th century Andalusian clothing, and matadores are easily distinguished by the gold of their traje de luces ("suit of lights") as opposed to the lesser banderilleros who are also called toreros de plata ("bullfighters of silver").

Corrida in Sevilla, Spain

Next, the bull enters the ring to be tested for ferocity by the matador and banderilleros with the magenta and gold capote ("dress cape"). This is the first stage, the tercio de varas ("the lancing third"), and the matador first confronts the bull with the capote, observing the behaviour of the bull while performing a tanda ("series of passes") to impress the crowd.

Next, a picador enters the arena on horseback armed with a vara ("lance"). To protect the horse from the bull's horns, the horse is surrounded by a peto — a protective mattress-like covering. Prior to 1930, the horse did not wear any protection, and the bull would usually disembowel the horse during this stage. Until this change was instituted, the number of horses killed during a fight was higher than the number of bulls killed.[11] Disembowelment still sometimes occurs today.[citation needed]

At this point, the picador stabs just behind the morillo, a mound of muscle on the fighting bull's neck, weakening the neck muscles and leading to the animal's first loss of blood. The manner in which the bull charges the horse provides important clues to the matador about which side the bull favors. If the picador is successful, the bull will hold its head and horns lower during the following stages of the fight. This makes the bull's charges less dangerous and more reliable, enabling the matador to perform.

In the next stage, the tercio de banderillas ("the third of flags"), the three banderilleros each attempt to plant two banderillas, sharp barbed sticks into the bull's shoulders. These anger and invigorate the bull who has been tired by his attacks on the horse and the damage he has taken from the lance. Sometimes a matador will place his own banderillas.

In the final stage, the tercio de muerte ("the third of death"), the matador re-enters the ring alone with a small red cape, or muleta, and a sword. It is a common misconception that the color red is supposed to anger the bull, because bulls, in fact, are colorblind.[12][13] The cape is thought to be red to mask the bull's blood, although this is now also a matter of tradition.[14] The matador uses his cape to attract the bull in a series of passes which serve the dual purpose of wearing the animal down for kill and producing a beautiful display or faena. He may also demonstrate his domination over the bull by caping it especially close to his body. The faena is the entire performance with the muleta and it is usually broken down into tandas, "series", of passes. The faena ends with a final series of passes in which the matador with a muleta attempts to maneuver the bull into a position to stab it between the shoulder blades and through the aorta or heart. The act of thrusting the sword is called an estocada.

If the matador has performed particularly well, the crowd may petition the president to award the matador an ear of the bull by waving white handkerchiefs. If his performance was exceptional, he will award two, and in certain more rural rings a tail can still be awarded. Very rarely, if the public or the matador believe that the bull has fought bravely, they may petition the president of the plaza to grant the bull an indulto before the tercio de muerte. This is when the bull’s life is spared and allowed to leave the ring alive and return to the ranch where it came from. Then the bull becomes a stud bull for the rest of his life.


Goya: The Speed and Daring of Juanito Apiñani in the Ring of Madrid 1815–16
Etching and aquatint

Recortes, a style of bullfighting practised in Navarra, La Rioja, and North of Castille, has been far less popular than the traditional corridas. There has been a recent resurgence of recortes in Spain where they are sometimes shown on TV.

This style was common in the early 19th century. Etchings by painter Francisco de Goya depict these events.

Recortes differs from a corrida in the following ways:

  • The bull is not physically injured. Drawing blood is rare and the bull returns to his pen at the end of the performance.
  • The men are dressed in common street clothes and not in traditional bullfighting dress.
  • Acrobatics are performed without the use of capes or other props. Performers attempt to evade the bull solely through the swiftness of their movements.
  • Rituals are less strict so the men have freedom to perform stunts as they please.
  • Men work in teams but with less role distinction than in a corrida.
  • Teams compete for points awarded by a jury.

Animal rights groups such as PETA object to recortes; however, some people find recortes less objectionable than traditional bullfighting since the bull survives the ordeal. Since horses are not used, and performers are not professionals, recortes are less costly to produce.


Cavaleiro and bull

Most Portuguese bullfights are held in two phases: the spectacle of the cavaleiro, and the pega. In the cavaleiro, a horseman on a Portuguese Lusitano horse (specially trained for the fights) fights the bull from horseback. The purpose of this fight is to stab three or four bandeirilhas (small javelins) in the back of the bull.

In the second stage, called the pega ("holding"), the forcados, a group of eight men, challenge the bull directly without any protection or weapon of defense. The front man provokes the bull into a charge to perform a pega de cara or pega de caras (face grab). The front man secures the animal's head and is quickly aided by his fellows who surround and secure the animal until he is subdued.[15]

The bull is not killed in the ring and, at the end of the corrida, leading oxen are let into the arena and two campinos on foot herd the bull along them back to its pen. The bull is usually killed, away from the audience's sight, by a professional butcher. It can happen that some bulls, after an exceptional performance, are healed, released to pasture until their end days and used for breeding.


The Roman amphitheatre at Arles being fitted for a corrida.

Since the 19th century Spanish-style corridas have been increasingly popular in Southern France where they enjoy legal protection in areas where there is an uninterrupted tradition of such bull fights, particularly during holidays such as Whitsun or Easter. Among France's most important venues for bullfighting are the ancient Roman arenas of Nîmes and Arles, although there are bull rings across the South from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic coasts.

A more indigenous genre of bullfighting is widely common in the Provence and Languedoc areas, and is known alternately as "course libre" or "course camarguaise". This is a bloodless spectacle (for the bulls) in which the objective is to snatch a rosette from the head of a young bull. The participants, or raseteurs, begin training in their early teens against young bulls from the Camargue region of Provence before graduating to regular contests held principally in Arles and Nîmes but also in other Provençal and Languedoc towns and villages. Before the course, an encierro — a "running" of the bulls in the streets — takes place, in which young men compete to outrun the charging bulls. The course itself takes place in a small (often portable) arena erected in a town square. For a period of about 15–20 minutes, the raseteurs compete to snatch rosettes (cocarde) tied between the bulls' horns. They don't take the rosette with their bare hands but with a claw-shaped metal instrument called a raset or crochet (hook) in their hands, hence their name. Afterwards, the bulls are herded back to their pen by gardians (Camarguais cowboys) in a bandido, amidst a great deal of ceremony. The star of these spectacles are the bulls, who get top billing and stand to gain fame and statues in their honor, and lucrative product endorsement contracts.[16]

A raseteur takes a rosette.

Another type of French 'bullfighting' is the course landaise style, in which cows are used instead of bulls. This is a competition between teams named cuadrillas, which belong to certain breeding estates. A cuadrilla is made up of a teneur de corde, an entraîneur, a sauteur, and six écarteurs. The cows are brought to the arena in boxes and then taken out in order. Teneur de corde controls the dangling rope attached to cow's horns and the entraîneur positions the cow to face and attack the player. The écarteurs will try, at the last possible moment, to dodge around the cow and the sauteur will leap over it. Each team aims to complete a set of at least one hundred dodges and eight leaps. This is the main scheme of the "classic" form, the course landaise formelle. However, different rules may be applied in some competitions. For example, competitions for Coupe Jeannot Lafittau are arranged with cows without ropes.

At one point it resulted in so many fatalities that the French government tried to ban it, but had to back down in the face of local opposition. The bulls themselves are generally fairly small, much less imposing than the adult bulls employed in the corrida. Nonetheless, the bulls remain dangerous due to their mobility and vertically formed horns. Participants and spectators share the risk; it is not unknown for angry bulls to smash their way through barriers and charge the surrounding crowd of spectators. The course landaise is not seen as a dangerous sport by many, but écarteur Jean-Pierre Rachou died in 2003 when a bull's horn tore his femoral artery.

Tamil Nadu or Indian Style - Jallikattu

A victorious bull throwing youth at Alanganallur Jallikattu
A victorious youth taking control of the bull at Alanganallur Jallikattu

Jallikattu or Sallikattu -சல்லிகட்டு or Eruthazhuvuthal -ஏருதழுவுதல் is a bull taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebration. This is one of the oldest living ancient sports seen in the modern era. Although it sounds similar to the Spanish running of the bulls, it is quite different. In Jallikattu, the bull is not killed and the 'matadors' are not supposed to use any weapon. It is held in the villages of Tamil Nadu as a part of the village festival. The festivals are held from January to July, every year. The one held in Alanganallur, near Madurai, is one of the more popular events. This sport is also known as "Manju Virattu", meaning "chasing the bull".

Understanding Jallikattu or Manju Virattu:

jallikattu is based on the simple concept of "flight or fight". cattle being herd and prey animals in general tend to run away from unwanted situations. but there are quite noteworthy exceptions. cape buffalos are famous for standing up against lions and killing them. the Indian Gaur bull is known for standing its ground against predators and tigers think twice about attacking a full grown Gaur bull. Aurochs, the ancestor of domestic cattle was known for its pugnacious nature. jallikattu bulls belong to a few specific breeds of cattle that descended from the kangayam breed of cattle and these cattle are very pugnacious by nature. these cattle are reared in huge herds numbering in hundreds with a few cowherds tending to them. these cattle are for all practical comparisions, wild and only the cowherds can mingle with them without any fear of being attacked. it is from these herds that calves with good characteristics and body conformation are selected and reared to become jallikattu bulls. these bulls attack not because they are irritated or agitated or frightened, but because that is their basic nature.

There are three versions of Jallikattu :

1. vadi manju virattu - this version takes place mostly in the districts of madurai,pudukottai, theni, tanjore, salem. this version that has been popularised by television and movies involves the bull being released from an enclosure with an opening. as the bull comes out of the enclosure, one person clings to the hump of the bull. the bull in its attempt to shake him off will bolt(as in most cases), but some will hook the guy with their horns and throw him off. the rules specify that the person has to hold on to the running bull for a predetermined distance to win the prize. in this version, only one person is supposed to attempt catching the bull. but this rule being strictly enforced depends on the village where the event is conducted and more importantly, the bull himself. some bulls acquire a reputation and that alone is enough for them to be given a unhindered passage out of the enclosure and arena..

2. vaeli virattu - this version is more popular in the districts of sivagangai, manamadurai and madurai. the bull is released in an open ground. this version is the most natural as the bulls are not restricted in any way(no rope or determined path). the bulls once released just run away from the field in any direction that they prefer. most dont even come close to any human. but there are a few bulls that dont run but stand their ground and attack anyone who tries to come near them. these bulls will "play" for some time(from a few minutes to a couple of hours)providing a spectacle for viewers, players and owners alike.the magnificence of such bulls cannot be described. they must be seen first hand to really understand the basic psyche behind the sport of jallikattu.

3. vadam manjuvirattu - "vadam" means rope in tamil. the bull is tied to a 50 ft long rope and is free to move within this space. a team of 7 or 9 members must attempt to subdue the bull within 30 minutes. this version is very safe for spectators as the bull is tied and the spectators are shielded by barricades.

traning of jallikattu bulls: the calves that are chosen to become jallikattu bulls are fed a nutritious diet so that they develop into strong, sturdy beasts. the bulls are made to swim for exercise. the calves, once they reach adolesence are taken to small jallikattu events to familiarise them with the atmosphere. specific training is given to vadam manju virattu bulls to understand the restraints of the rope(refer above). apart from this, no other training is provided to jallikattu bulls. once the bulls are released, then instinct takes over. -

Freestyle bullfighting

Freestyle bullfighting is a style of bullfighting developed in American rodeo. The style was developed by the rodeo clowns who protect bull riders from being trampled or gored by an angry bull. Freestyle bullfighting is a 70-second competition in which the bullfighter (rodeo clown) avoids the bull by means of dodging, jumping and use of a barrel. Competitions are organized in the US as the World Bullfighting Championship (WBC) and the Dickies National Bullfighting Championship under auspices of the Professional Bull Riders (PBR).

Comic bullfighting

Comical spectacles based on bullfighting, called espectáculos cómico-taurinos or charlotadas, are still popular in Spain and Mexico, with troupes like El empastre or El bombero torero.[17]


Dead bullfighterÉdouard Manet, c. 1864–65.
The goring of a matador
Killing of a bull
Muerte del Maestro (Death of the Master) – Jose Villegas Cordero, 1884.

Spanish-style bullfighting is normally fatal for the bull, and it is also dangerous for the matador. Picadors and banderilleros are sometimes gored, but this is not common. They are paid less and noticed less, because their job takes less skill and is perceived as requiring less courage. The suertes with the capote are risky, but it is the faena that is the most dangerous, in particular the estocada. A matador of classical style—notably, Manolete—is trained to divert the bull with the muleta but always come close to the right horn as he makes the fatal sword-thrust between the clavicles and through the aorta. At this moment, the danger is the greatest. A matador can run off to one side and stab the bull in the lungs—and may even achieve a quick kill—but it will not be a clean kill, because he will have avoided the difficult target, and the mortal risk, of the classical technique. Such a matador will often be booed.

Some matadors, notably Juan Belmonte, have been gored many times: according to Ernest Hemingway, Belmonte's legs were marred by many ugly scars. A special type of surgeon has developed, in Spain and elsewhere, to treat cornadas, or horn-wounds.

The bullring has a chapel where a matador can pray before the corrida, and where a priest can be found in case a sacrament is needed. The most relevant sacrament is now called "Anointing of the Sick"; it was formerly known as "Extreme Unction", or the "Last Rites".

Cultural aspects of bullfighting

Many supporters of bullfighting regard it as a deeply ingrained, integral part of their national cultures. The aesthetic of bullfighting is based on the interaction of the man and the bull. Rather than a competitive sport, the bullfight is more of a ritual which is judged by aficionados (bullfighting fans) based on artistic impression and command. Ernest Hemingway said of it in his 1932 non-fiction book Death in the Afternoon: "Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter's honour." Bullfighting is seen as a symbol of Spanish culture.

The bullfight is above all about the demonstration of style, technique and courage by its participants. While there is usually no doubt about the outcome, the bull is not viewed as a sacrificial victim — it is instead seen by the audience as a worthy adversary, deserving of respect in its own right. Bulls learn fast and their capacity to do so should never be underestimated. Indeed, a bullfight may be viewed as a race against time for the matador, who must display his bullfighting skills before the animal learns what is going on and begins to thrust its horns at something other than the cape. A hapless matador may find himself being pelted with seat cushions as he makes his exit.

The audience looks for the matador to display an appropriate level of style and courage and for the bull to display aggression and determination. For the matador, this means performing skillfully in front of the bull, often turning his back on it to demonstrate his mastery over the animal. The skill with which he delivers the fatal blow is another major point to look for. A skillful matador will achieve it in one stroke. Two is barely acceptable, while more than two is usually regarded as a bad job.

The moment when the matador kills the bull is the most dangerous point of the entire fight, as it requires him to reach between the horns, head on, to deliver the blow. Matadors are at the greatest risk of suffering a goring at this point. Gorings are not uncommon and the results can be fatal. Many bullfighters have met their deaths on the horns of a bull, including one of the most celebrated of all time, Manolete, who was killed by a bull named Islero, raised by Miura, and Paquirri, who was killed by a bull named Avispado.

In Spanish-speaking countries, when the bull charges through the cape, the crowd cheers saying Olé. If the matador has done exceptionally well, he will be given a standing ovation by the crowd, throwing hats and roses into the arena to show their appreciation. The successful matador will also receive one or two severed ears, and even the tail of the bull, depending on the quality of his performance. If the bull’s performance was also exceptional, the public may petition the president for a vuelta. This is when the crowd applauds as the dead bull is dragged once around the ring.

Some in Spain despise bullfighting because of its association with the Spanish nation and its blessing by the Franco regime as the fiesta nacional. Despite the long history and popularity of bullfighting in Barcelona, Catalan nationalism played an important role in Barcelona's recent symbolic vote against bullfighting.[citation needed] However, even Jon Idigoras, a former Basque Batasuna leader, was a novillero before becoming a politician.

Another current of criticism comes from aficionados themselves, who may despise modern developments such as the defiant style ("antics" for some) of El Cordobés or the lifestyle of Jesulín de Ubrique, a common subject of Spanish gossip magazines. His "female audience"-only corridas were despised by veterans, many of whom reminisce about times past, comparing modern bullfighters with early figures.

Fin-de-siècle Spanish regeneracionista intellectuals protested against what they called the policy of pan y toros ("bread and bulls"), an analogue of Roman panem et circenses promoted by politicians to keep the populace content in its oppression.


A 2002 Gallup poll found that 68.8% of Spaniards express "no interest" in bullfighting while 20.6% expressed "some interest" and 10.4% "a lot of interest." The poll also found significant generational variety, with 51% of those 65 and older expressing interest, compared with 23% of those between 25–34 years of age. Popularity also varies significantly according to regions in Spain with it being least popular in Galicia and Catalonia with 81% and 79% of those polled expressing no interest. Interest is greatest in the zones of the north, centre, east and south, with around 37% declaring themselves fans and 63% having no interest.[18]

In the Canary Islands, bullfights and other spectacles that involve cruelty to animals are formally banned, with the exception of cockfighting, which is traditional in some towns in the Islands.[19]

According to a poll conducted by the Sports Marketing Group in Atlanta in 2003, 46.2% of Americans polled hated or strongly disliked bull fighting.[20]

Bullfighting also saw a presence in Cuba during its colonial period but was quickly abolished after its independence in 1901. Never truly succeeding in being too popular, most Cubans saw bullfighting as a primitive barbaric spectacle of old world character that had no reason to continue in the new republic. Soon after, boxing and baseball, among other sports, were received much more favorably, with baseball becoming the national sport.

Bullfighting was also introduced in Argentina by Spain but after Argentina's independence the event drastically diminished in popularity and was abolished in 1899 under law 2786.[21]


Animal concerns

Bull dying in a bullfight

Bullfighting is criticized by many people, including but not limited to animal rights activists, referring to it as a cruel or barbaric blood sport, in which the bull suffers severe stress and a slow, torturous death.[22][23][24][25] A number of animal rights or animal welfare activist groups undertake anti-bullfighting actions in Spain and other countries. In Spanish, opposition to bullfighting is referred to as antitaurina. However, some commentators have called into question how much worse the welfare of the bull is across its life as compared to the lives and death of meat cattle in commercial farming.[26]

Bullfighting guide The Bulletpoint Bullfight warns that bullfighting is "not for the squeamish," advising spectators to "be prepared for blood." The guide details prolonged and profuse bleeding caused by horse-mounted lancers, the charging by the bull of a blindfolded, armored horse who is "sometimes doped up, and unaware of the proximity of the bull", the placing of barbed darts by banderilleros, followed by the matador's fatal sword thrust. The guide stresses that these procedures are a normal part of bullfighting and that death is rarely instantaneous. The guide further warns those attending bullfights to "Be prepared to witness various failed attempts at killing the animal before it lies down."[27]

Bullfighting is banned in many countries; people taking part in such activity would be liable for terms of imprisonment for animal cruelty. "Bloodless" variations, though, are permitted and have attracted a following in California, and France.[28]

Anti-bullfight demonstration in Zaragoza.

In Spain, national laws against cruelty to animals have abolished most blood sports, but specifically exempt bullfighting. Over time, Spanish regulations have reduced the goriness of the fight, but only for the matadors and the horses, introducing the padding for picadors' horses and mandating full-fledged operating rooms in the premises.

State-run Spanish TV canceled live coverage of bullfights in August 2007, claiming that the coverage was too violent for children who might be watching, and that live coverage violated a voluntary, industry-wide code attempting to limit "sequences that are particularly crude or brutal".[29] In October 2008, in a statement to Congress, Luis Fernández, the President of Spanish State Broadcaster TVE, confirmed that the station will no longer broadcast live bullfights due to the high cost of production and a rejection of the events by advertisers. However the station will continue to broadcast ‘Tendido Cero’, a bullfighting magazine program.[30]. Having the national Spanish TV stop broadcasting it, after 50 years of history, was considered a big step for its abolition. Nevertheless, other regional and private channels keep broadcasting it with good audience.[31]

A Portuguese television station also prohibited the broadcasting of bullfights in January 2008, because they are too violent for minors.[32] In March 2009, Viana do Castelo, a city in northern Portugal, became the first city in that country to ban bullfighting. Mayor Defensor Moura cited torture and imposition of unjustifiable suffering as a factor in arriving at the ban. The city’s bullfighting arena will be torn down to accommodate a new cultural center.[33]


Finally, it has also been criticized that bullfighting is financed with public money.[34] In 2007, the Spanish fighting bull breeding industry was allocated 500 million euros in grants,[35] and in 2008 almost 600.[36] Some of this money comes from European funds to the livestock.[37]

Ban on bullfighting in Catalonia

On 18 of December 2009 the parliament of Catalonia approved by majority the preparation of a Law to ban bullfighting in Catalonia, as a response to a popular initiative against bullfighting that gathered more than 180,000 signatures. [38] This has been strongly criticized mainly by Spanish media relating this decision to nationalism and not to animal rights.

In 2004, the Barcelona city council held a symbolic vote against bullfighting,[39] but bullfighting in Barcelona continues as of 2009. Several other towns in Spain have approved similar symbolic bans on bullfighting.[40]

See also


  1. ^ online descriptions in English - most available references are in Swahili Photos of Pemba bullfight on Flikr
  2. ^ www.worldstadiums.com
  3. ^ López Martínez, Héctor (2005), Plaza de Acho: Historia y Tradición, Lima: Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Perú, ISBN 9972890902 
  4. ^ Pierre tombale de Clunia - 4473 - L'encyclopédie - L'Arbre Celtique
  5. ^ Toro de Lidia - Toro de lidia
  6. ^ Queen Sofia of Spain - Phantis
  7. ^ Casa de Su Majestad el Rey de España
  8. ^ Casa Real
  9. ^ Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas
  10. ^ Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas
  11. ^ "bullfighting." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 14 Jan. 2009 http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/84444/bullfighting>.
  12. ^ ITLA - Longhorn_Information - handling
  13. ^ http://iacuc.tennessee.edu/pdf/Policies-AnimalCare/Cattle-BasicCare.pdf
  14. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander. "A Noble Death", Prospect. September 2008. Retrieved on 2009-03-13
  15. ^ Isaacson, Andy, (2007), "California's 'bloodless bullfights' keep Portuguese tradition alive", San Francisco Chronicle.
  16. ^ Vaches Pour Cash: L'Economie de L'Encierro Provencale, Dr. Yves O'Malley, Nanterre University 1987.
  17. ^ Bullfighting Spactacles: State Norms (in Spanish) Example: Los espectáculos cómico-taurinos no podrán celebrarse conjuntamente con otros festejos taurinos en los que se dé muerte a las reses.
  18. ^ Encuesta Gallup: Interés por las corridas de toros (In Spanish)
  19. ^ Canary Islands Government. Law 8/1991, dated April the 30th, for animal protection (in Spanish)
  20. ^ [1]
  21. ^ [2]
  22. ^ What is bullfighting?, http://www.league.org.uk/content.asp?CategoryID=1938 
  23. ^ Running of the Bulls Factsheet, http://www.runningofthenudes.com/bullfighting_facts.asp 
  24. ^ ICABS calls on Vodafone to drop bullfighting from ad, http://www.banbloodsports.com/ln-0807c.htm 
  25. ^ The suffering of bullfighting bulls, http://english.stieren.net/index.php?id=390 
  26. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander. "A Noble Death" Prospect. September 2008. Retrieved on 2009-03-24
  27. ^ The Bulletpoint Bullfight, p. 6, ISBN 978-1-4116-7400-4
  28. ^ Bloodless bullfights animate California's San Joaquin Valley, http://travel.latimes.com/articles/la-trw-californiabullfighting29jul29 
  29. ^ http://www.news1130.com/news/international/article.jsp?content=w082258A | No more 'ole'? Matadors miffed as Spain removes bullfighting from state TV
  30. ^ TVE explains the decision not to broadcast bullfighting is a financial one
  31. ^ http://www.abc.es/hemeroteca/historico-22-08-2007/abc/Nacional/las-corridas-de-toros-corren-peligro-en-tve-_164480243859.html
  32. ^ ¡PROHÍBEN CORRIDAS DE TOROS PARA NIÑOS! (EN COSTA RICA) :: ASANDA :: Asociación Andaluza para la Defensa de los Animales
  33. ^ Landmark bullfighting ban
  34. ^ No permitas que tus impuestos financien la tortura a los toros: ¡Actúa ya! AnimaNaturalis (Spanish)
  35. ^ Parte de nuestros impuestos se dedican a financiar estas prácticas. Cada gallego aporta 42 euros al año a la tauromaquia 21/07/2008. El Progreso (Spanish)
  36. ^ Los alcaldes antitaurinos cierran el grifo a las corridas Público (Spanish)
  37. ^ For a Bullfighting-free europe
  38. ^ [3]
  39. ^ Barcelona Passes Symbolic Vote Against Bullfighting
  40. ^ http://www.idausa.org/campaigns/sport/bull/alert.html
  41. ^ Lorca's poem in English

Further reading

  • Ciofalo, John J. "The Artist in the Vicinity of Death." The Self-Portraits of Francisco Goya. Cambridge University Press, 2001.
  • Shadow of a Bull, book by Maia Wojciechowska about a bullfighter's son

External links

Supporting bullfighting

Against bullfighting

Redirecting to Bullfighting

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BULL - FIGHTING, the national Spanish sport. The Spanish name is tauromaquia (Gr. raupos, bull, and lax?), combat). Combats with bulls were common in ancient Thessaly as well as in the amphitheatres of imperial Rome, but probably partook more of the nature of worrying than fighting, like the bull-baiting formerly common in England. The Moors of Africa also possessed a sport of this kind, and it is probable that they introduced it into Andalusia when they conquered that province. It is certain that they held bull-fights in the half-ruined Roman amphitheatres of Merida, Cordova, Tarragona, Toledo and other places, and that these constituted the favourite sport of the Moorish chieftains. Although patriotic tradition names the great Cid himself as the original Spanish bull-fighter, it is probable that the first Spaniard to kill a bull in the arena was Don Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, who about 1040, employing the lance, which remained for centuries the chief weapon used in the sport, proved himself superior to the flower of the Moorish knights. A spirited rivalry in the art between the Christian and Moorish warriors resulted, in which even the kings of Castile and other Spanish princes took an ardent interest. After the Moors were driven from Spain by Ferdinand II., bull-fighting continued to be the favourite sport of the aristocracy, the method of fighting being on horseback with the lance. At the time of the accession of the house of Austria it had become an indispensable accessory of every court function, and Charles V. ensured his popularity with the people by killing a bull with his own lance on the birthday of his son, Philip II. Philip IV. is also known to have taken a personal part in bull-fights. During this period the lance was discarded in favour of the short spear (rejoncillo), and the leg armour still worn by the picadores was introduced. The accession of the house of Bourbon witnessed a radical transformation in the character of the bullfight, which the aristocracy began gradually to neglect, admitting to the combats professional subordinates who, by the end of the 17th century, had become the only active participants in the bull-ring. The first great professional espada (i.e. swordsman, the chief bull-fighter, who actually kills the bull) was Francisco Romero, of Ronda in Andalusia (about 1700), who introduced the estoque, the sword still used to kill the bull, and the muleta, the red flag carried by the espada (see below), the spear falling into complete disuse.

For the past two centuries the art of bull-fighting has developed gradually into the spectacle of to-day. Imitations of the Spanish bull-fights have been repeatedly introduced into France and Italy, but the cruelty of the sport has prevented its taking firm root. In Portugal a kind of bull-baiting is practised, in which neither man nor beast is much hurt, the bulls having their horns truncated and padded and never being killed. In Spain many vain attempts have been made to abolish the sport, by Ferdinand IL himself, instigated by his wife Isabella, by Charles III., by Ferdinand VI., and by Charles IV.; and several popes placed its devotees under the ban of excommunication with no perceptible effect upon its popularity. Before the introduction of railways there were comparatively few bullrings (plazas de toros) in Spain, but these have largely multiplied in recent years, in both Spain and Spanish America. At the present day nearly every larger town and city in Spain has its plaza de toros (about 225 altogether), built in the form of the Roman circuses with an oval open arena covered with sand, surrounded by a stout fence about 6 ft. high. Between this and the seats of the spectators is a narrow passage-way, where those bull-fighters who are not at the moment engaged take their stations. The plazas de toros are of all sizes, from that of Madrid, which holds more than 12,000 spectators, down to those seating only two or three thousand. Every bull-ring has its hospital for the wounded, and its chapel where the toreros (bull-fighters) receive the Holy Eucharist.

The bulls used for fighting are invariably of well-known lineage and are reared in special establishments (vacadas), the most celebrated of which is now that of the duke of Veragua in Andalusia. When quite young they are branded with the emblems of their owners, and later are put to a test of their courage, only those that show a fighting spirit being trained further. When full grown, the health, colour, weight, character of horns, and action in attack are all objects of the keenest observation and study. The best bulls are worth from Loo to X60. About 1300 bulls are killed annually in Spain. Bullfighters proper, most of whom are Andalusians, consist of espadas (or matadores), banderilleros and picadores, in addition to whom there are numbers of assistants (chulos), drivers and other servants. For each bull-fight two or three espadas are engaged, each providing his own quadrille (cuadrilla), composed of several banderilleros and picadores. Six bulls are usually killed during one corrida (bull-fight), the espadas engaged taking them in turn. The espada must have passed through a trying novitiate in the art at the royal school of bull-fighting, after which he is given his alternativa, or licence.

The bull-fight begins with a grand entry of all the bull-fighters with alguaciles, municipal officers in ancient costume, at the head, followed, in three rows, by the espadas, banderilleros, picadores, chulos and the richly caparisoned triple mule-team used to drag from the arena the carcasses of the slain bulls and horses. The greatest possible brilliance of costume and accoutrements is aimed at, and the picture presented is one of dazzling colour. The espadas and banderilleros wear short jackets and small-clothes of satin richly embroidered in gold and silver, with light silk stockings and heelless shoes; the picadores (pikemen on horseback) usually wear yellow, and their legs are enclosed in steel armour covered with leather as a protection against the horns of the bull.

The fight is divided into three divisions (suertes). When the opening procession has passed round the arena the president of the corrida, usually some person of rank, throws down to one of the alguaciles the key to the torn, or bull-cells. As soon as the supernumeraries have left the ring, and the picadores, mounted upon blindfolded horses in wretched condition, have taken their places against the barrier, the door of the torn is opened, and the bull, which has been goaded into fury by the affixing to his shoulder of an iron pin with streamers of the colours of his breeder attached, enters the ring. Then begins the suerte de picar, or division of lancing. The bull at once attacks the mounted picadores, ripping up and wounding the horses, often to the point of complete disembowelment. As the bull attacks the horse, the picador, who is armed with a short-pointed, stout pike (garrocha), thrusts this into the bull's back with all his force, with the usual result that the bull turns its attention to another picador. Not infrequently, however, the rush of the bull and the blow dealt to the horse is of such force as to overthrow both animal and rider, but the latter is usually rescued from danger by the chulos and banderilleros, who, by means of their red cloaks (capas), divert the bull from the fallen picador, who either escapes from the ring or mounts a fresh horse. The number of horses killed in this manner is one of the chief features of the fight, a bull's prowess being reckoned accordingly. About 6000 horses are killed every year in Spain. At the sound of a trumpet the picadores retire from the ring, the dead horses are dragged out, and the second division of the fight, the suerte de banderillear, or planting the darts, begins. The banderillas are barbed darts about 18 in. long, ornamented with coloured paper, one being held in each hand of the bull-fighter, who, standing 20 or 30 yds. from the bull, draws its attention to him by means of violent gestures. As the bull charges, the banderillero steps towards him, dexterously plants both darts in the beast's neck, and draws aside in the nick of time to avoid its horns. Four pairs of banderillas are planted in this way, rendering the bull mad with rage and pain. Should the animal prove of a cowardly nature and refuse to attack repeatedly, banderillas de fuego (fire) are used. These are furnished with fulminating crackers, which explode with terrific noise as the bull careers about the ring. During this division numerous manoeuvres are sometimes indulged in for the purpose of tiring the bull out, such as leaping between his horns, vaulting over his back with the garrocha as he charges, and inviting his rushes by means of elaborate flauntings of the cloak (floreos, flourishes).

Another trumpet-call gives the signal for the final division of the fight, the suerte de matdr (killing). This is carried out by the espada alone, his assistants being present only in the case of emergency or to get the bull back to the proper part of the ring, should he bolt to a distance. The espada, taking his stand before the box of the president, holds aloft in his left hand sword and muleta and in his right his hat, and in set phrases formally dedicates (brinde) the death of the bull to the president or some other personage of rank, finishing by tossing his hat behind his back and proceeding bareheaded to the work of killing the bull. This is a process accompanied by much formality. The espada, armed with the estoque, a sword with a heavy flat blade, brings the bull into the proper position by means of passes with the muleta, a small red silk flag mounted on a short staff, and then essays to kill him with a single thrust, delivered through the back of the neck close to the head and downward into the heart. This stroke is a most difficult one, requiring long practice as well as great natural dexterity, and very frequently fails of its object, the killing of the bull often requiring repeated thrusts. The stroke (estocada) is usually given d volapie (half running), the espada delivering the thrust while stepping forward, the bull usually standing still. Another method is recibiendo (receiving), the espada receiving the onset of the bull upon the point of his sword. Should the bull need a coup de grace, it is given by a chulo, called puntillero, with a dagger which pierces the spinal marrow. The dead beast is then dragged out of the ring by the triple mule-team, while the espada makes a tour of honour, being acclaimed, in the case of a favourite, with the most extravagant enthusiasm. The ring is then raked over, a second bull is introduced, and the spectacle begins anew. Upon great occasions, such as a coronation, a corrida in the ancient style is given by amateurs, who are clad in gala costumes without armour of any kind, and mounted upon steeds of good breed and condition. They are armed with sharp lances, with which they essay to kill the bull while protecting themselves and their steeds from his horns. As the bulls in these encounters have not been weakened by many wounds and tired out by much running, the performances of the gentlemen fighters are remarkable for pluck and dexterity.

See Moratin, Origen y Progeso de las Fiestas de Toros; Bedoya's Historia del Toreo; J. S. Lozano, Manual de Tauromaquia (Seville, 1882); A. Chapman and W. T. Buck, Wild Spain (London, 1893).

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