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Matador Israel Lancho in the capote de paseo (dress cape) before a bullfight during the 2005 Aste Nagusia festival in Bilbao, Spain
"Matador" redirects here. For other uses, see Matador (disambiguation).

A matador or torero is the main performer in bullfighting events in Spain, Mexico, and other Spanish-speaking countries. [1] He or she is the person who performs with and kills the bull. The role is also called toreador in English (and in Bizet's opera Carmen), but this term (older than torero) is actually never used in Spain or in Latin America. The term torero encompasses bullfighters who fight the bull in the ring (picadores and rejoneadores).

Usually, toreros start fighting young bulls (novillos or, more informally in some Latin American countries, vaquillas), and are called novilleros. They can start fighting mature bulls after a special match, called "the Alternative". At this bullfight the novillero (junior bullfighter) is presented to the crowd as a matador de toros.

Bullfighting is traditionally a male sport. A very small number of women have been matadors and cavaleiras (in Portugal), a recent example being Cristina Sánchez. Female matadors have experienced considerable resistance and hostility from aficionados and other (male) matadors.[citation needed]

The introduction of ground fighting became a means for poor people to achieve fame and fortune. When a famous torero was asked why he risked his life, he reportedly answered Más cornadas da el hambre ("Hunger strikes more painfully").

The maletilla or espontáneo was a poor person who illegally jumped into the ring trying to show that he could bullfight before being taken away. While the authorities and the audience despised this disruption of the show, a figure like El Cordobés started his career in this way.

Contents

Types of toreros

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Matador

Early 20th century photograph of a matador, showing traditional outfit

A matador, lit. killer, (from Late Latin "matare", to subdue or kill) is considered to be both an artist and an athlete, possessing great agility, grace, and coordination. One of the most famous toreros was Juan Belmonte (1892–1962), whose technique in the ring revolutionised bullfighting and remains the standard by which bullfighters are judged. The style and bravery of the matador is regarded as being at least as important as whether or not he actually kills the bull. The most successful matadores used to be treated like pop stars, with a matching financial income, cult followings and accompanied by lurid tabloid stories about their conquests with women. Currently, however, even top matadors earn less in real terms than their peers did in the 1960s, and mass media coverage is limited to a handful of matadors known as the "mediáticos" and which do not include any of the top bullfighters in Spain. The danger of bullfighting adds to the matador's mystique; matadores are often injured by bulls and 52 have been killed in the arena since 1700. One of the most famous bullfighters in history, Manolete, died this way in 1947. This hazard is said to be central to the nature and appeal of bullfighting.

The American writer Ernest Hemingway aspired to be a matador. His novel The Sun Also Rises has autobiographical elements and includes bullfighting themes, as do his short stories The Capital of the World and The Undefeated. He also wrote two non-fiction books on bullfighting, entitled Death in the Afternoon (1933) and The Dangerous Summer (1959).

In 1962, Hollywood producer David Wolper produced "The Story Of A Matador", documenting what it's like to be a matador. In this case, it was the late Matador Jaime Bravo.

Picador

A picador is a bullfighter who uses a lance while on horseback to test the bull's strength and to provide clues to the matador on which side the bull is favoring. They perform in the tercio de varas which is the first of the three stages in a Spanish bullfight. The shape of the lance or pica is regulated by Spanish law to prevent serious damage to the bull which was viewed as cheating in the past. The bull charges the horses in the ring and at the moment of contact the picador lances the bull in the large muscle at the back of the neck, and thus begins the work of lowering his head. The picador continues to stab the bull's neck leading to the animal's first major loss of blood. During this time, the bull's neck muscles do fatigue, however, as a result of the bull charging the picador's horse and trying to lift the horse with its horns. The loss of blood and exertion weakens the bull further and makes him ready for the next stage.

To protect the horse from the bull’s horns, the horse is surrounded by a 'peto' – a mattress-like protection. Prior to 1928, the horse did not wear any protection and the bull would frequently disembowel the horse during this stage.

French matadors will often use the battle cry "tle!" to antagonise and aggravate the bull. Such a battle cry is said to instill in the chosen bull such a feverish sense of anxiety that the spectacle will become much more fiercely-contested.

Banderillero

The banderillero is a torero who sets the banderillas (lit. little flags). These are colorful sticks with a barbed point which are placed in the top of the bull's shoulder. Banderilleros attempt to place the sticks while running as close to the bull as possible. They are judged by the crowd on their form and bravery. Sometimes a matador who was a particularly skillful banderillero before becoming a matador will place some of the banderillas himself. Skilled banderilleros can actually correct faults in the manner in which the bull charges by lancing the bull in such a way that the bull ceases hooking to one side, which can seriously endanger a matador.

Costume

Matador costumes are elaborate. Clothing items include jacket, pants, shirt, tie and a belt and montera. Because of the decorations and elaborateness on the costume, the Spanish language nickname for the torero's outfit is called the "traje de luces", meaning the "suit of lights". Though undoubtedly flamboyant, matador costume's skin-tight structure provides great ease of movement.

See also

References

External links


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