The History Of Bull Fighting
Learn the fascinating history of bullfighting.
Bull Fighting – repulsive to some, fascinating to others it is a sport surrounded in controversy. Today, we associate it with Spain but it’s roots trace back to the Pharaohs of Egypt who hunted them on foot. During the first Century, C.E. Roman amphitheatres were converted into bull rings. Bull lancing from horse-back was introduced by the Moors.
In the 18th Century Bull Fighting came to resemble the modern spectacle that we know. Professional Matadors were equipped in light suits made of rich gold and silver embroidery. Wild Bulls were especially bred for fighting. The wild bull differs from the domestic bull primarily in the way it reacts when threatened.
The Bull Fight centers around this wild, survival characteristic of the wild Bull. The Bulls are, therefore, pampered and cared for for four years before entering the ring. Here he gets his first sight of a matador and cape. Instinctively, he charges toward the moving cloth and in about twenty minutes he is dead – dragged out of the arena to the screams of the crowd.
The Bull Fight is a major event, built into an elaborate ceremony. Normally three matadors will fight, each one taking on two Bulls. Throughout the fight a band accompanies the action with stirring traditional music, while bugle calls announce the commencement of each of the three tercios or acts of the drama, which unfold as follows:
(1) The matador makes several passes of the Bull with his cape in order to provoke it. A picador, on horse-back, enters the fray armed with a steel tipped lance. The Bull is provoked into charging the horse. The Picador fends off the charges by plunging his lance into the animal’s neck and shoulder muscles. This is done purposefully to force the Bull to lower it’s head when charging.
(2) The picador leaves the arena to be replaced by the matadors aides, or banderilleros, who are there to thrust short barbed spears into the shoulder blades of the Bull. They get the Bulls attention by yelling at it from a distance, and then swerving at the last moment of the enraged animals charge to thrust their barbs into it’s hide.
(3) In the final act, the matador faces the Bull alone. The matador will thrill the crowd with displays of his skill, using a scarlet colored cloth – muleta – to provoke the wounded beast. His skill is in how close he will allow the Bull’s horns to get to his body before swerving aside. Once he has sufficiently proved his prowess, the matador prepares for the kill. Approaching the Bull, he draws his sword and, reaching over the horns, thrusts his sword between the shoulders in an attempt to sever the aorta and cause instant death.
And so the spectacle comes to a close. That is, of course, unless the Bull manages to rally in it’s death throes and strike back at the Matador. So, what can we conclude? Is it sport or is it an indefensible outrage? To those who have been raised on the spectacle there is nothing wrong with Bull Fighting. To others it is a disgusting spectacle. Despite, these differing views it appears that Bull Fighting will continue well into the future, with the Bull always coming off the loser.