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Wednesday, February 22, 2012 (read 2691 times)
 

Bullfighting in Spain - Origins and History

by Jose

Bullfighting is one of the most well known and, at the same time, most controversial customs of the Spanish culture.

Bullfighting events feature “toros bravos”, which comes to mean something like brave or courageous bulls. It is a specific species of bull which is still conserved and protected on the Iberian Peninsula. The toro bravo’s predecessor, the primitive urus, was found in many parts of the world.  In fact, many civilizations revered and honored bulls, such as the bull-cultus from the island of Crete in Greece. In fact, the Bible even mentions the ritual sacrifice of bulls in honor of divine justice.

In prehistoric Spain, bulls played an important role in the religious ceremonies of the many Iberian tribes that occupied the land. In fact, the origin of the bullring is thought to have come not from Roman amphitheaters but rather the Celtic-Iberian temples where the religious ceremonies involving the sacrifice of bulls to the Gods were held. In fact, one of these temples still exists in Spain, in the province of Soria close to Numancia.

While these religious bull ceremonies can be traced back to the Iberian tribes, it was the Greek and Romans who converted the event into a famed spectacle. By the Middle Ages the aristocracy amused itself by watching bullfights on horseback. By the 18th Century the bullfighting on horseback style was largely abandoned in favor of bullfighting by foot. This was more popular among the poorer population as it was much more affordable. A key figure in establishing the rules for the new bull sport was named Francisco Romero.

About the bullfight

A bullfight, known as a corrida de toro in Spanish, is divided into several stages that occur chronologically. In this section we will briefly explain what to expect if you decide to see a bullfight on your next visit to Spain.

A Spanish bullfight starts with the “paseíllo” which is a small paradein which the bullfighters and other participants make their way around the arena to present themselves to the public.

Two “alguacilillos”, or horsemen who head the parade, ceremonially request the keys to the “puerta de los toriles”, or bullpen from the president. Once the door is opened and the first bull enters the ring, the first stage of the event begins.

Each bullfight features three bullfighters who will face two bulls each in separate fights.  Each fight consists of three stages known as “tercios” or thirds. Each part is indicated by the sounding of a loud horn. 

In the first stage, known as the “third of lances”, the bullfighter will use a gold and magenta cape known as a “capote” to maneuver the bull. Next, “picadores”, bullfighters on horseback armed with long lances, enter the ring and jab the bull several times to strain it and make it less dangerous. 

The second stage known as the “third of flags” features flagmen bullfighters whose objective is to plant two “banderillas” (sharp sticks with flags) into the bull’s back.

This further weakens and angers the animal.

In the final stage, known as the “third of death” the bullfighter uses a small red cape known as a “muleta”. He will perform a series of different passes that make up the “faena” or his performance and passes maneuvering the bull with his cape.  This phase is said to establish a connection between man and beast. The final third of the bullfight ends when the bullfighter kills the bull by swiftly thrusting a sword, or “estocada”, between the bull’s shoulder blades to produce and instant and quick death.


Keywords: bullfighting,bullfight,spanish bullfight,bullfighting in spain,bullfights in spain,spanish bullfighting,spain bullfighting,bullfighting history,bullfighting origins

Posted In: Spain, Culture

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