Tuesday, November 24, 2015




Since we moved to Mexico, Dan has been wanting to experience
the culture around us.  From time to time
we have been visiting different areas that are on Dan’s bucket list.  Just three weeks ago we visited Mexico City
and was very surprised of the size and how easy it was to communicate without
speaking Spanish.  It reminded me of New
York City, but larger.  After visiting; we
realized that it is the sixth largest city in the world.

Well, getting off the track ~ let me tell you a secret.  Dan and I was going to go to a bull fight in
Mexico City, but did not have time so when we got back to the Chapala area he
looked up the bull fight schedule in Guadalajara.  They were still around!!!  Dan said, why not this week end.

So off we went to Plaza De Toros where the famous bull
fights take place.  So naïve, I did not
think about what it consisted of, just that it was a culture that we wanted to
experience while we lived in Mexico. 
Well the stadium was exactly how I had pictured it would be, however
when it came to the bull fight show I was shocked.

I am sure that the matador has talent and the skill of an
ancient tradition, but I saw it as torture on the bull’s part.  It’s something that Dan and I will only
experience once. Now we can check it off our bucket list.

To understand why and how, I did a little of searching and
found this. Bullfighting traces its roots to prehistoric bull worship and
sacrifice in Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean region. The first recorded
bullfight may be the Epic of Gilgamesh, which describes a scene in which
Gilgamesh and Enkidu fought and killed the Bull of Heaven ("The Bull
seemed indestructible, for hours they fought, till Gilgamesh dancing in front
of the Bull, lured it with his tunic and bright weapons, and Enkidu thrust his
sword, deep into the Bull's neck, and killed it"). Bull leaping was
portrayed in Crete, and myths related to bulls throughout Greece. 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.


Bullfighting is often linked to Rome, where many
human-versus-animal events were held as competition and entertainment, the
Venationes. These hunting games spread to Africa, Europe and Asia during Roman
times. There are also theories that it was introduced into Hispania by the
Emperor Claudius, as a substitute for gladiators, when he instituted a
short-lived ban on gladiatorial combat. The latter theory was supported by
Robert Graves (picadors are related to warriors who wielded the javelin, but
their role in the contest is now a minor one limited to "preparing"
the bull for the matador.) Spanish colonists took the practice of breeding
cattle and bullfighting to the American colonies, the Pacific and Asia. In the
19th century, areas of southern and southwestern France adopted bullfighting,
developing their own distinctive form.

Mithras killing a

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. In the Middle Ages across Europe,
knights would joust in competitions on horseback. In Spain, they began to fight


In medieval Spain bullfighting was considered a noble sport
and reserved to the rich, who could afford to supply and train their animals.
The bull was released into a closed arena where a single fighter on horseback
was armed with a lance. This spectacle was said to be enjoyed by Charlemagne,
Alfonso X the Wise and the Almohad caliphs, among others. The greatest Spanish
performer of this art is said to have been El Cid. According chronicle of the
time, in 1128 "... when Alfonso VII of León and Castile married Berengaria
of Barcelona daughter of Ramon Berenguer III, Count of Barcelona at Saldaña
among other celebrations, there were also bullfights."


The Spanish introduced the practice of fighting bulls on
foot around 1726. Francisco Romero is generally regarded as having been the
first to do this. This type of fighting drew more attention from the crowds.
Thus the modern corrida, or fight, began to take form, as riding noblemen were
replaced 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
centimetres of the bull throughout the fight. Although extremely dangerous
(Belmonte was gored on many occasions), his style is still seen by most
matadors as the ideal to be emulated.


Today, bullfighting continues traditions established in
1726, when Francisco Romero, from Ronda, Spain, used the muleta in the last
stage of the fight and an estoque to kill the bull.

Spanish-style bullfighting is called corrida de toros
(literally "running of bulls") or la fiesta ("the
festival"). In the traditional corrida, three matadores each fight two
bulls, each of which is between four and six years old and weighs no less than
460 kg (1,014 lb).Each matador has six assistants—two picadores ("lancers
on horseback") mounted on horseback, three banderilleros – who along with
the matadors are collectively known as toreros ("bullfighters") – and
a mozo de espadas ("sword page"). Collectively they comprise a
cuadrilla ("entourage"). In Spanish the more general torero is used
for the lead fighter, and only when needed to distinguish a man is the full
title matador de toros used; in English, "matador" is generally used
for the bullfighter.



The modern corrida is highly ritualized, with three distinct
stages or tercios ("thirds"); the start of each being announced by a
bugle sound. The participants enter the arena in a parade, called the paseíllo,
to salute the presiding dignitary, accompanied by band music. Torero costumes
are inspired by 17th-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 known as toreros de plata
("bullfighters of silver").


Tercio de Varas


The bull is released into the ring, where he is tested for
ferocity by the matador and banderilleros with the magenta and gold capote
("cape"). This is the first stage, the tercio de varas ("the
lancing third"). The matador confronts the bull with the capote, performing
a series of passes and observing the behavior and quirks of the bull.


Next, a picador enters the arena on horseback armed with a
vara (lance). To protect the horse from the bull's horns, the animal wears a
protective, padded covering called peto. Prior to 1930, the horses did not wear
any protection. Often the bull would disembowel the horse during this stage.
Until the use of protection was instituted, the number of horses killed during
a fiesta generally exceeded the number of bulls killed.


At this point, the picador stabs just behind the morrillo, 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 slightly lower during the following stages of the fight. This ultimately
enables the matador to perform the killing thrust later in the performance. The
encounter with the picador often fundamentally changes the behaviour of a bull;
distracted and unengaging bulls will become more focused and stay on a single
target instead of charging at everything that moves.


Tercio de Banderillas


In the next stage, the tercio de banderillas ("the
third of banderillas"), each of the three banderilleros attempts to plant
two banderillas, sharp barbed sticks, into the bull's shoulders. These anger
and agitate, but further weaken, the bull. He tires from his attacks on the
horse and the damage he has taken from the lance. Sometimes a matador will
place his own banderillas. If so, he usually embellishes this part of his
performance and employs more varied manoeuvres than the standard al cuarteo
method commonly used by banderilleros.

Tercio de Muerte


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; the animals are colorblind. The cape is thought to
be red to mask the bull's blood, although the color is now a matter of
tradition. 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 the kill and
creating an interesting display, or faena. He may also demonstrate his
domination of the bull by caping and bringing it especially close to his body.
The faena refers to the entire performance with the cape (muleta).


It is usually broken down into tandas, or
"series", of passes. The series (tanda) ends with a final series of
passes in which the matador, using the cape, tries to maneuver the bull into a
position to stab it between the shoulder blades and through the aorta or heart.
The sword is called estoque, and the act of thrusting the sword is called an
estocada. During the initial series, while the matador in part is performing
for the crowd, he uses a fake sword (estoque simulado). This is made of wood or
aluminum, making it lighter and much easier to handle. The estoque de verdad
(real sword) is made out of steel. At the end of the tercio de muerte, when the
matador has finished his faena, he will change swords to take up the steel one.
He performs the estocada and kills the bull with a pierce through the heart, if
all goes according to plan. Many times the bull does not get pierced through
the heart during the estocada initially, and repeated efforts must be made to
bring the bull down and end his life.


If the matador has performed particularly well, the crowd
may petition the president by waving white handkerchiefs to award the matador
an ear of the bull. If his performance was exceptional, the president will
award two ears. In certain more rural rings, the practice includes award of the
bull's tail. Very rarely, if the public or the matador believe that the bull
has fought extremely bravely, the event's president may be petitioned to grant
the bull a pardon (indulto). If the indulto is granted, the bull's life is
spared; it leaves the ring alive and is returned to its home ranch. There the
bull becomes a stud for the rest of his life.



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