According to the latest polls, more than two-thirds of the Spaniards are indifferent to the bullfight, and a third condemns the lovers of this spectacle altogether. The show takes place at half-empty stands, its main audience is tourists. How did it happen that the bullfight, passionately beloved by the Spaniards, sung in poems and novels, has been rapidly losing popularity in recent years? Elena Bukhteeva tried to understand this.
How a religious ritual turned into a show
Historians believe that initially the killing of a bull was in the nature of a sacrifice. Since the animal is strong and dangerous, the most courageous and agile men participated in the ritual. Gradually, the religious meaning of the action was lost, and it turned into a show. By the 16th century, bullfighting had become one of the favorite entertainments of the Spanish nobility, in Madrid it was held on the Plaza Mayor, the central square of the city. The place was considered symbolic - it was there that after the coronation the monarchs welcomed their people. Bullfighting was considered an honor. Brave knights, who glorified themselves in the battles with the Moors, performed in the arena. In those days, the caballeros fought with bulls on a horse, and the best places in the stands were taken by the nobility.
Painting by Fabian Perez "Corrida La Veronica"
At the beginning of the 18th century, the bullfight acquired a more familiar look - the foot toreros came to the place of riders. At this time, the country was ruled by the king of French origin, Philip V. The monarch did not like the spectacle, so his subjects, aristocrats and people with wealth, also departed from the bullfight. They were replaced by commoners, for whom their own horse was a luxury. So there was a walking bullfight. The risk for the matador increased, but the spectacle became more vivid. It was around this time that the basic bullfighting traditions emerged, which have come down to our days.
Matador had to perform certain movements, to be artistic. Having provoked the bull, he killed him with an exact short punch in the tenth minute of the show. If the animal fought with dignity, the torero received the right to cut off his ear and give the lady of his heart. For fighting used a special breed of bulls - Iberian. According to the phenotype, these animals are close to the tour, they are famous for their aggressiveness and quick-tempered character. Bulls weigh about five hundred kilograms. Thanks to special feeds and conditions of detention, they are very mobile and agile. For the show, animals of black color are preferred - they are associated with the audience with evil, a powerful dark force that a person must defeat.
Bull Ring Maestranza
It is not surprising that the profession of matador was enveloped in the aura of romance, because he was balancing on the edge, was on the verge of death. The Spaniards still remember the names of the best torero, such as Pedro Romero Martinez, Jose Delgado Guerra, Joaquín Rodriguez. The show quickly went out of the country. The Spanish canons spread in Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Panama.
In the 30s, the Nazis banned women to fight the bulls
Antibiotics - matadors best friends
For all its spectacularity, bullfighting is cruel entertainment. Not only bulls die, but horses that are present in the arena. Those who come to the show for the first time are shocked by the reaction of the crowd. When the bull rips the belly of a horse with a horn, the rider spurs it and forces it to gallop. The audience cheers, getting a shot of adrenaline. However, before the invention of antibiotics, the game was relatively fair. On average, a torero receives about 20 injuries in his career. Previously, each of them could be fatal. But with the advent of antibiotics, the situation has changed. At the Arena Las Ventas in Madrid, among the monuments to the dead matadors, you can see a monument in honor of Alexander Fleming, a scientist who discovered the beneficial properties of mold. Penicillin launched a new era in medicine. Now matadors died from wounds extremely rarely, the bulls were doomed. So the bullfight can be considered an honest battle only with a big stretch: a person has too many advantages.
Despite the cruelty of bullfighting, women took an active part in it. And many were not inferior to the representatives of the stronger sex in courage and artistry. At the end of the 18th century, the Spaniards admired the masterly art of the female matador Pachüeler, who conquered the arena of Madrid. On January 27, 1839, with a huge gathering of public in this city, a special Taumanomachia was successful: only ladies performed. However, in the 1930s, the Spanish fascists who came to power imposed a ban on the participation of women in the bullfight, which operated until 1974.
For the Spaniards, Tavromachy has always been a special event. Here are hot and eager bulls are driven through the narrow streets. All balconies are filled, in the cafe it is impossible to find a free table. The audience freezes when a handsome matador enters the arena (men of 20–40 years old, the thicket of an athletic physique takes part in the battles.) The torero's movements are polished and elegant, his cloak is replete with slots from the sharp horns obtained in past bouts. The audience held their breath when a huge animal carried its horns a millimeter from the matador. Adrenaline rolls over, stands thirst for blood. And finally, the decisive blow - the bull falls backwards ...
Matador must kill a bull in the 10th minute of the show
All this entertainment appeared in a different light, when people thought about the feelings of the bull and the sufferings of horses. At the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries, attitudes toward bullfighting in society changed dramatically. Publicly condemned the practice of conducting a bloody show of the European Union. Part of the provinces of Spain refused to Tavromachia. Closed arena in Barcelona. But the biggest blow to the bullfight was the ban on its live broadcasting adopted in 2007. Society took a fresh look at the show - for many it is nothing more than colorfully furnished murder.
Schools for professional toreros still work, boys learn from 12 years old. They enter the arena as a novilero, that is, matadors-beginners, upon reaching the 20th anniversary. But those who come here to learn the complex skills of the matador are no longer sure that they will have a brilliant career and fame. Even if the bullfight is not under a total ban, its popularity in Spain is steadily declining.
Today, the main arguments of supporters of Tavromachy are as follows. Bullfighting is not only an old tradition, but also an art. In case of its ban, the breed of Iberian bulls will disappear, which are bred exclusively for the show. And finally, the bull in the arena does not die ingloriously: it shows dignity and fighting spirit. Unfortunately, the opinion of the bulls themselves on this issue is impossible to know. And about the opinion of ordinary Spaniards eloquently speak half-empty stands