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Entertainment & Culture



Almost from the very beginning, bullfighting has formed an integral part of the Feria de Abril (April fair held in Seville). The great names in the art of bullfighting claimed their places in history by carrying out their greatest faenas - the work done with the muleta (a red flannel cloth with a stick inserted along the top) at the end of the bullfight - in the afternoons of the Feria.

In homage to the maestros ( a term used to describe the most experienced matadors or toreros) the streets of the 'Real' are signposted with the names of Juan Belmonte, Joselito el Gallo, Ignacio Sánchez Mejías and Curro Romero who, to this day, still dresses in the costume of his art every year,


Essential Vocabulary

Banda de música: A group of musicians who add charm to the proceedings when the torero and his team parade at the beginning, during the breaks between bulls, and during the segundo tercio (the second act of the fight), when the matador sticks the bull with banderillas (75cm darts with colour paper and a barbed harpoon).They also play during the third act if the fight is exceedingly good. 'La banda del Maestro Tejera', is in charge of such proceedings at the Maestranza bullring.

Banderilleros: The bullfighter's assistants or auxiliaries who form part of the team. They jump into the ring and stick up to three pairs of banderillas into the bull during the segundo tercio (second act) of the fight.

Burladero de cuadras: General headquarters for the matadors and their assistants and the true nerve center of the bullfight. This is where the highly important assistants to the matador called mozos de escuadra (the matador's sword handlers) are to be found.

Capote de brega: A small and light article very similar to a dress cape which is used by the torero to meet the bull on entrance to the ring. It is strong and firm and made of percale. It is light red on the outside and yellow on the inside.
Capote de paseo: Cape which forms part of the 'suit of lights' sported by the matador during the entrance parade and after which can be seen decorating the fencing encircling the ring. These are made of satin and are finely embroidered with pictures of many colours.

Cartel: A giant poster announcing where and when the fight is to take place, the number of bulls to be fought, the denomination of origin of the bull breeding ranch they belong to and the names of the toreros or matadors taking part. The cartel is, by extension, also the name given to the list of matadors taking part in the in the bullfight.

Cogida: The moment in which the torero, due to error, an unfortunate accident or the unpredictable behaviour of the bull, is struck by the beast and left totally at its mercy. The fate of the matador then depends on the quick reflexes of his assistants when carrying out the quites (passes to redirect the attention of the bull).

The cogida may result in major or minor injury, or even conjure the appearance of the shadow of death, demonstrating the risk involved and authenticity of the spectacle.

Estoque: Made from forged steel, this sword with a slightly curved end is used by the matador to kill the bull at the moment called la suerte suprema.

Muleta . A red flannel cloth about half a meter long which has a stick inserted. It is used during the faena de muleta in the last act of the fight.

Picador: A rider armed with a long lance, whose duty it is to inflict pain on the animal by sticking the tip of his lance into him up to three times, making him bleed and weakening him. He dresses in calzona (breeches), faja (sash), chaquetilla (jacket of the suit of lights), and castoreño (beaver hat).

Plaza de toro: The setting for the fight - generally circular- which includes the ring itself, the tendidos, (the first rows of seats directly behind the fence circling the ring) and boxes for the general public, as well as all the other facilities needed to carry out a bullfight (cattle-pens, patios, stalls to keep the bulls in immediately before their release into the ring, infirmary, etc). The Maestranza de Sevilla is one of the few arenas which are not completely circular. Founded in 1762, it is without doubt the most beautiful in Spain.

Presidente: The representative of the governing body who by means of waving different colour handkerchiefs has the power to give permission for the entrance parade to start, decide when each act should start or finish, grant awards to the matadors and the bull breeders, send the bull back to the cattle-pen or give him the honour of a lap of the ring after his death as a tribute to his ferocity and courage.

Publico: The spectators who attend a bullfight and cheer or boo the performance of the matador or the decisions made by the presidente. They are spread around the arena in sol (sunny part of the arena) or sombre (the shaded part of the arena). The spectators should not leave their seats between bull and bull in order to ensure the continuity of the spectacle.

Rejoneo: A type of bullfight where the bull is fought from horseback The main objective is to stick the bull with three rejones or lances tipped with little harpoons, and to achieve this without any injury occurring to the horse. As the bull is fought at all times from horseback it allows us to appreciate the quality and mastery of the matador.

Ruedo: The ring. Normally circular and covered in albero (pipe clay), this is the area in which the bullfight takes place. The diameter should be between 45m and 60m. It is divided into three sections: the tablas, the tercio and the medios located in succession from the outer rim to the central part of the ring.

Sorteo: The drawing of lots. This takes place at mid-day in the cattle-pens of the bullring where the bullfight is to take place. It is here where it is decided which matadors will fight which bulls and the bulls are assigned their places in the chiqueros (stalls where the bulls await their entrance to the arena).

Toro de lidia: The bull, the true protagonist of the fight alongside the matador. It is a ferocious animal weighing a minimum of 450kg for high standard bullrings (such as the one in Seville).

Traje de luces: The 'suit of lights' worn by the bullfighter which comprises black slippers, pink stockings, taleguilla or calzon(matador's breeches), pañoleta (fichu) or bowtie, waistcoat, shirt jacket, montera (hat worn by the bullfighter and the banderilleros) and the cape for the entrance parade.

Trofeos: Awards conceded by the presidente to the matador for his work during the fight. These awards may be a lap of the ring, one or both the bulls ears, being carried from the ring on the shoulders of the public through the main gate and the bull's tail.


The diferent stages of a bullfight

The preliminaries

El paseíllo
The spectacle begins exactly at the time previously announced when the presidente waves a white handkerchief giving the order for the paseíllo de las cuadrillas (entrance parade) to begin to the strains of the music played by the band. It is headed by the alguacilillos , followed by the matadors - the most experienced in the central position, the next most experienced on his right and the youngest on his left.

After them come the matadors assistants and the mulilleros (those whose drive the team of mules used to drag the dead bull from the ring). The procession crosses the ring to the presidente's box where the matadors and their assistants greet the presidencia, bowing and taking their hats off. When the parade has finished, the team heads for the burladeros to change the capote de paseo for the capote de brega.

The ring is cleared
The president takes out his white handkerchief again to the sound of drums and bugles. After these signals and after checking that the matadors and their assistants are all in position, the bull is released from its stall into the ring and the fight begins.

The fight in its strictest sense is divided into four parts (the three acts previously mentioned and the death of the bull) as described below.

The bull comes into the ring
The fight starts when the door to the bull's stall is opened and the first bull enters the ring. The torilero (the man who releases the bull into the ring) provokes the bull by shouting and screaming. The bull comes out of the stall at great speed and after crossing part of the ring is met by a cape brandished by the senior member of the matador's team.

After this, it's the matador himself who begins to fight the bull with the cape while at the same time studying the bull's characteristics, breeding and ferocity.

The first act : la suerte de varas

The first act of the fight is called the suerte de varas in which the aim is to weaken the bull. This is the job of the picadors, who have to be strong enough to stick the bull and at the same time keep control of the horse.

To position the bull in front of the picador, the matador who is fighting the bull may use different passes with the cape (veronicas: the fundamental two handed cape pass named after St. Veronica or chicuelinas: a pass invented by Chicuelo where the cape is pulled in tight against the body), leaving the bull to face the suerte de varas.

The ferocity of the bull is measured by the way in which the bull charges the horse. He should attack several times without a thought for the punishment he receives from the picador's lance. In some cases, the bull's strength as it pushes at the horse is so great that he manages to push the horse over or throw the picador from his saddle with the resulting danger for both man and horse.

When the president has decided that the bull has suffered sufficient punishment, he puts an end to this by taking out his handkerchief to signal the change of acts (cambio de la suerte).

The second act: la suerte de banderillas

With the second act comes what is called the suerte de banderillas. Three pairs of regulation darts can now be put in place by "specialist" assistants from each team or by the matador himself. This is done with no cover or protection and with the aim being to injure the bull more so as to get it to place it's head in position ready for the faena de la muleta (the final act where the bull is fought using the muleta). La suerte de las banderillas can be carried out by going in search of the bull or by waiting for the bull to charge.

The third act: la faena de la muleta

This begins when the president takes out the regulation handkerchief and the drums and bugles announce another change of act.

While the assistants keep the bull away from the presidential box, the matador picks up the muleta and crosses it with the estoque addressing the box as he does so, thereby asking permission to begin the part of the fight called the faena. It is also the symbol of the traditional dedication ceremony. He may dedicate the fight to the president, another person in particular or to the public in general.

After this the matador is left alone with the bull in the ring. The faena begins with a few passes to weigh up the bull and test its reaction. The matador then carries out a variety of passes depending on his inspiration, with emphasis ,amongst the great many in existence, on the natural (a left-handed pass using the muleta without the sword being used), el trincherazo (A right-handed muleta pass), el molinete (muleta pass where the matador spins round after the horns of the bull have passed), la monoletina (the muleta is held over the matador's back and lifted over the bull's head), or the pase de pecho (the muleta is held at chest height as the bull passes).

The death of the bull.

The fourth part of the fight: la suerte de matar.
This is the moment of truth. It is the most important moment when the bullfighter, positioned in front of the bull with the muleta lowered and gathered up the estoque in his right hand waits for the bull to charge the muleta enabling him to stab the beast in the back of the neck. Knowing how to wait for the bull's charge is the key to success in this act. After this, the bull, mortally injured, approaches the barrier before finally falling, beaten, onto the sand.


El arrastre (the mules removing the dead bulls from the ring).
The arrastre concludes the fight. The mulilleros tie the dead bull to a team of three mules and it is dragged out to the slaughterhouse. If the bull has shown particular ferocity and breeding the presidente may grant him the honour of a lap of the ring before being dragged out.

The trophies
It is also at this moment when the presidente, in accordance with public opinion, may award the matador a trophy (one or two of the bull's ears). At the end of the fight, if the matador has had a resounding triumph, he will be carried from the Maestranza on the shoulders of the public through the Puerta del Principe.