Monday, September 5, 2011

Portuguese Bullfighting

Portuguese bullfights are different in many ways from the Spanish version. The greatest difference is that the bull is not killed in the arena. Another major difference is that the cavaleiros (horsemen) are the main figures of the fight rather than the matadors. The cavaleiros are dressed in traditional 18th century clothes and their goal is to place small javelins in the center of the bull's back. They ride Portuguese Lusitanos, which are specially trained to run sideways and dodge bulls. Here are a few photos.

A fight ends with the pega (the grab), in which eight men try to subdue the bull by grabbing its head. One unlucky guy pulls on a green stocking cap originally worn by bull herders in the area northeast of Lisbon. His job is to make the bull charge, grab its head and hang on until the other guys can grab on to the bull and calm it down. They all let go of the bull in unison, but one man continues to hold on to the bull's tail. He then tries to the make the bull spin around until it's subdued so that he can calmly walk away. Watch the video to see the pega. 

We recently saw a fight in Campo Pequeno (photo below), Lisbon's historic bullfighting arena, which was celebrating its 119th anniversary that night by featuring some Portuguese "legends" of bullfighting. The arena has amazing architecture and there's not a bad seat. Here's a few photos of our group at the bullfight and one photo of a random group of our neighbors (it looks like an ad doesn't it?).
The Campo Pequeno bullring - Lisbon, Lisboa