you see a major
fight, you will notice this team
is made up of quite a few people. Firstly
there are several peons,
under the orders of the main
toreo, who is the matador.
come out to distract the bull with great
capes, manoeuvre him into the desired
position and so on.
Then come the horseback-mounted
picadores. Charged by the bull,
which tries to eviscerate
the horse, the picador shoves his lance
into the withers of the bull – an
activity that weakens and angers the bull.
may take small consolation from the fact
that since the 19th
century the horses at least have
been protected by heavy padding.
then return to the scene to measure their
courage against the (hopefully)
charging bull. The picador
is shortly followed by the banderilleros.
At a given moment during the fight, one
or two banderilleros
will race towards the bull and attempt to
plunge a pair of colourfully
decorated banderilleros (short
prods with harpoon- style ends) into
again aiming for the withers. This has the
effect of spurring the animal into action
– the matador
will then seek to use this to execute more
Then there is the matador
himself. His dress could be that of a flamenco
dancer. At its simplest, in country
it is generally a straight-forward combination
of black trousers
and black vest.
At its most extravagant, the
traje de luces (suit
of lights) can be an extraordinary
display of bright,
– name is apt.
All the toreros,
with the occasional exception of the matadors,
wear the black
Mickey Mouse ears hat). The torero’s
standard weapons are the estoque
and the heavy silk and percale capa
You will notice, however, that the matador,
and the matador
alone, employs a different cape with the
sword – a smaller piece of cloth held
with a bar of wood called
the muleta and used for a number
of different passes.
all that takes place in one day of a corrida
is no easy task. In many cases, corridas
are held over several days, or even weeks,
and the whole fiesta is known as the feria.
are transported from their farms
to a location near the ring, often days
in advane. In Madrid,
they are kept at an Andalucian-style
ranch in the Casa
know as Batan
In some towns,
the bulls are bought to another point in
town from where they are let loose on the
morning of the corrida to charge to the
ring. The encierro,
as it is known, in Pamplona
was made famous by Earnest
but score of towns across the country celebrate
are set up along a route to the ring, and
some people feel inclined to run with the
It’s a dangerous
business and people get hurt, sometimes
When the bulls
arrive, the cuadrillas, president
get together to look over the animals
and draw lots to see who is going to fight
with which one. It depends a little on how
are represented, how many matadors
and teams there are and so on.
balls are later huddled into darkened
where they await their moment.
generally begins at 6
hence the title of Hemingway’s
on the subject, Death
in the Afternoon.
As a rule six
and three matadors
are on the day’s card. If any bulls
are considered not up to scratch,
they are booed off (at this point the president
will display a green handkerchief)
and replacements brought on. Each fight
takes about 10
to 15 minutes.