"The bull is present in art from the first trace of the human being" | Blog The bull, by the horns

"The bull is present in art from the first trace of the human being" | Blog The bull, by the horns


"The bull is an animal that is present from the first vestige of art of humanity; it is a mythical animal that has functioned as an economic factor, a protective divinity and object of worship, a magical and ludic reference, and as an exponent of manhood in the transmission of its engendering force; the blood of the bull fertilizes the lands and the semen transmits manhood to those who inhabit it. "

Teresa Gómez Espinosa is responsible for the Department of Conservation and Restoration of the National Archaeological Museum, demanding amateur bulls for family, which has led to an occasional and disappointed by the dark circumstances that modern bullfighting crosses.

He speaks, however, with excessive passion about the deep meaning of the bull in all periods of the human being, from the Pleistocene to our days; and shows with palpitating pride the many references toristas inherited from history and kept in the National Archaeological Museum, where, among other traces, you can see the horns of bos primigenius, a gigantic animal, preceding the current bos taurus, the Bicha of Balazote, the bull of Osuna and numerous vestiges of the world 'bullfighting' civilization.

"The bulls appear linked to humans already in the Paleolithic cave paintings," says the conservative, "and in the Levant peninsular appear from the early Neolithic times, around the sixth millennium; there we find characters with masks that attack a bull; also in Anatolia – Near East – and in the settlement of Çatalhöyük, a Neolithic site located in Turkey, an authentic sanctuary with bull heads ".

"The nuptial bull is the clearest antecedent of bullfights," says Teresa Gómez, curator of the museum

The bull is the protagonist in ancient Egypt, in Crete – women and men jump like the current trimmers, and some historians have wanted to see in these images the origin of bullfighting, although that possibility is not faithfully documented, according to Teresa Gómez- ; in the world of the Sumerians and Akkadians-fourth millennium before Christ-in Mesopotamia, "where the gods appear touched with tiaras with horns, and where the bull is the force, the power and the fertility"; in the oriental world, in Greek mythology and in Mediterranean cultures … "The bull has played a role of reference in all civilizations, and in them has exercised a special power of fascination."

The reasons are not clear, but the figure of the bull has developed with more intensity and durability in the Iberian Peninsula, although always subject to numerous external influences.

"At the beginning of the Middle Ages, in the eleventh century, the first aristocratic wedding in which bulls run is documented in Ávila," Teresa Gómez continues, "and that so-called 'nuptial bull' is the clearest antecedent of current bullfights."

Bull of Costitx, found in Mallorca in the sanctuary of the San Corro estate (V century BC).
Bull of Costitx, found in Mallorca in the sanctuary of the San Corro estate (V century BC).

The nuptial bull took root in Spain until the 18th century; in some places of the peninsular center it has been maintained until the beginning of the twentieth century, and even today it is remembered in Teruel, whose feast was celebrated on 17 February.

"In the thirteenth century, the Cantigas de Alfonso X the Wise collect a regulation of bull runners, among which profit is prohibited," says the curator of the Archaeological Museum.

"On the occasion of a wedding, the boyfriend buys a brave and powerful bull to run it enmaromado – tied to a rope – with his friends. Some grab him by the horns, others throw darts in feathers to make them fly better, and so they reach the bride's door. There, it is the woman who throws the darts and, in Extremadura, for example, she is the one who adorns them, as a precedent of the current banderillas. The final scene is that the groom places the bull with the banderillas adorned by his beloved. "

-And what was the point of this ceremony?

– The bull acquires a magical sense; he is going to transmit his manhood to the boyfriend, because it is very important to father children. And that capacity is acquired by contact with blood. The boyfriend wants to be rammed by the bull so that his clothes are stained with blood and infected by the bull's begetting force.

There are legends 'bullfighting', like the oricuerno, originally from some towns of Palencia and León, in which a maiden who by avatars of life is forced to disguise as a man, either to go to war or become independent, and in contact with the unicorn or the black bull it becomes a male.

"In the Hispanic world there has always been a special fascination with the bull"

"And they still persist -continues Teresa Gómez- of initiation to puberty and youth in localities of the sierra of Madrid and Ávila, -like La Fiesta de la Vaquilla, which is celebrated in Fresnedillas de la Oliva, of ancient tradition and Celtic origin. -, in which the protagonists go with enormous masks and cowbells and all run towards the square, where the sacrifice of the bull is simulated and they end up drinking to celebrate the virility contracted by the young people of the town ".

Festivities, customs and legends that are at the dawn of bullfighting, which was born when the town regained prominence and replaced the nobility in bullfights that were celebrated in real and aristocratic events.

– Why does the bull take root in the Iberian Peninsula more than in other places?

– The reason is not clear, but the truth is that it is difficult to understand the history of Spain without the meaning of this animal. Ortega y Gasset has already said that and it is an indisputable truth. In the Hispanic world there has always been a special fascination with the bull, as if it were something innate in this society of ours.

"It's a shame," he concludes, "that we can lose it permanently if the bullfights disappear. I think the picture is very dark; they will prohibit the luck of killing and the picadores, and the bulls will be mechanics with remote control … It will be seen … And all because of the anti-bullfighting, who talk about something they have no idea about, bullfighters and ranchers and manipulations and frauds in the show. For all this, I think that even the most recalcitrant fans will leave sooner or later.

Teresa Gómez Espinosa is clearly disappointed by the avatars of the current bullfighting party, but regains her enthusiasm when she becomes a special guide to the 'bullfighting' treasures of the National Archaeological Museum: the antlers of the Pleistocene uro, the Bicha de Balazote, the Berracos, the Bull of Azaila, the Bull of Osuna, the Bull of Costitx …

– I have always liked bullfighting and I have run the encierros in Cebreros, the town of Ávila where I was born. He does not know how the adrenaline goes up. But that was years ago. Now, my life 'bullfighting' focuses on the Museum.

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