Bullfighting - Ritual

Bullfighter Fran Rivera Ordoñez

Bullfighting is a ritual. It is a ceremony that is carried out in carefully prearranged steps, as called for by the tradition of the corrida, each stage with its own name, and which the aficionados in the crowd will know by heart. The lead roles are played by the bull and the matador in the arena. It is a ritual that requires a sacrifice, a sacrifice to the death.

Only this thought can justify the ritual, the performance, the bullfight, the celebration, and that is death. Man, in his complex relationship with the fear of death but also his willingness to risk it, seeks to vanquish death. He does that by physically overcoming death; and doing so in the arena, he seeks immortality. The bull, therefore, is death personified.

Man's melodrama is forgotten for an instant. The matador, representing mankind and dressed for his date with death in the fantastical if impractical traje de luz, suit of lights, goads, mocks and sentences the bull to death with the estocada, the death blow, from his sword. The most spectacular estocada is the estocada recibido ('received', when the matador stands his ground and lets the enraged bull charge him) but it isn't seen that often. The ritual has been carried out, the bull is dead and the matador is triumphant. Man has defeated death - today he is immortal.