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Photographer's Note

Portuguese-style Bullfighting

Most Portuguese bullfights (corridas de touros) are held in two phases: the cavaleiro and the pega.

Beginning with the cavaleiro, an elegant horseman on a specially trained Lusitano horse, attempts to stab three or four bandeirilhas (small javelins) in the back of the bull.

The cavaleiro is followed by the pega which features the forcados, a group of eight men, who challenge the bull directly without protection or any weapon of defense. Standing single file and facing the bull, the front forcado provokes the bull to charge in order to perform a "pega de cara" (face catch). The front man secures the bull's head and is quickly aided by the other forcados who surround and restrain the animal until it is subdued.

The bull is not killed in the ring and, at the end of the corrida, leading oxen are let into the arena and two campinos on foot herd the bull along them back to its pen. The bull is usually killed, away from the audience's sight, by a professional butcher. Some bulls, after an exceptional performance, restored to health and then released to pasture for breeding.


[Image scanned from 35mm colour negative using an Epson V500 scanner.)

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