Keeping the bull at bay with numbers

Bullfighters engaged in the "Capeia Arraiana" - an entertainment in Portugal that attracts tourists from all over the world - at the Campo Pequeno arena in Lisbon on Saturday.

The Capeia Arraiana is a type of bullfight that originated in the villages of the upper Coa valley in north Portugal, close to the border with Spain. During the contest, the bullfighters use the forcao - a massive wooden fork built with tree logs and handled by 20 or more men. Each person has a specific role within the structure: some support the weight while others manoeuvre it towards the bull, and there is someone giving directions.

Unlike in Spain, where classical bullfighting was born in the 18th century and the death of the animal is the essential climax in the contest, killing a bull in the ring is deemed by some in Portugal to be tantamount to murder and was outlawed in 1928 across the country, according to The New York Times.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2019, with the headline 'Keeping the bull at bay with numbers'. Print Edition | Subscribe