Bullfighting lances or Picas
Materials: Wood, metal nail, paper
Bullfighting has been a favorite sport in Mexico for many years. Originally introduced to Mexico by the Spanish, Mexican matadores perform specific moves, occasionally using a piece of red cloth, to encourage the bull to charge them. As the bull charges, the matadore will try to avoid being trampled while simultaneously injuring the bull. The
lances, or picas, from the Sam Noble Museum‘s Ethnology Collection were meant to be stuck into the neck of the bull as it charges. The metal tips of the lances are made from nails and are sharpened to form small hooks that are meant to catch in the bull’s flesh. These injuries, and the resulting blood loss, will slowly tire the bull and in the end, the bull is killed with a sword. The pica originated in Spanish bullfighting as the weapon used by the picadores, one of three sets of fighters that would engage the bull. Typically, a Mexican bullfighting event includes other activities or shows leading up to the the bullfight as the main event and can easily last all day.
Thousands of bullfighting events occur annually in Mexico, Spain, and other parts of Central America. Despite their popularity, recently there have been increased efforts to stop the sport, now seen by many to be cruel and inhumane. Bullfighting is now banned from National Spanish Television, and the Spanish region of Catalonia has banned the practice. There are also a number of groups attempting to pass bullfighting bans in Mexico, Ecuador, and other areas of Spain.
The following link will connect you to a National Geographic video with more information on the bullfighting tradition in Mexico. Viewer discretion is advised however as this video includes footage of actual bullfights.
http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/player/places/culture-places/sports/mexico_bullfighting.html [Kathryn S. (Barr) McCloud]