National Geographic : 1922 Jul
CAMARGUE, COWBOY COUNTRY OF SOUTHERN FRANCE The abrivado brings in sufficient bulls during the morning. The real sport takes place in the afternoon. THE OBJECT OF THE CONTESTANTS IS TO SNATCH THE COCKADE In a narrow stall, before the contest, a gardian attaches to the forelock of the beast a colored cockade poised between his deadly horns. It is this piece of rib bon that amateurs and professional gar dians will endeavor to snatch off with the bare hands or with a steel hook shaped like a comb. Each captured cockade brings with it a premium, a sum of money varying from a few francs to several hundred. The arena is crowded with people; the spectators shout to one another, and in the heat of the afternoon the venders of oranges and refreshing drinks circu late among the people. In the ring the cockade hunters wait, their eyes fixed on the gate of the toril. At a bugle call, it opens suddenly, allow ing a black bull, blinded by the light, to enter. The bugle sounds a second time and the crier announces the prize which each cockade represents. Then the sport commences. It is by the razet that the agile young man will endeavor to secure the cockade. This is a feint executed in front of the animal, on the flank, or behind him. Those employing this method are called rasetaires. While the attention of the bull is else where directed, the rasetaire advances in a wide circle. When a few yards from the animal, he attracts the animal's at tention by shouting, and while the beast charges him, the man quickly thrusts his hand between the horns, endeavoring to detach the cockade with a quick upward motion. Then the man, successful or not, and followed by the bull, rushes to the barricade. In order to execute this feint, one must have a sure eye, quick decision, and great agility. The slightest fault or hesitation may bring a wound to the rasetaire, some of whom are tossed on the horns of the bulls during these encounters. The premiums attached to the cockades vary according to the qualities and sav agery of the fighting bulls who are de fending the ribbons. These cocardiersshould be valiant bulls, full of speed and tenacious in their pur suit of their adversary. They are espe cially trained for this purpose. When a bull has finished its fight the leader-bull is sent into the ring to conduct it off to the stable. Sometimes, to increase the excitement of the bull-fight, gardians arrange l'esper age, which consists of resisting with a trident the mad onslaught of a bull. Walking shoulder to shoulder, their tri dents held firmly before them, two gar dians advance across the arena. When the bull charges they must resist his as sault unflinchingly by goading the beast on the muzzle. Now the bull-fight is over and the bulls are waiting in the dark toril, some with the cockade intact between their danger ous horns. The gardians are already mounted. Quickly the gate of the toril is opened. With rattling horns, the bulls bound be hind the riders, while the people shout and yell. Spurring their steeds into a run, the gardians direct the mad rush of the beasts. Now the village is far away, and the shouts and yells of the holiday crowds die away in the distance. In the darkness of advancing night the white steeds of the gardians have no need to direct the now quiet beasts to their grazing place. The last cultivated fields have been passed, and beyond the line of the silver-leafed willows, behind the mirror of a marsh, the herd is at home once more. COW FIGHTS AT NIGHT FOLLOW THE DAY'S SPORT Every day during the festival period it is the same. The herdsmen are on horse back a great part of the day to select and assemble and bring back the fighting cattle. In Languedoc, for instance, some villages have ten bull-fights on the festi val of the local patron saint, and often people organize nightly fights with cows, which are very funny and not so dan gerous. "Bulls, bulls! Here come the bulls!" Magic words, which make the Pro vencal people come running. Bull-fight and horse-play constitute the favorite games of the little boy when released from the school-room.