Bullfighting in Dalmatian Hinterland
by 7, 2020| August
If you asked me what the most exciting Sunday excursion would be, if let’s say I lived in Finland, I would fire like from a cannon – Wife carrying event! The strange custom that is locally called “Eukonkanto” in Finnish started back in the 1990s as a sport that turned into a real, full-blooded world championship event.
Here in Dalmatia, we have the “Bikijada” – a local happening that might very easily at first glance be an equivalent in event weirdness.
Since this Sunday the morning weather was very inviting, and since for years now I didn`t have the opportunity to witness it with a camera in my hand, I decided now is the time. And so, earlier in the morning I hit the most picturesque road to Dalmatian Zagora.
Of course, stopping along the way to savour amazing views was mandatory, on top in particular.
Soon I arrived at the top, so I got out of the car to see the contrasting view on both sides of the mountain.
Coming back to the Bullfighting, the event was initially started in the 1990s in the hamlet of Škopljanci, one of the first hamlets situated just over Kozjak mountain, by the local road with very scarce traffic.
After a brief drive from Radošić, we arrived at Škopljanci hamlet. Everything seemed very well organised as staff with recognizable shirts were distributed all over central locations; Signage was adequately placed, parking was very spacious; everything gave an impression of exceptional neatness.
However, although locals call it the “Bikijada”, which translated means a Bull-fest, some refer it as corrida, or locally Korida, it actually is a bull-fighting event.
Local people have been everything but indifferent towards Bikijada. To some it represents a great thrill, maybe even something exotic, while some consider it a rural development; to some is an incident, a genuine catastrophe – an animal exploiting event, while some view it as a chance for good business.
I think we might see a bit of everything as we continue.
There have been some groups of people and even associations rebelling very energetically against this event, but they had no success in stopping it. Their claim was based on animal abuse perspective, so it will be interesting to see whether they had a point. If you find it interesting, you can read about the appeal on this link.
Even I felt the familiar Dalmatian rural smells long before the entrance, but once I entered, the experience got other dimensions as well. Don`t be surprised, there is no cereal for breakfast here.
I took a walk around, checking out how the festivity infrastructure and content fits the context. I wanted to see where the “spectacula” was held, check out the bulls and so forth.
Before the fighting started, hunger knocked on my belly door as well, so I paid a visit to my favourite seller who I frequently meet on her stand.
Soon enough, the fighting was announced, and one by one, the first two bulls were taken to the arena by their proud and slightly nervous owners.
Though the announcer was very good at announcing tone skills, my impression is that it might have been a bit too much when it came to the sponsors (which were anyway visible on posters everywhere in, out and around). In addition, there was a bit too much emphasis on labelling this event as “ancient” and “traditional”, mentioning of honour and generations. Anyway, a small remark from my side as this event doesn`t need such reach for unreality. Bullfighting I saw was very benevolent, based on the bulls ’natural instinct for dominance over territory. None of the bulls was encouraged to fight, poked or molested in any way. Moreover, every owner treated his/her bull as a true treasure, and I am not overreacting by using that word because, in Dalmatian hinterland, local people refer to all domestic animals with a word treasure (Croatian: blago).
Before the main event, there was also an arm-wrestling tournament held, which is a mandatory part of the event.
After the arm wrestling tournament and final fights, I started to find my way back home, full of positive impressions. Except for social distancing, everything seemed perfectly organised. This is, after all, a village-like event of huge importance, very rustic in some ways, very subtle in another – especially towards animals; well, the ones that weren’t eaten to say at least.
Until my next post, stay well…