Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Sanfermines : Time Magazine 1932

Because of its historic value we thank Time Magazine for publishing this article about the Sanfermines in Iruñea from back in 1932:

Animals: Pamplona's Encierros

Monday, Jul. 11, 1932

For 51 weeks of the year the capital of Navarra is a sleepy little Spanish city where half-naked children play in the narrow streets and café waiters doze under the arcades of the broad, quiet Plaza de la Constitucíon. But in the second week of July, Pamplona becomes bull-mad, its streets and plaza are full of snuffing, rushing bulls. Hotels and rooming houses overflow with visitors from Madrid, Bilbao, San Sebastian, with tourists from St. Jean-de-Luz, Biarritz and Paris. Peasants from miles around sleep in wagons, in the fields, or do not sleep at all. For four days from 6 a. m. until long after midnight sleep is next to impossible while Pamplona celebrates the Fiesta of San Fermín, its patron saint. There are bullfights, street dancing, parades of huge grotesque figures, much drinking of strong Spanish wine. But by far the most exciting ceremony—one which takes place only at Pamplona—is the encierro (driving of the bulls).

Soon after dawn the first day of the fiesta this week, hundreds of youths gathered at the edge of town near the railroad station. Men climbed upon six big cages, reached down and opened them. Out walked six bulls, blinking in the sunlight. They were strong, lithe, handsome, each branded with the mark of Don Ernesto Blanco. They looked around, uncertain what to do, until from the crowd of youths came a yell: "Hah! Hah! . . . Toro!" The bulls lowered their heads, charged the crowd. The crowd took to its heels, the bulls stampeding in pursuit.

Through the narrow streets rushed the yelling rabble of boys and young men, while women cheered from the safety of windows. From every doorway came male recruits to swell the throng. Across the city they ran, the foremost bull not three paces behind the last man. At the plaza the path of the encierro is marked by fences, behind which hundreds of tourists and visitors watched. A few, carried away by the excitement, vaulted the fence, joined the runners. Occasionally a runner fell, lay still while the bulls, their eyes on the moving mass, pounded over them. From the plaza the chase poured into another small street, then men & bulls made one mad rush for the entrance of the bull ring.

The gate is far too small to let all through at once. Those who could not get in fell to the ground. Men piled upon men, bulls leaped over a human wall and charged snorting into the ring. There they found men waving coats, shirts, rags—anything that remotely resembled a matador's cape. The bulls charged here & there. Sometimes a novice held his bull's attention, executed several passes. Sometimes he went down with a horn wound in his leg.

Into this bedlam now trotted a bunch of steers. The bulls charged, goring the steers at first but gradually making friends with them, quieting down in the company of fellow cattle. Then the steers led the bulls out to pens under the arena.

The failed to mention anything regarding the Basque identity of this tradition, but at least they did mention Navarra and not just Spain.

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