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Bull Butting in Oman

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by Dayo, Dec 17, 2018.

  1. Visiting Oman back in 2004, we have decided to investigate what the Lonely Planet Travel Guidebook called "Bull Butting" which took place on alternate Friday evenings in somewhere called Barka, a few kilometers out of Muscat, the capital.

    With no Arabic, we had been unable to find the location and all attempts at miming bulls locking horns had been met with puzzled looks. We had given up and started driving back to Muscat when we saw a truck with a huge bull in the back drive past. We decided to follow and sure enough, it led us to the site. We were the only foreigners there and it was an interesting event to watch. Basically local farmers bring their bulls to lock horns with those of rival farmers for bragging rights.

    A few months ago, on a trip back to Oman, decided to see if we could find the place again. In the intervening years, they had built a kind of arena.

    All shots taken with an Olympus OMD-EM5 / 12mm Zuiko and processed in ON1 PhotoRAW.

    #1 The Arena
    /1250 @ f/6.3 @ ISO 200
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    #2 A few lads had arrived early with the family entry
    1/320 @ f/11@ ISO 200
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    #3 He seemed confident of glory
    1/200 @ f/11@ ISO 200
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    #4 The Competition Arrive
    1/200 @ f/6.3 @ ISO 200
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    #5 More Competition
    1/1250 @ f/6.3 @ ISO 200
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    #6 The Champ Arrives. Balefully eyes another garland wearer
    1/1250 @ f/6.3 @ ISO 200
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    #7 The Champ
    1/500 @ f/6.3 @ ISO 200
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    #8 I don't think its a good idea to be sitting so close!
    1/1250 @ f/6.3 @ ISO 200
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    They actually let me wander into the arena to take pics as I wanted a closer shot given I only had a 24mm equiv lens. I think there is some protocol of who sits in the stands and who gets to sit dangerously close to rampaging bulls but they probably waived this for the loony tourist.

    #8 was as close as I dared go.

    Each bout lasted about a minute max and the chap with the staff on the right decided who was the winner.

    It is not clear what the origin of this sport, which is only found in this part of Oman, is. Some have speculated it is a local twist on Portuguese style bullfighting (which also doen't involve killing bulls). The Portuguese did occupy Oman for about one and a half centuries starting in the early 1500's.
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  2. Great story and photographs, Dayo. I'm sure you were wishing for a longer focal length at times, but what you got documented the event well.

    They probably let you get close because they were hoping for an additional bit of entertainment. :D 
  3. Such an interesting narrative and series of photos!

    What motivates the bulls to lock heads?
  4. Thanks. Most likely!
  5. Thanks Mike.

    They didn't seem to need to goad or otherwise prompt them and just needed to bring them to within a certain distance of each other for it to kick off. I suppose adult bulls just don't like being around other adult bulls.
  6. How very fascinating! I think that the wide lens did a great job of showing the setting the bulls were in, bringing in the human culture surrounding the event. Nicely done.
  7. Excellent b&w series, Dayo!
  8. Fascinating series, Dayo! I especially like #6 with the two bulls checking each other out. In addition, it gives the complete picture of the environment. The shadows also add a cool effect!
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