Rainbow bull

From Jack Hamilton on Facebook yesterday, this striking Mallorcan bull in rainbow-flag colors:

This might be a political statement, connected to the language politics of greater Iberia. Arne Adolfsen explains:

Those huge black bull signs are common throughout the countryside in Castile and Aragon (though not so much there) and are a symbol of Spanishness, or, really, Castilianness. Painting those bull signs any color other than black could be seen as an attack on the unitary Spanish (read: Castilian) state. In Catalunya signs are in català and castellano (it’s not called español). Also, bullfighting is against the law in Catalunya. And don’t forget that Mallorca is part of the Catalan-speaking part of the world.

More detail, on this site, via Gwendolyn Alden Dean on Facebook:

The advertising hoardings of black toros (bulls) have added to the Spanish landscape since the Nineteen-fifties, when bulls first appeared in large, cut-out silhouettes promoting the famous Spanish Brandy, Veterano. Then, the Osborne spirits company erected large images of bulls in black with the maker’s name, as advertising boards on sites near to major roads throughout Spain. The bull is, by some, regarded as a semi-official national symbol of Spain. The Osborne bull can been seen looming on hillsides all over Spain. When Spain outlawed billboards on national roads in the early 1990′s, the bulls had to be taken down. Many Spaniards protested, as they had become endeared to them. The original bull was smaller and of a slightly different design. It got bigger as publicity was prohibited within 150 meters of a main road. The bulls now have a height of 14 m. There are said to be around 70 of these giants placed throughout the country. You might have seen one yourself, perhaps the only one in Mallorca, between Algaida and Montuïri.

In Mallorca, as in Catalunya, the Osborne bull is not as welcome as in other parts of Spain. The Mallorcan cut-out toro often suffers from protesting graffiti (see my earlier blog entry). A couple of days ago, the billboard was defaced again but, this time in a cheerful manner. Now the black bull appears in the colours of the rainbow (see photo). Even though this colour spectrum is usually attributed to the Gay Pride movement, it is widely speculated that the latest toro misdeed was in fact carried out by the Spanish anti-bullfight movement who are known to have converged in Mallorca during the last few days.

Whatever you might think about bullfights, Osborne bulls, anti-bullfight protesters or the gay scene, the rainbow coloured toro between Algaida and Montuïri adds a bit of colour to the landscape. One has to applaud the creative impetus of the culprits.

2 Responses to “Rainbow bull”

  1. Erik Zyman Carrasco Says:

    Tangentially, your use of the endonym-based Mallorcan stood out to me because I grew up reading only Majorca and Majorcan. (My English does have Mallorquin, though, a word I learned from W3.)

  2. Rainbow commas « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Rainbow bull, 4/29/11: link […]

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