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Jakarta Post

A tradition of bull fighting

Tue, September 26, 2017   /   12:50 pm
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    A man prepares a lasso before the match. JP/Sigit Pamungkas

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    A bull is ready to enter the field. JP/Sigit Pamungkas

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    A handler catches a bull with a lasso. JP/Sigit Pamungkas

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    Two bulls lock horns during the cow fighting show at Bawean, East Java. JP/Sigit Pamungkas

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    Some handlers with lassoes are in standby position, ready to take action if the bulls get out of control. JP/Sigit Pamungkas

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    A handler with a lasso on guard to avoid a bull from leaving the field and possibly endangering the spectators. JP/Sigit Pamungkas

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    Bulls battle it out. JP/Sigit Pamungkas

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    A man shouts instruction through a microphone at the event. JP/Sigit Pamungkas

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    Two men run after a bull as it tries to run away. JP/Sigit Pamungkas

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    Guards try to catch an escaped bull. JP/Sigit Pamungkas

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    An owner is helped by others to put a rope into a bull’s nose ring after the match. JP/Sigit Pamungkas

People on Bawean Island, East Java, wait for harvest time by making bulls fight each other.

The island, located about 120 kilometers east of Gresik, is famous for its bulls . The bull fighting tradition dates back generations, but nobody knows exactly when it first started.

The locals call it “tok tok”, from the sound of clashing horns.

Apart from being free entertainment for Bawean’s residents, bull fighting also builds solidarity among the islanders.

The tradition has long been considered controversial, especially among clerics. They see bull fighting as improper from a religious perspective, as well as exploiting the animals and endangering spectators.

However, the locals still see “tok tok” as a cultural tradition and even have an organization dedicated to the event.

The bull fighting takes place in an open field, watched by spectators from all over the island.

Unlike organized bullfighting, these bulls are not bred to fight. Only an “umpire” is tasked with monitoring the fight. The winning bull’s worth will rocket, sometimes reaching a selling price in the hundreds of millions of rupiah – far from the normal price of about Rp 18 million (US$1,400). [yan]