Moments earlier, the tasselled harpoon was embedded deep in a bull’s bulging neck muscles, inflicting palpable torment.
As its razor-sharp barb ripped through flesh and sinew, the half-ton creature had convulsed, then tossed its head violently, this way and that, trying to shake out this glitzy instrument of torture.
But now the brutal pageant is over, and as the crowds make their way from the ring, the colourfully decorated banderilla — still wet with blood — is being offered up as a souvenir.
For 12-year-old Jeansin Vilon, who is attending only his second bullfight, the opportunity is not to be missed.
Breaking away from his parents and 15-year-old sister, he leans over the ringside barrier, urges an attendant to hand it to him, then holds it aloft triumphantly, as would an English boy given the shirt of his favourite footballer after a Premier League match.
What will he do with his grisly memento? Why, hang it on his bedroom wall, of course, says the boy, who had earlier sat…