As with centuries-long changes in bullfighting traditions and requirements, bullfighting equipment has gained many innovations and developments to protect a matador and establish a professionally set and spectacular performance.
Major innovations, brought into the professional bullfighting equipment, were introduced in Spain mainly by members of the famous Romero family. For instance, Francisco Romero introduced muleta among many other things. Muleta is a red flannel cloth with stick inserted, which is used during faena or the last part of the bullfight. A matador commonly holds a muleta in one hand and a sword in another one.
Franciso's son, Juan, introduced the concept of bullfighting team and matador's sword (estoque), determining the role of a matador and bullfighting equipment in the bullfight, as a star torero, performing in the conclusive and the most important stage of the performance, using a muleta and a sword to spectacularly kill the bull.
As of today, professional bullfighting equipment includes a number of important items, aimed to subdue and strike a rebellious animal. Lance is an important element of professional bullfighting equipment. At the beginning of the bullfight, two picadors or lancers on horseback enter the ring and their aim is to pierce the bull's neck with a lance to make the animal lower his head.
Professional bullfighting equipment also includes banderrillas, decorated wooden sticks with spiked ends. During the bullfight, banderilleros (older bullfighters that make a part of matador's team) are to insert two banderillas over the horns into the bull's neck muscle.
Professional bullfighting equipment, used by a matador, comprises a large cape, red muleta and a curved sword. Muletas are made of red flannel with white, yellow, blue or purple linings that in some cases double the amount of material to make them heavier and less liable to blow around in the wind. They are "fixed" on a beechwood stick, the first half of which is square with notches for the fingertips and the second half is circular, ending in a metallic butt with a centimeter-long pointed tip. In the final section of the fight, a matador elegantly engages the bull, exchanges the purple and yellow capote (large cape) for the red muleta and curved sword and kills the bull with his sword.
A sword, as referred to professional bullfighting equipment, is a specifically designed device to dispatch the bull. An authentic bullfighter's sword can be from 36.8" to 42.2" length and of approximately 1.4-1.5 lbs stainless steel blade, sharpened to the point. The blade is properly curved along the long axis for an overhand thrust through the bull's shoulders, aiming at the heart. The earlier versions of matador swords were designed with bronze cast handles, featuring detailed artwork and monograms. Today some authentic bullfighter's swords are available for display or purchase and are of great value for vintage weapons collectors as beautiful and highly artistic replicas of traditional bullfighting equipment.