January 19, 2012 – Swiss customs are very much alive. Thousands of spectators watch the cow fights in the Canton of Valais with duelling cows from the Eringer (Hérens) race. The animals are used to fighting against their female rivals; it is part of their natural disposition in their struggle to secure a predominant place in the herd, especially when the cows of different proprietors are united on the pastures.
Men conduct the cows in groups into the arena. “Foire du Valais” in Martigny, 2006. Photo: Christof Berger / Wikipedia.
The ritual has been a public celebration in the Canton of Valais since 1922. The cows are led into the arena in groups …
Rabatteurs in action during the “Foire du Valais” in Martigny, 2006. Photo: Christof Berger / Wikipedia.
… and men – the so-called rabatteurs – are taking care that only two cows at the time are fighting against each other.
The cows block each other with their heads – who turns away first looses. Photo: Christof Berger / Wikipedia.
The animals block their heads and push and pull each other. The cow who makes her opponent turn away is the winner. Only very rarely the cows are hurt.
The “Queen of the Queens” leads the traditional driving up the cattle to the Alpine pastures. Thus Johannes Müller (1806-1897) depicted the arriving at the Alpine pastures, c. 1865. Appenzeller Volkskunde-Museum. Source: Wikipedia.
Regional queens are chosen during preliminary rounds. Successful cows qualify for the great finale in Aproz. This fight event is a kind of folk festival and regularly 10,000 spectators attend it. That is where the “Queen of Queens” is chosen every year, the cow that leads the traditional driving up the cattle to the Apine pastures.
The cow fights in Valais are a typical custom of Valais famous also beyond the borders of that region. It is for this reason that the Federal Swiss Mint has decided to dedicate the second coin of the series “Swiss customs” to the cow fights.
The new bimetallic coin “Combats de Reines” of the series “Swiss customs”.
The commemorative coin has a face value of 10 Swiss Francs. On the image side two cow heads are blocked against each other.
It was designed by the Valais graphic designer, artist and illustrator Dominique Studer and is available in the minting qualities “uncirculated” (max. 94,000) and “proof” in a presentation case (max. 12,000). The current motif “Cow fighting” also supplements the Swiss circulation coins in the 2012 coin set.
Swissmint is going to present its new products during the Basel International Coin Fair (21. / 22.01.2012) and the World Money Fair in Berlin (3.-5.02.2012), where they are directly available to purchase.
Further information on that new coin and a link to the online shop of SwissMint you will find here.
More information on the issues of the Federal Swiss Mint you will find here.
Another issue of the Swiss Mint linked to Swiss customs is the gold coin “A bell for Ursli”. On this topic you can read a comprehensive article at CoinsWeekly by clicking here.
Are you interested in these cow fights? Do you wish to find out more about the old Eringer (Hérens) race? You should visit the website of the Swiss Federation of livestockfarming of the Hérens Breed.
There is also a whole website dedicated to the finale of Aproz.
A vivid idea of the cow fights offer the documentary photos on the website of agenda.