Clarifying my use of the term “Asil”

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on April 29th, 2008 in General

The term Asil in the Arabic language means “pure”, “authentic” and “original” all at once.

In principle, all Arabian horses should be Asil.   Either Arabians horses are “pure”, “original”, and “authentic” (Asil), or they are not Arabians, but partbreds. Arabians just cannot be a little bit Asil. 

Still, things are not that simple! Most Arabian horses studbooks around the world include horses with varying, often tiny, percentages of non-Arabian blood.  These horses are not Asil, and hence not Arabians, as far as I am concerned. Indeed, in some cases such as Spain, Russia and Poland, such horses compose the entire studbook (except for imports from another country that breeds “pure”, “original”, and “authentic” Asil horses.)

These non-Asil, non-Arabian horses are nevertheless registered as Arabians in the Arabian horse studbooks, and these studbooks are accepted by WAHO (the equivalent of the United Nations for Arabian horses, and I leave it up to you to push that analogy as far as you want).  Indeed, most of the world recognizes and designates these horses as Arabians.  People like me and many of the readers of this blog are a small minority, a “subversive cell in Arabian breeding” to quote the words of Reba Troxell to Charles Craver (thanks Ambar for the quote). 

Hence the need arises to differentiate these so-called Arabians from the others, the real Arabians, the “pure”, the “original”, the “authentic”.  The last time I checked, the breeders of these so-called Arabians were still refusing to call their horses “partbreds”, and still insisted on calling them “Arabians”.  So it’s up to the minority to go look for another term.

The trouble is that different groups within this minority (minorities?) have different opinions about what constitutes a “pure”, “original” and “authentic” Arabian.  This entry is not the place to discuss these different opinions. What matters is that, by and large, virtually all the horses considered by these minorities to be “pure”, “original”, and “authentic”, are indeed so, until further research tells us otherwise. 

In addition to having different definitions of what constitutes a “pure”, “original”, and “authentic” Arabian horse, these groups use different names to refer to this horse: Al Khamsa, Asil, Blue List, BLUE STAR (with caps), Heirloom, Sheykh Obeyd, Straight Egpytian, etc.  Understanding the nuances between these names and concepts is a daunting task facing any newcomer, but many old timers as well.

One of the larger such groupa, the Asil Club, uses the Arabic term Asil to refer to the “pure”, “original”, and “authentic” Arabian horse. It is the term used by the Bedouins, which is the reason why I like it and use it extensively in this blog.

The Asil Club has its own roster of horses, which it considers “Asil”.  While I generally agree with the definition of the Asil Club, and consider the horses in their roster to be generally “pure”, “original” and “authentic”, I use the term Asil to refer to a larger group of horses, not all of which are included in the Asil Club roster.  The additional horses include some (by no means all) of the horses from Algeria, France, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia, etc. Some of these horses are registered in studbooks accepted by WAHO, many others are not registered anywhere. 

So, unless/until I am explicitely told that the term Asil is a registered trademark of the Asil Club, and that it can only be used to refer to the horses accepted in the roster of the Asil Club, I will continue to use it in this blog, because it is the term used by the Bedouins to designate the “pure”, “original” and “authentic” Arabian horses of the desert.

To give yourself more of a headache, read my conceptual underpinnings of my use of the term Asil, here.

2 Responses to “Clarifying my use of the term “Asil””

  1. Talking about Asil horses does someone have any news about these Asil Horses imported to the USA
    “Maha”AHC 689
    Sire a Siklawi Jidran bred by Omar Bey Dandash later presented to Gen. Gouraud the French High-commissioner in Lebanon
    Dam “Noura” presented to Ameen Rihani by King Abd el Aziz from Saudi Arabia.
    “Saada” AHC 721 a grey Jalfa Sattam el Boulad bred by Nejib bey Suleiman in Baalbeck in 1922 ,impoeted 1929
    “Alya” 966 AHC a grey Maanakia Sbeylya bred by Shikrallah Abdallah in Jbeil imported 1935 by K.Bistany
    “Layya” AHC 4208
    “lebnanieh” AHC 4211
    “Najwa” AHC 4206
    “Snounou” AHC 4205
    “Mounwer” AHC 4210
    All these horses imported by R.Hearst in 1947
    “Daham” AHC 8250
    “Dallal” AHC 9822
    Both bred by Soubhi Hindi in Rayak and imported in 1950 to New Mexico

  2. Hi Joe, I am so glad you mentioned these horses. *Layya is the only one in the Al Khamsa roster. She has tail female descendants, including with Jenny Krieg, here in Maryland. *Layya will be the subject of a later post.

    *Lebnanieh might still have a couple Asil descendants (old mares) but they are not in Al Khamsa.

    *Mounwer, *Snounou, *Arkane, *Bourhane and the others no longer have Asil descendants.

    The Hindi horses have virtually disappeared.

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