From the good not so old days

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on September 10th, 2014 in General

From 2007, but it now seems like it was ages ago, from the good old days of tracking old Bedouins in Syria with Hazaim Al Wair and asking them about their horses and all sorts of other things. I re-read it now, fascinated by the wealth of information — like a Abbas Pasha Manuscript entry, and am grieving over what is lost.


Conversation with Abdallah Abu Sayfayn, Bedouin horse breeder (03.31.07)

Revised after a visit by my friend Kamal Abd al-Khaliq to Abdallah Abu Sayfayn on April 5, 2007 

1) The man: ‘Abdallah, son ‘Atiyah Abu Sayfayn, said he was 55 years old.  He is the owner [sahib] of a marbat of the Maanagi Sbaili known after his family.

2) His clan: He said his family is from the Shumaylat [a section of the Fad’aan], and that there were four Fad’aan sections that are “brothers” [i.e., very closely related to each other]: al-Mhayd, al-Shumaylat, al-Sari, and al-Rus. He mentioned that the Mhayd were the senior section, and implied that the other three sections, including his, acknowledged the authority of the Mhayd. He also asked me to check with Thamir ibn Mhayd [who seemed to be current Shaykh of the Fad’an] to confirm whether what he was saying was true. It was clear that he viewed Thamir as a reference.

3) Where his family got its horses from: He said that the grandfather of his father ‘Atiyah took a pregnant [laqhah] mare “hiyafah”, from the Sba’ah [Hiyafah is the planned theft of a specific mare by lone raider from an enemy camp]. He said that this took place before the time of Miqhim ibn Mhayd [so pre-1920s].  He does not recall the name of the grandfather of ‘Atiyah [‘Atiyah is the son of Shatti], but he mentioned ‘Ubaydan and ‘Awwad among his ancestors. He knows his clan traces back to Munaykhir. [Note: The copy of the Fadaan family tree I have says that the Munaykhir clan and the ‘Awwad clan are one and the same. This Awwad in the family tree is probably the same Awwad mentioned by ‘Abdallah above.]

 4) Who his family gave horses to: He recognizes the following “marabet”: that of [Sattam] al-Haybi, and that of [‘Affat] al-Dbayss.  These two got their horses from them. The mare that went to ‘Affat was before his time, and even before the time of ‘Atiyah, but the mare [s?] that went to al-Haybi was more recent. He said that the father of his father, Shatti Abu Sayfayn, married a woman from the Dbayss and that al-Dbayss asked for the Sbayliah in exchange for the daughter.  He mentioned at least twice in the conversation that his family used stallions from al-Dbayss. He also said several times that I could ask Thamer Ibn Mhayd about his horses.

At another point in the conversation he mentioned a certain Ibn Shaqra who said he got his horses from Abu Sayfayn. It was unclear from the conversation if he recognized the horses of Mallah al-Saeed [he asked me if that was Mallah al-Mheidi??] as being from his horses.

More recently, he also gave [perhaps even gifted] a bay mare, 5 or 6 years old, to Nawwaf al-Fares in al-Quneytrah, [Note by Edouard Nawwaf is/was a senior government official of Bedouin origins, a Ageydat man].  His father ‘Atiyah liked Nawwaf very much.  That bay filly is a sister of the grey one he has [Sayfiah]. She in turn produced a colt and filly [and went to Saudi and back?? which is why she was not registered, so he claims – she was not there at the time of registrations. This part of the conversation was not clear, he was speaking fast, while I was scrabbling to take notes] and she was returned to him later. The bay and the grey are full sisters, [i.e., the sire of the bay one is also the Ubayyan al-Suhaili of al-Mu3mo]. The bay mare is not registered.  She is at al-Huwayzah [in partnership with some people?] and he does not know if she is in foal or not.

He also sold a chestnut filly, with a blaze, to a man from Bani Khalid, a dark-skinned man who lives in the area of Hama.   He testified that this filly is from them.  He was promised a filly back, but did not get anything.

He also gave Wadeehah the grey and her son Marzuq to Kamal Abd al-Khaliq in Aleppo, and he gave Wilayah, apparently Wadeehah’s sister, to Mustapha Al-Jabiri. Abdallah’s father ‘Atiyah did not want to register the horses for fear of them being taken by the government, and asked him to wait till they saw what the intentions of the government were.  After ‘Atiyah saw the government’s good intentions, he authorized him to go ahead with registration. He recognizes they were registered thanks to Mustapha al-Jabiri.

He also mentioned that his father also sold a grey mare to Sallum al-Laqtan [another Fad’an Bedouin], when he was very young, and that he was present during the sale.

He could not recall his father giving a mare to Shawakh al-Bursan of the Wuldah, [Note: perhaps because that took place before he was born and because Shawakh had then been displaced to the Turkish/Iraqi border after the filling of the Tabqa dam; but we know from several trustworthy sources that the horses of Shawakh are directly from Abu Sayfayn].

He mentioned the story of a man [of the ‘Afadilah??  I could not hear him well] who claimed that his mare was Sbailia Abu Sayfayn and then he told him [or told other people who were coming to inquire about her] that she was not from his horses, that she was kadishah and not Sbaylia.

He confirmed that Iskandar al-Qassis of Aleppo owned horses from them. He spoke about two bay mares that went to Iskandar al-Qassis; oe of these two mares was a sister of Wadeehah from her dam, or a sister of Wadeehah’s dam, [this part was unclear]; her sire was the Maanagi Sbaili of ‘Affat al-Dbayss. Ten he mentioned a mare going to Qassis in the old times, either when he was very young, or before he was born. She was a bay too. Then he mentioned Sahab, a bay stallion who went to Lebanon [for racing] and then to Iskandar al-Qassis; Sahab was from their horses. Not clear if he was born with Atiyah or if he was born at Qassis. [Radwan Shabareq, who knew the Qassis horses, may know]

Then he mentioned giving a mare and her colt [or only a colt, that was unclear] to a man from the Wuldah, in al-Tabqa, or al-Mansurah, and said that the colt was bay and out of this world [jalil], and that he had not seen anything like that.

5) His uncles’ horses: His uncles gave a light grey [sha3lah] mare to Jadaan al-Nuri [ibn Mhayd, the former shaykh before Thamir], and Jadaan took this mare to either Qatar or Bahrayn [he could not remember, but seemed to opt for Bahrayn later in the conversation]. They they lost track of this mare, because Jadaan died and no one knew where this mare had gone. He lamented her loss, and mentioned that when mares were going to Saudis and Bahrainis so far away, their progeny would not come back.  He mentioned that Jadaan was sending horses to people in Qatar/Bahrain at this time, and that he took this Sbaylia, and another mare, a Saglawiah.  He did not know the sire of the mare that went to Qatar/Bahrain, but promised he would ask his uncles when they would return from Saudi. He said either ‘Ubayyan Suhaili or Managhi. He said that his uncles no longer have horses and they squandered [dayya3u] their horses, unfortunately. His uncles have Saudi citizenship and keep going back and forth to Saudi and Syria. [Did he say they lived in place in Saudi called al-Shaybaniah???]. His uncles [A3mami] apparently also had a marbat of Maanagi Abu Sayfayn. [His uncles are likely the family of ‘Awwad al-Shatti mentioned in the Syrian Studbook as an owner of Managhi Sbaylis, because his grandfather is Shatti, and his ancestor is ‘Awwad].

 6) Wadeeha: Wadeeha was named Hajeilah when she was with them; the sire of Wadeeha is the grey Maanagi Sbaili from his horses, who died at their place [I made sure to ask if he was the Maanagi of al-Haybi or that of al-Dbeyss, but he confirmed he was their own grey horse; I also asked if her sire was not the Ubayyan Suhaili of the Bu ‘Assaf; he said no. I don’t know what to think of this because the hujjah signed by ‘Atiyah mentioned the Ubayyan as the sire]. H mentioned that he did not remember who the sire of Wadeeha’s dam was either, either the ‘Ubayyan al-Suhaili of al-Bashat, or the Maanagi Sbayli of al-Dbayss. He added that at that time the horses were numerous and that there was plenty to choose from.  ere we talked about inbreeding, and he mentioned that he had a horse that refused to mate with his mother or his sister.
7) Sayfiah, daughter of Wadeeha:  He mentioned that Sayfiah was the daughter of the grey ‘Ubayyan al-Suhaili whose dam was the mare from al-Bashat, of Muhammad al-Basha al-Mu’mo [in Ras al-3Ayn, near the Syrian border with Turkey], and that the stallion was with the Kurdish groom. Sayfiah has a daughter, between black and grey in color, dark grey, one year old. Her sire is al-Qa3qa3, the dark grey/black horse of Raghib al-Bashir of the Baqqarah, who is the son of the old mare of al-Bashir who died at age 30. He is registered. He is Saglawi Jadrani, but could not tell if from the marbat of Dari al-Mahmoud or Hassan ibn Amud, and said I needed to ask al-Bashir.

8) The origin of his name: Finally he told me, with much pride, the story of why his ancestor was called Abu Sayfayn [the father of two swords]. It involved a conflict that took place within the Fadaan, which resulted in his ancestor leaving the Fad’aan and seeking asylum with the Shammar.  Shammar was then fighting al-Jayss, and his ancestor was fighting alongside Shammar, and displayed much bravura.  He only had a nibl [small sword] and when asked by the Shaykh of Aal Muhammad [the other name for the Jarbah ruling clan] where his sword was, he said he had none, so he was told by the leader of Aal Muhammad that this small sword was like two swords and called him Abu Sayfan, the father of two. The incident aslo involves al-Qa3it of Shammar in some way.


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