By Edouard Aldahdah
Arabian horse strains as we know them today (i.e., family names of horses transmitted through the dam) are about 350 years old, and perhaps more, but we don’t how much more, because of the lack of written sources.
The earliest mention of Arabian horses strains in Western Literature occurs in one of the several travel accounts of France’s Chevalier d’Arvieux (b. 1635 – d. 1702), “Voyage a la Palestine”. Published in Paris in 1717, it was translated into English in 1718 and published in London as “Travels in Arabia the Desart”, sixteen years after d’Arvieux death. Chapter XI, “Of the Arab Horses” has the following mention:
“A Marseilles Merchant that liv’d at Rama, was Part’ner so in a Mare with an Arab whose Name was Abrahim Abou Vouasses: This Mare, whose name was Touysse, besides her Beauty, her Youngness, and her Price of Twelve hundred Crowns, was of that first noble Race. That Merchant had her whole Genealogy, with her Descent both of the Sire’s and Mother’s side, up to Five hundred Years of antiquity, all from public Records…”
“Touysse”, the colloquial form of Tuwayssah, is clearly the earliest mention of any strain in Western literature. “That first noble race” refers to the “Kehhilan”, (or Kuhaylan as Id’ spell it), which is mentioned earlier in the same chapter, an excerpt of which is reproduced here.
One wonders why this account was published so long after d’Arvieux death. His autobiography, also published posthumously in 1735, indicates that the manuscript of “Voyage a la Palestine” was ready as early as 1673. Since d’Arvieux sailed from Marseille to the Levant in 1653, the above account could have taken place anytime between these two dates. This means that Kuhaylan al-Tuwayssan existed as a distinctive since 1673, or even 1665, the date of d’Arvieux return to France from the Levant.
Above is a picture of Al-Tuwayssa, a representative of that grand old strain of Kuhaylan al-Tuwayssan. Al-Tuwayssa, born in 1986, is currently the last Asil mare of Lebanes bloodlines still alive. The picture which I took in 1991, also shows Abu Ziad, who used to care for her. Al-Tuwayssa was also my personal favorite (and friend), out of all the horses my father bred (Zanoubia, who is in the background of the picture, was another favorite). I am not quite over either mares yet.