How the Tahawi used to choose asil Arabians from Syria

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on September 3rd, 2010 in Arabia, Egypt, Syria

Excerpts from the Tahawi clan/family website, translation mine:

When in the 1850s, the Tahawi began to settle in the province of al-Sharkiyah, in the areas of Bilbeis, Abu Hammad, Geziret Saoud, Kfar Saqr, al-Ismailia, and Abu Sultan, they owned horses which they used for transportation and nomadizing; then they settled down and acquired agricultural land, and gave up their pastoral and war-like lifestyle; their Sheykhs then went on to constitute their own horse studs (marabet); around this time, the Syrian region of Hims and Hama was the homeland of the Arab horse, and was known as al-Sham, since it was home to some of the Bedouin tribes like ‘Anazah, Shammar, al-Fad’aan, and al-Sba’ah, which specialized in the breeding of Arab horse and the tracing of its bloodlines;

The Tahawi Arabs owned some land and maintained social ties with their relatives living in this area, as well as some close friends, so they started bringing brood-mares and stallions to Egypt. Some of them would travel there [to the area of Hims and Hama in Syria] and buy horses, then return [to Egypt] and wait for their horses to arrive; others would buy horses through an agent. Each horse came with a pedigree document, which included a description of the horse, its color, age, complete bloodline of its sire and dam, and the signature of the seller. The document was testified upon by the owners of the nearby studs (marabet), and the Shaykhs of the tribes in the area of Hims.

Among the horse bloodlines which the Tahawis brought and which constituted the foundations for their studs (marabet) are: al-Dahmah, al-Saqlawiyah, al-Tamriyah, al-Khallawiyah, al-Sh’aifiyah, al-Nawwaqiyah, al-Shuwaymah, al-Ma’naqiyah, al-Kharsaa, and al-Kuhaylah, and each of the lines has many sub-lines; when the Tahawi Arabs strove to buy broodmares and bring them from al-Sham (Syria), each Shaykh (of the Tahawi) took it upon himself to acquire different bloodlines/strains from those which another Shaykh had acquired, so they could use stallions of different bloodlines on each others’ mares.

Through their social and family networks in Syria, the Tahawi Shaykhs apparently received photographs and information about horses for sale. The annotated photo below is one such example, and a translation of the legend on the back of the photo reads as follows:

“Dahman, which was in Hims, and we offered his owner 300 guineas, but he refused to sell, then the horse died of a seizure; his owner was Rashid Mu’ayneh; the horse is the brother of the horse of Shaykh Bashari through the dam, and his sire is Kuhaylan al-Kharas”

My notes on the legend:

1. the architectural pattern of the door in the backgruond of the photo is typical of the city of Hims in Syria

2. the Mu’ayneh family is an old family of horse merchants in Syria; their heyday was in the 1920s, 30s and 40s; Rashid was one of the family’s most noted scions; he may even be the man in the picture;

3. Shaykh Bashari al-Tahawi was one of the tribe’s leaders;

7 Responses to “How the Tahawi used to choose asil Arabians from Syria”

  1. Edouard,
    Does the Tahawi website indicate if they are still breeding asil horses?

  2. Jenny, the website actually says that they gradually stopped breeding asil horses after the EAO closed the door of the registration of Tahawi horses into WAHO, and after racehorse owners started mixing racing stock with English Thoroughbreds. Tahawi horses were neither recognized by the EAO, nor were they fast enough to compete with the crossbreds at the racetrack, so they were doomed. Bernd Radkte tells me most of the horses he tried to salvage through registration are now either dead or extremely old.

  3. Just tragic….

  4. So, based on that, all that remains of their legacy is the three Tahawi mares, incorporated into the Hamdan Stud in Egypt and now existing in Egypt, Europe and North America. There are also a few European bred descendants of these three which are not “straight Egyptian” but combine also the “Amurath-Babolna” blood as well. It would be interesting to get some DNA testing done of the remaining tail female Folla horses of the Shuwaymah Sabbah strain here in the U.S. to see if they have similar DNA to the Shuwaymah Sabbah that I saw in Syria, such as with the Tai tribe or with Basil Jadaan for instance.

  5. Hello!!

    In chile we have some horses with tahawy “blood”

    they are somtimes a little “diferent” from the SE but some people liked them, as I do.

  6. they are excellent horses, which constitute a great outcross for the old, tired, straight egyptian bloodlines, and bring the best of western syria’s bloodlines to the egyptian gene pool..

  7. Hi
    I’m wondering what are the standings on the Tahawi arabian horses now ?.I wondering if there is some of the blood here in USA that we can help with this ? I love the Futna female tail ..and have long admired these horses. I hope in time we can do something to save these magnificent part of Arabian history.

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