Kuhaylan Abu ‘Arqub in the Abbas Pasha Manuscript

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on April 1st, 2011 in Arabia, Saudi

When I first purchased my first copy of the Abbas Pasha Manuscript, I was surprised not to find a mention of the well-known strain of Kuhalyan Abu ‘Arqub (fem. Umm ‘Arqub). Its absence was particularly puzzling since it was listed as one of the ten strains the viceroy of Egypt Abbas Pasha Hilmi I liked best. Upon taking a closer look however, I found it, “hidden” under the inconspicuous strain of Kuhaylan al-Fajri, which I had never heard of before.

Here are the main is what the Manuscript has to say about this strain of Kuhaylat al-Fajri or Umm ‘Arqub, around 1840-1850, which is when the manuscript was compiled:

— it goes back to Kuhaylat al-‘Ajuz, and is ‘to be mated in the darkest night’ (which means that the tribe could use males from that strain as stallions).

— it is of a precious stud (or marbat in Arabic).

— it is originally of the ‘Abidah sub-tribe of the great Bedouin tribe of Qahtan (where a lot of the best and most ancient strains seem to have hailed from — stay tuned for a list of these ‘Abidah strains).

— it passed from the ‘Abidah to a man of the Bedouin tribe of Bani Khalid then to another from the clan of Ibn Fajri of the same tribe, at a time Eastern Arabia was ruled by the Ottoman Turks (referred to in the Manuscript as the “Rum”).

— a mare from Ibn Fajri was sold to Sayf al-Sa’dun, the leader (i.e., ‘master, ‘ruler’, ra’i in Arabic) of al-Hasa, one of the oldest towns in Eastern Arabia, which gave its name to the entire region. A mare from Ibn Sa’dun was sold to ‘Ali ibn Sha’lan (no relation to the Ruwalah Bedouin leading family) of Bani Khalid, and from this man to Ibn Khalifah, ra’i of the archipelago of Bahrain.

— from Ibn Khalifah, a filly went back to Sayf al-Sa’dun (see above) and from him it went to the House of Sa’ud, who gave it to one of its in-laws from the clan of Aal Mandil of Bani Khalid. At this time it was still known as Kuhaylat al-Fajri.

— from Aal Mandil of Bani Khalid it passed in battle to the al-Dawish leading clan of the great Mutayr Bedouin tribe, on the “day” of al-Radimah, which is one of the most famous and significant Bedouin battles, pitting the Mutayr and their allies against Bani Khalid and their allies. A “day” in Bedouin parlance is a specific episode in Bedouin warfare that could last for days or even weeks.

— This  Kuhaylat Ibn Fajri mare was wounded in the battle of al-Radimah, which the Bani Khalid lost, and could not walk anymore. The Bani Khalid decided to kill her so that al-Dawish does not take her. They struck her hock (‘arqub in Arabic) and left her for dead, and retreated. Yet the mare survived in the ownership of the victorious Faysal al-Dawish, who gave her to one of his men, Duwayhi Ibn Kan’aan of Mutayr, with whom she recovered, and eventually produced nine fillies and colts, some of which went to the High Stud of Abbas Pasha, with the others going to Faysal Ibn Turki Ibn Saud, or being sold to India. Her descendants then spread among the tribes.

— The mare whose hock was struck was known as ‘mother of hock’ or Umm ‘Arqub in Arabic, and her descendants were named after her too, but they are originally Kuhaylan al-Fajri.

5 Responses to “Kuhaylan Abu ‘Arqub in the Abbas Pasha Manuscript”

  1. Fascinating and illuminating. Your research and input are simply priceless, Edouard. Thank you for all your efforts.

  2. The Kuhaylan Umm ´Arqub strain is maintained at the Saudi state stud at Dirab. Are there other sources of this strain outside of Saudi Arabia?

  3. Yes, several, to be the subject of another post soon. The ancestors of those you saw in Saudi actually came from Jordan in the 1970s.

  4. Edouard..I am relatively new to the arabian breed. I purchased my first arabians a year ago and have become fascinated with the learning about the bloodlines. But I am afraid I become more confused the more I read. I love reading your blog please keep posting and maybe I will learn something! Can you advise me on how to get started the proper way. I seem hap hazard at my best….would love to know how you learned all the strains,tribes, etc. Appreciate any insight you might have to share with a beginner. Best regards,

  5. Hi Gloria and welcome, I would recommend you start with the writings of Lady Anne Blunt: Bedouin Tribes of the Euphrates and Pilgrimage to Najd.

    So much has been written about this breed and most of it is unnecessarily confusing and pedantic.

    I for one, was “born into this breed” and had the luck of learning from my father and from breeders in the native countries of the Middle East, people who observed and talked about horses all day long.Many of them had innate knowledge.

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