By Edouard Aldahdah
Kuhaylan Ibn Jlaidan is the third strain featured in the “Strain of the Week” series.
You will almost certainly not find a representative of this strain outside of Arabia today. A few of you may have heard of it in the context of their trips to Syria. The strain is emblematic of the Shammar tribe, as opposed to the two other strains featured previously, Kuhaylan al-Hayf and Kuhaylan al-Mimrah, both of which were owned by the ‘Anazah group.
Kuhaylan Ibn Jlaidan is very simply, Kuhaylan al-‘Ajuz of the marbat of Ibn Jlaidan, a Bedouin from the Hdibah clan of the Shammar. Many Shammar Bedouins still refer to the strain as Kuhaylan al-‘Ajuz.
Some time in 2006, my friend Hazaim and I spoke to ‘Abdallah Ibn Jlaidan over the phone, as part of our project to collect as much information as possible strainght from Bedouin sources. ‘Abdallah told us that his “fifth grandfather” (i.e., the grandfather of his grandfather) Muhammad al-Jlaidan once visited the Sharif of Mecca, and that the latter gave him a Kuhayla al-‘Ajuz mare as a gift. He could not tell us the exact day when this occured, but said that it was more than a hundred years ago (which we had figured out already).
‘Abdallah, who is the son of Hammad, son of Mit’ab, son of ‘Udayd, son of Muhammad al-Jlaidan, is in his fifties. Assuming a human generation spans 30 years, it means the gift took place some time in the middle of the nineteenth century. Of course, the context in which this “gift” took place may not be represented accurately, and the Kuhaylah mare could have been given as a reward for military services rendered to the Sharif or in return for a pledge of allegiance.
The most famous man of the al-Jlaidan family was Bardan Ibn Jlaidan, ‘Abdallah’s uncle. Bardan had witnessed the tail end of the era of tribal raids (ghazu), and was a respected elder among the Shammar, and a middle-ranked Shaykh. He was known for his staunch dedication to preserving the purity of his horses, and several of his Kuhaylan al-‘Ajuz stallions were popular sires with the Shammar Bedouins. The “Grey horse of Ibn Jlaidan”, who I think was breeding in the 1960s, and before him the “Chestnut Horse of Ibn Jlaidan”, in the 1940s, were among those [dates to be checked, so don’t quote me on this].
Today, Bardan’s sons and grandsons (‘Abdallah’s cousins) still own six or seven of these Kuhaylan al-‘Ajuz, in a remote and arid area of North Eastern Syria, not far from the borders with Turkey and Iraq. The horses are only bred to each other, and to the Ma’anaghi Hadraji’s of the marbat of Ibn ‘Ufaytan, Ibn Jlaidan’s cousins and neighbours, from the same Hdibah clan. They only trust each others horses.
Next week’s “Strain of the Week” will be the Ma’naghi Hadraji of Ibn ‘Ufaytan, another Shammar staple. You will like the classic and dry look of these horses. Meanwhile, I will looking for a photo of a Kuhaylat Ibn Jlaidan to show you.