My article about the Dahman Shahwan strain in Judi Forbis’ book on Ansata Hejazi

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on April 1st, 2017 in Arabia

This morning I received my copy of Judi Forbi’s latest book “Ansata Hejazi: Born to Rule” in the mail. It is a tribute to one of the best stallions she ever bred, Ansata Hejazi, a Dahman Shahwan. His owner Mohammad al-Marzouq showed him to me at his stud in Kuwait in 2012, along with more than a dozen of his daughters.

I wrote an article in this book upon Judi’s request, about the historical origins of the Dahman Shahwan strain. I showed how it was – by far – the oldest attested Arabian horse strain, and I traced it back to north eastern Yemen in the XIIIth century AD. I also found that Shahwan was an historical figure, a Bedouin leader from the ‘Abidah tribe who played a prominent role in supporting the military conquests of the Rasulid dynasty of Yemen between 1270 and 1290 AD.

It is original research based on evidence from three types of sources: a set of four Yemeni chronicles from Rasulid times; analyses of oral Bedouin epic folk tales, consisting of various versions of the “the epic of the Dayaghim” as recorded by Alison Lerrick in Central Arabia and Nino Van Reisen in Jordan in the 1980s, and in Lady Anne Blunt’s Journals from 1880; and historical accounts by Bedouin descendants of Shahwan and breeders of the Dahman strain as collected in the Abbas Pasha Manuscript ca. 1853.

The article, which is in Chapter VII of the book, also features my new translations of poetry attributed to Shahwan and some portions of the legend of ‘Arar ibn Shahwan from the Epic of the Dayaghim that appear in the Abbas Pasha manuscripts (an audio recording was recently made of this latter piece, look for it here).


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