Conversation with Abd al-Qadir Hammami, horse merchant (07.97)

I asked Hammami, a 90 year-old horse merchant from Aleppo, Syria, who had bought horses from the desert and sold them to Egypt and Lebanon for racing, whether he knew El Nasser under previous name: Didane. El Nasser was the horse’s name in Egypt, where his racing career ended, Didane was his name in Lebanon, where it bagan. He didn’t recall the horse, but was familiar with the several names that were associated with him. The conversation was a long one, it touched upon many issues, and the below are only some of the excerpts related to El Nasser. Other excerpts will follow.

Gheiheich [better spelt al-Juhaysh]:  “The Geheich tribe, a large branch of the old Zubayd Bedouin tribe that is originally from Yemen, is famous for breeding two strains of Arabian horses: Kuhaylan Da’jani and Hadban al-Malali.

Cheikh Ahmad Taha: “The Shaykh (leader) of the al-Juhaysh tribe, Ahmad al-Taha, owned a famous line of Kuhaylan Da’jani, and this strain has been attached to the name of the tribe for a long time, more than seven hundred years. Ahmad Taha passed away but his nephews are still alive in Iraq. Now Muhammad al-Taha is the new Shaykh of the al-Juhaysh.”

Douhaymane El Ajarrache: [better spelt Duhayman al-‘Ajarrash]: “In Duhayman al-‘Ajarrash, Duhayman stands for the strain of the horse, it is a diminutive of Dahman. Al-‘Ajarrash stands for the name or the clan of the breeder or the first owner, and indicates the origin of the horse.The al-‘Ajarrache clan is a powerful section of the Shammar Bedouin tribe, under the leadership of the Jarbah clan and are known to be great warriors, ‘rijal harb’. They were closely related by marriage to Dari al-Mahmud, the Sheykh of Shammar Zoba‘, a celebrated figure in the desert who in the nineteen twenties owned a fine breed of Dahman Amer, to which Duhayman al-Ajarrash may well go back. In fact, the name of al-‘Ajarrash is much in favor of the reliability of the origin of the horse because the al-‘Ajarrash clan only bred pure horses.”

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