Notes on the Egyptian foundation mare Venus

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on January 7th, 2011 in General

The Egyptian foundation mare Venus is the tail female for one of Egypt’s most successful lines. The stallions Nazeer, Aswan, Khofo, and the mares Yosreia, Samha, Kamla, all come from this line, and so do countless others.

Page 63 of Egypt’s Royal Agricultural Society’s Volume I Studbook, also known as the RAS History, has Venus as a chestnut Hadbah Inzihiyah imported in 1893 to Egypt by Hassan Abu Amin Agha, later in the stud of Khedive (Egypt’s Viceroy) Abbas II Hilmi. There is no recorded information as to her tribal provenance in the RAS History.

The only tribal information on Venus comes from Carl Raswan.

Venus, like other horses owned by the Western educated Abbas II (he was still studying in Vienna when he was called to assume the throne upon the sudden death of his father), had a Western name. She was called Venus after the Roman goddess of love. Another Egyptian foundation mare from the same stud, and probably from the same provenance, was known as the “Halabia mare”, or the ‘mare from Aleppo’ (Halab in Arabic), but she had a Western name, Carmen, after the opera of Bizet.

Carl Raswan, who had a habit of conflating Arabian horses’ first names with names of strains and names of tribes, seemed to have gone on a quest to find a Bedouin tribal affiliation for Venus. In his zeal, he took Venu’s Western (heck, Latin) name and went looking for a Bedouin tribe or a sub-tribe whose name matched that first name…

He found an obscure sub-clan of the Shammar tribe of Zawba’, the Yunus (note the near match with the name ‘Venus’, given that the Arabic language does not have a letter V), and ascribed Venus’ origins to this Yunus clan. It’s a blatantly clumsy attempt at relating things that don’t relate to each other.

Even more so, the Zawba’ Shammar did not traditionally breed Hadban Enzahi. The leaders of the Shammar Zawba’, the family of al-Mahmoud (who by  the way do not recognize the leadership of the Jarbah leading clan of the Northern Shammar) were famous for their Dahman ‘Amer, their Saqlawi Jadran and their Ubayyan strains.

In all likelihood, the tribal affiliation of the mare Venus with the Shammar, their Zawba’ section, and their hypothetical Yunus clan, is the product of Raswan’s unfortunate attempt at shoehorning a Latin goddess’ name with the name of a Bedouin clan, just because the names sound like each other. Venus’ tribal affiliation with the Shammar should be reconsidered, until further evidence surfaces, in my opinion.

18 Responses to “Notes on the Egyptian foundation mare Venus”

  1. Hello Edouard, as far as I know recent studies show that Venus is from the same family of Rodania and Roga El Beida. I pulled this info in allbreedpedeegre of the mare Yamama fourth generation before Roga El Beida:
    *also Ghazieh I, the Broken legged Sudaniyah gotten for Abbas Pasha from th Ruala, Ar” so is Venus Kohailan Rodan?

  2. Obed,
    You are correct that mitochondrial DNA studies show that Venus, Rodania, and Roga El Beda have the same “haplotype.” This means they share a common female ancestor sometime in history. However, this common ancestor could be thousands of years ago. Therefore, there is no special reason to say they are the same “strain” as the strain naming system is certainly much less ancient than the genetic tie.


  3. If not all the strains from the Kuhaylan tribe?
    All sub-tribes descended from Kuhaylah

    I read something once in the book by Amir Asadeghi

    Or am I mistaken me?

    Unfortunately, there is a line that has been contaminated by Skowronek

    This is the Mare:Halima gr (1963) (Shahid x Agouza) Hadba 3ainzahiyya Strain to Venus

    Non-SE Mare with Skowronek Blood

  4. Anita

    Maybe I meant the same tribe, wich also seems less ancient than the genetic tie too…am I correct?

  5. What I think the really sad part is, even tho’ this is your life, that you grew up with… (western) breeders will still hang on to the old ideas (from people who did not grow up in the culture with the language) and condemn any new information. Just like the *Maaroufa/other horses issue… so many people still cling to the idea that they are Kuhaylan Jellabi’s… when mTDNA research gives proof that it is simply not correct.

    In this instance, it, once again, does not change the horses… just the history. And I haven’t seen a bit of history regarding any of the Oriental breeds that isn’t simply spectacular! And all just as illustrious…

    The history is poetry indeed, as you mentioned in another post I believe.

  6. Wanted to add… I realize that Edouard is not giving “facts” here. Just info on what he knows to be true. But if it were to become “fact”… many would still not embrace it. From what I have observed anyway.

  7. Raswan does have a very week stand regarding the information of his index nowadays. Maybe the problem is that he does not give the sources of many of his informations.
    For me his information regarding Venus has always been out of question, but I am open to question it. As a German I have looked for information regarding bedouin tribes in the books of Von Oppenheim, but especially with the Shammar tribe this book leaves a lot of questions, because the facts are quite complex and the information also contradictory in some details. The Zoba Shammar are not listed in Oppenheim´s list of the Shammar subtribes, but are in the textual part. So I could never get a simple answer to my questions. Maybe Edouard or someone else can give us an overview of the Shammar.
    The Hadban Enzahi strain does not seem to have been widely distributed among the tribes. For me it was always connected with the Shammar, and this because of the information Raswan had given in his index. Do I have to correct my opinion?

  8. Yes, Matthias, I think you do, at least in part. But I will provide an overview of the Shammar, and some elements on the history of the Hadban strain…

  9. Two words, Edouard: Durham University.

  10. Yes, Michael, I know. Someone has to find the time to go there..

  11. From what I understand, it does not really matter what strain Maaroufa is. The strains are new and changeable as to the various Bedouin breeders.

    Yet, I still believe that strains are real. Perhaps not as to type per-say. But the breeding of same mare line to same, does create a type.

    As to Maaroufa and Fadl and their strain, the only important point was their foals.
    Be they Saqlawiat or Kuhayliat as I am told does not matter, what matters is they are of only Bedouin Breeding!

    I am sure the discussion of/ or about “Venus”
    is simply did she come to Egypt with the knowledge of being Bedouin Bred. If so who was the Bedouin breeder and what was the family Strain at time of departure? I realize that the strain given is real at only the departure from the Bedouin. The DNA is real only as to Tail Female and has little or nothing to do with strains, type or purity.

    This is the difficulty of DNA per-say at the moment. Michael is very clear in saying strains, type, and or purity is not
    factual, only the tail female is given.

    Because Venus background is not known as to the Bedouin breeder or family strain. What does one accept, speculation or fact.
    Raswan built his case on speculation, presenting incorrect information. Edouard
    simply presented what he knows.

    I have no opinion whats so ever. There also at this time being presented is; no real facts, too say if the mare was of continuous Bedouin Breeding.

    Any way, this is, what, the question has been presented for reading. I Think?


  12. I am sorry to be nosy but could someone please explain the enigmatic reference to Durham University?? It has intrigued me!
    Also while I am at it does anyone know the title and language of a recent book by Dr Najaifi refered to by Edouard a few days ago?

    Thanks !

  13. I will write to you privately about this, Lisa, maybe you can help since you are in the UK.

  14. Another note: Carl Raswan gives another name to Venus: Shakra Zefra. It is a not a name but a color. It means “dirty chestnut” and its English equivalent is “roan”.

  15. I have always thought that strains were simply the name of the (human) family/tribe that bred them. If there is a certain type that comes with some, it is because each breeder has their own eye and preference. And many (horses) will carry on that look from that breeder’s program. And it does get fairly well set when passed on for many generations. Heck, there are Quarter Horses that you can obviously tell who bred them by their type!

    But there are many Hadban breeders who would have fits thinking/knowing that they were breeding something besides “Hadbans”… just as there were fits amongst those breeding for Kuhaylans amongst the breeders who were actually breeding a horse from a different family/tribe. (Saqlawi)

    And many would rather follow words from a hundred years ago, as opposed to what is known or uncovered today.

    Sadly, it seems to me that there are more than one Egyptian Arabian horses we have today who can be said to not be Bedouin bred by “proof”!

  16. Googled up Durham University and ran across web site that had some compilations of verious genetic studies. One of which interestingly enough said that the Thoroughbred was genetically about 60% european- various pony breeds, 32% Asiatic- meaning Turkish or small a and small t akhal tekes, and only 8% arabian. Nothing mentioned about Barbs at all. But then since Barbs were created from blends of European and proto arabian, or arabian offshoots that makes sense..
    So is Durham University like the leader of genetic mapping- gene tracing or whatever the proper terms are in horse ansestral research?
    Best wishes
    Bruce Peek

  17. Bruce, nothing that fancy. It’s just that part of the Abbas Hilmi archives were bequested to that university…

  18. Thanks Edouard.
    Of course if I can do anything useful, I will.

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