On the elusive strain of Kuhaylan al-Kray

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on March 17th, 2017 in Bahrain, Saudi

In his 1936 book “Rihlah ila Bilad al-‘Arab” about his journey to Arabia in search for Arabian horses, Dr. Ahmad Mabrouk of the Royal Agricultural Society of Egypt mentioned two mares of the Kuhaylan al-Kray strain in the stud of Prince Saud ibn ‘Abdallah Ibn Jalawi, governor of the Eastern region of the then newly established Kingdom of Saudi Arabia [translation mine]:

“Krush al-Kray, golden chestnut, no white on the face, pretty head, nice legs but short neck, five years old, her dam the bay Kray, and her sire the bay ‘Ubayyan.”

“Bay Kray, white on the hind legs, pretty, eight years old, not to be mated.”

This seems to suggest that the strain of Kuhaylan al-Kray (or Karay), was actually an offshoot of the more famous strain of Kuhaylan al-Krush, but was not to be mated for some reason. As I came back from Bahrain where I saw representatives of this rare strain, I dug a bit deeper and found the following in the ‘Abbas Pasha Manuscript, in the section on Kuhaylat ibn Jarshan, the Jallabiyah:

“and we [several elders from the ‘Ajman testifying] mated her to Kuhaylan al-Karay, the horse of Ibn ‘Ulbah of Aal Mu’yid of Al ‘Ajman”

This reference constitutes the second instance of a connection of the Kray strain to Eastern Arabia, home to both Ibn Jalawi and the ‘Ajman Bedouins.

Another reference also from the Abbas Pasha Manuscript further anchors the strain with the ‘Ajman and also traces its origins to the Jawf area of north eastern Yemen, the original home of the ‘Ajman in the early part of the XVIIIth century. The reference occurs in the section on Kuhaylat ibn Waberah, the Shohayb:

“and we [Salem ibn Waberah of the ‘Ajman testfying] mated her a second time to Kuhaylan al-Karay from the horses of Al Jawf and she produced a black horse”

The two references to Kray breeding stallions are contemporary to each other and may be about the same horse. What is clear is that the strain follows the migrating trajectory of the ‘Ajman from their original home in the southwest corner of the Arabian Peninsula to Eastern Arabia.

The close connections between the ‘Ajman Bedouins and the ruling Aal Khalifah family of Bahrain, the only owners of this strain today, speak further to its connection to the ‘Ajman. The photo below is of a Kuhaylat al-Karay mare from the stud of Jenny Lees in the UK. Kray Mohammedia was bred in Bahrain by Sh. Mohammad Bin Salman Aal Khalifah, by Jellabi Al Ahmar Montasir out of Kray Manifah, who was by Jellaby Najib out of Shaykh Salman’s old Kray.

PS: Note that Aal Mu’yid is the ‘Ajman section from which the leading Hathleen clan comes from.

PPS: the Krush strain that is likely to be the original strain of the Kray also originates from that Jawf area, in the North West of Yemen.

3 Responses to “On the elusive strain of Kuhaylan al-Kray”

  1. Edouard,

    This is perhaps a little off-topic from the topic you are discussing above, but reading this post reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to ask you (and the general community here at DOTW) about:

    Do you know much about the Purosangue Orientale breed in Italy and its authenticity? An associate and I have been discussing this on and off for a while now, but haven’t been able to dig up much.

    I’ve been relying on a handful of articles and sparse translation to try and glean things, but the one infographic PDF that I’ve been linked to says this:

    ““The analysis of the genetic studies conducted on the Purebred Oriental by the University of Catania and on the Purebred Arabian by the University of California clearly shows that the genetic matrix of the Purebred Oriental bred in Sicily is exactly the same as that of the Kuhaylan Krush family of the mare Dafina, shown by Dr. Bowling, as they belong to the same haplotype U. Moreover, the morphological traits of the Kuhaylan hi-ghlighted by Raswan perfectly match those of the Purebred Oriental bred in Sicily today.This very important scientific discovery confirms the authenticity of the official records made in the Italian Stud Book and the rigorous and effective selection and breeding criteria adopted since 1875 by the Equestrian Increase Institute formerly Royal Stud Depot and by Sicilian breeders. The Italian Stud Book records prove also that most Desert Bred horses constituting the Genealogical tree of today’s PBO came from Syria”.”

    Source: http://www.premioallevamento.it/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Allegato-34-Articolo-Tutto-Arabi-2010.pdf

    I’ve read discussions on DNA typing and its limited application in ascertaining the asil status of horses, but what of the studbook itself and the proofs of authenticity?



  2. As far as I can understand from the article, an Arabian and likely Asil damline was used as foundation stock for this breed. And it was used to create a “national” italian Anglo-Arabian breed (http://www.allbreedpedigree.com/index.php?query_type=horse&h=CATERINA+II&g=5&cellpadding=0&small_font=1&l= as an example). Sounds very similar to the french history to me. They have obviously imported also later polish and french “Arabian” sires. Could be very interesting to see their studbooks and compare it to the french ones as the history of this breed sound very familiar to french enthusiasts like me.

  3. Oh, yes, I am almost certain that many of the original imports were asil. I’ve had difficulty locating a stud book or an expert on the bloodlines to ascertain whether or not asil descendants remain today. It would be quite something if they did! 🙂

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