On the Tarabin Bedouins in Lady Anne Blunt’s Journals

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on November 23rd, 2014 in General

One of the most interesting passages of Lady Anne Blunt’s Journals and Correspondence is her visit to the Bedouin Tarabin tribe of the Sinai peninsula and the Negev desert, during her and Wilfrid Blunt’s crossing from Cairo to Jerusalem in February 1881, and her account of their camel and horse-related traditions; here is on the camels, to set the stage for what will be more than one blog entry, and I will have to say more on the horses and legends associated to them:

“A delul [female camel] or hajin [male camel] becomes asil like the English thoroughbred. Five generations of a thoroughbred sire are considered sufficient among Ayeydeh, Shuaga, Terabin, Naazeh [in reality Maazeh] and perhaps Howeytat, though as the last touch on the confines of [Arabian Peninsula Bedouin tribes of] Harb and Sherarat they ma others notions”. [February 11th, 1881]

A lot of the tribes mentioned above appear in this map of the area in 1908:

1908 map of Bedouin areas of Sinai, Negeb, Jordan, and North West Saudi Arabia

The Tarabin today number around half a million, spread across Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Jordan. In Egypt, they are mostly present in the Sinai, of which they are the largest Bedouin group, but also the Suez Canal cities and the Cairo suburb of Maadi (where I live), where they settled early in the XXth century in the area known as Arab al-Maadi, as well as in other areas around Cairo.  In Israel, they are the largest group of Negev Bedouins (currently numbering 170,000), and they are also present in the Palestinian Territories (in the Gaza Strip, in Hebron) and in Jordan. In a nutshell, they were all over that desert area before there were borders to speak of, and before these had become some of the most contentious borders in world history.

The Tarabin are originally Buqum Bedouins, who left their traditional area of Turabah, in Western Saudi Arabia (east of Mecca) between 300 and 700 years ago, migrated northwards, and settled in Sinai and the Negev/Naqab and became known after the their town of origin (Turabah –> Tarabin).


5 Responses to “On the Tarabin Bedouins in Lady Anne Blunt’s Journals”

  1. Edouard, L.A.B. was referring to camels only was she not? Not horses, as if I recall correctly Bedouins felt Asils could not have any admixture no matter how far back…
    This makes me ask if kadish breeding was widely practiced in order to produce part breds to sell to the foreign market
    best wishes
    Bruce Pdeek

  2. Camels only and only within the breeding perspective of these Sinai and Negev tribes on the fringes of Central Arabia.

  3. Interesting, then the Poles & even the Ayerza horses are meanwhile acceptable pedigrees for many bedu’s 🙂

    I was reading this morning “Desert Legacy, in search of Syria’s Arabian horses”, a small book of Jens Sannek and Bernd Loewenherz about a journey to the tribes shortly after the registration of the bedu horses (participants included louis Bauduin, Jean-Claude Rajot and Benoit Mauvy, must been an interesting trip …)

    The autor mentions a probably very interesting book written by the Turkish acquisition team that were sent to the tribes in the mid-thirties “Arabian horse breeding today in Arabia” published in Ankara 1935 by Nurettin Aral & E Selahattin (translation comes from German “Der heutige Stand der Pferdezucht in Arabia” so the original title might even be more different

    The only reference to it I have found here in a post of Teymur. From the quote of Teymur it sounds as if it might be interesting reading “”There are many wealthy men around Hama who invest their entire fortune in the breeding of horses and who own precious´mares. These horses fetch incredible prices, although the prices have gone down considerably through the general depression. Although their refinement is especially evident, we could not bring ourselves to make any purchases. If as much attention was paid to conformation and genetic soundness as to refinement and pedigree, the district of Hama could be the centre of the best Arabian breeding. Unfortunately, the emphasis is fanatically on type. The best mares, which are perfect representatives of Arabian type, usually have fault legs, low backs, short and sloping croups, curbs and bone spavins – in other words, faults which reduce an animal’s value for breeding considerably.” Arabs breeding for type in the 1930’s, they must have been real trendsetters?!

  4. Yes they were: look at this mare from Hama. http://daughterofthewind.org/photo-of-the-day-tahirah-a-ubayyah-sharrakiyah-from-hama-syria/

  5. Hello Patrick, this is not a book but a scientific paper in a monthly publishing on animal breeding. It contains some photos and information on the trip of the Turkish authors during that they bought some of the foundation stock for the Turkish state studs.

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