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:
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).