The Kuhaylat al-Mimrah Freiha al-Hamra and her connection to the Tahawi Arabs

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on July 5th, 2013 in General

One of the pleasures of being in Lebanon for a few days is having access to my father’s Arabian horse library. I have been feeling deprived of all these books over the years, as I never dared taking them with me to the States when I moved there in 2000. As always, after glancing at the shelves, I ended up with a copy of Lady Anne’s Journals and Correspondence, which I take to be, along with the Abbas Pasha Manuscript, the single most important contribution to knowledge on Arabian horses in the past fifty years. Every time I read through it, I keep stumbling across information I had not noticed before . I had never noticed the following for example, under the Journal entry of April 11, 1891:

“We galloped to Ahmed Pasha’s bersim. Then we walked round and looked at the horses.” 

A list of the five mares “we liked best” follows, including two sisters of the K. Nawwaq strain (“Saba” and “Atwa”), “Roja” [Roga el Beda, tail female to Moniet El Nefous] and “Sobha” [Sabha el Zarka, dam of Jamil El Ahmar, registered tail male to Anter and Ibn Rabdan]. Then this entry:

“5) Lastly the Kehileh en Nimr of ibn Kayshish, a dark bay or brown mare with blaze. Age 12 years. Her name Fereyha.” 

I had always thought this latter mare was one of those unidentified horses that just came and went to Ahmed Pasha’s stables without leaving any further records or known descendants. Today it just downed on me that this Fereyha is none other than the Kuhaylat el Mimreh (or Kuhaylah Mimrihiyah) otherwise known as Freiha al-Hamra and the tail female of Mabrouk Manial, Baraka (RAS) and others.

I also realized that the researcher who wrote Freiha al-Hamra entry in Al Khamsa Arabians III and the Al Khamsa Online Roster must have been aware of this, since the April 11, 1891 entry is referenced there and an alternative name of Fereyha is proposed for Freiha al-Hamra.

Almost everything matches for this “Kehileh en Nimr” named Fereyha to be the Keheileh el Mimreh Freiha al-Hamra; everything except the strain, and the strain discrepancy can easily be explained. The rest fully matches the information otherwise known about Freiha al-Hamra:

  • Names match: Fereyha and Freiha are simply two slightly different ways of transcribing in English the same Arabic name. Also, it is hard to imagine Prince Ahmed giving the same name to different mares from different strains around the same time, the K. El Mimreh and a “Kehileh en Nimr”. 
  • Ages match. Twelve years in April 1891 means a birth year of 1879. The birth date estimated for Freiha al-Hamra is ca. 1880.
  • Tribal origins match. The mare in the entry above is linked to Ibn Kayshih (Qu’aysheesh is a better spelling), a Shaykh who heads a large section of the Fad’aan. Freiha al-Hamra is linked to Zayd Ibn Huraymis of the Fad’aan, a lesser Sheykh who belongs to the same Fad’aan sub-tribe headed by the more senior Ibn “Kayshish”.
  • Colors match. This mare is said to be a dark bay or brown, and Freiha al-Hamra is recorded as a bay.

The strain discrepancy can be explained as follows: this was one of the first visits of Lady Anne to the Pasha, and she was still unfamiliar with his stud. The Pasha was also away during this visit which she also described as “too hurried”, and she had to rely on his head groom Jellawi for information. One could well imagine Lady Anne walking around and asking about the horses and the head groom uttering the word Kehileh el Mimreh and Lady Anne hearing “Kehileh en Nimr” instead. Note that the strain of Kehileh en Nimr (al-Nimr) does not exist anyway so this is certainly an error.


What is perhaps more interesting is the mention of a connection of this “Fereyha” mare to the Tahawi further down in the same entry. Lets take a look at the rest of that Journals entry:

“5) Lastly the Kehileh en Nimr of ibn Kayshish, a dark bay or brown mare with blaze. Age 12 years. Her name Fereyha. These five mares would be well worth buying and Jellawi says that the Pasha wants to sell. He will hardly breed from any of them. This year there are only two foals one from the old chestnut (Keh. Ajuz) from the Anazeh, through hands of Tihawi. Jellawi was to go to see his master and enquire if he will part with these mares.”

Lets take a closer at these last sentences. We learn that one of the mares she saw at Ahmed Pasha Kamal came to him through the Tihawi. This mare is referred to as “the old chestnut (Keh. Ajuz) from the Anazeh“, but is not referred to by name, so it is not immediately obvious what mare Lady Anne is referring to. However, if ones treats the entry as one self contained text, and proceeds by elimination, the matter becomes clearer:

  • It is apparent that this “old chestnut (Keh. Ajuz) from the Anazeh” is one of the five mares she liked best. First, this is clear from the sentence just before: “These five mares […] breed from any of them“. Second, this is also made clear by the fact that Lady Anne went through the trouble of linking one of the two foals she saw to these five choicest mares, while leaving the other foal unidentified, meaning that this other foal was not out of the mares she liked best. Third, this is made clear by a passing reference to another, sixth mare, and her almost immediate discarding, as if only these six were worth remembering: “There was a rather nice Managhyeh something like her [ie, like Saba the first Nawwaqiyah and one of the five she liked] but not so good I am remembering only those we liked best, the rest too I cannot describe as our visit was too hurried.” This last words eliminate any remaining doubts about “the old chestnut (Keh. Ajuz) from the Anazeh” which is described in some detail being from other than the five she liked best plus the Managhyeh, because “the rest I cannot describe”. 
  • Of the five mares she liked best, “Roja” and “Sobha” are “white” and grey, respectively. So they’re out.
  • The two Nawwaq mares “Atwa” and “Saba” are bay, and are out of a mare from Ali Pasha Sharif, so they’re out.  
  • Furthermore the Managyeh is out, because of her strain.
  • The “Kehileh en Nimr” Fereyha is the only one remaining candidate for being “the old chestnut (Keh. Ajuz) from the Anazeh“, by elimination.

Now lets use another method of identification and compare the information on the two mares, and see if it matches. One is “the old chestnut (Keh. Ajuz) from the Anazeh” and the other is “the Kehileh en Nimr of ibn Kayshish, a dark bay or brown mare with blaze. Age 12 years”

  • Ibn Kayshish is from the Fad’aan which is from the ‘Anazeh so the tribal information matches
  • brown is a dark shade of chestnut so the color information matches
  • The reference to “old” must be compared to the ages of the other mares, and the 12 years old mare Kehileh en Nimr is the oldest of the five mares she saw. So the age information matches too.
  • The strain information is consistent too: Lady Anne must genuinely thought this was indeed a “Kehileh en Nimr” and must have assumed that this unusual (and in fact, non-existent) strain of Kehileh en Nimr was one of the more obscure branches of Kuhaylan Ajuz, hence the reference to that generic strain.

The bottom line makes no doubt to me: the desert bred Kuhaylat al-Mimrah (aka el Mimreh) Freiha al-Hamra, also known as Fereyha came to Ahmed Pasha Kamal from Arabia through the Tahawi/Tihawi Arabs. This makes her the second mare to come to Ahmed Pasha through the Tahawi, the other one being the Ma’naqiyah dam of Sabbah A(PK).


9 Responses to “The Kuhaylat al-Mimrah Freiha al-Hamra and her connection to the Tahawi Arabs”

  1. Very interesting reconstruction from what is indeed a most valuable source. My only reservation regards your interpretation of Lady Anne’s use of “brown.” The Crabbet records show that horses Lady Anne described as brown could have bay progeny from matings to chestnuts (thus she used it for a black-pigmented phenotype, not a dark chestnut). “Dark bay or brown” refers to a color darker than full bay but not really black.

  2. I agree Edouard, Kehileh en Nimr in the Apr 11, 1891 entry must be an error for Kehileh Mimreh. But I also agree with Michael — I don’t think Lady Anne would describe the same mare as “dark bay or brown” in one breath and then as “chestnut” in the next.

    She described Queen of Sheba as “Bay or Brown” and Fulana as “brown” and “dark brown.” She described Jedrania, Meshura, Hagar, Purple Stock, Wild Thyme, Jilfa, Ferida, Jerboa and Dahma as “bay.” Sometimes she added qualifiers like “full bay” (Dajania) or “strong bay” (Jilfa) or “bright bay” (Jerboa) or “dark bay” (Dahma).

    Other mares she described as chestnut: Tamarisk, Burning Bush, Damask Rose, Rodania, Canora, Khatila, Johara, Badia, Bint Nura, Kasida. Again, sometimes she added a qualifier. Burning Bush was a “dark chestnut” while Rodania was a “strong chestnut” and Bint Nura a “bright chestnut.”

  3. OK, lets discuss it further: if that old chestnut Keh. Ajuz from the Anazaeh is not one of the five, why would she have written “one from THE old chestnut (Keh. Ajuz) from the Anazeh” as not “one from AN old chestnut (Keh. Ajuz) from the Anazeh”. Doesn’t the use of “THE” refer to a mare she has already mentioned before?

  4. For another color reference, among the progeny of Queen of Sheba, King Solomon was brown while Antonios was “dark chestnut–a strong color.”

    I don’t think “any of them” refers necessarily to the “five mares”–it could as well mean the pasha isn’t breeding from “any of his mares.” Similarly, I can’t see why “the old chestnut” could not refer to one of the mares not described.

  5. So why would LAB write “I am remembering only those we liked best, the rest too I cannot describe as our visit was too hurried”? then refer to an additional “old chestnut (Keh. Ajuz) from the Anazeh”.

    If that mare is indeed popping up out of the blue, then the entry becomes incoherent.

  6. I think in that particular paragraph, Lady Anne shifts thoughts, as follows:

    1. The five numbered mares would be well worth buying (but apparently not the sixth, unnumbered, “rather nice Managhyeh”).

    2. Jellawi says the Pasha wants to sell.

    3. Here’s the transition: the Pasha “will hardly breed from any of them” (meaning from ANY of his mares, not just the five numbered above).

    4. Still talking about the herd as a whole: “This year there are only two foals” from ALL of his mares, not just the five numbered, “one from the old chestnut (Keh. Ajuz) from the Anazeh….” The old chestnut mare gets a mention here because she has one of the two foals, not because she is one of the five “worth buying.”

    If Lady Anne could use all three of “dark bay or brown” and “chestnut” to describe the same horse, then those terms would be meaningless.

  7. I think RJ is reading it correctly; this is a diary entry, not a treatment intended for publication. The old chestnut mare is, in fact, not “described”–she is only mentioned in the context of which mares have foals.

    Comparing this entry with, for example, the various visits to Prince Mohammed Ali, I think a foal at side of any of the five favorites would have been mentioned in her original description.

  8. Okay, RJ and Michael, I have looked back at earlier Journal entries on visits to APK and his stud, and found the following reference, which indeed confirms your assertion that “THE old chestnut Keh. Ajuz from the Anazeh through hands of Tihawi” is not Freiha al-Hamra. LAB indeed knew this particular mare from an earlier visit two years earlier in 1889, and her use of “THE” (meaning a mare she was already acquainted with) links back to her earlier 1889 visit, not to one of the mares she liked best in her 1891 visit.

    Here is the text of the entry:

    Jan 14th, 1889

    “We looked over the horses carefully and liked best an old chestnut Kehilet Ajuz from the Roala (like Rodania) […]. There are two capital fillies, one Kehailet Ajuz daughter of the old chestnut mare and of Jamil […].”

  9. The sharing of readings from your father’s library and the knowlegable, articulate conversation between you gentlemen is most enjoyable for me to read. The mysteries of the noble desert arabian horses reveal themselves in glimpses; through your blogged thoughts as well as through Lady Anne’s journals, love and the respectful ancestry research of these horses moving gracefully through time and space – as long we human beings keep writing notes, telling stories and blogging!

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