By Edouard Aldahdah
Posted on June 27th, 2008 in Syria
We reached the village of Ibn ‘Ufaytan [update July 17 2008: the village is Buthat al-Taqch] in the early afternoon, after having taken a dirt road that cut through the steppe. Faddan al-‘Ufaytan and his son, whose name I unfortuantely don’t recall, were waiting for us at the entrance of their house.
Faddan, a Shammar Bedouin in his fifities, was the nephew and heir of Dahir al-‘Ufaytan, who owned the most famous and best authenticated marbat of Ma’naghi Hadraji in recent memory. Any Ma’naghi stallion coming from Dahir al-‘Ufaytan could be used as a stallion in the darkest of nights, as Bedouins would put it. Ibn ‘Ufaytan would only mate his mares to his own stallions, or to the stallions of his close relative and neighbour, Ibn Jlaidan, the owner of a famous Shammari marbat of Kuhaylan al-‘Ajuz, and the subject of earlier post.
Back in the nineteen fourties and fifties, the horses of Ibn ‘Ufaytan made a name for themselves at Beirut racetrack as good racehorses of Asil stock, and it was said they were favorites of famous racehorse owner Henri Pharaon. I need to take a dive at the archives of the Beirut racetrack, or what is left of these, and see if any traces of these horses are left.
During the second half of the twentieth century, several Ma’naghi stallions stood at Ibn ‘Ufaytan’s. One of them, a dark bay, almost black, was particularly famous as a sire of good broodmares, and was active in the 1980s. He was simply known as “Fahl al-‘Ufaytan”, the Stallion of the Ufaytan. He was one of the most popular sires in the entire area of North Eastern Syria, and passed on pretty head, excellent conformation, and good disposition. Another bay stallion of Ibn ‘Ufaytan was given to ‘Atallah al-Nassar al-Jarbah, who called him, and was known as ‘Am’um.
I was longing to see the next representative of this long line of famous stallions. A number of mares and colts were fettered outside the house, and Faddan took us to see them. A young stallion stood quietly in the afternoon sun, with sworms of flees around his muzzle and eyes. He was the older brother of the one I had seen at Dahir al-Salih the evening before…
[to be continued]