Tribal Origins of Saudi Horses at Inshass Stud

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on October 21st, 2014 in Saudi

There appears to have been a senior stallion at the Sa’ud Royal Studs in the 1940s of the strain of Obeyan el Seifi (correct spelling Suyayfi, a strain well referenced in the Abbas Pasha Manuscript); he is the sire of several mares and one stallion sent as gifts to King Faruk of Egypt.

One of these mares is Hind (b. 1942), whose family spread worldwide; another is Nafaa (b. 1941), which is frequently discussed on this blog, although she has a much smaller family. According to the Inshass Original Herd Book (IOHB), Obeyan el Seifi had two more offspring that went to Egypt but did not leave any modern day progeny: a mare, Durra (b. 1943), out of a “Sa’adaa el Debdab”, and a stallion, Mabrouk (b. 1943), out of “Sowaytia ben Kowyel”.

These are grossly misspelt names of prominent Bedouin leaders, but the way they were misspelt does give us clues some about the horses origins. Here’s how:

“El Debdab” is actually El Deydab (better spelling: al-Daydab), a Bedouin leader of the Suwaylimat tribe (a part of the Jlass, which is the ‘Anazah confederation headed by the Ruwalah), and early supporter of the Saudi monarchy; they are now settled in the Northern Borders province of Saudi Arabia, east of ‘Ar’ar, and have their own settlement there, Hijrat al-Daydab, where there current leader, Jamal Hajras al-Daydab, lives. I know they had a marbat of Sa’adan (don’t know if Sa’adan Tuqan though), so a mare by the name of “Sa’adaa [of] el Deydab” makes a lot of sense.

It makes even more sense when you notice that the difference between the Arabic letter “b” (for “el Debdab”) and the Arabic letter “y” (for “el Deydab) is a single dot, and that the two letters are often mistaken for each other in Arabic writing. Incidentally, what such an error reveals is that there was indeed an original Arabic document, from which such information was translated into English, and that the Inshass stud clerk’s (understandable) ignorance of the identity of a Bedouin leader like el Deydab led them to mis-translate his name into English (or whatever European language they translated it to).

“Ben Kowyel” is actually Ben Koweyd (better spelling Ibn Quwayyid), the supreme Sheykh of the Dawasir tribe; the current leader of the tribe is Maran ibn Mit’ab ibn Quwayyid; the Ibn Quwayyid in the 1940s must have been his father Mit’ab ibn Fayhan ibn Quwayyid, or his grandfather Fayhan ibn Zabin ibn Quwayyid, and they had a fine marbat of Suwayti (which they probably got from their ‘Utaiba or Harb neighbors), so a “Sowaytia [of] Ben Kowyed” makes a lot of sense.

It even makes more sense when you realize that the Arabic letter “l” (for “Kowyel”) looks like a large Arabic letter “d” (dal) (for “Kowyed”), especially when written in more formal Arabic handwriting. In a fashion very similar to the situation above, the spelling mistake reveals the existence of original documentation in Arabic about this “Sowaytia ben Kowyed”. Such original documentation must have been mis-transcribed in the Inshass studbook by Egyptian clerks unaware of who Ibn Quwayyid / Ben Kowyed was.

I find it interesting that errors in the Inshass studbook can be so revealing about the background of these desert-bred horses from Saudi Arabia. The dams of Durra and Mabrouk, originally belonging to senior tribal leaders, like al-Daydab and Ibn Quwayyid, appear to have been handed over (perhaps as gifts, perhaps by coercion) to King ‘Abd al-Aziz Aal Saud, when the latter was implementing his policy of settling the Bedouin tribes and taking their horses from them. The sire, Obeyan el Seifi, appears to have been from the royal Saudi Studs. The offspring were sent as gifts to Egypt’s kings.

If only we had similar (or similarly mistaken) information for Hind and Nafaa, we would be able to trace their tribal origins in the same way.

7 Responses to “Tribal Origins of Saudi Horses at Inshass Stud”

  1. All four horses were gifted together, along with Mabrouka (INS)

  2. Thanks Edouard for your very informative post. Navigating around the English translation of the Inshass Herdbook is a complex and interesting journey. You have garnered more knowledge from this in your search that is helpful to all of us.

    I was long puzzled by the still unanswered curiosity about how Colin Pearson designated [IOHB #12] El Shahbaa’s dam El Obeya Om Geris as coming from King Ibn Saud. All other gifts which have their own entry in IOHB are clearly designated as gifts but not El Obeya Om Geris, who is only shown as the dam of El Shahbaa who was purchased from El Hag Mohamed Ibrahim (Cairo). There is another pedigree in IOHB [entry #17] the mare Mahasen bred at Inshass and sired by El Deree but in her pedigree the dam is just given as El Obeya (gift from Ibn Sa’ud) and there is no other or separate entry for this El Obeya, so perhaps Colin Pearson made a big leap to make her the same as El Obeya Om Geris? Mahasen#17 produced a son, Nader (x Mekdam) who was exported to the South African government but died on arrival. Too bad because sometimes these exportations with their docments to other countries give up additional information not found in studbooks. Nader’s full sister Nadra was sold to El Farida farm in Egypt but nothing is known of her after that.

    Also there are a handful of other horses in IOHB who have only name and gender and some EAO number reference but nothing else. Perhaps more information on these horses could be found in the Egyptian GSB which is only in Arabic? I am curious if you have studied that book because Amin Zaher was head of the commission for that book as I understand it and I believe his brother was secretary to King Farouk. So perhaps the Egyptian GSB can help unlock some of the IOHB mysteries?

  3. Joe, it’s good to have you back commenting here! I was not aware that El Shahbaa was not referenced as a gift to the King.

    El Obeya Om Geris is clearly not an Inshass mare. Her daughter, El Shahbaa clearly was.

    I will look up the copy of the GSB which Yasser gave me.

  4. Hi Edouard. El ZShahbaa IOHB#12 was listed as purchased from El Hag Mohamed Ibrahim (Cairo) January 19, 1931. So it appears she was not a gift but was actively sought out by Inshass. She remained at Inshass just over 11 years and then was sold at age 17. Her first foal was sired by a Koheilan El Ajouz (not a sire for Inshass) two months after her arrival at Inshass so it appears that she arrived in foal. Thereafter all her recorded foals were by Inshass stallions.

  5. What is the exact spelling of her name of her sire? that Hamdani Nasiri stallion?

  6. in the English translated IOHB, the sire of El Shahbaa IOHB#12 is spelled:

    El Hamdani El Nasri

  7. Then his name is a reference to a man named Nasr. I had been under the impression that there was an i between the s and the r.

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