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Re: bloodlines (long again)
It wasn't Becky's interpratation of how the Bedouin's regarded purity, it
was mine. I stand by it. I have read many, many more books than merely one on
the subject. Below I quote Meyendorf, considered the leading scholar on
Bedouin history. This was written in 1863:
"The Arabians rarely ride stallions, nearly always mares, which is also why
they attach more importance on the blood of their mares. A big mare, which
was owned and ridden by the sheikh of the Beni-Samer tribe, and which had
nothing special about her except for this height, had been paid with 2400 gold
pieces, because she was a purebred Saklawi. His father rode an isabelle
(palomino) coloured mare of 5 years which he had bourht as a half share from a
bedouin. He pays this bedouin 75 gold pieces yearly, as well as 3 measures of
grain, and the foals get shared between bedouin and him in yearly swap . . . I
tried to discover whether the Arabians kept written records of their horse's
pedigrees, as was maintained by a few of their visitors. However, the Beni-
Samer assured me that this was not the case, they even ridiculed the idea, and
said that it must be a very low-class bedouin who is incapable of seeing the
pure blood of a horse with his eyes and without looking upon its pedigree . .
The word used by the bedouins to describe a horse's "purity" is "asil."
In the Quran the prophet Mohammed tells his followers to only ride "asil"
(i.e. "pure") horses. "Only the asil horse will be able to bear you towards
victory!" and "the Evil One will dare not enter a tent in which a horse of
asil blood lives."
The scholar, historian and arabian horse breeder Schieles wrote, as regards
what was meant by the arabs when they said horses of "asil" blood:
"For long centuries horsebreeding meant for the bedouin not more, not less,
than survival, this was a fact free of any romanitic emotions, and geared
wholly towards utility and performance. Even if he glorified his horses in
song and poems. With his mare he rode to hunt and into war, he secured and
furthered his family and possessions with her help and defended his honor on
her back . . . the bedouin has always been a fanatic of the blood, not only in
his horses, but also in himself. He attributed wonderous powers to blood and
it was the adhesive force in the clan structure, because he believed that all
memebers of the clan also were blood-relations. Even thought he purity of the
blood was the topmost principle, this did not mean that there never was
infusion of foreign blood, because single people as well as whole groups of
foreign tribes, regarded as equals, could be accepted into the own clan and in
the end would be considered full "blood-relations" too.
For horses it was NOT different! Though it was said that only the pure (
asil ) horse could carry the bedouin to victory, because it would not desert
the nomad in danger, we have to ask why they also owned and bred non-asil
horses and rode into battle with them. Questions and more questions, which
are only born out of *european* logic, a logic which is completely foreign to
the bedouins. For them, who followed more intuition than logic, nothing was
as firmly bound and strictly distinguishable. The term of "pure blood" is a
facet of bedouin life which lies outside of european concepts and it thus
cannot be measured by a european measure stick, nor included in european
-Erika Shiele, "Arabians in Europe"-
I could easily list a dozen more such references, but do not have the
time. The information is out there, for anyone who finds this topic
interesting . . .
btw, the word "asil" in greek was translated as "noble." When a greek
spoke of a horse of "noble" blood, he may very well have been talking about a
horse of desert lineage.
Trish & "pretty David"
Grand Blanc, Michigan
Regarding the Bedouin's definition of purity, I have to say that I disagree
with Becky's interpretation... I have several books, one which was written
in 1881 by a gentleman named Major R. D. Upton who traveled extensively
throughout the Arabian desert investigating the Arabian horse. The book is
called "Travels in the Arabian Desert With Special Reference to the Arabian
Horse and its Pedigree" for anyone interested. I found it fascinating that
some tribes felt that grey horses were 'impure' because the color came from
the Turkish horses. Others felt that a mare which was bred by an 'impure'
stallion was forever 'impure' herself after that! I do however like the
idea of a horse being judged by their merit instead of bloodlines!!!
Stephanie Wind McCray
Tucson AZ >>
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