This is a glossary of terms commonly found in literature about Arabian horses and the Bedu. The definitions and spellings are those generally used by Western authors and may or may not be as a Bedouin would have used them. Transliterations are also in Western style.
ABU: father of.
AGA/AGHA: title of dignity in official Ottoman terminology, usually applied to commanders of Kurdish or Turkish auxiliary troops in the Ottoman army. [See Beyk, Pasha] Prominent people of Arab descent bear the title of Shaykh or Amir.
AHL: the kin; also, a group of families, clan, those of one “tent-group,” “one’s own people,” the extended greater family; one’s family by inheritance and not that gained through marriage.
AL/EL: the article “the.” Dahman Al Azrak = Dahman the grey.
AL KHAMSA (Khamsat, possessive): the five; the five best or most glorious of something; the five established (main) strains of Arabian horses; the five favorite strains (any five) of an individual Bedouin or a Bedouin tribe.
AMIR/EMIR (Amira, feminine): means Prince but was sometimes used to refer to a religious or military leader or commander.
AQAYL/AGHEYL/UQAYL (Aqaylat, plural): camel and horse traders, leaders of caravans, and guides. The aqayls were a neutral “society” or “guild” of Arabs (not a tribe), and were joined by Bedu of various tribal backgrounds, both Sharif and non-Sharif. The aqayl society had headquarters in Baghdad (Iraq) with offices in other major cities such as Damascus (Syria), Cairo (Egypt), and Bureyda (Saudi Arabia). Individual aqayls were often from Najd and traveled freely among the tribes and to desert oases and villages. They performed the important function of buying and trading camels and horses from among the Bedu and reselling them to buyers in cities and countries outside the desert. They frequently acted as guides to non-Bedu traveling in the area.
ARABIA: an area name encompassing the present-day countries of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the Emirates, Oman and Yemen. [See p34–5]
ARABIC: principal language of the countries of the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa. The Arabic alphabet is composed of 28 consonant letters and three vowels signs (a, i and u). There are two to four characters for each consonant depending on the placement of the letter in a word. There are no individual symbols for the vowels and they are usually not indicated except in classical or literary Arabic where the vowels are indicated by a system of dots and strokes adjacent to certain consonant characters (the alif, y and w). The characters for the alif may indicate the long a, but when transliterated, it indicates a glottal stop, which is a pause with no sound. Variations in spellings of Arabic words, especially those referring to horses or tribes, reflect the fact that few European or American travelers to the desert spoke, read, or wrote Arabic and therefore each devised his own phonetic spellings for these Arabic words. Also, since vowels were not indicated in “everyday” Arabic, the translators of Arabic documents may use the wrong vowels in transliterating the Arabic words for names of people, places tribes and strains, etc. Most of these words are sufficiently dissimilar that they can be recognized even with their variant spellings.
ASIL (Asayil, plural; Asila, feminine): pure, genuine, “authentic,” pure from the root. In this context, applied to the Arabian horse. [See: Chibbah, Hadud. See also article, p72]
AWD (Awdah, feminine): old. Bedouin usage.
AWAJ/AHWAJ: crooked; contemporary meaning implies crooked personality. (Note: The words araj and awaj are very similar in appearance in Arabic and could be confused in transliteration.)
BALAD: Western writers understood the term to mean “country-bred” from the villages, or ordinary horses as opposed to “Bedouin-bred.” Contemporary meaning is that of country (“My balad is Canada”) but implies homegrown, non-commercial and local pride. Biladi is a different word covering groups of countries (“My biladi is North America”) and does not carry the homegrown implication.
BEDOUlN/BADAWl (from the French transliteration) (Bedu/Badu, plural): Nomad or nomadic tribe; refers to the Arabic-speaking, migrating, nomadic camel-, horse-, and sheep-breeders of Arabia, grouped together in families or clans within larger tribes.
BEYK/BEG/BEY (Turkish): governor of a district in the Ottoman dominion; also a title of courtesy and respect. [See also Pasha, Aga]
BINT (Banat, plural): daughter of.
BREEDER: as used in this book, does not necessarily mean “the owner of the mare at time of service.” Although that is its meaning in North American Registries, in some countries the breeder is given as the owner of the dam at time of foaling. In addition, some documents merely give the identity of the owner of the horse, who may or may not have been the breeder. In several instances, horses imported into the US are listed in the Arabian Horse Registry stud books and/or on their registration papers as having been bred by the person or organization who vouched for the horse’s identity or its acquisition. Examples: *Nejdme, *Leopard, *Sunshine, *Exochorda. While Al Khamsa, Inc. has traditionally attempted to ascertain the owner of a mare at the time of service, access to printed stud books and information from foreign registries has become increasingly difficult. Therefore, the tradition of giving the owner of a mare at the time of service as the breeder of her foals has become impossible to continue. Usage of the term “breeder” in the Al Khamsa, Inc. database is not consistent with regard to foreign-bred horses.
CALIPH/KHALIF: Muslim title for the chief civil and religious ruler, as successor of Muhammed. Khalifa means successor.
CHIBBAH/CHUBBY (phonetic transliteration), verb T’CHABAH: the breeding or covering of a mare, accepted for breeding by the Bedu, “to be mated.” [See Shabbuh, Asil]
CIRCASSIAN/TCHERKESS: an ethnic minority people forcibly relocated from the Caucasus in today’s southern Russia to villages along the Euphrates River, in the Syrian desert and down to modern Jordan after their 1864 revolt failed.
COLORS: following are some common coat colors in Arabic.
ABRASH/BARSHA: flea-bitten grey.
ADHAM/DAHMA: dark. Western usage may be black or dark brown.
AHMAR/HAMRA: red. Western translations may be red bay or red chestnut.
ASFAR/SAFRA white, yellowed (as with age).
ASHHAB/SHAHBA: dark dapple-grey with a shimmering effect.
ASHKAR/SHAKRA: blonde, light chestnut, light mane and tail.
AZRAQ/ZARQA: light blue-grey. May be spelled Azrak/Zarka.
KUMAIT: dark (purplish) chestnut, dark mane and tail.
MA’WARD/MA’WARDIYA: “rose-water,” red mixed with white, chestnut going grey, chestnut roan.
RUMANI/RUMANIYA: pomegranate, dark mahogany chestnut.
DESERT BRED: as used in this book means Bedouin bred; bred by the Bedouin tribes located in the Arabian peninsula and as far north as an imaginary line from Aqaba to Aleppo to the Tigris River on the east, encompassing the diras of the Bedouin tribes. [See pp36–8] In a more general way it may also refer to horses bred at the stud farms of the Sa’ud, Jiluwi and Khalifa families, since these families are of Bedouin ancestry. The phrase has no special meaning in Arabic.
DIRA: the pasture area claimed by a tribe; a geographic term which includes the clan of people and their relationship with the land (“My land and my people”). [See pp36–8]
EFFENDI: sir, a Turkish title of respect.
FARAS: mare. This term as used by Bedu is much more complex, with implications of purity which go beyond sex of the animal and/or personal attachment to the animal, but Western writers have used it in the simplest way.
FARIS: horseman or “rider of the faras” (see above); one who stole a horse from the enemy; an honorary title among Bedu.
HADUD/HATID/HATTU/MATID: (colloquial) proven sire, pure in origin. [See Asil]
HAFIZ: one who has committed the Koran to memory.
HAJ/HAG/HAJE/HAGE/HADJI/HAJJI: the pilgrimage to Mecca; a Muslim who has made the pilgrimage.
HAKIM/HAKEEM: Hakim is a ruler or governor; Hakeem is a title for an educated person or physician.
HAMAD/AL-HAMAD: the great Syrian Desert, extending northward from the Nufud desert in Saudi Arabia into eastern Jordan, Syria and Iraq.
HUJJAH (Hujaj, plural): convincing proof, documents of evidence; may be a pedigree for a horse, but does not mean “pedigree.” [See Asil]
IBN/BEN (Banu/Beni, plural) son of; applied to the head of a clan as a family name. When used in a substrain designation, Ibn refers to the breeder of the substrain and particular horse.
JABHA/JIBBAH/JIBHA: the shield-like forehead, extending from the poll to just below and between the eyes. The shape of the Jabha varies and may be nearly flat or may be prominent and arched.
KADISH: an ordinary horse of the Arab countries, a mongrel, not an asil Arabian.
KABEER/KEBIR (Kabira, feminine): old and/or big. Al Kabeer is “the elder.” [See Saghir]
KHAYL: Horses, in the plural.
KHEDIVE/KHEDEWI: the Turkish title from 1866 to 1914 of the Ottoman viceroys of Egypt.
KOCHLANI/KUHAYLAN: used without a substrain are generic terms for Arabian horses. The root word refers to the darkness of the skin around the eyes.
LEVANT: the East, the Orient, specifically those countries bordering the eastern Mediterranean. Most frequently used in pre-1900 English or European literature.
MADBUT/MAZBUT: acknowledged, established, authentic. The related term masbut means acknowledged, but does not necessarily imply authenticity. Western authors have often used the two interchangably. [See Asil]
MARBAT (Marabat, plural): The place where a rope is tied, or a stud/family of Arabian horses. For example, Saglawi Jidran ibn Sudan means Saglawi Jidran from the marbat or stud of Ibn Sudan. [See Rasan, Substrain]
MITBAKH/MITBAH: juncture of head and neck of a horse.
NAFUD/NUFUD: the red-sand desert of north-central Arabia.
NAJD/NEJD: a plateau or highland; the central province of Saudi Arabia.
NAJDI/NEJDI: a horse or person from a highland area. As Western authors have used it, a horse or person from Nejd. Not necessarily asil. [See Shami, Shammali]
NASRANI (Nasara, plural): a Christian or Nazarean; a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christian people.
OTTOMAN EMPIRE: the Turkish Empire from c1299 to 1922. At times it included all of north Africa, including Egypt, desert areas now known as Syria, Iraq, etc., and the Saudi Arabian provinces of Hasa and Hijaz, as well as Turkey and parts of Europe. The capital city was Istanbul (Constantinople).
PASHA/PACHA/BAHA/BASHAW: various Westernized spellings of a Turkish title of honor placed after the name of military and civil officials.
RAFIQ/RAFIK: a companion; a person acting as guide for a desert traveler from one tribe to another.
RASAN: Rope. The interwoven strands of a horse’s pedigree, or strain. [See Strain, Marbat]
SAGHIR (Saghira, feminine): young and/or small. Al-Saghir is “the younger.” [See Kabeer]
SHAMI: a Syrian horse from Badiat al-Sham (the Syrian desert), with no implications concerning purity.
SHAMALI: a northern horse with no implications concerning purity. Western writers may have added implications concerning purity to this term and to Shami. [See Najdi]
SHARIF: literally, means “honourable” and “noble.” Any descendant of the Prophet Mohammed through his grandsons Hassan or Husayn (sons of Mohammed’s daughter Fatima) may use the title “Sharif,” and the title may be inherited through either side of the family. Also certain noble Bedouin tribes are referred to as the “Sharif tribes.” The Sharif tribes were the source of the asil Arabian horses.
SHARIF OF MECCA: title applied to the position of the chief magistrate of the holy city of Mecca. From the 7th century A.D. onward, this title was primarily held by the Hashemite family. In 1916, the Sharif of Mecca, Hussein Ibn Ali, declared himself King of the Hijaz, and held that title until he was defeated in 1924 by Abd Al Aziz Ibn Sa’ud.
SHAYKH/SHEIKH: an Arab chief of a tribe, also used as a title of respect for an old or honored man.
STRAIN: Western understanding of the Arabian Bedouin method of identifying an Arabian horse’s ancestry or heritage. The strain name is passed from the mare to all her offspring, regardless of the strain of the sire. (This is somewhat comparable to the American and European practice of referring to the sire line of a horse without considering the dam.) According to some references, horses of each strain were supposed to show certain distinguishing characteristics more consistently than the general Arabian horse population. Examples of strain names: Kuhaylan, Saqlawi, Abayyan, Hamdani, Mu’niqi, etc. [See Rasan. See also Strain Discussion, beginning on p75]
SUBSTRAIN: Western understanding of the Arabian Bedouin method of more complete identification or description of the ancestry of an Arabian horse. Examples: Kuhaylan Ajuz, Saqlawi Jidran, Abayyan Sharrak, etc. Some Bedouin became associated with horses of certain specific families or substrains, in which case a horse’s full identity would include this information also. Example: Saqlawi Jidran of Ibn Sudan. With time and establishment, this could come to be called Saqlawi Sudan. [See Marbat]
SULTAN: ruler or sovereign of a Muslim state; country or empire.
VICEROY: governor of a country or province who rules as the representative of his king or sovereign, specifically the viceroys of Egypt who ruled as representatives of the Ottoman Sultan. In 1838, the Ottoman Sultan made this title hereditary in Egypt in exchange for Viceroy Mohammed Ali’s agreement to relinquish the governorship of Syria and Lebanon, and to limit the size of his army.
WADI: dry river or streambed; any dry water course or any valley.
WAHHABI/WAHHABISM: a follower of the teachings of Abd al-Wahhab, a Muslim reformer (1691-1787); the movement of puritanical religious reform of the followers of Abd al-Wahbab. The movement, led by members of the Sa’ud family, caused a profound restructuring of Bedouin Arabian life, leading to increased tribal wars and ultimately the invasion of Arabia by the armies of Viceroy Mohammed Ali of Egypt in c1812. One of the outgrowths of this venture was the establishment of studs of Arabian horses in Egypt and Europe, which eventually extended into the present-day worldwide Arabian horse breeding community.
WALI: the Ottoman governor or a province or region.