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The Tahawy Bedouin and the Arabian Horse: A Journey into a fascinating World

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The Tahawy Bedouin and the Arabian Horse: A Journey into a fascinating World
By Kirsten and Bernd Radtke
The Tahawy Bedouin have been famed breeders of purebred Arabian horses for centuries. Part of the great tribe of Banu Sulaym, they roamed the Nejd of the Arabian peninsula until a wave of tribal migration nearly a millenia ago took them through the Levant and North Africa until they settled in their present homeland: Sharqiya and the Salihiya desert region of Lower Egypt. The Tahway’s horses have been an integral part of their history, their lives dependent on the strength, stamina and courage of their steeds. The heritage of Bedouin breeding – by tribes such as the Tahawy, Anaze, Sab’aa, Ded’aan, Shammar Tai, Rualla – was and still is the basis of all pure desert-bred Arab horses. The descendants of the famed horses of Abbas Pasha, the bloodlines in state and private studs around the world would not exist were it not for these desert-bred horses.
As breeders of Arabian horses for more than 35 years, Bernd and Kirsten Radtke became involved with the Tahawy in early 1980 when Sheikh Soliman Abd el Hamid Eliwa el Tahawy approached them, to assist with laying down a written record and stud book of his forefather’s horses. His aim – and that of the authors – was to redress the past injustice of the pure-bred Tahawy lines going unrecognised. Although Bedouin written records are generally scarce, the Tahawy have not only handed down over the centuries a detailed oral record of their horses’ pedigrees, but insisted from the beginning on issuing stamped certificates for horses imported from Syria and Arabia. For several decades, Bernd and Kirsten painstakingly, methodically and lovingly researched and preserved for posterity the details of the tribe, teir way of life, their long hisotory and their purebred Arab horses, hawks, camels and desert hunting hounds.
The resulting work is a momentous achievement. Although its focus is largely on the asil horses, it contains much else. It provides an enthralling account of Bedouin daily life; tells of the Bedouin’s love for their falcons and salukis and their care in breeding them; and provides a glimpse into the fading memories and half-forgotten traditions of centuries pasts.
The work contains 205 rare and never published photos and documents from the 1880s onwards, of which 144 photos are of historical and actual value. In Arabic and English, there are first-hand accounts by the Tahawy Sheikhs and their descendants. With unique research and images, bloodlines and memorabilia, the story is brought right up to date with contemporary pictures, making the work a timely and invaluable record for enthusiasts of the Arab horse and other noble desert beasts as well as of appeal to historians and anthropologists.
“At last, this long-awaited book on the Tahawy and their Arab horses is published by the scholz Verlag in Hamburg. The authors, Kirsten and Bernd Radtke, have dedicated many years to the study and understanding of this unique and vastly unrecognised group of horses. It is hoped that this book will help in promoting an international interest so that these horses may take their rightful place in the story of the Arab horse.” Peter Upton.

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