Their Origins and Modern Descendants
by Judith Forbis
Al Duhaym - Dahman Shahwan
(Dehman, Duhayman, Dahma, etc.)
Dahman Shahwan (masculine form)
Dhamah Shahwaniya (feminine form)
Al Duhaym (plural)
The following is taken from the book, "Authentic Arabian Bloodstock," by
Judith Forbis and is published here through the
generosity of the author. For an extensive understanding of the subject, it is suggested that the book is read in it's entirety.
The name "dahman" means the "dark or black." Originally it was a substrain of the Saqlawi and represented an ideal blending of the Kuhaylan and Saqlawi type. The Dahman crosses exceptionally well with the modern Saqlawi strain.
Primarily bred by the Khalifahs of Bahrain in the late 1700's and mid-1800's, this strain still exists on that island. Mohammed Ali and Abbas Pasha
obtained choice individuals of this strain, as did Ali Pasha Sherif. Modern Dahman horses (Egyptian) descend from these. The Dahman are listed first in the Abbas Pasha
Most distinguishing characteristics: Balance and harmony. The Dahman are very classic in type. They resemble the Saqlawi in elegance but lean towards the Kuhaylan in strength. They should represent an ideal blending of both.
HEAD : Delicately shaped (refined), exceptional beauty. Broad and relatively short head with balanced proportions between eyes and
poll, and eyes and nostrils. The head is concave in profile, frequently with a pronounced "dish." Eyes are large and very expressive. Ears are small and thorn-like, as in old
lithographs of Victor Adam.
NECK : Harmoniously balanced with the body. Throats are well shaped and clean. Good poll setting.
GENERAL CONFORMATION : Strong toplines, relatively short backs in comparison to Saqlawi and Hadban. Level croups of good length, good
hips. Legs are clean and fine-boned.
The following history is from the Abbas Pasha manuscript:
Mohammed ibn-Qarmalah, Sheik of Qahtan, was asked about the history of Al Dahmah.
He replied: "Al Dahmah belongs to Shahwan, and she is from the horses which belonged to our Lord Suleiman (King Solomon), peace be upon him! And the Kuhaylah was called Al Dahmah [Dahmah - the feminine form means dark or black; Dahman is the masculine form] because of her dark color. And the eyes of the Kuhaylan were as if rimmed with kohl [black powder - often soot or antimony - used by Oriental women for darkening the eyelids]. And all the present day pure horses existing are descended from the tail female line of the aforementioned.
"As for the stories related to you which say that the Kuhaylat are five (Al Khamsa), they are lies. As for Al Dahmah of Abu Shahwan and Jey, she is known among us, O Qahtan, to be from Obeida, and Shahwan is of Obeida. And from Shahwan 'til now she is maintained. And from Shahwan and Jey there are seventeen generations. And AL Dahmah is the one who is famous."
A small portion of a poem which Shahwan wrote about his mare after she was stolen from him poignantly illustrates his devotion to her:
I love you, O Dahmah
As if you were part of me
And my family,
And though there may be horses many
You are more to me
Than all the others.
Abbas Pasha particularly valued the Dahman strain, as did Ali Pasha Sherif, who remarked: "If I had only one strain to choose from in maintaining my stud, I would choose Al Dahman." It is said this strain was known to have the most beautiful heads of all, both in the past and in the present, and represented the most harmonious blending of masculine and feminine qualities.
The first Egyptian Arabian imported to America, and to receive registration papers, was of this Dahman Shahwan strain, The Ali Pasha Sherif horse,
The famous foundation mare of Ali Pasha Sherif, El Dahma, a Dahmah Shahwaniyah, was the ancestress of a prolific line of the highest quality and most classic type. Dr. Pesi Gazder, discussing Egyptian Arabians, chose her as the most important foundation mare of all time. Two branches of her family exist through the mares Sabah and Farida.
The Sabah Branch of El Dahma
The Sabah branch came into prominence in America through the Babson importation of 1932, which included the fine mare *Bint Bint Sabbah. She became a prolific producer for Babson, and many exceptionally beautiful mares and stallions trace to her, among them Fa Habba, Fa Abba, Habba, Aana, Khebir, and Fabah.
Bint Sabah (Spelled Sabbah in the U.S.) was a superior broodmare for the R.A.S., producing Layla, dam of the celebrated Nabeeh, "Sid Abouhom," as well as the mares Nour, Sabbouha, and Bukra. The latter was considered by the late General von Szandtner as a "prima Stute" - a first class Saklawi (type) mare. She was extremely elegant with a chiseled, tapered foreface and a teacup muzzle. When bred to Nazeer she produced some of the most classic Arabians of the time. Her lovely grey daughter "Husnia," (by Nazeer) imported to America as "Ansata Bint Bukra, and a replica of her elegant mother, became the first Nazeer daughter in America to produce two champions. Her full brother, Ghazal, in Germany was sought after as a sculptor's model and outstanding sire until his death in 1972. Another full brother was presented to the king of Yemen, and a full sister, now deceased, remained in Egypt. All the Bukra children have beautiful heads, the females standing about 15 hands in height, the stallions 15 hands or over.
Bint Sabah's son Sheikh El Arab, by Mansour, was one of the most prepotent and handsome stallions ever produced by the R.A.S. An iron grey with silver mane and tail before he went white, he appears to have been responsible for some of the dark greys in modern Egyptian pedigrees.
The Farida Branch of El Dahma
Farida of the El Dahma family was a broodmare par excellence, who produced the beautiful Shahloul daughter, Futna, and the fine bay mare Ragia, dam of the celebrated mare Halima, by Sheikh El Arab. General von Szandtner thought highly of this mare and selected her lovely daughter by Sid Abouhom for the Marbach Stud in Germany. When bred to Nazeer, Halima produced Ibn Halima, imported to America as *Ansata Ibn Halima. This beautiful stallion won U.S. Top Ten awards at halter in 1966, 1967, and 1969, and helped to popularize the Egyptian Arabian in America in the mid sixties with his extreme classic type, beautiful head and naturally brilliant park action.
In keeping with the Dahman family tradition of exquisite heads was *Ghazalahh, a daughter of Bint Farida, imported by Gleannloch Farms. Abla, another superior broodmare tracing to the Farida line, had three daughters by Antar exported to the U.S. Farida also produced Balance, the greatest racehorse ever bred by the R.A.S. He still holds the track record for a mile at 1.46, carrying 132 pounds.
The Farida line, and also the Sabah line, crossed with Mansour and Nazeer, produced some of the most beautiful and typey Arabians of the era, uniformly balanced with good legs, magnificent heads, and brilliant action.
The Dahman Shawan line through Durra
The Dahman Shahwan family through Durra, tracing in tail female to Bint El Bahreyn, provides a totally different branch of this strain, different in type from the El Dahma family, even though it is most likely that both came from the Al Khalifahs, the preservers of this strain for some two centuries and still breeders of it to this day. Lady Anne Blunt described Bint El Bahreyn as a bright bay with four white feet. She was bred by Aissa ibn-Khalifah, sheik of Bahreyn (Eastern Arabia) in 1898, who brought her as a gift to Abbas Pasha Hilmi II, Khedive of Egypt, in 1903. Lady Anne purchased her from the Khedive on December 26, 1907 for 60 pounds. She noted however, that "this mare had one defect, ears like bats' ears, but they need not be transmitted; her filly did not have them and otherwise she is very fine. "Among her foals were Dalal, by Jamil (Blunt), "A very beautiful filly with gazelle-like head," influential in the Inshass herd.
The Durra descendants of Bint El Bahreyn were some what larger in overall structure than the El Dahma family. Elegant creatures with long heads and an appreciable dish, they included Bint Durra and *Bint Bint Durra, imported by Babson and the broodmare Zareefa. Zareefa produced by Shahloul the mares Assila and Maisa and the magnificent copper bay stallion, El Sareei. His daughters produced well and his son *Tuhotmos, represents a doubling of the Shahloul blood, which is very desirable as an outcross for Nazeer.
*Bint Bint Durra unfortunately produced only a few straight Egyptians in America, notably Fay Dalla, who produced Daaldan. *Bint Bint Durra competed in endurance, finishing the 1937 Vermont trail ride in perfect condition. Mr. George Cason, manager for the Babson farm in those early years, wrote that "in 1936 and 1937 the Arab horses were competing in open competition. Mr. Babson's stable did more for promotion of the breed at this time than any other stable. There were less than 100 registered Arab horses living at this time in the U.S." Even the British lauded these plucky mares, for it was written in England's periodical, The Arab Horse (May 1937) that "Mr. Babson's *Bint Bint Durra, the mare class winner, a dark chestnut with straight hard legs, was of rarely symmetrical proportions and strength, as well as grace of body. Her stable mare, *Bint Saada, was very similar, but less compactly coupled. Their expression was that of the ideal Arab, gentle and generous, as if they would give all they had to a good master."
The Durra line again came into the spotlight with the importation of *Bint Maisa El Saghira by Gleannloch Farms. A classic bay mare of excellent size and substance, she won many championships in the mid-sixties, including U.S. Top Ten awards in halter, English pleasure, and park. END
"Authentic Arabian Bloodstock" by Judith