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%n Inquiry tirta tl^e (JTI^ecrrics of %\ 




" This is b< 

book ; for the 

in .Kome resp^ 

also the com 

style. The ge 

lefnt.ition of \ 

U. Comte is tl 

whole work wi 

one to be rei 

these question 

and an inipor 

sophy." — The 
'■ Written tl 

liave lately bi 

classes of th 

timed. With 

per, the authi 

men in forme 

without {rood 

and improved 

of its impude^ 

out is modord 

on principle, 

belief in the 

seek for the d 

every age of 

aocept all th 

a book full O' 

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harder to t] 


cover discreji 

dictions of t 

and tlie innrifl ,.„ . 

1 8 !-i. V>, ..>..<!■•, -*Bv^.. 

' The %vholo book bears the evident mark 
of maturity of thought. The third cliapter 
is full of tliouRlitful and able arirunient, in 
which the positions, not only of Comte. hut 
often of M ill, are powerfully and successfully 
a ssaih'd.' ' — Spectator. 

" Written with remarkable ability, and 
considering its' polemical spirit, with excel- 
lent temper. The style is always animated, 
anil at times felicitous. The volume gives 
ample proof of mcmphysical acutenoss. One 
good service It will certainly effect, namely, 
that of fastening the attention of its readers 
on the great fundamental problems of histo- 
rical science." — CornhiU Magazine. 


idently been written 

ucrlit and irreat i( - 

o (•<nni)etent crnic 
mounce it dull. It is 
;;andid, clearsighted, 
oainent degree. It is 

■htily written. We 
I book of the present 
ivhile so far removed 
1 of writing and of 
This author mani- 
vhioh always goes to 
1, whether well or ilU 

undry important and 
3 problem before turn- 
templatioii of it Be 
:, he has tlie credit, at 
ligbly original work, " 

tills earnestly written 
confute from its own 
hy of Comte, so far as 
We must refer to 
or the inevitable self- 
I by that theory, in the 
[ philosophical super- 
and negative founda- 

to be far more popular 
brpewhat obscure sub- 
fscusses questions, the 
jell calls up difficulties 
wliioh have attacked and baffled every 
thoughtful inquirer into moral science, and 
it discusses tliem with a ciireful logic, and 
an ease and utmost grace of diction, tliat will 
go far, even with tlie ordinary reader, to di- 
minish the repulsiveness of the subject." — 

" The ' Inquiry into the Theories of His- 
tory,' although anonymous, is a first-rate 
hook. Its object is to reconcile theism with 
the csientific conception of law, and from 
that reconciliation to deduce a true theoiy of 
history. The book contains a most able and 
cttVctual vindication of theism, and of a ra- 
tional, as opposed to au irrational, posi- 
tivism."— WttUnwiler Btvitw. 


Third Edition, in Svo,, tvithtiptvards of Four Hundred Illustrations, price 18*. Qd., 

^\}t lllustnitcir porsc gnctnr; 

Being an accurate and detailed account of the various Diseases to which the 

Equine Race are subjected, together witJi the latest mode of treatment and 

the requisite prescriptions, written in plain English. 



" The production of this book hasindelibly 
stamped the name of Edward Majhew as 
the greatest benefactor the horse ever had. 
He, and he alone, of the many veterinary 
writers whose works are before the public, 
has hit upon the quality of information, and 
the form to convey it, which the pubhc have 
so long desired. We tliink it a suggestion 
worth the notice of the Society for the Pre- 
vention of Cruelty to Animals, that they 
should come to some terms with the pub- 
lisliers for a portion of the work to be re- 
produced, in tiie form of a pamphlet, to be 
given away to every groom, coachman, car- 
ter, and cabman, in fact all men (who have 
not means to buy one) wiiose business il 
among horses. It would be an act wortliy 
of such a philanthropic body, and quite in 
keeping with its object — viz., to prevent 
cruelty. We regret that our limited space 
will not admit of us quoting the parts to 
which we allude, but there would be no dif- 
ficulty in compiling such a painphlet, for the 
whole work teems with the most wholesome 
advice to evei"y class, from the peer to the 
costermongor. . . The liorse is frequently 
suffering from chronic disease, or temporary 
infirmity, while his master continues to whip 
him to his work, and exact his pound of tlesh 
to the very utmost. . . We unhesitatingly 
pronounce the ' Illustrated Horse Doctor • 
the very best and most useful book of its 
class everpublislied." — Spoi-t'mg Lift, 18'il. 

In oi'der to make a gi-od book two things 
are essential — an author competent to treat 
the subject he takes in hand, and a publisher 
spirited enougli to give the writer a loose rein 
in the production of his work — that Is. libe- 
rality in allowing hitn all means and appli- 
ances for rendering it a master piice. The 
j)uhlishers of ' The Illustrated IIorse-Doctor' 
deserve the highest credit and th*^ greatest 
success for giving the world this admirable 
viilume in its present costly shape. Its in- 
trinsic merit deserves every penny which has 
been spent upon it. and, inasmuch as we have 
never seen a book brought out with better 
taste or finish, the rest of .ts production must 
have been very serious. No one with the 
le'ist equine knowledge can require to be 
told Mr. Mayhevv is Me man for the 
bisk wliicli he has undertsiken, and most 
satisfactorily accomplished. His high repu- 
tation in the veterinary art, and his quali- 
fieati.ins as a practised writer on domestic 
animaU, render him the very person for sup- 
plying an intelligent and interesting work 
on the diseases of the horse, w hich would be 
devoid of mere professional technicalities, 
whilst, at the same time, his ekill as a 

\Jdy,^oi?<'. wm. h. alle> 

draughtsman, and humour as a witty ob- 
server of life, enabled him to illustrate with 
his pencil what he had written with his pen. 
We advisedly say that ' The Illustrated 
Horse-Doctor ' is ttie very best book of the 
kind which we know ; and what gives it an 
especial charm is, that the author so tho- 
roughly sympathises with the noble animal 
which he describes. Without pretending to 
go into any analysis of this valuable work, 
we at once pronounce it as scientific, yet in- 
telligible ; informing, yet highly amusing ; 
acceptable to the profound horse-doctor, yet 
the work of all others for the bookshelves in 
every gentleman's sanctum ; admirable in 
every way as a practicable treatise on a very 
important subject, which it elevates altoge- 
ther out of the region of quackery ; and the 
tone is so learned, yet easy ; so close to 
business, yet gentleman-like, that the dedica- 
tion to Sir Benjamin .seems as much in its 
proper place as if it faced a surgic;il work 
on the diseases or wounds of man. We give 
it our unqualified approbation and recom- 
mendation." — Era, July 15, I8G0. 

" We are inclined to think that this is 
about the very best book respecting the treat- 
ment of equine disease that ever has been 
written or published. The author is evi- 
dently well acquainted with the duties of 
his profession, and willing to give a world- 
wide extent to his own useful and practical 
experience, so that those who read may adopt 
his rule,s and regimen, and save that noble 
animal, whose use is one of the greatest bless- 
ings mankind enjoys, from much pain and 
suffering. In country districts, where the 
horse-doctor cannot easily be summoned, 
this book will bo invaluable ; whilst, in more 
frequented localities, its use will always be 
found to be safe and judicious." — BdlV* ifes- , 
sengf.r, June I'S, 18C0. 

■•The great mass of thenj (the illustra- 
tions) are wonderfully faithful, and they are 
so varied and interesting that we would 
undertake to get rid of the most confirmed 
bore that ever pressed heavily on mankind 
for a good two hours by only handing him 
the book, and directing his attention to 
them. It is a Well-known fact that grooms 
only remember the names of four or five 
diseasi s, and are sadly indiscriminate in 
their knowledge of symptoms. This book fur- 
nishes at once the bane and the antidote, as 
the drawings shov.- the not only suf- 
fering from every kind of disease, but in 
the different stages of it, while the alpha- 
betical summary at the end gives the cause, 
symptoms, and treatment of each." — IVLxia- 
trated News, June 23, 18G0. 



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Accompanied by more than 400 Pictorial Representations, 








^' A Book which should be in the possession of all who keep Horses.'''' 


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In this English version of General Daumas' jnstly 
eulogised work on '^the Horses of the Sahara and the 
Manners of the Desert, two or three entire chapters, 
besides many isolated passages, have heen omitted, 
which treated either of veterinary science or of matters 
little suited to the taste of general readers in this country. 
Part the second, which was so strangely overlooked hy 
the critics of the last French edition, will be found 
extremely interesting to all who love the chace and can 
appreciate a life of adventure. The description of the 
sports and pastimes, the manners and customs of the 
aristocracy of the African Desert, is especially worthy of 
perusal; nor will the quaint remarks of the once famous 
Emir Abd-el-Kader fail to command very general respect 
and sympathy. 





Sources of information. 

RemarTis ly the Sniir A M-el-Kader 5 

Treatises on the horse. — Anecdote of Abou-Obeida. 


Curious letter from the Emir Abd-el-Kader. — Four great epochs.— Creation 
of the horse. — Change of coats. — Moral quaUties of the thoroughbred. 


Oneness of the race.— Letter from Abd-el-Kader. — Letter from M. Lesseps on 
the Alexandria races. — Weight carried by African horses. 


Traditional love of the horse. — Arab proverbs. — A popular chaunt. 
RemarTis ly the JEmir AM-el-Kader 44 

Superiority of the horses of the)Sahara. 


Incontcstable purity of the Saharene Barb. — Endurance of the Arab horse.— 
The noble horse. 

Remarks ly the Emir Ahd-el-Kacler 50 

Two varieties of the horse. 


Treatment of the mare and foal. 

Remarhs ly the Umir AM-el-Kader 73 

Influence of the sire. — Purity of race. 


Early training.— Elementary exercises.— Names. 
Remarhs ly the Emir A Id-el-Kader ] 07 

Namcsof the Prophet's horses. 


DIET 112 

Camel's and ewe's milk.— Dates.— Green food. 

RemarJis iy tlie Umir AM-el-Kader lis 

Repose and fat injurious to a horse. 


Selection of food and water. — How to foretell the size and character of ahorse. 

Remarks hy ilie Umir AM-el-Kader 127 

Ingenious measurements. 

COATS 130 

Variety of colours.— Anecdote. — White spots. — Anecdote. — Tufts. 

Remarks iy the Mnir A hd-el-Kader 136 

Favourite coats.— Objectionable coats. 


Serious objections.— Mode of sale.— The Arab horse-dealer. 

Remarks ly the Umir AM-el-Kader 148 

Genealogical tables. — Poetic and anecdotic illustrations. 


Farriers, their pri\ileges and tools.— Cold shoeing. 


The Arab saddle. — Advantages of the Arab system. 


Temperance. — Endurance. — Making the horse a study. 

Remarks ly the Umir AM-el-Kader ni 

Horse-racing among the Arabs. 


Examples of endurance.— Reasons for early training. — High price of mares. — 
Genealogical registers. — Identity of the Arab and the Barb.— General 
instructions. — Draught horses. 


His form and qualities. 




The Arab horse derives his character from his Arab master. 


A poem of the Emir. 


Three kinds of razzia : the Tehha. the Khroiefa, the Tci-higvo.— lOpisodes.— 
Popular chaunt.— The combat.— Circumstantial details. 



Horse, camel, and sheep stealing-.— Suijerstitions. — Ludicrous details. 


Motives for hostilities. — Proclamation of war.— Summoning alhes.— Depar- 
ture.— A war chaunt.— Amorous intrigues.— Thefts.— Scouts.— Prelimi- 
naries of peace. — Saharene diplomacy.— Conclusion of peace.— Hostilities.— 
Theeveofbattle.— Challenges.— War cries.— The battle.— Defeat.— Victory. 

— Anecdotes. 

Remarlis hy the limir A bd-el Kader 234 

Lamentations of an Arab warrior. 


Distribution of the plunder.— The chief.— Loan of a horse.— Female spectators 
of the battle.— Apologue. — The marabouts. 

Remarks hy the Emir AM-el-Kader — 241 

The horse of noble race.— Victors and the vanquished. 


On horseback.— Details of the excursion.— From an ambush.— Habits of the 
ostrich.— Laying and hatching. 


On horseback.— Habits of the gazelle. 


Respect shown to it. — Characteristic detahs. 


Training and rearing.— A hawking expedition. 

Remarks hy the Emir Abd-el-Kader 272 

Four kinds of falcon. — Training.— Hawking. 


Varieties of sport.— The gazelle.— The hyoena. — The panther.— The lion.— 
DilTerents modes of hunting. 


Management of the camel.— Diet.— Usefulness. 


Immense flocks.— Their usefulness in the Sahara. 


The villager. — The master of the tent.— Sobriety.— Runners.— Inventory of a 
wealthy Arab's fortune. — His occupations. — Armourers. — Legislation.— 
Women's employments.— Hospitahty.— Mendicants.— Sorcerers.- Magic. — 


The thorny shrub and the date -tree.— The sherifs.— The marabouts and the 
djouacL— A. great tent.— The rciidetta. — Examples.— Blood money.— ZevC 
taUonis.— BivVa., education, and marriage.— Polygamy. — An Arab interior. 

— Amusements.— Death and funeral rites. 




The horsemen of Niimidia were famous oven in the 
time of tlie Eomans. The Arab horsemen are in no way 
inferior to their predecessors. The horse has continued 
down to these our days to be the chief instrument of war 
among those martial tribes. A dissertation on the horses 
of Algeria, which still retain the typical characteristics of 
both the Barb and the Arab stock, is not only of interest 
for the lovers of horse-flesh, but also for those who are 
responsible for the maintenance of our power in Algeria. 
The greatest merit of a study of tliis kind is its perfect 
accuracy as to facts. I will therefore mention the sources 
whence I have derived my information. 

In the course of the sixteen years which I have passed 
in Africa, I have been intrusted with missions or have 
exercised functions which brought me into constant 
intercourse with the Arabs, a people hitherto so little 
known , but whom we are bound to study if we would 
learn how to govern them. 

From 1837 to 1839 1 was the French Consul at Mascara 
accredited to the Emir Abd-el-Kader ; after that, head of 
the Arab Office in the province of Oran, in whicli at tliat 


time General Lamoriciere held the chief military com- 
mand; and finally Central Director of the Arab Office of 
Algeria nnder the government of Marshal the Duke of 
Isly. These different posts brought me into close contact 
with the native chiefs and the first families of the coun- 
try. I acquired their language and it was through their 
assistance that I was enabled to publish, one after the 
other, my books on the Algerian Sahara, the Great 
Desert, Great Kabylia, and on the Manners and Customs 
of Algeria, works which may perchance have rendered 
some service to French interests by throwing light upon 
important questions of war, commerce and government. 

The study of the Arab horse, which had long been the 
subject of my most careful researches, seemed to me to 
form the natural complement of my previous labours. 
Indeed, this question, full of uncertainty and contradic- 
tions, was as it still is, of the most thrilling interest. In 
the event of a European war must we always have 
recourse to foreign countries, or cannot Algeria come 
to our aid in supplying remounts for our light cavalry? 
Such was the national question I set before myself, and 
the reply to which I founded on patient and minute 
inquiries throughout my long residence in Algeria. 

Besides, according to some authorities, the Arabs 
are the first horsemen in the world, while according 
others they butcher their horses. The former give them 
credit for whatever is good in the systems pursued by 
ourselves or our neighbours ; while the latter insist that 
they know nothing whatever about riding, or about the 
veterinary art, or about breeding. How much of truth 
is there in all this? What is the real value of Arab 
horses? What is the nature of tlie service they are cap- 


able of reiideriug*? This I was determined to find out, 
not by hearsay, but through the evidence of my own 
eyes — not from boolvs, but from men. What I am now 
about to place before the reader is consequently the result 
both of my own personal observations, and also of con- 
versations w^ith Arabs of every grade of life, from the 
tented chief down to the simple horseman, who, as he 
himself would say in his picturesque idiom, has no other 
profession than to "live by his spurs." In other words, I 
made my inquiries of those wdio had large possessions, 
and of those who had very little ; of those who bred 
horses, and of those who only knew how to ride them : 
in short, of every body. Thus the opinions which I am 
about to'commit to paper do not emanate from the head 
of a single individual — they are gathered separately 
from the members of a powerful tribe. My only merit is 
that of having collected and arranged many documents 
widely scattered and difficult to obtain. 

In fact, a Christian has need to employ both tact 
and patience to extract from Mussulmans information 
insignificant perhaps in itself, but which a gloomy fana- 
ticism makes them regard as of great importance, or as 
perilous to their religion. Nevertheless, I have one 
reservation to make. I am not at all prepared to say : 
''This is right," or "That is wrong." I say simply: 
"Right or wrong, this is what the Arabs do." 


Learned Mussulmans have written upon horses a great 
number of books in which they discourse at considerable 


length upon their quaUties, their colours, upon all that 
is esteemed beneficial or injurious, their maladies and 
the right mode of treatment. One of them, Abou-Obeida, 
a contemporary of the son of Haroun-al-Raschid, com- 
posed no foAver than fifty volumes on the horse. This 
Abou-Obeida met with a little misadventure, which 
shows that it is not the author of the most ponderous 
and numerous volumes who imparts the soundest infor- 
mation, and that not the worst plan is to consult men 

"How many books hast thou written upon the horse?" 
asked one day of a celebrated Arab poet the vizir of 
Mamoun, son of Haroun-al-Raschid. "Only one." Then 
turning to Abou-Obeida he put to him the same question. 
"Fifty," replied he. "Rise, then," said the vizir, "go up 
to that horse and repeat the name of every part of his 
frame, taking care to point out the position of each." I 
am not a veterinary surgeon," answered Abou-Obeida. 
"And thou?" said the vizir to the poet. 

"Upon that" — it is the poet himself who relates the 
anecdote — "I rose from my seat, and taking the animal 
by the forelock, I began to name one part after the other, 
placing my hand upon each to indicate its position, and 
at the same time recited all the poetic allusions, all the 
sayings and proverbs of the Arabs referring to it. When 
I had finished, the vizir said to me : "Take the horse." 
I took it, and if ever I wished to annoy Abou-Obeida, I 
rode this animal on my w^ay to visit him." 


In all times the horse has been regarded by peoples and 
Governments as one of the most potent elements of their 
strength and prosperity. At the present day there is no 
question relating either to rural economy or t(j the art of 
war, more canvassed than that touching the ameUoration 
of the charger. The highest authorities of the State, 
learned societies, agriculturists, the army, every body, 
in short, is taken up with it in France, and yet we arc 
very far from being agreed upon it. For my own part, 
I have never wearied of studying that noble animal, from 
taste quite as much as from patriotism or professional 
necessity. I have consulted the most esteemed authors 
and men of great erudition, but I confess that it is among 
the Arabs I have met with the most just and practical 
appreciations of the subject. To obtain the best possible 
iniormation, I have frequently applied to the Emir Abd- 
el-Kader, that illustrious chief who, by reason of his 
exalted position in Mussulman society, his science, and 
liis skill as a horseman, was of all men the most compe- 
tent to remove the misgivings which still troubled me. 
The following is the last letter that he wrote to me in 


reply to certain questions I had proposed to liim as to 
the origin of the Arab horse. It seems to me to contain 
some very remarkable suggestions, even from a zoolo- 
gical point of view. In any case it is sufficiently curious 
to justify my expectation that it will prove acceptable to 
all who, whether at home or abroad, feel an interest in 
the equine race. 


Praise be to the one God ! 

To him who remaius ever the same amidst the revolutions of 
this world : 

To our friend, General Daumas. 

Peace be with you, through the mercy and blessing of Allah, 
on the part of the writer of this letter, on that of his mother, his 
children, their mother, of all the members of his family and of 
all his associates. 

To proceed : I have read your questions, I address to you my 

You ask me for information as to the origin of the Arab 
horse. You are like unto a fissure in a land dried up by the sun, 
and which no amount of rain, however abundant, will ever be 
able to satisfy. 

Nevertheless, to quench, if possible, your thirst (for know- 
ledge) I will this time go back to the very head of the fountain. 
The stream is there always the freshest and most pure. 

Know then that among us it is admitted that Allah created the 
horse out of the wind, as he created Adam out of mud. 

This cannot be questioned. Several prophets— peace be with 
them ! — have proclaimed what follows : 

When Allah willed to create the horse , He said to the south 
wind : 

"I will that a creature should proceed from thee — condense 
thyself! " — and the wind condensed itself. Then came the Angel 
Gabriel, and he took a handful of tliis matter and presented it to 
Allah, who formed of it a dark bay or a dark chestnut horse, 
(koumvi lie— red mingled with black) saying : 


"I have called thee horse (frassj; I have created thee Arab, 
and I have bestowed upon thee the colour hoKinmite. I have 
attached good fortune to the hair that falls between thy eyes. 
Thou Shalt be the lord (sid) of all other animals. Men shall follow 
thee wheresoever thou goest. Good for pursuit as for flight, 
thou Shalt fly without Avings. Upon thy back shall riches repose, 
and through thy means shall wealth come. " 

Then He signed him with the sign of glory and of good 
fortune {ghora, a star in the middle of the forehead). 

Do you now wish to know if Allah created the horse before 
man, or if He created man before the horse? Listen : 

Allah created the horse before man, and the proof is that man 
being the superior creature, Allah would naturally give unto 
him all that he would require before creating himself. 

The wisdom of Allah points out that He made all that is upon 
the earth for Adam and his posterity. 

Here is another testimony to that : 

When Allah had created Adam, He called him by his name and 
said unto him : 

" Choose between the horse and Borak." * 

Adam answered : " The fairest of the two is the liorse," and 
Allah replied : 

" It is well; thou hast chosen thy glory and the eternal glory 
of thy children; so long as they shall exist, my blessing shall 
be upon them, for I have created nothing that is more dear to 
me than man and the horse." 

Likewise Allah created the horse before the mare. My proof 
is that the male is more noble than the female, and he is, besides 
more vigourous and potent. Though they are both of the very 
same species, the one is more impassioned than the other, and 
the Divine Power is wont to create the stronger of the two the 
first. What the horse most yearns after is the combat and the 
race. He is also preferable to the mare for the purposes of war 
because he is more fleet and patient of fatigue, and because ho 
shares his rider's emotions of hatred or tenderness. It is not so 
with the mare. Let a horse and a mare receive exactly the 
same sort of wound , and one that is sure to be fatal , the horse 
will bear up against it until he has succeeded in carrying his 

* Borah is the animal upon winch MohammeJ was mounted when he made his 
journoy throuph the heavens. It was like a mule, and was neither male nor female. 


master far from the field of battle; while the mare, on the 
contrary , will sink at once upon the spot, without any force of 
resistance. There is not a doubt on the subject — it is a fact 
known by proof among the Arabs. I have seen frequent instan- 
ces of it in our combats, and have experienced it myself. 

This being granted, let us pass on to another point. Did Allah 
create the Arab horse before the foreign horse , or did he create 
the foreign horse before the Arab? 

As a consequence of my former argument every thing leads us 
to believe that He created the Arab before all others, because he 
is without dispute the most noble. Besides, the foreign horse is 
only a species of a genus, and the Almighty has in no case created 
the species before the genus. 

Now whence come the Arab horses of the present day ? 

It is related by many historians that after the time of Adam , 
the horse — like all other animals , such as the gazelle , the 
ostrich, the buffalo, and the ass — lived in a wild state. According 
to these writers the first man who, after Adam, mounted the 
horse was Ishmael, the father of the Arabs. He was the son of 
our lord Abraham, beloved of Allah. Allah taught him to call 
the horses, and when he did so, they all came galloping up to 
him. He then took possession of the finest and most spirited, and 
broke them in. 

But after a while many of the animals trained and employed 
by Ishmael lost something of their purity. One single stock was 
preserved in all its nobleness by Solomon, the son of David, and 
it is that which is called Zad-el-Raleb (the gift, the support of 
the horseman), whence all real Arabs derive their origin in this 

There is a tradition that some Arabs of the Azed tribe went up 
to Jerusalem the Noble to congratulate Solomon on his marriage 
with the Queen of Saba. Having fulfilled their mission they 
addressed him as follows : 

" Prophet of Allah ! our country is fur distant, and our provi- 
sions are exhausted ; thou art a great king; bestow upon us 
wherewithal to take us home." 

Solomon thereupon gave orders to bring from his stables a 
magnificent stallion descended from the Ishmael stock, and then 
dismissed them with these words : 

'■' Behold the provisions which I bestow upon you for your 
.iourney. When hunger assails you, gather fuel, light a fire, 


place your best rider on this horse and arm him with a stout 
lance. Hardly will you have collected your wood and kindled 
a flame, when you will see him return with the produce of a 
successful chase. Go and may Allah cover you with his hless- 

The A zed took their departure. At their first halt they did as 
Solomon had prescribed, and neither zebra, nor gazelle, nor 
ostrich could escape them. Thus enlightened as to the value of 
the animal presented to them by the son of David, these Arabs 
on their return home devoted him to foal-getting, and carefully 
selecting the dams, at length obtained the breed to which out of 
gratitude they gave the name of Zad-el-Rakeh. 

This is the stock whose high renown spread at a later period 
through the whole world.* 

In fact it was propagated both in the East and the West in the 
train of the Arabs who subsequently penetrated to the limits of 
the habitable globe. Long previous to Islam, Hamir-Aben-Melouk 
and his descendants reigned for a hundred years over the West. 
It was he who founded Medina and Saklia. 

Shedad-Eben-Aiid made himself master of the whole country 
to the borders of Moghreb, and built cities and constructed sea 

Afrikes, who gave his name to Africa, extended his conquests 
as far as Tandja (Tangiers), while his son Shamar overran the 
East as far as China, forced his way into the city of Sad, 
and destroyed it. On that account that place has ever since 
been called Shamar-Kenda, — because kenda in Persian signifies 
"he has destroyed", — which the Arabs have corrupted into 

Since the introduction of Islamism, new Mussulman invasions 
extended the fame of Arab horses to Italy, Spain, and even to 
France, where, without doubt, they have left traces of their blood. 
But the event which more than any other filled Africa with Arab 
horses, was the invasion of Sidi-Okba, and still later the successive 
invasions of the fifth, and sixth centuries after the Hijra. Under 
Sidi-Okba the Arabs merely encamped in Africa, whereas in the 
fifth and sixth centuries they arrived as colonists with the inten- 
tion of settling there with their wives and families, their horses 

* It is disting-uishcd by the size of the respiratory duct, which enables it to 
accomplish fabulous journeys. 


and mares. It was these latter invasions which established Arab 
tribes on the soil of Algeria, particularly theMehall, the Djendel, 
the Oulad-Mahdi, the Douaouda, etc., who spread themselves in 
all directions and founded the true nobility of the country. These 
same invasions transplanted the Arab horse into the Soudan, and 
justify our asserting the oneness of the Arab stock, whether in 
Algeria or in the Bast. 

Thus, the history of the Arab horse may be divided into four 
great epochs : 1st from Adam to Ishmael; 2nd from Ishmael to 
Solomon ; 3rd from Solomon to Mohammed ; 4th from Mohammed 
to our own times. 

It is to be clearly understood, however, that the race of the 
principal epoch, that of Solomon, having been forcibly divided 
into several branches, different varieties have been formed partly 
from the change of climate, and partly from the greater or less 
degree of care bestowed upon them, precisely as is the case with 
mankind. The colour of the coat has also varied under the 
influence of the same circumstances. Experience has satisfied 
the Arabs that in districts where the ground is stony, the usual 
colour is gray, and in those where the ground is chalky fArd 
Becla), white is the prevalent hue. I have myself frequently 
verified these observations. 

There remains now only one question to settle with you. You 
ask by what outward signs the Arabs recognize a horse to be 
noble, a drinker of air. Here is my answer : 

The horse of pure descent is distinguished among us by the 
thinness of its lips and of the interior cartilage of the nose, by 
the dilation of its nostrils, by the leanness of the flesh encircling 
the veins of the head, by the graceful manner the neck is 
attached, by the softness of its coat, its mane, and the hairs of 
its tail, by its breadth of chest, the largeness of its joints, and 
the leanness of the extremities. According, however, to the tra- 
ditions of our ancestors the thoroughbred is still better known 
by its moral characteristics than its physical peculiarities. The 
outward signs will enable you to guess at the race, but it is by 
the moral qualities alone you will receive full confirmation of the 
extreme care displayed in coupling the sires and dams, and of 
the pains taken to prohibit all misalliances. 

Thoroughbred horses have no vice. A horse is the most beauti- 
ful of all animals , but his moral qualities , as we think , must 
correspond with his physical, or he will be regarded as dege- 


nerate. The Arabs are so convinced of this that if a horse, or a 
mare, have given indisputable proof of extraordinary speed, of 
remarkable endurance of hunger and thirst, of rare intelligence, 
or of grateful affection for the hand that feeds tliem, they will 
make every imaginable sacrifice to get their progeny, under the 
persuasion that the points by which they were themselves distin- 
guished will reappear in their offspring. 

We allow, then, that a horse is really noble when in addition 
to a fine configuration, he unites courage wdth fire, and bears 
himself proudly in midst of battle and danger. 

Such a horse will love his master, and as a rule will suffer no 
other person to mount him. 

He will not yield to the wants of nature so long as his master 
is on his back. 

He will refuse to touch what another horse has left. 

He will take pleasure in troubling with his feet whatever 
limpid water he may meet with. 

By the senses of hearing, of sight, and of smell, as well as by 
his address and intelligence, he will know how to save his master 
from the thousand accidents that may befall him in war or at 
the chase. 

Finally, sharing the emotions of pain or pleasure experienced 
by his rider, he will aid him in the combat by combating also, 
and every where without hesitation will make common cause 
with him (ikatel^na-Raleihou). Such are the tokens which 
evidence purity of race. 

We possess numerous works on the characteristics of the 
horse, whence it appears that, after man, he is the most noble, 
the most patient, the most useful of created beings. He is con- 
tent with little, and if considered simply with regard to strength, 
he is still superior to other animals. An ox of great strength 
will carry a hundred-weight, but if you place it on his back he 
will move only with an effort and be quite incapable of running. 
On the other hand, the horse carries a full grown man, a robust 
cavalier, with standard, arms, and ammunition, besides food for 
both, and will go at speed for a whole day and more, without eat- 
ing or drinking. It is by his means that the Arab holds whatever 
he possesses, rushes on his enemy, tracks him down or flees from 
him, and defends his family and his freedom. Let him be en- 
riched with the possession of all that sweetens life. Ins horse 
alone is his protector. 


Do you now understand the boundless affection the Arabs feel 
for their horses ! It is only equalled by the services rendered by 
the latter. To their horses they owe their joys, their triumphs, 
and therefore are they prefered to gold and precious stones. In 
the days of paganism they loved the animal from motives of inte- 
rest and merely because it procured them glory and wealth ; but 
when the Prophet spoke of it in terms of the highest praise, this 
instinctive love was transfigured into a religious duty ; some of 
the first words he uttered on the subject of horses are those 
ascribed to him by tradition, on the occasion of the arrival of 
several tribes from Yemen with a view to accept his doctrines 
and to present him, in token of submission, with five magnificent 
mares belonging to the five different races of which Arabia then 
boasted. It is said that Mohammed went forth from his tent to 
receive the noble animals that had been sent to him, and caress- 
ing them with his hand, expressed himself in these words : 

" Blessed be ye, Daughters of the wind !" 

Afterward the Messenger of Allah (Rassonl Allah) said in addi- 
tion : 

" Whosoever keeps and trains a horse for the cause of Allah 
is counted among those who give alms day and night, publicly 
or in secret. He shall have his reward. All his sins shall be 
remitted to him and never shall fear dishonour his heart." 

Now I pray unto Allah to grant you a happiness that shall 
never pass away. Cherish your friendship for me. The wise 
men among the Arabs have said : 

Riches may be lost : 

Honours are but a shadow that fades away : 

But true friends are a treasure that remains. 

He who hath written these lines with a hand which shall one 
day be withered in death, is your friend, the pauper in the 
presence of Allah. 

Damascus, end of Deul-Kada 12'34 (end of August 1857). 

P. S. For the better understanding of our correspondence, 
permit me to instruct you on one point. The word ferass is not 
exclusively applied to the female of the horse, as is customary 
in Algeria— it indicates the male as well as the female. If a 
mare be particulary alluded to, it is necessary to say a female 


ferass; and in like manner if the allusion be to a horse, a male 
ferdss is the proper phrase. Such is the way with the true Arabs 

(Arahes-es-sahh) ; strictly speaking-, the mare is called hadjra and 

the horse hossan. 

The reader of this curious document will doubtless 
have remarked the singular admixture of legendary 
anecdotes with snatches of natural history sometimes 
true, sometimes fabulous after the manner of Pliny and 
Aristotle, and all of it under the dominion of a religious 
sentiment. It is history as written by Orientals and 
likewise by the AVestern Arabs ; for both the one and the 
other, until now outlawed as it were from progress by 
their forced or voluntary exclusion from the intellectual 
movement going on in Europe, arc still, so far as 
science and literature are concerned, no farther advanced 
than their ancestors of Bagdad or Granada. 

Now, it is a remarkable fact that the more learned an 
Arab may be, the more are his writings imbued with 
that fancifulness which, for a reader accustomed to the 
preciseness of our European style, needs to be cleared of 
its poetical mysteriousness and constructed afresh, before 
it can be reduced to the character of a document pos- 
sessed of any historical or scientific worth in the sense 
we usually give to those words. Thus, at first sight, 
the letter we have just perused is nothing more than a 
fragment detached from an Oriental tale. There are, 
nevertheless, lurking within it incontestable truths, and 
from beneath the exaggerations and symbols of tradi- 
tion may be gathered information of a kind not wisely 
to be despised. Here especially is it the letter that 
killcth while the spirit giveth life — let us then seek for 
the spirit beneath the letter. 


God created the horse out of the wind, symbol of fleet- 
ness, which, in the eyes of an Arab, is the first quality 
of a courser. The poets of Greece w^ere inspired by the 
same idea. It was the wind that impregnated the mares 
of Thessaly, the swiftest of ancient times; and it may 
be that those mares were introduced into Greece from 
Syria, or Arabia, together with the fabulous pedigree 
assigned to them by the poets of both countries. If this 
were the case, and here history is in accord with tradi- 
tion, the Arabian horses must have been, what they still 
arc on their native soil, the fleetest and best in the world. 

The Arabs, wdio neither understand nor practice our 
system of fighting in compact and serried masses, at 
times immovable, but who charge without any semblance 
of order and see nothing disgraceful in a headlong flight, 
arc naturally disposed to love and to vaunt above all 
others the drinker of air. "The air-drinker," say they, 
"is the first in the combat to rush at the enemy; and the 
first after victory to fly at the booty, and in case of de- 
feat the first to escape from danger." 

A poet has said : " There are things which an intelli- 
gent King should never neglect. The first is a horse, 
that by its swiftness shall be able to rcscuee him from 
the enemy he has failed to overcome." 

The favourite steed of the Prophet was named Ouskoul), 
"the torrent," from the word sakal), "quickly flowing 
water." The intervention of the Angel Gabriel in the 
creation of the horse commends that animal to the good 
offices of the true Believers, for the Angel Gabriel is the 
constant medium of communication between the Deity 
and the Prophets, especially Mohammed. Now it w^as 
l3y means and with the assistance of the horse alone that 


the Mussulman tribes succeeded in accomplishing that 
immense system of emigration, that propagand war, as 
far as China to the eastward, and westward to the Ocean, 
which was in the mind of Mohammed to impose upon 
them. It was indispensable, therefore, that the horse 
should be looked upon in the light of a sacred animal, a 
providential instrument of war, created by the Deity for 
a special purpose, and of a nobler essence than that with 
which He fashioned the other animals. To produce the 
horse in a manner beyond the common law ^ of creation, 
to envelop his origin in a symbolism that wanders abroad 
from natural history to lose itself in mysterious legends, 
to place him thus beneath the safeguard of religious 
reverence, evinced, as the result has proved, a thorougli 
knowledge of the spirit of the people upon whom Mo- 
hammed purposed and was about to operate. 

The Koran in speaking of horses calls them El-Klieir, 
"the especial treasure," and from this simple word the 
commentators of the Sura, sad, have arrived at the con- 
clusion that " an Arab ought to love horses as a part of 
his own heart, and to sacrifice for their keep the very 
food of his own children." A volume might be composed 
of phrases detached from the sacred book, or from the 
hadites of the Prophet (his conversations as handed down 
by tradition), and of the commentaries upon them, which 
under the form of maxims and precepts, prescribe to 
Mussulmans, as a religious duty, the love of horses. I 
shall quote only a few of them. 

"Blessings, good fortune, and a rich booty shall be 
attached to the forelock of horses until the day of the 
resurrection." "Whoso keeps a horse for the holy w^ar 
in the way of the Most High, increases the number 



of his good works. The hunger and thirst of such a 
steed, the water he drinks, the food he eats, every one 
of his hairs, each step he takes, and every function of 
nature, shall all weigh in the balance at the day of the 
last judgment." 

" The horse prays thrice a day. In the morning he 
says : *0 Allah! make me beloved of my master.' At 
noon : ' Do well by my master, that he may do well by 
me.' In the evening : 'Grant that he may enter into 
paradise upon my back ! ' " 

It was doubtless under the impression of these last 
words that El-Doumayry wrote in his history of animals, 
Rayat-el-liayouan : " The horse is the animal that by his 
intelligence approaches nearest to man." While on this 
subject I cannot help remarking that the Arabs, when 
they advanced this proposition, were well acquainted 
with the animals which pass with us as being the most 
intelligent such as the elephant, the dog, etc. How is it 
then? May it not be that the Arabs, by living on such 
intimate terms with the horse, have succeeded in deve- 
loping faculties the very existence of which is unknown 
to us, who accord to that animal only the instinct of 
memory? With them, in fact, the horse is a friend of 
the family. With us, on the contrary, it is no more 
than an article of luxury or an instrument of labour, 
which we are ever ready to change through interest or 
caprice; as witness the common saying : "One does not 
marry one's horse!" But the Arab does marry his horse. 
Be this as it may, the maxims quoted above all tend to 
the same end, to identify man with the horse. Let it 
not be supposed, however, that that is all. It was neces- 
sary that the horse should be the companion of the 


Believer alone, to the exclusion of all infidels, — a dog-ma 
the political bearing' of which will be readily appreciated. 
Allah hath said : "The horse shall be cherished by all 
my servants, but he shall be the despair of all those who 
do not follow my laws, and none will I place on his back 
save those who know me and who worship me." 

It is needless to add that the Mussulman princes have 
availed themselves of this dogma to prohibit in the name 
of Allah the sale of Arab horses to Christians, under 
pain of sin and damnation. These commands, thoug-h 
of divine orig-in have, I am well aware, been disobeyed 
in some countries. The Arab loves money, it is true; 
but for all that we may rest assured that for the most 
part the animals sold to us are of an inferior order, and 
that the horses or mares whose noble and precious qua- 
lities have been ascertained by proof, whether as regards 
speed or as breeders, are never parted with to foreigners 
for any price. Even if the owner were willing to let them 
go, the whole tribe in the name of their common interest 
would oppose it. This is the real truth, and probably 
explains the disrepute into which Arabians appear to 
have fallen in Europe. One seldom there meets with any 
except such as the Arabs have no desire to keep. But 
enough on that head : let us now turn to another topic. 

The Emir Abd-el-Kader asserts that the horse was 
created hoitmmite, red mixed with black, that is to 
stay, dark bay or dark chesnut. Desengaged from the 
cloudiness of fancy, this assertion will at least go far to 
prove that these colours have in all ag*es been esteemed 
by the Arabs as the index to superior qualities. It is a 
fixed idea with this observing people. It is constantly 
turning up. The Prophet said : 


"If after having collected all the horses of the Arabs 
I were to make them race against one another, it is 
the eiicliegiieur meglonli, the dark chesnut, that would 
outstrip the rest." Moussa, the celebrated conqueror of 
Africa and Spain, is reported to have said : "Of all the 
horses of all my armies the one that has best borne the 
fatigues and privations of war is the true bay, Jiameiir 

And the Prophet further remarked : "If thou hast a 
dark chesnut, conduct him to the combat, and if thou 
hast only a sorry chesnut, conduct him all the same to 
the combat." 

From all this it is abundantly apparent that legendary 
traditions and experience are in perfect harmony in ac- 
cording a decided superiority to coats of deep and decided 
hues. Coats of a light pale colour are held in no esteem 
whatever. The horse's coat, therefore, must be an index 
to his character. The long experience of Mohammed 
the Prophet and of Moussa the Conqueror must have 
placed them in a position to speak with full knowledge 
of the subject, and their opinion confirmed by that of all 
the Arabs, the best horsemen in the world and the most 
interested in studying the animal, upon whom indeed 
depend their honour and their life, is certainly entitled 
to be regarded with some respect. It is beyond all ques- 
tion that the Tioiimmite — red mingled with black, chesnut 
or bay — is preferred by the Arabs to all others. If I might 
be allowed to quote my own personal experience, I should 
have no hesitation in saying that, if there be any preju- 
dice in the matter, I share it with them. Besides, must 
it necessarily be a prejudice because it may seem to be 
one? No one will denv that all the individuals of the 


same species are, in their wild state, identical in colour 
and endowed with common instinctive qualities inherent 
in the race. These colours and these qualities undergo 
no alteration or admixture except in a state of servitude 
and under its influences, so that if any of these indivi- 
duals, by a return to their natural condition more easily 
proved than explained, happen to recover the colour of 
their first ancestors, they will be equally distinguished 
by more broadly defined natural qualities. The canine 
race may be taken as an illustration. Whence it follows 
that a certain number of domesticated individuals being 
given, their coats alike and with dominant qualities, it 
may be fairly concluded that this coat and these qualities 
were those of the race in its wild state. In the case, 
then, of the Arab horse, if it be true that those whose 
coat is red shaded with black are endowed Avith superior 
speed, are we not justified in inferring that such was the 
uniform colour, such the natural qualities, of the sires of 
the race? I submit with all humility these observations 
to men of science. 

Abd-el-Kader assures us, moreover, that it is ascer- 
tained by the Arabs that horses change colour according 
to the soil on w^hich they are bred. Is it not possible, in 
fact, that under the influence of an atmosphere more or 
less light, of water more or less fresh, of a nurture more 
or less rich according as the soil on wiiich it is raised is 
more or less impregnated with certain elements, the skin 
of the horse may be sensibly affected ? Every one knows 
that with any coat, the colour changes in tone and shade 
according to the locality where the animal lives, the 
state of its health, the quality of the w^ater it drinks, 
and of the food it eats , and the care that is bestowed 


Upon it. There is perchance in all this a lesson in natural 
history not to be despised, for if the circumstances in 
which a horse lives act upon his skin, they must inevit- 
ably act also in the long run upon his form and qualities. 

This point being dismissed, the last proposition in the 
letter of the Emir Abd-el-Kader is that which classes the 
history of Arab horses in four epochs : 1st, from Adam 
to Ishmael; 2nd, from Ishmael to Solomon; 3rd, from 
Solomon to Mohammed; 4th, from Mohammed to our 
ow^n times. 

This is the history of the Arabs themselves, so com- 
pletely have they identified themselves with the horse, 
their necessary and indispensable companion. Between 
Adam and Abraham the Arabs did not exist — it was the 
age of a pastoral population. No wars, at least of a 
serious character, no pillaging. The horse appears in it 
only on the day of creation. He has no part to play 
except as a head of cattle among the flocks and herds, 
peacefully employed in domestic service. But on the 
second epoch with Ishmael, his part changes altogether. 
Ishmael is a bastard, disinherited, abandoned in the 
desert. His life is to be a struggle. He must be at open 
war with all mankind because he must live somehow upon 
the soil to which he has been banished, without taking 
into consideration the fact that this necessity of fighting 
in order to live, at the same time gratifies the resentment 
he entertains towards his brothers, heirs, to his prejudice, 
of the paternal fields. We read in the Bible, that when 
Hagar, in Arabic Hacljira, fled into the wilderness an 
angel appeared to her and said : 

"I will multiply thy seed exceedingly that it shall not 
be numbered for multitude. 


"Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, 
and shalt call his name Ishmael ; and he will be a wild 
man; his hand will be against every man, and every 
man's hand against him ; and he shall dwell in the pre- 
sence of all his brethren." 

Ishmael is the personification of the Arab people. He 
calls the horses to him, selects the best, and trains them 
for racing, for the chase, and for war. It is by their 
aid that he will live upon the plunder of the rich cara- 
vans that may venture upon his territory, and will 
make forays from the land of hunger and thirst into 
the land of abundance. The horse has made him King 
of the desert, and in return he makes a friend, a com- 
panion of his horse. Between them there is only one 

Nevertheless, the Arabs, hard pressed to the eastward 
Ijy the powerful armies of the Kings of Abyssinia, to the 
northward by the people of Jehovah, — one half of them 
absorbed and decimated in these great struggles ; and the 
other half shut in within their arid peninsula and divided 
by intestine dissensions — the Arabs degenerated, and 
Avith them their horses suffered deterioration. It was at 
Jerusalem the Noble, and according to the legend in 
the stud of Solomon, that the true type of the race was 
exclusively preserved. Travellers, perhaps conductors 
of the caravans which in those days used to arrive in 
Jerusalem in great numbers, receive as a gift certain 
horses, of whose value and fine qualities they are igno- 
rant. But under the influence of peace commerce again 
discovers the long disused road from Central Asia to the 
seaports of Syria, and the Arabs interested in making 
common cause with one another reform themselves by 


mutual alliances between tribes. The horse, on his part, 
follows this new phase of their fortunes. 

At a later period, a fresh degeneracy arises in conse- 
quence of the immigration into Arabia of foreigners, 
Jews and Christians, and from quarrels among the Arabs 
themselves. Some few noble and powerful tribes, such 
as the Koreishites, for example, the most powerful and 
the most noble of all, had preserved a traditional love of 
the horse as inseparable from their original dignity. 
But in order that Mohammed's task should have any 
chance of accomplishment, it was necessary to extend 
to all and to popularise this exceptional passion of a few, 
and equally essential was it to condense into one national 
unity the disunited elements of which the tribes of Arabia 
then consisted. We have seen with what persistance 
the Prophet reverts to this necessity, in the Koran, in 
his conversations , and in his teachings , and how he 
made the careful tendance of horses an obligation of 
Mussulman life, and an article of faith in the Believer. 
In |this manner, from the Hidjra to our own times, the 
condition of the Arab horses has unavoidably gone on 
improving. Has he not said : "Whoso feeds and tends 
a horse for the triumph of religion, makes a magnificent 
loan to Allah"? 

I have only one more word to say on the portrait of 
the thoroughbred horse sketched by Abd-el-Kader. The 
Emir takes it at one view, and as inseparable one from 
the other, both the physical and moral qualities. In his 
opinion physical qualities alone will never constitute a 
perfect horse. He must also by his intelligence and by 
his affection for the master who feeds, who tends, who 
rides him, unite with him as an integral part. To de- 


inand such qualities from a horse is simply placing him, 
in the intellectual order, immediately after man, just as, 
according to the legend, he has been placed in the order 
of creation. 

The Europeans are, I am aware, far from entertaining 
such a high opinion of the animal, but may we not err 
in the opposite degree ? 


We have often heard it said that the horse of our 
African possessions, to whose rare quahties we have 
endeavoured to do justice, was very inferior to the true 
Arabian. Notwithstanding- a conviction based on a 
lengthened experience and a grave study of the subject, 
we have made it our duty to take up and discuss an opi- 
nion put forth with an air of authority. We were wilhng 
to accept as umpire in this dispute, a man whose inteUi- 
gence, whose habits, whose whole life, render him a 
supreme judge in all matters relating to horse-flesh — 
the Emir Abd-el-Kader. We addressed to that genuine 
horse-man a letter in which we frankly expressed the 
objections which each of our assertions had encountered. 
His reply to this letter is given below. It will be seen 
from this curious document that the Emir does not con- 
fine himself to the confirmation of the proposition we 
advanced, but develops by reflections or by facts the 
whole of our opinions. According to his statement, the 
Barbary horse, so far from degenerating from the Arab, 
is, on the contrary, superior to him. The Berbers, he 
says, formerly inhabited Palestine, where they reared 


the animal that has become the type of a perfect war- 
horse. Having emigrated to Africa through the vicissi- 
tudes of their life of adventure, they paid the utmost 
attention to the guest of their tents, the instrument of 
their hunting expeditions, their comrade in the fight. 
Their horses thus preserved such eminent qualities, that 
an Asiatic sovereign engaged in a perilous war, sent for 
them from the Berbers. The reader will appreciate the 
value of this historical dissertation which, from whatever 
point of view it be examined, does not the less possess an 
interest that cannot be contested. It is quite certain that 
the Barbary horse is indebted to the climate in which he 
flourishes, to the education which he receives, to the 
food that is given to him, to the privations that arc fa-" 
miliar to him, for a vigour that enables him to equal, if 
not to surpass the most vaunted steeds of Persia and 
Upper Egypt. Supported by the following letter, we 
hold ourselves justified in repeating that all the horses 
of Asia and Africa may be blended together under one 
common denomination. We oppose to the European 
horse, one identical horse — the horse of the Orient — 
which, thanks to our conquest of Algeria, we believe will 
be daily called upon to render to our country services 
more and more valuable and more and more valued. 

This is the letter from the Emir Abd-el-Kader, which 
he forwarded to me from Broussa : 

Praise to the one God! His reign alone is eternal ! 

May the profoundest peace and the most perfect divine benefi- 
cence he extended to the person of General Daumas, — of him who 
ardently seeks for the solution of the most obscure questions ! 
May Allah conduct and protect him ! 

To proceed : You have asked us our opinion on Barbary horses, 
their character, and their origin. To give you satisfaction I am 


again taming my attention to these subjects, and can do nothing 
better to-day than send you some extracts taken from the poeti- 
cal works of the famous Aamrou-el-Kais, who lived a short time 
before the coming of the Prophet. They refer to the superiority 
of the horses of the Berbers, and I think you will there find proofs 
against those who maintain that those admirable animals are of 
an inferior stamp. The poet remarks, while addressing himself to 
GcBsar, Emperor of Constantinople, in a long piece of versification : 

" And I answer thee, if ever I am reinstated as King, we will 
ride a race where you shall see the horseman lean forward over 
his saddle to increase the speed of his courser ; 

"A race across a space trampled down on all sides, where no 
higher marks are distinguishable to direct the traveller, than 
the hump of an aged Nabatheean camel loaded with years and 
uttering plaintive meanings. 

"We shall be borne, I tell thee, on a horse accustomed to 
nocturnal journeys, a steed of the Barbary race; with slender 
flanks like a wolf of Gada; a steed that rushes along on his rapid 
course, and whose flanks are running with sweat. 

"When, slackening the bridle, the rider urges him on still 
faster by striking him with the reins on either side, he quickens 
his rapid course, bending his head to his flanks and champing 
the bit, 

"And when I say : 'Let us rest;' the horseman stops as by 
enchantment and begins to sing, remaining in the saddle on this 
vigorous horse, the muscles of whose thighs are long drawn out 
and whose tendons are lean and well apart." 

Aamrou-el-Kais was one of the ancient Kings of Arabia, who 
took infinite pains to procure Barbary horses wherewith to com- 
bat his enemies. He was doubtful of success if obliged to trust 
himself to the qualities of Arab horses. It is not possible, in my 
opinion, to give a more invincible proof of the superiority of the 
Barb. After testimony like this any one who should dispute it 
would be quite unable to adduce an allegation of the slightest 

The Berbers, as stated by El-Massoudi, are descended from the 
Beni-Ghassau, while other writers affirm that they come from 
the Beni-Lekhm and the Djouzam. Their native country was 
Palestine, whence they were expelled by one of the Kings of 
Persia. They then emigrated to Egypt, but the souvereign of 
that country refusing them permission to seille here, they 

THE BAllB. 29 

crossed the Ni-le and spread over the regions to the westward of 
the other side of the river. 

Maleck-ben-el-Merahel says that the Berbers form a very 
numerous population composed of Hymiar, Modher, Copts, Amal- 
kas, and Kanean, who became amalgamated in the province of 
Sham (Syria) and took the name of Berbers. Their immigration 
into the Maghreb, according to this historian with whom El-Mas- 
soudi, El-Souheili, and El-Zabari also agree, was owing to their 
marching under Ifrikesh to the conquest of the African peninsula, 

Ibn-el-Kelbi asserts that opinions are divided as to the real 
name of the chief under whose guidance the Berbers emigrated 
from Syria towards the Maghreb. Some will have it that it was 
under the Prophet David, others name Youssha-ben-Euoun, 
others again Ifrikesh, and yet others certain Kings of the Zobor. 

El-Massoudi adds that they did not emigrate until after the 
death of Goliath and that they established themselves in the 
province of Barka and in the Maghreb, after having vanquished 
the Frendj (Franks). They then invaded Sicily, Sardinia, the 
Balearic Isles, and Spain. Still later it was stipulated between 
them and the Frendj that the latter should occupy the towns, 
while the former should fix themselves in the deserts which 
extend from Alexandria to the Ocean. 

Ibn-Abd-el-Berr affirms that the establishment of the Berbers 
extended from the extremity of Egypt, that is, from the regions 
situated behind Barka to the Green Sea, and from the sea of 
Andalusia to the end of the deserts which border on Soudan. 
On this frontier line a tribe bearing the name of Berbers still 
exists between the Habeuch (Abyssinians) and the Zendy (Zanzi- 
bar). The author of the Kamous (an Arabic Dictionnary) makes 
mention of them, but they are a very insignificant tribe, whoso 
trivial and obscure history records not a single important event. 

The essential point here is the extract from the poet Aamrou- 
el-Kais on the subject of Barbary horses. As for the Berbers 
themselves, every thing proves that they have been known from 
time immemorial and that they came from the East to settle in 
the Maghreb, where we find them at the present day. 

Peace be with you, at the end as at the beginning of this letter 
on the part of your friend. 


May Allah cover him with His blessings ! 

Broussa, tho 1st of Safrr, 1260 IW'v'i. 


Since the above was written, I have received a proof 
confirmatory of my opinion as to the excellence of the 
Barbary horse and its perfect equality with other horses 
of oriental extraction. It is this : 

Paris, — 185 — 
My dear General, 

I forward you a copy of the official report of the races which 

came off at Alexandria in Egypt on the 25th July, 1836. I give 

you full permission to introduce it in your work as a useful 

argument in support of your thesis on the excellence of the Barb. 

I have already related to you how these races took place in 

consequence of a conversation I had with Mehemet-Ali, in the 

course of which the Viceroy of Egypt bantered me on the arrival 

of a horse which my brother Jules had sent me from Tunis. 

Accept, etc., etc. 

Ferd. de lesseps. 

distance run : 4 1/2 kilometres (nearly 2 4/5 miles) in a straight line. 

1st Heat. 

Ncjdi horse, dappled gray, 4 1/2 yrs, the property of Suhy-Bey, ridden 
by the owner. 

Nejdi horse, bred in Cairo, bay, 9 yrs, tlie property of M. Jules 
Pastre, ridden by the owner. 

Aneze horse, from Syria, iron gray, 3 1/2 yrs, the property of 
M. Mereinier, ridden by M. J. Dufey. 

Nejdi horse, bred in Cairo, the property of H. E. Moharrem-Bey, son 
in law of Mehemet-Ali, and ridden by Terata-Tutemy-i-Bashi of the 

The horse ridden by M. Jules Pastre was the first in. 

2nd Heat. 

Barbary horse, from Tunis, bay, 4 yrs, the property of M. Ferd. de 
Lesseps, ridden by the owner. 

Nejdi horse, white, G 1/2 yrs, the property of M. Etienne Rolland, 
ridden by M. J. Dufey. 

Nejdi horse, l)ay, 5 yrs, the property of Subi-Bcy, ridden l\y the 

Nejdi horse, bred in Cairo, 1 yrs, the property of H. E. Moharrem-Bey, 
ridden by Cerkes-Osman-Sakalle. 

Tlic Barb ridden by M. do Lesseps was the winner. 


3rd Heat. 

Nejdi horse, bred in Cairo, gray, G yrs, the property of Hussein- 
Effendi, ridden by the owner. 

Ncjdi horse, dappled-gray, 5 1/2 yrs, the property of D'' Gaetani-Bey, 
ridden by M. Ferd. dc Lesseps. 

Nejdi horse, bred in Cairo, iron gray, 6 yrs, the property of M. W. 
Peel, ridden by the owner. 

Samian horse, bay, 9 yrs, the property of Ibrahim-Effendi-Bimbashi, 
ridden by the owner. 

The Egyptian horse ridden by Hussein-Effendi was the winner. 

4th Heat. 

Nejdi horse, bred in Cairo, bay, 8 yrs, the property of M. Henricy, 
ridden by M. Escalon. 

Egyptian horse, from Atfeh, bay, 8 yrs, the property of M. Samuel 
Muir Junior, ridden by M. Sanders. 

Nejdi horse, bred in Cairo, bay, 8 yrs, the property of Turki-Bashi, 
ridden by the owner. 

Nejdi horse, gray, 4 yrs, the property of M. Roquerbe, ridden by 
M. Bartolomeo. 

Won by the Nejdi horse ridden by M. Bartolomeo. 

Recapitulation of the Winners. 

1st Heat, Cairo horse, the property of ]\I. Pastre, ridden by the owner. 

2nd Heat, Barbary horse, the property of M. Ferd. de Lesseps, ridden 
by the owner. 

3rd ?Ieat, Cairo horse, the property of Hussein-Effendi, ridden T)y 
the owner. Heat, Nejdi horse, the property of M. Rcquerbe, ridden by 
M. Bartolomeo. 

According to previous agreement the four winning horses having 
gone over the same ground, were to contend against one another in a 
liftli heat. They came in in tlie following order : 

1st. Barbary horse, the property of M. Ferd. de Lesseps, ridden ]\v 
the owner. 

2nd. Cairo horse, the property of M. Jules Pastre, ridden by the 

3rd. Nejdi horse, the property of M. Roquerbe, ridden by M. Bar- 

Ath. Nejdi horse, the property of Hussein-Effendi, ridden by the 


Certified the accuracy of the al)Ove report. 

%«e<f.- Ferd. DE LESSEPS. 

To finish with the Barb and to give, over and above 
the other quahties he possesses, an exact idea of his 



strength and spirit, I cannot do better than state the 
weight carried in most of onr expeditions by the horse of 
a chassenr d'Afrique. 


Horseman armed and in full uniform . . 
Equipments and pistol 


















Bread for two daAS 

Biscuit for three davs 

Coffee for five davs 

Sugar for five davs 

Bacon for five days 

Rice for five days 


Pressed hay for five davs 

Barley for five daj^s 

Three packets of cartridges 

Four horse-shoes 

Total (350 lbs) 




159 kilogrammes, or 19 more than the horse of a carabineer, and 20 
more than the horse of a cuirassier in France. This weight, of course, 
decreases as the column proceeds on its march. 

Delivered the 31st February 1847, Ijy Colonel During-cr, at the moment of departure 
of a column. 

Now, a horse that, in a country often rough and diffi- 
cult, marches, gallops, ascends, descends, endures un- 
paralleled privations, and goes through a campaign with 
spirit, with such a weight on his back, is he, or is he 
not, a war horse ? 

* A kilogramme is equal to 2 1/5 lb., a hectogramme to rather more tlian 3 1/2 ozs, 
nnd a decagramme is the 100th part of a kilog'ramme. 


To a pastoral and a nomadic people, roaming our vast 
grazing- grounds, and whose numbers bear no proportion 
to tlie extent of their territories, the horse is a necessity 
of life. With his horse, the Arab trades and travels, 
looks after his numerous flocks, distinguishes himself in 
l)attle, at weddings, and at the festivals of his marabouts. 
He makes love, he makes w^ar : space is nothing to him. 
Thus, the Arabs of the Sahara still give themselves up 
with ardour to the rearing of horses. They know full 
well the value of blood, they pay great attention to cross- 
ing the breed, and try every means to improve the 
species. The state of anarchy in which they have lived 
in these latter times has naturally modified some of their 
habits, but it has effected no change in this condition of 
their existence — the bree'ding, perfecting and training 
of horses. 

The love of the horse has passed into the Arab blood. 
That noble animal is the friend and comrade of the chief 
of the tent. He is one of the servants of the family. 
His habits, his requirements are made an object of study. 
He is the burden of their songs, the favourite topic of 
conversation. Day by day in the gatherings outside the 



douar, where age alone enjoys the privilege of speech, 
and which are marked by the decorous behaviour of the 
listeners, seated in a circle on the sand or on the turf, 
the young men add to their practical knowledge the 
counsels and traditions of their seniors. Religion, war, 
the chase, love, and horses, inexhaustible subjects of 
observation, make regular schools of these open air meet- 
ings, in which warriors are formed and develop their 
intelligence in collecting a mass of facts, precepts, pro- 
verbs, and sententious sayings, the application of which 
will only too frequently occur in the course of the per- 
ilous life they have to lead. It is thus they acquire that 
knowledge of horse-flesh which we are so astonished to 
meet with in the humblest horseman of a desert tribe. 
He can neither read nor write, and yet every phrase in 
his conversation rests upon the authority of the learned 
commentators of the Koran, or of the Prophet himself. 
''Our lord Mohammed declared" — " Sidi- Ahmed -ben- 
Youssef says in addition" — "Si-ben-Dyab relates" — And 
you may take him on trust, this learned ignoramus, for 
all these texts, all these anecdotes, which for the most 
part are only to be found in books, ho for his part derives 
from the tliolbas or from his chiefs, who, unconsciously 
come, as it were, to a mutual understanding, to develop 
or maintain among the pcoplc'the love of the horse, use- 
ful precepts, sound doctrines, and the best rules of 
hygieine. The whole is sometimes tainted, no doubt, 
with gross prejudices and ridiculous superstitions. It is 
a picture with much shading. But let us not be too 
severe : it is not so very long since very nearly the same 
absurdities were proclaimed in France as indisputable 


I was talking" one clay -with a marabout of the tribe of 
the Oulad-Sidi-Schik about the horses of his country, 
and pretended to question some of the opinions he had 
expressed. "You cannot understand that, you Christ- 
ians," he exclaimed, abruptly rising* to his feet, "but 
horses are our riches, our joys, our life, our religion. 
Has not the Prophet said : 'The good things of this life, 
even to the day of the last judgment, shall be suspended 
from the hairs which are between the eyes of your 

"I have read the Koran," I replied, "but have never 
met with those words." 

"You will not find them in the Koran, which is the 
voice of Allah, but in the conversations of our lord 
Mohammed (Radite sidna Mohammed)." 

" And you believe in them? " I retorted. 

"Before taking my leave of you, I will show you what 
may happen to those who have faith." And my compa- 
nion gravely recited the following history : 

"A poor man confiding in the words of the Prophet 
which I have just repeated to you, came one day upon 
a dead mare. So he cut off her head and buried it under 
the threshold of his door, saying to himself : ' I shall 
become rich if it please Allah' (An-slia- Allah). Days, 
however, followed each other, but no riches came, and 
yet the Believer never doubted. The Sultan of the 
country being on his way to visit a holy spot, happened 
by accident to pass before the lowly abode of the poor 
Arab. It was situated at the end of a small plain 
bordered by large trees and watered by a pretty rivulet. 
The scene pleasing him, he halted his brilliant escort, 
and dismounted to rest himself in the shade. Just as he 


was about to g-ive the signal to continue the journey his 
steed, which a slave was employed to look after, impa- 
tient to devour space, began to neigh and to paw the 
gl'ound, and presently broke loose. All the efforts of the 
sdis (grooms) to catch him again were for a long time in 
vain and every one was in dispair, when they beheld 
him stop suddenly of himself at the threshold of an old 
liut which he smelt at while throwing up the ground 
with his forefeet. An Arab, until that moment an unmo- 
ved spectator, went up to him without frightening him, 
as if he had been known to him, caressed him with hand 
and voice, laid hold of him by the mane, the bridle 
l^eing in a thousand pieces, and without any difficulty 
led him quietly up to the astonished Sultan. 

"How have you contrived," demanded his greatness, 
"thus to tame one of the most fiery steeds of Arabia?" 

"You will no longer be surprised, my lord," replied 
the man of faith, "wdien you learn that, having been 
taught that all the good things of this world unto the 
day of judgment shall be suspended from the hairs 
which are between the eyes of our horses, I buried under 
the door-way of my house the head of a mare I found 
lying dead. The rest has come to pass through the 
blessing of Allah." 

" The Sultan instantly caused the ground to be dug up 
at the spot indicated, and when he had thus verified the 
statement of the Arab, he hastened to recompense one 
who had not hesitated to give an entire faith to the words 
of the Prophet. The poor man received the present of a 
line horse, superb garments, and riches enough to place 
him beyond the reach of want for the rest of his days." 
"You now know," continued the marabout, "what may 


happen to those ^Yho bcheve," and ^Yithout waiting for 
my reply he sakited me with the eyes after the manner 
of the Arabs, and withdrew. 

This legend is popular in the Sahara, and the w^ords 
of the Prophet on wdiich it is founded are there an article 
of faith. Whether the Prophet uttered them or not, they 
do not the less surely answer the end proposed to himself 
by their imputed author. The Arab loves honours, 
powder, riches. To tell him that all that was attached to 
the long" hairs of his horse w^as to endear it to him, to 
bind it to him by the bond of a common interest. The 
genius of the Prophet doubtless went much farther. He 
fully understood that the mission of conquest which he 
had bequeathed to his people could only be accomplished 
by hardy horsemen, and that the love of the horse 
must be developed in them simultaneously with faith in 
Islam. These injunctions, which all tend towards the 
same end, are clothed in various forms. The marabout 
and the thaleb strung them together as sayings and 
legends, the noble (djieud) as traditions, and the common 
people as proverbs. Subsequently, proverbs, traditions, 
and legends, assumed a religious character which has 
for ever accredited them to the great family of Mussul- 
mans : for it is the will of the Prophet that his own 
people, to the exclusion of all infidels, should reserve to 
themselves these powerful instruments of war, which in 
the hands of the Christians might become so fatal to the 
Mussulman religion. This inner motive, which the com- 
mon people of the tent may not have seen, through the 
symbolical veil behind wdiich it was concealed, has not 
escaped the perception of the Arab chiefs. The Emir 
Abd-el-Kader, when at the height of his power, inllictcd 


death without mercy on every Believer convicted of 
having sold a horse to a Christian. In Morocco the 
exportation of these animals is hampered with such 
heavy duties that the permission to take them out of 
the kingdom is altogether illusory. At Tunis the same 
reluctance yields only to the imperious necessities of 
policy, and in like manner at Tripoli, in Egypt, at Con- 
stantinople, in short in all Mussulman States.* 

If you speak of horses to a (Ijieucl, the noble of the 
tent, who still plumes himself on his ancestors having 
fought with ours in Palestine, he will tell you : 

The mounting' of horses, 
The letting slip greyhounds from the leash, 
And the clinking of ear-rings, 
Dra^Y the maggots out of your head. 

If your interlocutor is one of those horsemen (meklia- 
zeni) w^iose bronzed face, pepper-and-salt beard, and 
prominent exostosis + on the tibia announce that he has 
gone through many adventures, he will say to you : 

Horses for a quarrel, 
Camels for the desert, 
And oxen for poverty. 

Or he will remind you that when the Prophet was 
engaged in expeditions, in order to induce the Arabs to 
tend their horses properly, he always gave two-thirds of 
the prize to whomsoever had accompanied him on the 
best horse. 

» I know for a fact that in certain Mussulman countries in the list of oblig'atory 
l)rrKcnts for a Christian personag-e, the donor wrote clown : Kidar ala Khratcr er- 
Rini'iui — "a jade for the Christian. " 

T The eye of the Arab stirrup invariably produce exostoses on the front part of the 
leg-. By them you may distinguish at once the ri(^h man from the poor, the cavalier 
from the man on foot. 


The voluptuous Thaleb, man of God for the world 
who lives in contemplative idleness, without any other 
occupation than that of \n.nting talismans and making 
amulets for all men and w^omen wdio want them, will 
repeat to you with his eyes on the ground : 

The paradise of earth is to be found on horseback, 
In the study of books, 

Or on the bosom of a woman, 

he will add if no prudish ears arc at hand. 

Again, if you question one of those aged patriarchs 
who are renowned for their wisdom, their experience, 
and their hospitality, he will answer you : 

"Sidi-Aomar, the companion of the Prophet, hath said : 
'Love horses, tend them w^ell, for they are worthy of 
your tenderness. Treat them like your own children, 
nourish them like friends of the family, clothe them 
with care! For the love of Allah, do not neglect to do 
this, or you will repent of it in tins /lonse and in the 

Finally, if you have the good fortune to encounter in 
your journey one of those wandering story-tellers (mc- 
dalili, fessehh) who pass their lives in travelling about 
from tribe to tribe, to amuse the abundant leisure of 
these warrior-shepherds, supported by a player on the 
flute (knesol)), and accompanying himself on a tabour 
(bendair), he will chaunt to you with a hollow but not 
unmusical voice : 

My horse is the lord of horses ! 
He is blue as the pig-eon beneath the shade. 
And his black hairs are like waves; 
He bears hunger and thirst; he outstrips the eycsiirht ; 
And, true drinker of air, 


He blackens tlie heart of our enemies 

In the days when muzzles touch each other. 

IMehrouk * is the pride of the country. 

My uncle has thoroughbred mares, whose distant sires 

Are counted in our tribes since the ancient times, 

Gentle and timid as daughters of the Guebla t. 

You would say they were gazelles 

Feeding in tlie valleys under the eye of their dams. 

To see them, is to forget the authors of our days. 

Covered with djcllals ^ which make our flowers look pale, 
They march like Sultanas attired for a fete, 

A negro of Kora ? ;tends them, 
Gives them pure Ivarley, and milk to drink, 

And leads them to the bath. 
Allah preserve them from the evil eye ! + 

For his much loved mares 
My uncle demanded Mebrouk in marriage. 

And I said to him : No ; 
Mebrouk is my support, I wish to keep him 
Proud, full of health, dexterous and fleet. 
Time turns on itself and returns ; 
There may be no dispute to-day, but to-morrow, perhaps, wc shall see 
The hour of strife approach with rapid strides. 
For a skin full of blood, my uncle replied, 
Thou hast made my face yellow g before all my children. 
The earth is vast : adieu. 

Mebrouk, why this neighing night and day? 
Tliou bctrayest my ambush and warnest my enemies, 
Thy thoughts wander too much to the daughters of our coursers, 

* Mebrovh is Arabic foi; '' tlie fortunate one." 

t Gncbla, the soutli, the Sahara, the desert. 

<7 Djellals are woollen cloths more or less ornamented with desig'ns accordinfr to 
the wealth of the chief. They are very wide and extremely warm, and cover both 
the chest and the croup. 

? Slaves from Kora are in great request among the Mussidmans. They learn 
Arabic with great difficulty, but they are very attentive to their duties, and much 
attached to their masters. 

4; Wliat the Arabs understand by the evil eye is this : Some one may say to you : 
" Oh ! what a beautiful horse , what a beautiful mare you have there ! " Fear the 
worst from such a one, for he has only spoken out of envy. If he had meant it in real 
kindliness, he would not have failed to have added : " Allah protect you, or grant you 
his blessing." It is not every one, however, who has the evil eye. 

2 Red and all the brilliant colours fall to the lot of good fortune, in the eyes of the 
Arabs; while the sombre hues, and especially yellow, indicate misfortune. 


I will marry thee, o my son! 
But where shall I find my friends 
Whose mares are so noble, and their she camels such treasures? 
Their tidings are buried in the earth ; 
Where are their spacious tents so pleasant to the eye? 
In them were spread the carpet and the mat; 
In them was offered the hospitality of Allah, 
And the poor man filled his belly. 

They are vanished ! 

The scout viewed the hillocks, 

The brave marched in the front rank. 

The shepherds drove the flocks after them. 

And the hunters, on the track of their sharp greyhounds, 

Chased the gazelle. 

Have you lieard speak of the tribe of my brethren? 
No! Well, come with me and count their numerous horses : 
There are colours which will please you. 
Behold those horses white as snow that falls in its proper season ; 

Those black as the slave carried off from Soudan ; 

Those others green * as the reed that grows on the banks of rivers ; 

Those, again, red as blood that spirts first from a wound. 

And those bluet as a pigeon when it flies beneath the sky. 

Where are those rifles so straight, quicker than the winking of an eye? 

That powder from Tunis, and those balls turned out in moulds, 'I' 

Which pierced the bones, tore the liver, 

And made the stricken perish with mouth wide open? 

When I cease to sing, I am still transported thither by my heart; 

For it burns for my brethren with a fire that consumes my interior. 

Nowhere have I seen such warriors. 

Allah! strike with blindness those who bear them envy! 

Have they not spacious tents well provided with carpets. 

Mats, cushions, saddles, and rich arms? 

The traveller and the orphan are they not always received there 

By these words of our sires : " You are w^elcome ! " 

Their wives, bright as the corn-poppy. 

Are they not borne on camels, 

Those ships of the earth. 

That march with the noble gait of the ostrich? 

* The Arabs consider as preen the colour we call a deep yellow dun, especially v. hen 
it ajiproaches to that of a ripening' olive. 

fThe Arabs caU blue the horse of a g-rayish colour shot like a starling-'s back. 

^ It is a matter of luxury for the Arabs and especially for those of the desert to 
possess balls made in modds. For the most part Ihoy use rods eut into small pieces. 


Are they not covered with veils 
Which trailing far behind them fill even the marabouts with despair! 
Are they not adorned Avith ornaments, gems enriched with coral, 
And the hlue tattoo on their arms, was it not pleasant to behold? 
Every thing about them charmed the heart of the believers in Allah; 
You would say they were bean-flowers created by the Eternal. 

You have plunged into the southern desert. 
And the days seem unto me very long! 
Behold! it is well nigh a year that nailed to this wearisome * Tell, 
I have seen no more of you than the traces of your encampments. 
my cherished dove 
Who wearest trousers that reach to thy feet ; 
Who wearest a burnous that sits so well on your shoulders; 
Whose wings are variegated, and who knowest the country; 
thou who cooest ! 
Away, fly beneath the clouds, they will serve thee for a covering; 
Go, And my friends, give them this letter to read, 

Tell them that it proceeds from a sincere heart, 
Come back quickly and inform me if they are happy or unhappy. 
They who make me sigh. 

You will see Sherifa ; t a haughty damsel ; 
She is haughty, she is noble, I have seen it in writing; 
Her long hair falls with grace 
On her wiiite and ample shoulders ; 
Y'ou would say it was the sable plumes of the ostrich 
That dwells in the desert and sings beside its brood. 

Her eye-lids are bows brought from the negro-land ; 
And her eye-lashes, you would swear that it Avas the beard of an car 
Ripened by the eye of light ^ towards the end of summer ; [of corn 

Her eyes are the eyes of the gazelle 

Troubled about her little ones, 
Or, rather, it is the flash that precedes the thunder 

In the middle of the night. 

Her mouth is admirable, 

Her breath sugar and honey. 
And her fine set of teeth ressemble the hailstones 

* The Araljs of the desert are so fond of their indepondant wandering hfe, that 
they regard as the most wearisome moment of their existence the season when they 
are compelled to come to the Tell to purchase their supplies of corn. 

i Feminine of sheriff signifying a descendant of the Prophet. 

<J) In their poetic effusions, the Arabs frequently call the sun adia cnnour, " eye of 


Which the winter in its fury sows over our land. 
Her neck is as tlie standard whicli our warriors plant in the ground 

To defy the enemy and rally the runaways, 

And her faultless body outvies the marble 
"Which is used for building the pillars of our mosques. 

Fair as the moon around which gathers the night, 
She shines like a star undimmed by a cloud. 
Tell her that she has wounded her lover 
With two thrusts of a poniard, one in the eyes, the other in the heart. 
Love is no light burden. 
I ask of the Almighty to give unto us water ; 
We are in the spring-time 
And the rain has tarried too long for the people of flocks. 
I am hungry, I am fasting like a Ramadan moon. 

They are at Askoura, praise be to Allah! 
Bring me my horse ! 
And you there, strike the tents ! 
I go to seek my uncle ; 
He will forgive the son of his brother ; 
We shall be reconciled to one another. 
And by the head of the Prophet, 
I will give a feast in which the young men shall appear 
With shining stirrups and saddles richly embroidered ; 
Powder shall be burnt* to the sound of the flute and the tabour ; 
I will marry Mebrouk 
And his offspring shall be called the offspring of well tended mares. 

tribes of the Sahara ! 
You claim to possess camels ; t 
But camels, you are aware, 
Care only for those who can defend them ; 
And those who can defend them are my brethren. 
Because they know in the fight how to crush the bones of the rebellious. 

Thus it is seen that among the Arabs every thing 
concurs to develop the love of horses. Religion makes 
a duty of it, while the agitated life, the incessant con- 
victs, and the distances to be traversed in a country 

* Among the Arabs, there are no rejoicing-s without firing off of guns. 

T When a desert tribe is at peace, the camels are sent away ten or twelve leagues 
to graze, and it may be easily conceived that if a sudden swoop be made uix)n them, 
it needs excellent horses and vigourous horsemen to recover them. 


absolutely devoid of means of rapid communication, 
make it a necessity. An Arab can only live a double 
life, his own and his horse's. 


The best horses are chiefly to be found in the Saha- 
ra, where the number of bad horses is very small. In 
fact, the tribes that inhabit it and those who border on 
it only employ their horses to make war, or to contend 
in trials of swiftness. Accordingly, they never use them 
for agricultural purposes, or exercise them in any other 
way than in battle. On this account their horses are 
nearly all excellent. 

No individual in the Sahara cares to possess ten ca- 
mels until he has a horse to defend them against those 
"who might assail them. 

In the Tell most of the Arabs apply their horses to the 
cultivation of the land. They also make use of them to 
ride and for any other purpose. They have no particular 
preference for males because in their eyes the horse is 
merely an animal to be turned to any employment of 
which it is capable, and not kept for war alone. For 
this reason the horse of pure origin bred in the Sahara 
is preferable to the same horse in the Tell. The former, 
unlike that of the Tell, is subjected to fatigue, to long 
journeys, to hunger, and to thirst, which renders him 
able to achieve whatever is required of him. 

The Koran calls horses "the especial good." 

The servant of the Prophet used to say : "With 
women, what the Prophet loved best was horses." 


" Aissa-beii-Meryem (Jesus, the sou of Maryj, — peace 
be with him! — ^Yent one day to Eblis, the black demon, 
and said : 'Eblis, I have a question to address to thee : 
wilt thou tell me the truth?' 'Spirit of God,' answered 
Eblis, 'question me as seemeth good to thee.'" 

"I demand of thee," pursued Jesus, "by the Living* One 
who cannot lie, w^hat is it that can reduce thy body to a 
liquid state and cut thy back in two?" "It is," replied 
the devil, "the neighing of a horse. Never have I suc- 
ceeded in entering a house that contained a horse for 
the cause of the Most High." 

Being passionately fond of horses, one of the compa- 
nions of the Prophet asked him if there were any in 
Paradise. "If Allah causes thee to enter Paradise," 
replied the Prophet, "thou wilt have a horse of rubies, 
furnished with two wings, ^^ith which he will fly whither- 
soever thou wiliest." 

A poet has said : "Who are they who will weep for 
me after death? My sword, my Boudaina lance, and my 
long-bodied chesnut, trailing the reins to the fountain, 
after death has deprived him of liis rider." 

In all times, among the Arabs, the horse has been the 
object of the greatest solicitude, and this solicitude the 
Prophet lost no opportunity of keeping up, developing 
and augmenting by introducing the rehgious sentiment. 

We find in the collection of his conversations the 
following precepts : 

"Happiness in this world, a rich booty, and eternal 
rewards are attached to the forelock of horses." 

"Evil spirits enter not into a tent wdiere there is a 
thoroughbred horse." 

" The Angels sympathise with only the three following 


pastimes of men : the exercises of war — the joys of 
comiubial love — and the running of horses." 

''Whensoever any one is prevented from fulfilling his 
religious duties, let him keep a horse for the sake of 
Allah, and all his sins shall be forgiven him." 

"Whoso maintaineth a horse for the triomph of reli- 
gion makes a magnificent loan to Allah." 

"The horse, sincerely reared in the way of Allah, for 
the holy war, shall save his master from the fire at the 
day of the resurrection." 

" Whoso maketh sacrifices in order to train a horse for 
the holy war shall be treated in the next world as a 

"Whoso traineth a horse in the way of Allah is counted 
in the number of those who give alms day and night, in 
secret or in public. He shall have his reward. Never 
shall fear dishonour his heart." 

"Money spent upon horses passes in the eyes of Allah 
for alms given in a direct manner." 

"Whoso keepeth and tendeth a horse for the service of 
Allah shall be recompensed as one who fasts during the 
day and passes the night in prayer." 

"Horses pray to Allah to make them beloved by their 

"Allah comes to the aid of such as occupy themselves 
with horses, and lightens the expenses incurred on their 

"Every grain of barley given to a horse is inscribed 
by Allah in the Register of good Works." 

"Martyrs of the holy war will find in Paradise horses 
of rubies, furnished with wings, which shall fly whither- 
soever their riders desire." 


The tribes that inhabit the Sahara have always been 
better able than those of the Tell to withdraw from the 
caprice, oppression, and spoliation of the various con- 
querors of Africa. It is therefore evidently among* them 
that the Barb has had the best chance of preserving all 
the qualities of grace, speed, and sobriety, that are 
universally regarded as its characteristics. We shall 
consequently confine ourselves exclusively to the horses 
of that region, and with a view to avoid a repetition of 
what every one has read in books, we shall allow^ the 
many Arabs we ha^'e interrogated, to speak for them- 
selves. Here, then, is the outline they have drawn 
of the thoroughbred horse, shai^eb-er-rehh, "the air- 
drinker : " 

The thoroughbred horse is well proportioned, his ears 
are small and in constant motion, his bones massive, his 
cheeks meagre, his nostrils wide as the throat of a lion, 
his eyes bright, black, and level with the head,* his 
neck long, his chest full, his withers prominent, his 

* Small and restless ears as well as lively and prominent eyes are a sign, say the 
Arabs, of a healthy action of the heart, and that the animal is full of Hfe. 


loins well knit, liis liaimclies strong, his fore-ribs long 
and the hinder ones short, the belly hollow, the croup 
rounded, the upper part of his legs long like an ostrich's 
and furnished with muscles hke a camel's, his hoofs 
black and of a uniform colour, his hair fine and abun- 
dant, his flesh firm, his tail very thick at the dock but 
loose at the extremity. Looked at in front he is like 
unto the peak of a lofty mountain. Looked at from be- 
hind, he seems to lean forward as if he would prostrate 
himself. Looked at from the side, he shows himself 
robust and well set up. 

To sum up : he should have four points broad, the 
front, the chest, the croup, and the legs; — four points 
long, the neck, the upper part of the legs, the belly, 
and the haunches; — four points short, the loins, the 
pasterns, the ears, and the tail. All these qualities in a 
good horse, say the Arabs, prove firstly that he has real 
blood in him, and secondly that he is certainly fleet of 
foot, for his form combines something of the greyhound, 
the pigeon, and the maliari, or riding- camel.* 

The mare ought to take from the wild boar its courage 
-and breadth of head; from the gazelle, its grace, its 
eyes and mouth; from the antelope, liveliness and intel- 
ligence; from the ostrich, its neck and swiftness; from 
the viper, the shortness of its tail. 

* The Tjialiarl is much more slender m its proportions than the djcmcl, or common 
camel. It has the exquisite ears of the gazelle, the supple neck of the ostrich, the 
hollow belly of the slovcjui or greyhound. Its head is lean and gracefully attached to 
the neck; its eyes bright, black, and prominent; its lips long- and firm, covering well 
the teeth; the hump is small, but the chest where it touches the earth when the 
animal couches down, is strong and protuberant; the dock of its tail is short; its legs, 
very lean in the upper part, are furnished with muscles from the ham and the knee 
down to the hoof, and the sole of its foot is neither broad nor thick : finally, it has very 
few hairs on the neck, and its coat, of a tawny colour, is as fine as that of the jerboa. 
See General Daumas' woi-k on the " Great Desert." In the desert, the 'mahari is to the 
(ijemcl what, with us, a race horse is to a draught horse. 


A tliovoiig-libred horse (h6or) * may be known by yet 
other signs. For instance, he cannot be preyailed upon 
to eat barley out of any other nosebag than his own. 
He so loves trees, verdure, shade, and running water, 
that he "wdll neigh for joy on seeing them. Seldom does 
he drink until he has troubled the water, and if the con- 
formation of the ground prevents him from doing so with 
his feet, he will kneel dow^n and do it with his mouth. 
He is continually shrivelling his lips ; his eyes are in 
constant motion ; alternately he pricks up and lowers his 
ears, and turns his neck to the right or left as if he 
wished to speak, or to ask for something. If to all these 
signs a horse adds sobriety of disposition, his owner 
may deem himself the possessor of a pair of wings. 

It has been remarked that a horse that is a fast galopper 
has the head firmly set on, and the transverse apophysis 
of the atloid very protuberant. ''He has horns," say the 

The races most esteemed in the western part of the 
Algerian Sahara are three in number : that of Haymour, 
that of Bou-Ghareb, and that of Merizigue. Their off- 
spring are dispersed among a great many tribes, such 
as the Ham}' an, the Oulad-Sidi-Shikh, the Leghrouat- 
Kuesal, the Oulad-Yagoub,.the Makena, the Aamour, the 
Oulad-Sidi-Nasseur, and even the Harar. Every one, ac- 
cording to his fancy, or according to his occupation, 
offers his mare to the descendants of one of these three 
types. The Haymour usually produce bay horses, the 
Bou-Ghareb white ones, and the Merizigue those of a 
gray colour. The Haymour arc most sought after. They 

» H6o,\ in the plural Iwy-ar. Not unlikely, this word brougrlit by our ancestors from 
the crusades is the origin of the word hams. 


are of a beautiful shape, with a good carcass, and yet 
very active. They pass for the swiftest coursers of the 
Sahara, and preserve their streng'th to a very advanced 
age. They bring good hick, and their owners belong 
to the richest and noblest families. 

Next come the race of Bou-Ghareb, the produce of 
which are taller, and are also very patient of fatigue, 
but less fleet than the Haymour. Like the latter, how- 
ever, they remain sound until a great age. 

Lastly the Merizigue who are shorter and have less 
bottom than the preceding, but are solid, clean-limbed, 
and sober. They are chiefly sought after by common 
horsemen who have long journeys to make and great 
hardships to undergo. 

The Haymour breed is superior to all others ; nor has the 
imagination of the Arabs failed to trace it to a marvellous 
source. The legend runs as follows • — A chief owned 
a magnificent mare, which happened to receive a serious 
liurt in hunting' the ostrich. It was feared that she 
would be lame for life. Her master though he could 
see no improvement in her condition and was annoyed 
at the trouble of dragging her after him in all his 
removals from place to place, was still unable to bring 
himself to put her to death, and therefore turned her out 
to graze at large. On returning from a long journey he 
remembered liis mare and inquired what had become of 
her. She proved to be in excellent health, and on the 
point of foaling. He at once brought her in, took the 
greatest care of her, and soon afterwards found himself 
possessed of a foal that was unrivalled throughout the 
desert. As no tribe had passed for a very long time near 
tlie place where he left the animal, the Arabs were 


willing to believe that she had been covered by a wild 
ass, liamar el oudJiJicli, and they gave to the foal the 
name of Haymour, which is that of the foal of the onager. 

In the central part of the Algerian Sahara, the Arbaa* 
affect the offspring of Rctkely. This breed has both 
height and bottom, and is found among the Aghrazelias, 
the Oulad Shayb, the Oulad Mokhtar, and even among 
the Oulad Khrelif.t For the most part they are gray or 
dark bay. They endure hunger and thirst with ease, 
and without being knocked up will cover for several 
consecutive days distances of twenty five to thirty 
leagues.* At the present day the finest animals are 
in the family of the Seuffran. RaTieby, it seems , was 
formerly brought from Morocco by the ancestors of 
Si di-Hamed- Oulad- T^erZ/'m, the famous Marabout of 

The Oulad-Nayl ? make use of the offspring of a 
celebrated stallion named El-Biod, "the White," formerly 
the property of the Oulad-Si-Mahmed, one of their divi- 
sions. This stock is renowned for its sobriety and speed. 

In the Hodna and the Medjana, among the Oulad- 
Makrane and the Ghiras, the most highly esteemed are 
the descendants of a well known stallion belonging to 
the Oulad-Mahdi. It was named Bey-el-Hissen, and was 
the property of the family of El-Amri-ben-Abi-Meramer. 

A good horse in the desert ought to accomplish for 
five or six days, one after the other, distances of twenty 

* The nomadic tribe of the Arliiia encamps in the neig-hbourhood of Lephrouat. 
It is divided into three great sections : el Mamera, el Hedjadj, and Ouled Salah. [So- 
Mra Algfrien, p. 45.) 

7 All these tribes pitch their tents in the quadrilateral comprised between Sidi- 
Khaled, Toug-ourt, the Beni-M/ab, and Leghrouat. 

(*) The French league is rather less than 2 1/2 miles Eng-hsli. 

f A very populous tribe who occupy the whole of the Djebel-Sahri and tlie greatest 
part of the basin of the Oued-Djedi. 


five to thirty leag-ues. After a couple of day's rest, if 
well fed, he ^Yill he quite fresh enoug-h to repeat the feat. 
"With a horse that on arriving* at a resting place 
shakes himself, paws the ground with his foot, and 
neighs at the approach of the harley, then pushing his 
head into the nosehag begins to munch eagerly three or 
four mouthfuls of the grain, there is no occasion to pull 
up in a journey." The distances to he traversed in the 
Sahara are not always of such great length, hut at the 
same time it is no very rare occurrence to hear of horses 
doing fifty to sixty leagues in four and twenty hours. 

A tribe on receiving notice that its enemies project a 
razzia, at once sends out scouts (slioucffin) to watch them, 
mounted on mares, ''the children of a Jew" — lenate el 
ihoude — so cunning and dexterous are they. These 
horsemen take with them no more than a feed of barley 
for their horse's supper. They frequently vary their pace 
but are always careful to husband their steeds, and will 
place themselves in ambush thirty leagues from their 
point of departure in order to "kill the earth" — that is, 
to reconnoitre. If the result of their observations causes 
them to entertain any immediate apprehension for the 
safety of their brethren, they return at once at full speed 
to warn them to talvB to hasty flight. In the contrary 
event, they retrace their steps leisurely and will yet 
gain their tents before the hour of the evening prayer, 
after having traversed sometimes fifty to sixty leagues 
in the twenty four hours. Should there be a skirmish 
on the morrow, their horses will be "in a condition to 
take part in it. If the horse of a sliouaf happens to die 
^in the course of a reconnaissance made for the good of 
all, it is replaced at the cxpence of the whole tribe. 


With reg-ard to the great distances accomphshed by 
the horses of the desert, instances may be quoted which 
will appear incredible, and the heroes of which are still 
alive, if witnesses were wanted to confirm the truth of 
the story. Here is one of a thousand, which was told to 
me by a man of the tribe of Arbaa. I give his own words : 

"I had come into the Tell with my father and the 
people of my tribe to buy corn. It was in the time of the 
Pasha Ali. The Arbaa had had some terrible quarrels 
with the Turks, and as it was their interest for the mo- 
ment to feign' a complete submission in order to obtain 
an amnesty for the past, they agreed to win over by 
presents of money the Pasha's suite, and to send to 
himself not merely a common animal as was customary, 
but a courser of the highest distinction. It was a mis- 
fortune, but it was the will of Allah, and we were forced 
to resign ourselves. The choice fell upon a mare "gray 
stone of the river," known throughout the Sahara, and the 
property of my father. He was informed that he must hold 
himself in readiness to set out with her on the morrow 
for Algiers. After the evening prayer my father, who 
had taken care not to make any remark, came to me and 
said : 'Ben-Zyan, art thou thyself to day? Wilt thou leave 
thy father in a strait, or wilt thou make red his face?' " 

"I am nothing but your will, my lord," I replied. 
"Speak, and if your commands are not obeyed, it will be 
because I am vanquished by death." 

''Listen. These children of sin seek to take my mare 
in the hope of settling their affairs with the Sultan, 
my gray mare, I say, which has always brought good 
fortune to my tent, to my children, and the camels : my 
gray mare, that was foaled on the day that thy youngest 


brother was born ! Speak ! Wilt thou let them do this 
dishonour to my hoary beard? The joy and happiness of 
the family are in thy hands. Mordjana (such was the 
name of the mare) has eaten her barley. If thou art of a 
truth my son, go and sup, take thy arms, and then at 
earliest nightfall flee far away into the desert with the 
treasure dear to us all." 

"Without answering a word I kissed my father's hand, 
took my evening repast, and quitted Berouaguia,* happy 
in being able to prove my filial affection, and laughing 
in my sleeve at the disappointment which awaited our 
sheikhs on their awaking. I pushed forward for a long 
time, fearing to be pursued, but Mordjana continued to 
pull at her bridle and I had more trouble to quiet her 
than to urge her on. When two-thirds of the night had 
passed, and a desire to sleep was growing upon me, I 
dismounted and seizing the reins twisted them round my 
wrist. I placed my gun under my head and at last fell 
asleep, softly couched on one of those dwarf palms so 
common in our country. An hour afterwards I roused 
myself. All the leaves of the dwarf palm had been 
stripped off by Mordjana. We started afresh. The peep 
of day found us at Souagui. My mare had thrice broken 
out into a sweat, and thrice dried herself. I touched her 
with the heel. She watered at Sidi-Bou-Zid in the Ouad- 
Ettouyl, and that evening I offered up the evening prayer 
at Leghrouat, after giving her a handful of straw to 
induce her to wait patiently for the enormous bag of 
barley that was coming to her. These are not journeys 

* Borounguia is six leag'ues south of Medeah ; Souagui, thirty one leagues from 
Berouaguia ; Sidi-Bouzid , twenty five leagues ftirther on ; and lastly Leghrouat, 
twenty four leagues beyond that, or one hundred and seven leagues south of 


fit for your horses," said Si-ben-Zyan in conclusion, 
" — for the horses of you Christians, \\'-ho go from Algiers 
to Blidah, thirteen leagues, as far as from my nose to my 
ear, and then fancy you have done a good day's work." 

This Arab, for his part, had done eighty leagues in 
twenty four hours : his mare had eaten nothing but the 
leaves of the dwarf palm on which he had lain down and 
had only once been watered, about the middle of the 
journey; and yet he swore to me by the head of the 
Prophet that he could have slept on the following night 
at Gardaya, forty five leagues farther on, had his life 
been in any danger. Si-ben-Zyan belongs to a family of 
marabouts of the Oulad Salahh, a section of the great 
tribe of the Arbaa. He comes frequently to Algiers and 
will tell this story to whoever will listen to him, confirm- 
ing his narrative, if required, by authentic testimony. 

Another Arab, named Mohammed-ben-j\Ioklitar, had 
come to buy corn in the Tell after the harvest. His 
tents were already pitched on Ouad-Seghrouan, and he 
had opened a business communication with the Arabs of 
the Tell,* when the bey Bou-Mezrag, "father of the 
spear," fell upon him at the head of a strong body of 
cavalry to chastise one of those imaginary offences which 
the Turks were in the habit of inventing- as pretexts for 
their rapacity. Not the slightest warning had been 
given; the razzia was complete; and the horsemen of 
Makhzen gave themselves up to all the atrocities custom- 
ary in such cases. Mohammed-ben-Mokhtar thereupon 
threw himself on his dark-bay mare, a magnificent 

• Tlic Tell is the g-ranary of the Sahara : the master of the Tell holds the people of 
the Sahara with the grasp of famine. They are so sensible of this that they frankly 
avow it in a plirase that has passed into a proverb : " We cannot be either Mussulmans, 
Jews, or Christians : we are forced to be the friends of our belly." 


animal known and coveted throughout the Sahara, and 
perceiving the critical nature of the situation, at once 
resolved to sacrifice the whole of his property to save 
the lives of his three children. One of them, only four 
years old, he placed on the saddle before him, and 
another aged six or seven behind him holding on by the 
troussequin, and was about to place the youngest in the 
hood of his burnous when his wife stopped him, exclaim- 
ing : "No, no, I will not let thee have this one. They 
will never dare to slay an infant at its mother's breast. 
Away, I shall keep him with me. Allah will protect 
us." Mohammed-ben-Mokhtar then dashed forward, fired 
off his piece, and got clear of the melee; but, being hotly 
pursued, he travelled all that day and the following 
night until he reached Leghrouat, where he could rely 
upon being in safety. Shortly afterwards he received 
intelligence that his wife had been rescued by some 
friends he had in the Tell. Mohammed-ben-Mokhtar 
and his wife are still alive, and the two children he 
carried on his saddle are spoken of as two of the best 
horsemen of the tribe. Can there be imagined a scene 
more dramatic, or more worthy of a skilful artist, than 
this family being saved by a horse from the midst of 
plunder, confusion, and fighting! 

And why should I look for evidence to establish those 
facts? All the old officers of the Oran division can state 
how, in 1837, a General attaching the greatest impor- 
tance to the receipt of intelligence from Tlemcen, gave 
his own charger to an Arab to go and procure the news. 
The latter set out from Chateau Neuf * at four o'clock in 

» A fort built by the Spaninrds, and the residence of the p-eneral oommanding- the 


the morning and returned at the same hour on the 
following day, having travelled seventy leagues over 
ground very different from the comparatively level 

One of the hest and most formidable horsemen of this 
tribe of the Arbaa is El-Arby-ben-Ouaregla ; "his ball 
never falls to the ground.'' He belongs to the section of 
the Hadjadj, among whom he is celebrated both by 
reason of his personal prowess and because of an adven- 
ture that befell him in his infancy. He was still at the 
breast, when his father, Mohammed-ben-Dokha, being 
surprised by the enemy, rolled him in his large lialjciya'^ 
and fastened him in it with his girdle. Then, whilst his 
family and his flocks sought safety in flight, he mounted 
a mare that "could wring a tear from the eye," and 
fighting all day in the rearguard saved his property and 
killed seven of his assailants. 

The Arabs of the Sahara sum up the perfection of a 
horse in the following manner. He must carry a full 
grown man, his arms and a change of clothing, food for 
both his rider and himself, a flag, even on a windy day, 
and if necessary, dragging a dead body behind him, 
keep up at a good pace the whole day through without 
giving a thought to food or water. In their opinion a 
horse lives from twenty to twenty five years, and a mare 
from twenty five to thirty. As to the service to be de- 
rived from this animal, a proverb exactly expresses their 

Sebaa el Khrovya, seven years for ray hrother; 

SeMm hja, seven years for myself; 

SeMia U adouya. seven years for my enemy. 

» A sort of wooUon shirt fiTqutnitly wrivn by tlu> Arabs. 


It is therefore from seven to fourteen that they consider 
a horse as most apt for the exercises of war. I have 
often had the curiosity to inquire of the Arabs if they 
knew whence they had received the horses of which they 
were so proud. In reply to this question they would 
point with their finger to the East, and answer : "They 
come from the native country of the first man, where 
they were created a day or two before him." And as 
confirmation of this their belief, they would add : ''Allah 
hath said : 'I have created for man whatsoever is upon 
the earth. I give it all to Adam and his descendants. 
Man shall be the most noble of created beings, and the 
horse the most noble of animals.' Now, when a chief is 
expected to come and rule over us we prepare a tent to 
receive him, carpets for him to sit upon, and various 
dishes to gratify his palate, and, above all, horsemen to 
attend upon him and execute his orders. Consequently 
the horse must have been created before the coming of 
Adam upon the earth." 


"Where are those noble' steed« 
Whose dam never knew any but a noble sire? 
The stirrup is their life; inaction is death to them. 
O Father of cavaliers ! the ignorant find them every where, 
But they are as rare as true friends, 
And when they die the very saddle sheds tears. 

In the race-course of valour 
May Allah bless the noble courser ! 
His chest is of steel, and his flanks of iron : 
He loves naught but rapine, glory, and the combat; 

Ho cherishes his master and his family, 
And when he gallops, he puts the thunder to shame. 
He passes, look at him : he is already out of sight ; 
"Women, grudge him not the milk of our she-camels. 


What has become of the time when I used to bestride a swimmer, 
AVith black eye, wide nostrils, 

Clean limbs, and a faithful heart ! 

It was a sparrow-hawk for carnage, 

And life was nothing worth to me 

"When the briddle was out of my hands. 
I was then young ; I went in search of danger, • 

I mocked at the ill-omened ravens ; 
The distant always seemed to me close at hand. 

And my tent overflowed with plunder. 

In summer, when sleep has restored strength to my body. 
When the eye of light has dispersed the shades of night. 
And when the heat bites everything, even into stone, 
The song of the turtle-dove fills me wuth soft desire. 
In the boughs of the palm-tree shaken by the slightest breeze. 
On the leaf that sighs and bewails itself, 
She is consumed with passion. 
By my head! she rekindles in my breast the flre of bygone days. 

They said to me : Ah! thou art still longing for them who dye their 
And I answered : No, in my eyes [eyelids with black? 
Nothing at present is equal to my horse of pure blood. 
With him, I bear myself proudly ; I hunt and increase my riches; 
With him, I enter the strife and protect the poor and the orphan; 
With him, I chastise insult and daunt my rivals ; 
His neigh is like the roar of a lion in the mountains; 
It is an eagle hovering in the air. 

Away with you, fond memories of this world! 
The most potent has never carried off more than a winding-sheet. 

I am known by my air-drinker, at night and in the fight ; 
I am known by my sabre, the shock of battle, the pen and the paper; 
I am sharper than a spear, and endure hunger like a wolf. 
No matter : to day I court solitude : 
In solitude is happiness : age has taught me that. 
Never again shall men behold me seeking a horse, or the love of 
women, or the court of an Emir. 


Horses, though they are all of one and the same fa- 
mily, are of two different species : the first is the Arab 


race, the other the race of the Beradin. In like manner 
oxen, though of only one family, are of divers species : 
the first that of domestic cattle, which is the best known, 
and the second that of buffaloes : as different from one 
another in agility and weight as are the Arab horses 
from the Beradin. In like manner, too, the family of 
camels is one, and yet includes more than one species, 
— the Arab race and the race Baliliati.^ 

If the foal has for its sire an Arab horse, and for its 
dam an Arab mare, it is indisputably noble, li6or. 

If it has for its sire an Arab horse, and for its dam a 
Beradi mare, it is called Hadjin. 

If it has for its dam an Arab mare and for its sire a 
Beradi horse, it is called Meglirif, and it is inferior to 
the Hadjin. 

Hence it will be seen that the most important role is 
assigned to the sire. 

It is impossible, we think, to get a pure race out of a 
stock tlie blood of which is impure. On the other hand 
it is a well authenticated fact that it is quite possible to 
restore to its primitive nobleness a breed that has become 
impoverished, — but without any taint in its blood, — 
whether through insufficient food, want of proper care, 
or excessive and unsuitable work : in a word, a race may 
be restored, the degeneracy of which has not been occa- 
sioned by any admixture of blood. 

In default of public notoriety, it is by actual trial, by 
speed combined with bottom, that the Arabs form their 
judgment on horses, and recognise the nobleness and 
purity of their extraction. But the form likewise reveals 

* The Bactrian variety, which has two humps and is much larpfer than the otlicr. 


the hig-her qualities. A thoroug-libred horse is one that 
has three things h^ug, three things short, three things 
broad, and three things clean. The three things long are 
the ears, the neck, and the fore-legs. The three things 
short are the dock, the hind-legs and the back. The 
three things broad are the forehead, the chest, and the 
croup. The three things clean are the skin, the eyes, 
and the hoof. 

He ought to have the ^Yithers high, and the flanks 
hollow and without any superfluous flesh. 

"Dost thou accomplish a journey at great speed with 
steeds high in the withers and fine in the flanks?" 

The tail should be well furnished at the root, so that 
it may cover the space between the thighs. 

"The tail is like unto the veil of a bride." 

The eye of a horse should be turned as if trying* to 
look at its nose, like the eye of a man who squints. 

"Like to a beautiful coquette who leers through her 
veil, his glance towards the corner of the eye pierces 
through the hair of the forelock which covers his fore- 
head as with a veil." 

The ears resemble those of an antelope startled in the 
midst of her herd. 

The forelock, abundant. 

"In the hour of pain mount a slender mare whose 
forehead is covered by silky and flowing hair." 

The nostrils, wide. 

"Each of his nostrils resembles the den of a lion; the 
wind rushes out of it when he is panting." 

The cavities in the interior of the nostrils ought to be 
entirely black. If they are partly black and partly white 
the horse is of only moderate value. 


The fetlock, thick. 

"They have fetlocks that resemble the down which is 
concealed beneath an eagle's wing and like him they 
grow black in the heat of battle." 

The fetlock joints, small. 

"The fetlock joints of their hind-legs are small, bnt 
the muscles on both sides stand out prominent." 

The hoof, round and hard. 

"The hoof should resemble the cup of a slave. They 
walk on hoofs hard as the moss-covered stones of a 
stagnant pool." 

The frogs, hard and dry. 

"The frogs concealed beneath the hoofs are seen when 
he lifts his feet, and resemble date-stones in hardness." 

"When my courser rushes towards a goal he makes a 
noise like to that of wings in motion, and his neigh 
'resembles the mournful note of the nightingale." 

"His neck is long and graceful as a male ostrich's. His 
ear is split in two and his black eye full of fire." 

"In the elegance of his form he resembles a picture 
painted in a palace. He is as majestic as the palace 

If by protruding his head and neck in order to drink 
from a stream that flows level with the ground, a horse 
can remain upright on all fours without bending either 
of his fore-legs, be assured that his form is perfect, that 
all parts of his body harmonise with one another, and 
that he is thoroughbred. 

Among the horses of the tribes of the Sahara, those of 
the Hamyan, the Arbaa, the Oulad-Nail, and their res- 
pective branches, are the most patient of hunger and 
thirst, the most capable of enduring fatigue, the fleetest 


gallopers, and the most able to keep up a good pace for 
several days together without stoppings — very different 
in that respect from the horses of the Tell. 

There existed in ancient times several stallions whose 
fame has conie down to us. Among others, el Koiira, 
of the tribe of the Beni-Timin, and Aoiiadj, ''the con- 
cave," of the tribe of the Beni-Helal. On the subject of 
this latter, the following anecdote is told : His master 
being asked, "what canst thou relate of a surprising 
nature in connection with thy horse?" recounted this 
anecdote : 

" I was wandering one day in the desert mounted on 
Aoiiadj, when I was seized with a violent thirst. By 
good fortune, I fell in with a flock of ketaa* flying 
towards a spring. I followed them, and though holding 
in my horse as much as possible, I reached the water as 
soon as they did, without once pulling up to breath him. 
It is a most extraordinary example of speed, for the 
flight of the hetda, always rapid, is greatly quickened 
when, driven by thirst, it makes for water... Had I not," 
continued the owner oi Aouadj, "checked his speed by 
pulling at the bridle with all my force, I should have 
outstripped the liefda" 

The origin of this stallion's name is this : He had not 
been long foaled, when his master was attacked by ene- 
mies and forced to flee. The foal being too weak to 
follow by itself, was put into a sack and placed upon the 
back of a beast of burden. Thence were derived the 
roandness of his back and his name Aouadj, which bears 
that signification. 

* A species of pavtridge, with a" tucked up'' body and very sliort toes. 


Another celebrated stallion— here the Emir relates 
the origin of the race of the Haymour (see page 50) and 
adds : '^Whoever has seen the horses of that hreed will 
not question for a moment the truth of the tale, for their 
resemblance to the zebra strikes every eye." 


The Arabs affirm that the best age for reproduction is 
from four to twelve years as regards the mare, and from 
six to fourteen as regards the horse. Exacting as 
concerns the mare, which must be of good descent, swift 
of foot, of good height, of sound constitution, and of a 
graceful form, they are still more difficult to please as 
concerns the horse. "Choose him" say they, "and 
choose him again, for the offspring always resembles 
the sire rather than the dam." They do not object, 
however, to the horse being of shorter stature than the 
mare, provided he be of pure race and sound in wind 
and limb. They attach far more importance to bottom, 
speed, and sobriety than to that conventional type of 
beauty which is so seductive in our eyes. Thus a 
stallion, fat, sleek, rounded in all parts, and who owes 
the brilliancy of his form to high feeding, indolence of 
disposition, or inaction, excites their distrust in the 
highest degree. They will say of such an animal : "Let 
us not be in a hurry. Let us see him at work. There 
may possibly be nothing there but a lion's hide upon 
the back of a cow." But, on the other hand they 


esteem as a genuine sire a horse for long journeys, 
whose flesh is firm, whose ribs are bare, his limbs clean 
and his respiration powerful. He must also be endowed 
with a good temper, and have given proof of being able 
to bear great fatigue, privations, and hardships. 

As to the mare, the case has been pending for cen- 
turies. Now as formerly the custom is to picture an 
Arab by the side of his mare. The gold of the purchaser 
glitters at his feet, but whilst this gold is being counted 
out the descendant of Ishmael casts a melancholy look 
on the noble animal from whom he cannot bring him- 
self to separate. He springs upon her back and rushes 
far away into the desert : " The eye knoweth not where he 
has passed." Such is the orthodox representation; let us 
now see the truth as depicted by the Emir Abd-el-Kader : 

The Arabs prefer mares to horses, it is true, but only 
for the three following^ reasons. The first is because 
they consider the profit to be derived from a mare as 
something very handsome, for it is well known that as 
much as fifteen to twenty thousand douros (from £3,000 
to £4,000) have been received for the offspring of a 
single mare. Hence they may be often heard to exclaim : 
''The head of riches is a mare that produces a mare." 
And this idea gathers strength in their eyes from it 
having been said by our lord Mohammed, the messenger 
of Allah : " Give the preference to mares ; their belly is a 
treasure, and their back a seat of honour. The greatest 
of blessings is an intelligent woman, or a prolific mare." 
These words are thus explained by commentators : 
'' Their belly is a treasure," because a mare by means of 
her offspring increases the wealth of her master; and 
"their back is a seat of honour," because the pace of a 


mare is more easy and agreeable; some even going so 
far as to say that the easiness of her gait will after a 
time render her rider effeminate. 

The second motive is that the mare does not neigh in 
time of war like the horse, and is less sensitive as to 
hunger, thirst, and heat, and is therefore of greater use 
to a people whose riches consist principally in flocks of 
camels and sheep. It is known to all, that camels and 
sheep do not really thrive except in the Sahara, where 
the ground is so arid that many Arabs, being unable to 
procure w^ater more than once in eight or ten days, 
accustom themselves to drink nothing but milk. This is 
one of the consequences of the great distance that 
frequently, on account of the pasturage, divides the 
encampment from a spot where there are wells. The 
mare is like the serpent : her strength increases in the 
hot season and in torrid regions. A snake that lives in 
a cold country or in water has very little life or venom, 
so that its bite is rarely mortal ; whereas a snake that 
lives in a hot country is full of life, and the virulence of 
its poison is intensified. Contrary to the horse who is 
less capable of supporting the heat of the sun, the mare, 
owing doubtless to her temperament, finds her vigour 
doubled in the hottest season. 

The third and last motive is, the little attention re- 
quired by the mare. vShe feeds on anything. Her owner 
leads or sends her to graze on the same herbage as the 
sheep and camels. There is no occasion to place a 
w^atchman in regular attendance. The horse, however, 
cannot dispense with being well kept, nor can his owner 
send him to the pasture without a sa'is, or groom, to look 
after him. 


Such are the true reasons for the preference which 
Arabs show for mares. This preference is not caused by 
an idea that the foal inherits from its dam more than 
from its sire, or that it is better on all occasions to ride 
a mare than a horse. But it rests partly on substantial 
benefits received, and partly on the necessities of the life 
which the Arabs habitually lead. It may be laid down, 
then, as a fact that the horse is more noble than the 
mare, and that the sire bequeaths to the foal more than 
the mare does, which the Arabs express by the saying : 
El mohor itebad el Facil, " the foal follows the stallion." 
I admit, however, that the best produce is that which 
proceeds from a sire and a dam both of pure race. In 
this case, it is gold allying itself with gold. I will add 
that the horse is stronger, of a higher courage and 
greater speed than the mare, and is free from the grave 
drawback attendant on the latter of stopping short 
under her rider, even in battle and at a time perhaps 
when everything depends on rapid movement. 

There can be no doubt that the foal proceeds from the 
stallion and the mare. But the experience of ages 
demonstrates that the essential parts of the body, such 
as the bones, tendons, nerves, and veins follow after the 
sire. The mare may impart to her young the colour of 
her coat, a general resemblance, and something of her 
frame, but it is the stallion that transmits the strength 
of the bones, the vigour of the nerves, the solidity of the 
tendons, speed and all the other most important charac- 
teristics. He also communicates to his offspring his 
moral qualities, and if he is really noble, preserves him 
from all vice, for the Arabs of old have said : " The noble 
horse has no malice." 


No sooner has the foal seen the light than one of the 
bystanders takes it in his arms, and walks up and down 
with it for some time in the midst of almost inconceivable 
noise and uproar. It is supposed that a useful lesson 
is thus taught for the future — the animal, accustomed 
from its birth to horrible sounds, will never afterwards 
be frightened at anything. This lesson finished, the 
master of the tent places the right dug of the mare in 
the foal's mouth, and exclaims : "In the name of Allah! 
AUah grant that the new-born (mezyoud) may bring us 
good fortune, health, and abundance! " The friends who 
are present answer all together : "Amen! May Allah 
bless thee ! He has sent thee another child."* 

To teach the foal to suck, a fig or a date soaked in 
milk slightly salted is put into his mouth. As soon as he 
has taken a liking to it and begins to suck it, he is 
placed under his dam. After two or three attemps he 
soon mistakes the dug for the fig or date he has just 
left, and the thing is done. After that he is carefuUy 
preserved from the night-cold. But it is also necessary 
to accustom him to drink camel's and ewe's milk. It is 
done in this manner. They take a goat's skin used 
several years for holding milk, and fill it with air. Then 
squeezing it gently, they blow up his nostrils a few 
times. By way of complement to this operation they 
crush dates in milk, which impart to it a sweetish flavour 

* Among the Arabs of Upper Asia , but chiefly in the ^sedjed , when a flllj- is 
foaled, it is impossible to form an idea of the rapture that seizes the family. " Allah 
has sent us a blessinjr ; our lord Mohammed has entered into our tent." Neither wives 
nor children would suffer themselves to substract one drop of the milk drawn from 
the camels, the goats, and the ewes. The whole of it is reserved for the fortunate 
foal, object of the love and most tender solicitude of all inhabitants of the tent. ( Voyage 
dans la Haute Asie, by M. Petiniaud.) 


and then place the mixtnre close to the foal's mouth, 
forcing him every now and then to dip his lips into it. 
He begins by tasting and licking it and after a while 
drinks it, whether the dam gives him suck or not. Great 
importance is attached to teaching the foal to drink 
milk ; first, because he can thus be left in the tent while 
the mare is again put to work ; and secondly, because in 
after years, in default of water, he will be satisfied with 
milk instead, and also as food if barley runs short. 
Should the mare take an aversion to her young, she 
must be separated from him, and the latter must be 
brought up on camel's milk, as this is deemed preferable 
to the milk of the cow or the she-goat, which produces 
laziness and heaviness. 

A few days or a few mounths after the birth of a foal, 
some Arabs slit one or both of the ears. This fancy is 
accounted for in various ways. According to one party 
this operation is performed on animals born in the night 
time, because they ought to have a better sight than 
those that come into the world during the day. Accord- 
ing to others, it is done to foals born on Friday, the 
day of the gathering together of Mussulmans at the 
mosque, because it is a lucky sign. The truth is simply 
this : The master of a tent has a child of tender years, 
whom he loves very dearly. In slitting the ear of his 
foal he declares that he reserves him for his son so- 
and-so. Should the father afterwards die, no one would 
dispute the possession of the animal with the child thus 
named. Others, however, slit the ear of a foal that has 
the colic; the bleeding saves him. 

Soon after the birth of a foal they hang round his 
neck amulets, and talismans (richly ornamented in the 


case of wealthy people) and little shells called oiidad. 
They are suspended by neckbands of wool or of camel's 
skin (goulada) which the women delight to make with 
their own hands, especially applying themselves to har- 
monise the colours tastefully. To bay or black horses 
they attach a white goulada, to those of a light colour 
red gouladas. These neckbands are useful as well as 
ornamental, for they serve to hold the animal by if need 
be, thus replacing our halters in a manner more agree- 
able to the eye and less irksome to the horse. As for the 
talismans (Jieiiroiize-addj ah) they are simply little bags 
made of Morocco leather, more or less ornamented, 
and containing w^ords extracted from the sacred writ- 
ings, by means of which they hope to preserve the 
animal from w^ounds, from sickness, and from the evil 

Occasionally in war time the foal is killed immediately 
after its] birth, in order that the dam may be the sooner 
fit for service ; but never do they slay a filly. Such a 
one is weaned and left in the tent to shelter it from the 
sun, and the women frequently succeed in saving its life 
by giving it ewe's or camel's milk. If a filly be born on 
the road during a journey or march undertaken for a 
commercial or a warlike object, in order to save it 
every possible fatigue it is placed upon a camel, where 
a soft nest is constructed for it; but it will only be 
allowed to approach its dam during a halt or in the 
night time. 

During the Taguedempt expedition in 1841 I saw a 
cavalier of Makhzen, who had no means of transport, 
carry before him on his saddle for the first four days 
after its birth a filly which his mare had given him at 


the bivouac . At the end of that period it followed its 
dam, throughout the campaign. 

When the colts are not destroyed they are usually 
sold in the Tell, at the season of buying- grain, whereas 
the fillies are preserved as a source of riches through 
their offspring. 

The greater the value attached to the mare, the earlier 
is the time for weaning', but it generally takes place in 
the sixth or seventh month. In weaning the foal they 
remove it from its dam, first of all for one day, then for 
two, and so on, gradually increasing the period of sepa- 
ration. To render the transition less abrupt, they give 
it camel's milk sweetened with date honey, and to keep 
it from wandering in search of its mother they tether it 
by its fore or hind legs with woollen cords but in either 
case above the knees or the hocks ; whence proceed the 
whitish marks that are often observable. If at that age 
the animal were fastened by the pasterns considerable 
injury might be done. The foal never remaining still 
and puzzled by its novel situation, the processes called 
by the Arabs louzze, or almonds, would speedily be 
formed. Redoubled attention is paid to the foal while 
being weaned, for if it succeeded in getting loose and 
approached its dam it would be liable to fall ill through 
sucking a corrupt and sour milk. 

In the day time while the mare is on the march or in 
the pasture, a sort of halter (kuemama) is put on the 
foal, the noseband of which is furnished with short 
porcupine's quills. The dam then refuses of herself to 
let the foal touch her. As soon as it is fairly weaned, it 
is necessary in order to prevent the accumulation of milk 
to draw it off from the mare from time to time, and some- 


what to lower her diet. After "being weaned, the foal is 
fed on ground barley in regularly increasing quantities, 
taking care, however, not to cause satiety. They use a 
wooden measure called /ew^/Y/. This measure contains 
three double handfuls, and is common to all the tribes of 
the desert, because its origin dates from a religious tra- 
dition. At the aid-es-seglirir, that is, at the little festival 
which follows the Ramadan, the Prophet recommends 
every Mussulman who is tolerably well off to give to the 
poor di feutra of food, wheat, barley, dates, rice, etc., 
according to the productions of the country in which he 
may be residing. 

As soon as the foal is weaned, the women take pos- 
session of it, saying : "It belongs to us now; it is an 
orphan, but we will make its hfe as pleasant as possible." 


The foal follows the sire. The best stock is that 
which proceeds from a sire and a dam of pure extraction. 
The produce of a foreign mare by an Arab horse is less 
valued, and much less that of a blood mare by a common 
horse. Lastly, a colt whose sire and dam are both of 
foreign race has no good quality whatsoever. 

The Arabs affirm that an entire horse has more vigour 
and speed than a mare. As a rule stallions are scarce 
in the Sahara. They are seldom to be met with except 
with the chiefs or with men of wealth, who can afford to 
have them properly tended and looked after, as it would 
be dangerous to turn them loose on to the grazing 


grounds. Oil the contrary, the mare requires very little 
attention, and is therefore chiefly ridden by the Saha- 

Immediately after the foal is born it is made to swallow 
two or three eggs. Then, while the foal is still on the 
ground they rub the sole and crust of the hoof with salt 
dissolved in a preparation of louna-fad* which renders 
the horn hard and tough. After that, the foal gets up, 
gopes about, and seeks its dam. Twelve hours later it 
will follow her to the pasture. As soon as the foal is 
born the master of the tent hastens to arrange his ears, 
the forelock, the mane, and the neck, carefully collect- 
ing the hairs together from the root upwards. If the 
weather is cold, both the dam and the foal are kept in 
the tent. Seven days afterwards the mare is made to 
swallow a pound or a pound and a half of rancid abutter 
not salted. 

The nobler the mare, the sooner is the foal weaned, 
and in any case it is never permitted to suck longer than 
six months. In certain countries the Arabs are under 
the impression that a protracted suckling almost always 
produces a bad disposition and a hard mouth. Every- 
where, where it is possible, and according to the season 
of the year, they give the foal camel's, or cow's, or ew^e's 
milk, which is supposed to render the coat more soft and 

" The best treasure of a man is a fruitful mare." 

''Allah bade them multiply, and they have multiplied." 

* An umbelliferous plant of the genus thapsia. 


Though weaned, the foal accompanies its dam to the 
pasture. This exercise is found necessary to its health 
and to the development of its faculties. In the evening- 
it comes home to lie down beside the tent of its owner. 
There, it is to every member of the family the object of 
the greatest care. The women and the children sport 
with it, and give \i Koitslwussou,'*' bread, flour, milk, and 
dates. This daily contact leads to that docility which is 
so much admired in Arab horses. 

Sometimes tushes grow out even in one-year olds, 
and the animal falls away in condition until they are 
extracted, when it recovers its health. Should the colt 
at the age of fifteen to eighteen months fail to promise 
a fine free action of the shoulder, they do not hesitate to 
apply the cautery to the scapulo-humeral joint. It is 
generally applied in the form of a cross, the four extreme 
points of which are joined by a circle. Previous to the 
operation care is taken to trace the design with pitch if 
the animal be of a light colour, or with plaster if it be 

* A kiud of semolina made with wlieaten Hour. It is ns universal with the Arabs 
as soup with Continental Europeans. 


dark. If, again, a colt's knees are ill shaped, or indicate 
a predisposition to bony tumours or to thickening, fire is 
applied in three parallel lines. Lastly, if any apprehen- 
sion is felt of the colt becoming too straight either in 
front or behind, they. fire the fetlock-joint but only on the 
front part, which shows that the Arabs understand the 
tendons and treat them carefully. The fire is usually 
applied with a sickle. In performing this operation they 
avoid as much as possible the great heats of summer. 
The most favourable season is the end of autumn or the 
beginning* of spnng : there are fewer flies then, and the 
temperature is cooler. 

The education of a colt should commence when 
eighteen months old, because it is the only way to 
make him thoroughly docile, and also because the deve- 
lopment of the spleen is thus checked — a very important 
point in the opinion of the Arabs. If he is first of all 
mounted at a later period, he may look stronger to the 
eye, but in reality he will be inferior in patience and in 

"Every horse inured to fatigue brings good fortune."* 

* During my long: career, in my tribes, by my friends, or among my followers, I 
have seen upwards of ten thousand colts reared, and I affirm that all those whose 
education was not begun at a very early age and according to the principles enun- 
ciated above, have never turned out other than stubborn, troublesome horses, unfit for 
war. I also afllrm that when I have made long and rapid marches at the head of 
twelve or fifteen hundred horsemen, horses however lean, if early broken in to 
fatigue, never fell out of the ranks, while those that were fat or mounted too late 
have always fallen to the rear. My conviction on this head is based on such a long 
experience that lately, finding myself at Masseur (Cairo), in the necessity of purchasing 
some horses, I refused point blank all that were presented to me that had been broken 
in at a comparatively advanced age. 

" How has thy horse been reared? " was always my first question. 

" My lord," an inhabitant of the city would reply " this gray stone of the river has 
been brought up by me like one of my own children, always well fed, well tended to, 
and si)ared as much as possible, for I did not begin to ride him tiE he was full four 
years old. See how fat he is, how sound in all his limbs." 

" Well, keep him, my friend. He is thy pride and that of thy family. It would be 
a shame to my gray beard to deprive thee of him." 


And Heaven knows how the Arab horse is inured to 
fatigue! So to speak, he is always on the march. He 
travels wdth his master w^ho is one of the greatest 
travellers on horseback in the world. He travels to seek 
his food. He traverses long distances to find water; and 
this sort of life renders him abstinent, not easily tired, 
and ready for anything. It must be admitted that that 
is a method of training horses not easily surpassed. 

I repeat, for I cannot too strongly insist on this capital 
point, the opinion of the Arabs is unanimous in favour 
of the education of the colt beginning at a very early 
age. In acting otherwise, there is a risk, they imagine, 
of having an unmanageable horse, or one heavy and 
clumsy. Exercise, on the contrary, accustoms the 
horse to submission, gives strength to the joints while 
rendering them supple, imparts firmness to the bones, 
develops the muscles, and brings out that power of 
enduring fatigue without which the animal is nothing 
more than source of outlay without any return for it. 

At the age, then, of eighteen to twenty months the 
colt is mounted by a child who takes him to water, goes 
in search of grass, or leads him to the pasture. Not to 
hurt the bars he guides him with a longe, or a tolerably 
soft mule's bit. This exercise is good for them both. 
The child grows up a horseman, and the colt acquires 

" And thou ! " I would then ask of an Arab whom I recog-nised as a child of the 
desert, so embrowned was he with the sun, " How has thy horse been reared ? " 

"My lord," he would answer, "betimes I formed his back to the saddle, and his 
mouth to the bridle. With him I have reached a distant, very distant point. He has 
passed many a day without food. His ribs are bare, it is true, but if you encounter 
any enemies on your path he will not leave you in peril. I swear it by the day of the 
last judgment, when Allah shall be kadi and the anyels witnesses.'' 

" Hola, there ! tether the dark chestnut before my tent," I would cry to my ser- 
vants, "and satisfy this man.'' 

( SiDi-HAMED-DEN-MouAAniED-EL-MoKRANi, khalif of Medjana, 
chief of one of the most illustrious fimiilies of all Al^-eiia.) 


the habit of carrying a weight proportioned to his 
strength. He learns to walk', to fear nothing, and it 
is in this manner, say the Arabs, that "we contrive 
never to have restive horses." The first time the child 
mounts the colt, he should say, while in the act of 
bestriding^ him : "Glory to Him who has subjected the 
horse to us! Without Allah we should never have 
accomplished it." 

It is at this age also they begin to shackle the colt. 
The clogs are at first fastened very short, as w^ithout 
that precaution the young animal might lose something 
of the steadiness of its balance and injure its chest or 
shoulders either in lying down or getting up again. 
They ought likewise to be attached loosely so as not to 
occasion the formation of hard knots. This mode of 
shackling a horse is decidedly the best. With it one 
never hears of a horse breaking loose, a misadventure 
that causes such confusion in a bivouac, drives horsemen 
to despair, and is the source of a thousand accidents. As 
the animal is forced to stoop and lean forwards to graze, 
one would imagine that it could not fail after a while 
to lose something of its uprightness. The fear is alto- 
gether unfounded. The chest expands, the limbs acquire 
strength. All Barbs stand well upon their legs and are 
admirably straight along the back and loins. The Arabs 
are loud in their abuse of our mode of tying up 
with a longe. They affirm that in addition to the vices 
and accidents it may occasion, it has the great inconve- 
nience of not allowing the animal to lie down. Whereas 
with clogs a horse protrudes his head and neck and 
wdien he wants to sleep places himself exactly in the 
position of a greyhound basking in the sun. Besides, a 


great many stable vices desappear when they are used. 
The animal can neither entangle itself in the halter, nor 
slip it, nor get into the manger nor lie down beneath it, 
nor scratch the earth with its foot, nor rub against the 
manger nor contract any other bad habits of the kind : 
an indis|)utable advantage so far. 

The colt being thus shackled in front of the tent, a 
little negro with a switch is placed near him to accustom 
him to remain still. It is the duty of this young slave to 
correct him slightly if he attempts to lash out at any- 
thing passing behind him, or if he bites at his neighbours. 
He is watched in this manner until he is brought to the 
most perfect gentleness. When he is sent to the past- 
ure, the lig'atures fasten together a fore and hind foot at 
the same side, and the cord is purposely made very 
short. It is observed that when the colt stoops to graze, 
the shortness of the cord compels the vertebral column 
to remain straight, and to become rather convex than 
concave. If, on the contrary, the cord were too long, 
there would be nothing to support the vertebral column, 
and it would easily become distorted. 

When from twenty four to twenty seven months old, 
the colt is for the first time saddled and bridled, but 
with every precaution. For instance, he is not saddled 
until quite used to the bridle. For the first few days 
the bit is covered with undressed wool, partly with a 
view not to hurt his bars, and partly to allure him to 
docility by the saltish flavour of which he is so fond. 
When he begins to champ the bit, the task is nearly 
accomplished. This preparatory exercise takes place 
morning and evening. Thus sagaciously handled, the 
young animal will be ready to 1)(^ uKjuntcd in the early 


part of the autumn, when he will be less tormented 
by the flies and heat. Wealthy owners, before they 
allow their colt to be mounted by a grow^n-up man, 
sometimes have him led up and down gently for a fort- 
night, with a pack-saddle on his back supporting two 
baskets filled with sand. He thus gradually passes from 
the weight of the child that first bestrode him to that of 
the man who is about to mount him. 

Suppose the colt now to have completed two years and 
a half. His vertebral column has acquired strength. 
The clogs, the saddle and the bridle are familiar to 
him. A cavalier mounts on his back. The animal is 
certainly very young, but he will be ridden only at a 
walking pace, and his bit will be a very easy one. The 
main point is to accustom him to obedience. The owner 
without spurs and holding only a light cane in his hand 
which he uses as little as possible, rides him to the 
market, or to visit his friends, his flocks and pastures, 
and attends to his affairs without exacting anything 
more than submission and docility. This he ordinarily 
obtains by never speaking to him except in a low voice, 
without passion, and carefully avoiding anything likely 
to elicit opposition that must result in a contest from 
which he might come forth conqueror, but at the expense 
of his horse. Particular importance is attached to keep- 
ing the young animal still and quiet for a fiew minutes 
before letting him start. At a later period, his owner 
will not fail to reap the benefit of this excellent practice. 

The common people sometimes mount their colts before 
they are two years and a half old, and if reproached 
for doing so, they answer : ''You are quite right; we 
know that, but how can it be helped? We are poor, 


and have no choice but to act in this manner or go on 
foot. We prefer the former alternative, notwithstanding* 
its disadvantages. In the perilous life we lead, the 
present moment is everything."' 

Seeing the Arabs employ their colts so early, mounting 
the two-year olds and exacting from them considerable 
fatigue, and forced marches, and using them even as 
pack-horses without regard to their age or strength, 
many persons have concluded that this people knew 
nothing about the proper mode of managing horses, and 
have even denied that they had any love for the animal. 
Such persons, however, cannot have taken into account 
that sometimes to save their families, sometimes their 
property, and frequently to obey the summons of the 
holy war (djeliad) these Arabs are obliged to use wdiatever 
materials come to hand. They are compelled to employ 
their horses through the necessities that beset them, and 
through circumstances quite beyond their control, but they 
are perfectly aware that it would be better not to do so. 

It is also when he is about thirty months old that the 
colt is taught not to break loose from his rider when the 
latter sets foot to earth, and not even to stir from the 
spot where the bridle has been passed over his head and 
allowed to drag on the ground. Especial care is taken 
in teaching this lesson, because it is one of great 
importance in Arab life. The same means is adopted in 
this case, as in accustoming the colt to the clogs. A 
slave stands beside him, who puts his foot on the bridle 
whenever the animal is about to go off, and thus gives a 
disagreeable shock to the bars of his mouth. After a 
few days of this exercise he will stand stock still at the 
spot where he has been left, and will wait for his master 



for days together. This practice is so universal through- 
out the Sahara that the first thing an Arab does after 
kilUng his adversary, if he wants his horse, is to pass 
the bridle quickly over his head. The animal then 
remains perfectly still and allows the conqueror time to 
despoil his fallen foe : without this precaution it would 
have rejoined its goimi. 

Here is a scene we have all witnessed. An Arab 
arrives at the market, and dismounts in the midst of a 
score of horses or mares. You suppose that he is going 
to give his animal to some one to hold. Not so : he 
passes the bridle over his neck, lets it fall on the ground, 
and placing a stone upon it goes without disquietude to 
transact his business. Two hours afterwards he returns, 
finds that his horse has not moved from the spot where 
he left him — and to which he probably fancied himself 
fastened — gets on the saddle and returns to his own 

From the age of two and a half to three years the 
system already indicated continues to be applied with a 
view to confirm the young animal in the docile habits so 
essential in war time. Pains too are taken to make him 
very quiet to mount, by using every precaution. In his 
life of perilous adventure the Arab has need, before all 
things, of a horse easy to mount. Lessons to this effect 
will be renewed day after day until they are no longer 
necessary : but not too long at a time for fear of tiring 
out the colt. At first the owner will be assisted by two 
men, one of whom will hold the bridle and the other the 
stirrup, and after a while he will succeed in producing- a 
statue-like immobility. Sick and ill-shaped horses, say 
the Arabs, alone prove unteachable. 


From three to four years old more is expected from a 
horse, but at the same time he is better fed. He is now 
ridden with spurs and, being thoroug-hly grounded in 
the foregoing lessons, he gives proof of mettle and learns 
to fear nothing. The cries of the animals living in the 
same douar, the roaring of the wild beasts that prowl 
around during the night, and the constant discharge of 
fire-arms, soon prepare him for war. 

However, if notwithstanding all the careful manage- 
ment we have described, a horse takes to rearing either 
through laziness or vice, or to plunging, or biting, or 
refuses to leave the tent or the other horses, recourse is 
had to the potency of spurs. These are made very sharp, 
and their point is bent in the form of a shghtly rounded 
hopk. With these instruments the rider draws long 
bloody wheals along the animal's belly and flanks, which 
inspire him with such terror that he becomes as tame as 
a lamb and will track his master out like a dog. Horses 
that have undergone this punishment rarely relapse into 
their former faults. To increase the potency of the spurs, 
salt or gun powder is rubbed into the still bleeding 
wounds. The Arabs are so convinced of the efficacy of 
this chastisement that they do not look upon a horse as 
thoroughly trained for war until he has passed through 
this terrible experience. At the same time that the rider 
uses the spurs to chastise a decidedly restive horse, he 
strikes him a little behind the headstall of the bridle ^vith 
a short thick stick, with which he is always provided 
when he means to break in an animal of this kind. 

In certain localities to prevent a horse from rearing 
they attach an iron ring to his ear. If he tries to rise 
up a smart blow -ssith a stick is struck upon this ring, 


the pain thus caused soon sickening the animal of his 
bad "defence." To cure a horse of plunging, he is 
mounted with his tail towards a thick thorny shrub 
(gandoiile). He is then urged forward, but jibs, lashes 
out, and pricks himself. However, after a few lessons 
of this kind, he breaks himself of his abominable habit. 

The Arabs declare that spurs add one fourth to the 
rider's horsemanship, and one third to the spirit of the 
animal, and illustrate their assertion by the following- 
fable : 

" When beasts were first created, they had the gift of 
speech. The horse and the camel took an oath never to 
harm one another but to live, on the contrary, with a 
perfect mutual understanding. An Arab placed in a 
critical position by one of the chances of Avar, saw with 
dispair the flight of the camel on which he had hoped to 
save his property. There was no time to lose. 'Bring 
my horse ! ' he exclaims, and leaps on his back. He 
scolds him, beats him, gives him the heel. All in vain. 
The horse stirs not a step, remembering the promise 
made to his friend. The Arab then puts on his spurs, 
which he carried in his djelira,^ and the horse, smarting 
wdth his torn flanks, springs forward, and speedily 
overtakes the runaway. 'Ah! traitor! ' cried the camel, 
'thou hast violated our compact; thou tookest an oath 
never to do me any harm, and yet thou hast replaced 
me in the power of my tyrant.' 'Accuse not my heart,' 
replied the horse ; ' I refused to move, but " the thorns of 
misery " have brought me up to thee." 

* A sort of sabretadie attached to the pommel of the saddle, in which the Arabs 
carry their ammunition, their papers, and food, etc., etc. Sometimes the (7jel/ira is 
a man'el of elaborate emljroidery. 


It is not an easy task to use the spurs properly. 
Horsemen \Yho possess that talent are cited even among" 
the Arabs. Some are only able to urge on their steed 
by constantly tickling his flanks without \v'ounding him. 
Others are acquainted only \Yith the telicrleda , or the 
art of clashing their iron spurs against their iron 
stirrups in order to frighten the animal. The most 
skilful alone know how to raise those bloody wheals to 
which we have already alluded. When it is said of a 
horseman that he marks his horse with wheals from the 
navel to the vertebral column, the highest compliment 
has been paid to him. During my residence at Mascara, 
how often have I heard the Arabs assert, by way of 
vaunting the horsemanship of their Emir : "Abd-el- 
Kader! why, he crosses his spurs on his horse's loins! " 

These spurs are dangerous for inexperienced horse- 
men, who sometimes prick the animal on the kneepan 
and so lame him if the w^ound be deep. And if a horse 
comes down, the spur is very apt to run into him. For 
this reason the Arabs generally have the leathers of 
their spurs tolerably loose, in order to obviate by their 
slackness their ow^i awkwardness. It also enables them 
to disembarrass themselves more quickly in battle if 
their horse happens to be killed and they are compelled 
to flee on foot to save their lives. On the same grounds 
they prefer in a serious combat loose-fitting shoes to 
boots. Our spurs they look upon as utterly inefficient. 
"What benefit, in a case wdiere your fife is at stake do 
you expect to get from them with a horse already 
knocked up ? They are good only for tickling a horse 
and to make him restive. With our spurs we draw 
every thing out of him. As long as there is life in him, 


we will get it out of him : tliey lose their effect only in 
presence of death." 

Every Arab trains his own horse. In the Sahara the 
only riding masters are practice, tradition, and example. 
A reputation as a good rider is only acquired after 
many proofs of skilfulness. It is not sufficient to he 
competent to manage a horse on level ground. It is 
necessary, gun in hand, to make the most of him at a 
rapid pace over a broken, wooded, and difficult country. 
"Such a one," say they "is a horseman of the gun, while 
so-and-so is only a horseman of the heel." Perfection 
implies equal skill with the gun and the heel. They 
even go so far as to institute a difference between one 
who rides well over dry ground, and one who rides 
boldly over slippery ground. They distinguish between 
the horseman of summer and the horseman of winter. 

What experience must not such an apprenticeship lay 
up ! There is one point, however, which they entirely 
overlook — they never trouble themselves as to which leg 
the horse puts foremost. An Arab horse has always 
power and well formed shoulders which, owing to his 
practice as a colt of grazing on mountains, in woods, 
and on broken ground, have become far better developed 
than they w^ould have been by means of the plate-longe 
and the riding school. He is also easy in his paces 
because the rider yields to all the movements of his 
body and never sets himself against them. I may add 
that the Arab has a perfect seat, and though he rides 
very short he makes up for that disadvantage by 
wearing very long spurs which, by the shghtest mo- 
vement of the leg, catch the horse on the flank, compel 
him to bring his hind-legs under the centre of gravity, 


keep him in hand, and place his head as correctly as if 
he had acted upon our best system of horsemanship.* 

Arab horses have always a good mouth. A proverb 
says : 

The horseman makes the horse, 
As the hushand makes the wife. 

But it is not enough to have softened and tamed the 
horse. Although, by means of kind treatment, daily 
intercourse, and punishment judiciously applied, he has 
become docile, and a good action has been secured, his 
education is still incomplete. It still remains to perfect 
him, and to do so they train him to the following 
exercises : 

El Feuzzda, " setting off suddenly at full gallop." To 
accomplish this they pursue nearly the same method as 
ourselves, with this difference that they avail themselves 
of the aid of the teTierleda, wdiich we have already des- 
cribed, so that a horse must be altogether impracticable 
if he does not act as he is required to do. 

* " To (lay we went out on horseljack witli our host Youssouf-ben-Bcnder, and 
directed our course towards the desert. He was accompanied by his sons and g-rand- 
sons, ah mounted on fine horses, while his servants proceeded on dromedaries. 
During this excursion, we met an Arab who caused me some surprise. Without 
saddle or bridle, with a slight halter, the nose-band of which was a thin iron chain, 
and holding in his hand a wand crooked at one end with which he guided his horse, 
he started off at full gallop, pulled up dead halt, was off again like an arrowy turned 
sharp round at full speed, and while going at that pace, made his horse change his 
feet, off the ground, on the right line. I could scarcely believe my o'^ti eyes and I 
question if our most celebrated riding-masters or " sportsmen " could do better. 
What particularly struck me was the simplicity of the means employed by this son of 
Ishmael to obtain what he exacted from his courser. In Europe, we study the func- 
tions and play of the muscles, only to counteract them. In Arabia also are they 
studied, but in order to make use of nature, not to do her violence. Besides, it is not 
merely one Arab here and there who rides well ; but all without exception are good 
horsemen, all love the horse passionately, all understand how to train him. At the 
bivouac an inhabitant of the Ncdjed always sleeps with his head resting on the 
shoulder of his horse, and every horse lies down at his master's bidding. The latter 
thus obtains a pillow softer than the ground, and also renders it difficult for any one 
to steal his horse during his sleep." ( Voyage dans la Haute Asie. by M. Petmiaud, 
General Inspector of the ■< Haras. "i 


El Kyama, ''going free." They rush the animal at a 
wall, or a tree, or a man, and puU him up short. By 
degrees he will learn to halt abruptly in the middle of a 
rapid career, on the bank of a river or on the edge of a 
ravine or precipice — a valuable accomplishment, often- 
times most advantageous in war. If a young horse is 
not a free-goer, but capers about and obstinately refuses 
to separate from the other horses, a fault of the last 
consequence to an Arab, he is cured by the following 
process. The owner's friends get on horseback and 
draw themselves up in two lines, facing each other and 
two or three paces apart. The horse is then ridden 
between these two hedges. If he stops, the horsemen 
beat him with sticks, while his rider plies him vigour- 
ously with the spur. A fortnight of this lesson is more 
than enough for the most obstinate. 

El Lotema, "the wheeling round." This exercise 
consists in turning suddenly to the right or left, but 
more frequently the latter, as soon as the rider has 
fired off his piece. The principle is this, the trigger 
being pulled, the horseman strikes his horse sharply 
with the left hand behind the saddle, and at the same 
moment with his right hand on the neck. The animal 
understands what is meant, and in a very short time 
learns to obey merely the movement of his rider's body. 
This instruction is inculcated with the greatest care, 
being of great importance to the Arab, who is so often 
exposed to single combats. 

El Djery, "the race." They first of all make the 
animal go at a swift pace by itself over a level plain, 
stimulating it with whip and spur, but only for a short 
distance. After a while they match the colt against an 


old horse of some renown. The young one "becomes 
excited, and does his utmost to maintain the contest. 
These exercises being* frequently repeated serve likcAvise 
to give the owner an exact knowledge of his horse's 
capabilities, and of what he may safely undertake with 
him in the future. They are not unattended with 
danger, but " the angels have two special missions in 
this world : to preside at the racing of horses and at the 
union of man with woman." It is their duty to preserve 
horsemen and horses from all accident, and to see that 
marriages are fruitful. 

Teneguke, "the leap." Moreover, the colt must be 
taught to leap. This teaching is progressive and de- 
mands much patience. The lesson is not repeated more 
than twice or thrice in the course of one day. At first 
they begin with small obstacles, so as not to disgust 
the animal, nor is he brought face to face with any of a 
serious nature until he is quite docile and fully deve- 
loped. Unquestionably, the Arabs regard the leap as 
the necessary complement of a colt's education, but they 
are far from attaching to it the same importance that 
Europeans do. Their country is for the most part 
difficult, full of ravines, strewed with huge stones, and 
covered with prickly bushes. They assert, therefore, 
that if they were to jump over every obstacle they en- 
counter cither in war or in hunting, they would be 
always jumping, which would fatigue their horses 
terribly and in the long run ruin them. Consequently, 
they go round any very rough ground, ride down 
almost perpendicular places, and go straight up the 
steepest slopes, and practice renders their horses so 
adroit that in a long journey they reach the end more 


quickly than if they had jumped over everything that 
came in their way. 

El Nechaclia, "the exciting*." The horse is taught to 
throw himself upon that of the adversary, and bite either 
the rider or the animal. The rider pulls up his horse, 
while he pushes him with his legs, and all the time keeps 
on repeating the cry of slie'it, and success is the more 
easy because the animal is naturally excitable. The 
Arabs declare that horses trained in this manner have 
often unseated an enemy in single combat. Sometimes, 
too, in razzias, they quicken the pace of the camels that 
have been captured. I myself have seen a Makhzen 
horseman thus hurry on animals that had fallen behind. 
His horse rushed at them and bit at them with apparent 

Horsemen of renown do not, however, confine the 
education of their horses to these manoeuvres so neces- 
sary in battle, but they also teach them to shine at feasts 
and fantasias by the following accomplishments : 

El Entrabe, "the caracol." The horse walks, so to 
speak, on his hind-legs. Scarcely does he touch the 
ground with his forefeet, than he again rises. One hand, 
in concert with the legs, soon trains to this exercise a 
horse of fair intelligence. 

El Gtieteda, "the bucking." The horse springs up 
with all fours off the ground, the horseman at the same 
time throwing up his gun into the air and cleverly 
catching it. To obtain this action, the rider marks 
certain intervals of rest and works with his legs. He 
gives with the animal as he rises, in order to hold him 
up when he comes down again. Nothing can be more 
picturesque than this exercise. The horses quit the 


earth, the guns fly into the air, and the ample folds of 
the burnous float and unroll themselves in the wind, 
thro^Yn back by the vigourons arms of the children of 
the desert. It is, in truth, the charm and cro^\Tiing act 
of the fantasia. 

Lastly, El-Berraka, " the kneeling." The rider remain- 
ing on his saddle causes his horse to kneel down. This 
is the nee pUts ultra of the man and the animal. Not 
every horse is fit for this exercise. The colt is trained 
to it by tickling him on the coronet, pinching him on the 
legs, and forcing him to bend the knee. After a time 
the horseman will reap the benefit of these preliminary 
steps. He need only clear his feet of the stirrups, 
stretch his legs forward, turn out the points of his 
toes, touch with his long spurs the animal's fore-arm, 
and then as his piece is fired at marriage feasts and 
other rejoicings, his horse will kneel down amid the 
applause of the young maidens, piercing the air with 
joyful acclamations. 

After the horse is completely " suppled " by all these 
exercises, the following feats are attempted : 

Ladb el Razame, "the girdle feat." When the horse 
is thoroughly trained, at a family festivals and religious 
solemnities, the horseman going at full gallop will pick 
up a girdle lying on the ground : the most skilful 
grasping it at three different places. 

Ladb Enniclian, "firing at a mark." The target is 
usually a stone, or a mutton shoulder-blade. The 
performers start from a distance in order to get a good 
seat, and when fifty or sixty paces off they discharge 
their pieces. The Saharene will recall these lessons to 
mind when out hunting, and going at full speed, he 


brings down an ostrich or a gazelle. It is not of an 
inhabitant of the Tell that you must expect these 
prodigies of address, skilfulness, and equestrian science. 
Nor will you see on him the light apparel, the fine and 
beautiful wool of a child of the desert, whom, besides, 
you will always recognize by his slender, long-bodied 
horse, the ease with which he handles his gun, and that 
graceful forward movement by which he quickens his 
courser's pace. How many are there in the Tell who 
would ride a whole stage without dropping a piece 
of money placed between the sole of the foot and the 

"And you Christians ! you go at a trot. And so do we, 
but only when time is of no consequence and to breathe 
our horses. In war time we know nothing but the walk 
and the gallop. If we are not in a hurry, the trot is 
enough for us, but if there be danger it is the gallop that 
saves our heads." 

An Arab chief would not keep a horse whose pace 
was not formed. The above exercises are not adopted 
by all Arabs. Each selects what is best suited to his 
position, his fortune, and his tastes. But all conform 
themselves to the principles we have laid down for the 
education of the colt. These consist in first of all 
reducing the young animal to the last degree of wretch- 
edness, in order to handle him gently when between 
three and four years old. After these trials, his real 
value is konwn. These principles are, moreover, sum- 
med up in a familiar proverb that shows the amount of 

* While with us, in Franco, the stirrup is not supposed to bear more than the 
weig-ht of the lef^ ; with the Arabs, on the contrary, the whole weight of the body, 
when going at a fjood pace, is thrown upon the stirrups. 


interest attached to "beginning hj times the task of 


Let the one-year old colt do nothing but eat, 
And he will not strain himself : 
Mount him from two to three years old, 
Until he is quite tamed. 
Feed him well from three to four. 
Then mount him again, 
And if he does not suit you, 
Sell him ^\'ithout hesitation. 

Let it not be supposed, however, that it is only the 
Arabs of our African possessions who are so mad, if 
I may be allowed the use of the expression, about 
commencing the process of breaking- in at an early 
age. The Arabs universally, no matter to what country 
they belong, profess the same principles. If proof be 
wanted, read what has been said on the subject by no 
inexperienced person, in fact by an inspector-general of 
the Haras, M. Petiniaud, who was commissioned by the 
French Government to travel through Upper Asia to 
procure horses of pure Oriental blood. He shall speak 
for himself : — 

"After three years of wanderings among the tribes 
encamped from Diarbekir and Aleppo to the confines of 
the Nedjed, I returned to Bagdad last January. Among 
the papers that awaited me, I found a number of the 
Journal des Haras, containing an article on the horses 
of the Sahara. The perusal of this only too brief memoir 
which denoted such a perfect knowledge of the Arab and 
his horse, inspired me with a desire to possess the entire 
work. On my arrival in France, you were obliging 
enough to send me a copy, for which I thank you. No 
one could take a greater interest than myself in a work 


which you might safely have entitled : "On the Arab 
horse of Asia and Africa;" for such is the spirit of 
tradition among this peculiar people that at every line 
I recognized in the customs of the Moghreb Arabs the 
customs of their ancestors of the Koreish and the Nedjed, 
and that after a separation of many centuries." 

" In 1851 I descended the Tigris from Mosul to Bagdad, 
with a volume of Herodotus in my hand. All his des- 
criptions of men and things were still strictly applicable. 
Thus, at a distance of two thousand three hundred 
years he depicted the manners of the Arabs with the 
same truthfulness with which you, General, have des- 
cribed in Africa the Arabs of Asia. Time and space are 
impotent in the presence of the unchangeableness of such 
habits : intestine feuds, the q\\2.cq, fantasias, love of the 
horse, etc., etc., I have witnessed in Asia exactly what 
you have written of Africa." 

"Your work Avhich possesses the great merit of 
telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth, is 
^calculated, as I think, to exercise a great influence on 
the education of the horse in France. This delightful 
style of reading wdll develop an interest in the animal in 
those who have never before given it a thought, while 
our breeders will derive some useful hints from the 
numerous details you relate. They will learn not to 
reserve their admiration for a horse that has no other 
merit than that of being fat, and they will at last come 
to understand the advantages that result from putting a 
colt to salutary work from his earliest age. "The horse 
is a labourer" — lot him, then, be accustomed to it in 
good time." 

" I observed that the Arabs used universally to fatigue 


without mercy tlieir two and three year olds, but spared 
them from three to four years of age. They say that 
sustained work at an early age strengthens the chest, 
muscles, and joints of the colt, at the same time 
imparting a docility that will remain with him until 
death. They also declare that as soon as these rude 
trials have been got over, his constitution should be 
developed by rest, care, and an abundant diet, because 
after this new stage of life he will only be able to show 
himself exactly what he really he is — good or bad. If 
good, they will keep him : if bad, they will get rid of 
him without hesitation, for in their eyes a bad horse is 
not worth the barley they give him." 

I trust to be pardoned for this digression for the sake 
of the reflections which it suggests. Is it not wonderful 
to behold a people scattered over vast territories, from 
the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean, without means 
of communication, without printing* machines, without 
telegraphs, without any one of the thousand appliances 
of modern civilization, but still speaking the same lan- 
guage, living in obedience to the same law, and 
preserving by simple tradition as well as we could do by 
books, the usages, the manners, and even the precepts 
of their ancestors? While seeing and interrogating 
the Arabs of Algeria, I saw and listened to the Arabs of 
the primitive stock. Is not this oneness, under such 
circumstances, a matter to create astonishment? 

It may happen that after a horse's education is finished, 
vices will occasionally break out. The Arabs, however, 
pay little attention to these, because they consider that 
such faults proceed simply from too long a period of rest 
which renders them of lazy habits, or subject to caprice 



tlirougli excess of vitality. They correct them by work, 
the fatigues of war and the chace. The convenient 
disposition of their saddles enables them to keep their 
seat in spite of the obstinate "defences" of the animal. 
They are consequently never taken by surprise, nor 
frig'htened, and always end by mastering the animal 
completely. No one ever thinks of getting- rid of his 
horse because he rears or plunges or is otherwise 
troublesome. On the contrary they take delight in these 
proofs of spirit, for the time will come when they will 
find their advantage in it. The Arabs have a saying 
that "^The horseman wdio has not knoAvn how to train 
his horse, bestrides death every day." 

The individual to whom they attribute the honour of 
having been the first to tame the horse is Ishmael, the 
common ancestor of all the Arabs. Their authority is 
these words of the Deity : "We placed horses under his 
dominion in order that he might ride them" — and the 
celebrated invocation of Ishmael himself : "Horses, 
night, and space are my witnesses, as well as my sabre, 
my pen, and paper." Always, always, religious tra- 

As to the really bad vices of biting, plunging, and 
kicking, they are almost unknovvTi. In fact, all their 
efforts are directed to avert these. They make the 
horse live close to the tent, and receive him in some 
degree as an integral part of the family. In the midst 
of the women, the children, and the slaves, he can 
hardly fail to acquire habits of gentleness and docility. 
For the rest, this care showm to the horse is not merely 
the result of a sense of personal interest on the part of 
the owner : it takes its origin in rehgion. The Prophet 


has said : "The Believer who has trained his horse to 
shine in the holy war, the sweat, the hair, the very 
excrement of this animal shall be placed in the balance 
to his favonr at the day of the last judgment." 

However, notwithstanding all these bonds which 
attach man to the horse, notwithstanding the solidarity 
formed by habit, religion, and interest, no Mussulman 
will ever give to his horse the name of a man. Men's 
names have been borne by saints; it would therefore be 
a deadly sin, a sacrilege, in fact, to apply them to any 
animal, even though he should be the noblest of all. 
Besides, names of any kind are given solely to illustrious 
steeds, and only in the tents of the great. The following 
are some of their designations : — 

RaTiil), the Scout ; Mmisour, the Victorious ; Saleur, 
the Patient; Salem, the Saviour; Kamil, the Perfect; 
Sadd, Happiness; Madroitf, the Known; Aatili, the No- 
ble; Saloli, the Rapid; Nadjy, the Persevering; Mo%i- 
larck, tlie Blessed; Guetrdne, Pitch; Messaoicd, the 
Happy; Safy, the Pure; Ghezala, the Gazelle; Nadma, 
the Ostrich; Mordjana, Coral; El Aroiissa, the Bride; 
Djerada, the Locust; Ouarda, the Rose; Guemera, the 
Moon; Hamama, the Dove; YaTioiifa, the Ruby; El 
Guetaya, the Cutter; Adtifa, the Docile; and Le'ila, 
Night. Very similar names are given to slaves. 

A constant practice of the Arabs, and one that must 
have been remarked by all who have served in Africa, is 
to cut the hairs of the forelock, the neck, and the tail. 
The rules for this seem odd to Europeans. When the 
colt is one year old they clip off all his hair except a tuft 
between the cars, on the withers, and on the dock of the 
tail. At two years old the operation is repeated, but 



this time the hair is entirely chpped off. When three 
years old, in the third spring, a third clipping takes 
place. From three to five years the hair is allowed to 
grow, but only that the whole may he clipped off at the 
termination of the fifth year. This final operation is 
called el Tialafya, and no instrument is ever again raised 
against the hair. It would be thought sinful to do so, 
as the only object could be to deceive one's brethren as 
to the age of the horse. After each clipping they never 
fail to rub the parts thus exposed with sheep's dung 
soaked in milk, or wnth Prussian blue diluted with 
melted butter. These applications soften the skin and 
thicken the hair. The practice of clipping is supported 
by several reasons. In the first place, it indicates, at 
sight, the age of a horse up to eight years, as it takes at 
least three years before the horse, having recovered his 
full length of hair, can be styled djarr — one that trails 
his tail along the ground. Secondly, — which is an 
important point in hot countries, — it compels the animal 
to bear patiently the stings of flies. And lastly it is 
supposed that the hair thus becomes thicker, longer, and 
more silky. 

If the Arabs explain and justify this method of clipping 
a horse's coat until it is five years old, they do not 
attempt to do so for our fashion of docking a horse's tail. 
In their eyes it is a barbarism that has no name. It 
affords an inexhaustible theme for raillery. They rally 
us, indeed, on this subject in the most serious conjunc- 
tures. I can corroborate this assertion by an incident 
for the accuracy of which I personally vouch : — 

In 1841 the column commanded by Marshal Bugeaud 
marched to Taguedempt to destroy the fort erected there 


at great expense by the Emir Abd-el-Kader. We were 
encamped on the Oiiad-Krelouk one of the tributaries of 
the Mina. In the course of the night we were aw^akened 
by the report of a musket shot fired in the middle of tlie 
camp. Every one rushed out of his tent, hastened in 
the direction of the sound, and inquired what was amiss. 
An Arab was lying on the ground, with his thigh broken. 
He held in his hand a small knife A\ith a very sharp edge 
and, like all professional thieves in that country, he had 
nothing on save a leathern girdle furnished with a pistol. 
The sentinel who had fired explained that having 
observed a bush approach, halt, and then approach still 
nearer, he had suspected some trickery .and so fired at it 
at ten paces distance, just as it was close to the horses 
of his captain. On hearing the tale of the African 
veteran, his comrades in their fury were about to 
massacre the Arab, but the officers who were present 
calmed their not unnatural excitement and reported the 
case to the superior authorities. The Arab was carried 
without delay to the ambulance and had his wound 
dressed. On the morrow the expedition resumed its 
march. The fellow had received a very severe wound, 
and it was useless to embarrass ourselves with him. To 
have put him to death would only have hastened his 
destiny, perhaps, by a few days, without doing us any 
particular good, and, besides, the adventure could be 
turned to a better account. The Governor General 
decided, therefore, that he should be left upon the site of 
the encampment, and that a letter should be entrusted to 
him for the powerful tribe of the Flittas, upon whose 
territory we then happened to be. In this letter clear 
intimation was given to that hostile people that their 


furious dislike to us would one day be fatal to them- 
selves; that it was useless to contend with us, that 
France abounded in warriors and in wealth, that Abd-el- 
Kader by continuing the struggle would only bring 
upon them unnumbered woes; and lastly that the best 
thing they could do, was to draw off from that man, 
unless they preferred to see their rich harvests destroyed 
and burnt before their very eyes. 

At early dawn the column set out, and the rearguard 
was not a thousand metres from our bivouac when they 
observed some Arab horsemen arrive, dismount, and 
carry off the wounded man. On the following day we 
received the reply of the Flittas. It was addressed 
to " General Bugeaud, Kaid of the Port of Algiers," and 
was couched to the following effect : — 

"You tell us that you are a strong and powerful 
nation, and that we cannot contend against you. The 
powerful and the strong are just. And yet you seek to 
take possession of a country that does not belong to you. 
Besides, if you are so rich, what do you propose to do 
among a people who have nothing but powder and shot 
to give you? Moreover, when it pleases Him, the Master 
of the world humbles the strong and exalts the feeble. 
You threaten to burn our crops, or to devour them with 
your war-horses and beasts of burden. How often 
already have we experienced similar calamities! We 
have had bad seasons, we have had locusts and drought, 
but Allah has never forsaken us; for we are Believers, 
we are Arabs, and privations will not kill an Arab. 
We will never yield to you. You are the enemies of our 
religion. It is quite impossible. Nevertheless, if the 
Almighty, to punish us for our own sins and for those of 


our forefathers, should be pleased to inflict upon us some 
day that horrible malady, we confess we should be 
greatly embarrassed. With us the mark of submission 
is the presentation of a horse to the victors. We are 
aware that you care only for horses with short tails, and 
our mares do not produce such." 

Subsequently, however, the FHttas were compelled to 
give us such horses as their mares did produce; but their 
resistance was obstinate. Since then they have always 
been the first to raise the cry of war and rebellion. It 
was they who slew the brave General Mustapha-ben- 
Ismail.* It was they who supported Bou-Maza. It was 
they, in short, who were the last reduced to submission. 

After this episode so characteristic of our African 
campaigns, I cannot better conclude this chapter on the 
education of the colt than by giving some entirely novel 
details as to the manner of treating horses in Arabia, 
which wiU not be at all out of place and may be interest- 
ing to many as sho\\dng the part played by woman 
m the life of that noble animal. 

I have often heard it asked whence come the gentle- 

* France was indebted to the hatred of Abd-el-Kader cherished by Mustapha-ben- 
Ismail for the unfaiUng- loyalty of the illustrious chief of the powerful tribe of the 
Douairs. He had been for upwards of thirty years the Ag-a of the Turks. Thus, 
when the son of Mahi-Eddin, at the ag-e of twenty tive, was proclaimed Sultan by the 
tribe of the province of Gran, the ag-ed warrior refused to yield obedience to him, 
saying that "never with his white beard would he go to kiss the hand of a mere 
boy." The consequences of this enmity forced him to take refuge in the of 
Tlemcen, where for two years he held out against the hadars, or citizens, all of whom 
were devoted to the cause of him who had assumed the title of Commander of the 
Faithful. Only when reduced to the last extremity did he demand and obtain succour 
from Marshal Clauzel, whose column relieved him in 1836. From that period, not- 
withstanding his great age, he took part at the head of the "goums" of the Douairs 
and the Zmelas, in ah the actions fought in the province of Gran. France recompensed 
this energetic attachment by a Marshal's baton and the cross of a Commander of the 
Legion of Honour. Mustapha-ben-Ismail was killed by the FUttas, on the 19th May 
1843, in his eightieth year, while skirmishing in the rear, protecting the rich booty 
taken from the Hashem-Gharabas, at the capture of the Smala. 


noss, the address, the intelligence ^vliich, every one is 
ag-reed, are to be met Avitli in Arab horses. Are these 
qualities inherent in the Oriental stock? or are they the 
result of education? A g'cnial climate is undoubtedly 
favourable to the development and improvement of the 
equine race. A rich and noble stock is naturally more 
apt than any other to yield what is demanded of it, but 
at the same time something- must be done for it in 
return. The most fruitful soil will produce nothing- but 
briars and thorns if it is not cultivated, and that in a 
proper manner. Starting* from this standing point the 
Arabs apply themselves with the greatest care and the 
utmost tenacity to perfect, in their horses, the gifts of 
nature. A sustained education, daily contact with man, 
with the other animals, with external objects, that is their 
grand secret — it is that which makes the Arab horse what 
he is, an object worthy of our unexceptional admiration. 
I am aware that this feeling of admiration has not been 
altogether general. Imperfect knowledge has led many 
to accuse the Arabs of being ignorant and even of acting- 
like butchers in the matter of horses. They rode them 
badly, and did not bestow upon them the sort of care so 
prized in Europe; they abused them from their most 
tender years, and were constantly drawing blood from 
the Hanks or from the mouth, etc., etc. But truth at 
length began to dawn, and when it was ascertained that 
all their horses were intelligent, obedient to the hand 
and leg, quiet to mount, and inaccessible to fear, there 
was no choice but to acknowledge that these were great 
qualities which could only have been produced by a 
sound and logical education. 
Our horses, on the other hand, are nothing more than 


animals more or less tamed. They bear with man as a 
conqueror who disposes of them, but they have neither 
confidence nor affection for those who employ them. 
Slaves of mankind in general, they do not attach them- 
selves to any one man in particular, because no man 
especially attaches himself to his horse, which is merely 
tended and valued like any other agricultural product 
that is sold as soon as possible, or like an article of 
commerce, or a piece of furniture that is bartered for 
profit or exchanged from caprice. Our dogs, it may be, 
are only attached to us because jwe do not part wdth 
them for a price. 

The Arabs desire to find, in their horse, a devoted 
friend. With them he leads, so to speak, a domesticated 
life, in which, as in all domestic life, women play a 
conspicuous part — that, in fact, of preparing by their 
gentleness, vigilance, 'and unceasing attention, the 
solidarity that ought to exist between the 'man and the 
animal. On a journey or a campaign, far from the 
dwelling place, it is the rider who occupies himself with 
his horse. But at the encampment, under canvas, and 
in time of repose, it is the wife who directs, super- 
intends, and feeds the noble companion in arms who so 
frequently augments the reputation of her husband while 
supplying the wants of her children. In the morning it 
is the wife who brings him his food, and tends him, and 
if possible w^ashes his mane and tail. If the ground on 
which he stands happens to be uneven, broken, or 
covered with stones, she removes him to a spot more 
convenient for his repose and the just disposition of his 
weight. She caresses him, passes her hand gently over 
his neck and face, and gives him bread, or dates, or 


kouskoussoii, or eYen meat cooked and dried in the sun. 
''Eat, my son!" she says to him in a soft and tender 
tone. "One day thou shalt save us out of the hand of 
our enemies and fill our tent with booty." 

It is in the morning also that the Arab wife goes forth 
to the pastures to gather for the animal she cherishes an 
ample supply of herbs esteemed in the desert for their 
tonic and nutritive properties. On her return should she 
see any children, as yet too young to reason, amusing 
themselves by teasing or ill using the horses tethered 
in front of the tent, she will cry to them as soon as she 
can make herself heard : "Children, beat not the horses. 
Wretches! it is they who nourish you. Do you wish 
that Allah should curse our tent? If you begin again, I 
will speak to your father." 

On this subject the Arab wife is so intractable that she 
would not spare her own husband if he took no care of 
his horse. The horse is his honour, his fortune. She is 
proud and jealous on those points, and deems herself 
affected by whatever affects him. If it ever came to 
pass that her remarks and suggestions were passed over 
with neglect, she would not hesitate to carry her 
complaints to the chief of the tribe : " my lord ! you 
know that our horse is all we have, and yet my husband 
takes him on idle journeys, ill uses him, overrides him, 
and taxes him beyond his strength. It would be some- 
thing if he looked after him when at home ; but no, his 
covering is full of holes, he is never certain of being fed, 
and even goes in want of water. Scold my husband, I 
beseech you in the name of Allah. Lead him back into 
the ways of our forefathers. Above all, do not tell him 
that it was I who suggested this to you." 


The Arab chief, whose interest it is in the course of 
his adventurous career to be followed only by well 
mounted horsemen, never fails to make use of the 
information thus given. He will summon the delin- 
quent before him, reprove him, and warn him that if he 
does not change his conduct he will take his horse from 
him and make him walk like a common foot soldier. At 
last he will discharge him with these words : ''Thou 
understandest me; go thy way; but bear in mind that in 
this world honour begins at the stirrup to be completed 
in the saddle." A lesson of this kind always produces a 
great effect, not only on the offender but on all who 
might be tempted to follow his example. And in this 
manner, sometimes through self-love, sometimes through 
the fear of punishment, the Arabs apply themselves to 
inculcate, voluntarily and compulsorily, on all charac- 
ters and dispositions a love for the horse. 

In the afternoon, a little later or a little earlier 
according to the season, the wife employs herself in 
leading the horses to water if the fountain be not too 
distant, and in that case she goes herself to fetch the 
water in goat-skin bags. When water fails entirely, 
she gives them ewe's or camel's milk. At this hour the 
tent of an Arab chief presents a truly singular spectacle. 
Oftentimes may be seen between the legs of the women 
and the horses, in presence of a crowd of picturesquely 
attired children, by the side of falcons beating their 
wings or greyhounds in a state of excitement, a gazelle, 
an antelope, or an ostrich, running in and out and 
jumping about, to beg a drop of that liquid so rare in 
the desert but which is nevertheless given in abundance 
to the favourite of the family. Now the evening is at 


hand. What means that dark speck on the horizon? It 
is the young men of the douar * wearily regaining the 
encampment, mounted on horses with hollow flanks, 
worn out, and shoe-less. They have been out the whole 
day hunting, without eating or drinking. Camels loaded 
with gazelles, hares, bustards, etc., follow behind, but 
this prize, tempting though it be, will not save them 
from the storm that awaits them : "Young men," their 
mothers will exclaim with an angry voice, " it is disgra- 
ceful thus to ruin our horses for the sake of a little 
useless game. You would do far better to spare them 
for the day when the saliva will dry up in the mouth, 
for the day when riches will not ransom the head." 

During the great heats the women bring the horses 
into the tent, to shelter them from the fierce rays of the 
sun. They wash and cleanse them, and in the evening 
fill the nosebags with barley to hang round the neck of 
their petted animals. Each one, and it is a very 
important point, receives a ration proportioned to his 
age and temperament and the work he has gone 
through. These every day attentions and kindnesses 
as we have already remarked and can not too often 
repeat, render the horses gentle and affectionate. They 
neigh with pleasure at the approach of her who tends 
them, and, as soon as they see her, turn their head 
gracefully towards her. They go up to her, and she 
lays hold of them whenever it pleases her, and if any 
one expresses surprise she will reply with perfect simpli- 
city : "How can you suppose that our mares will not 
recognize the hand that caresses and feeds them? To 
how many gambols do they not betake themselves in 

* Tents pitched in a circle , a subdivision of the tribe. 


my presence ? And when rising up on their hind-feet 
behind my back they gently rest their legs on my 
shoulders — and when they carry a young lamb in their 
teeth by its wool — and when they slip into the tent to 
steal our kouskoussou — these are all associations very 
dear to us. Besides, is it not I who, by giving them at 
proper times milk or barley, have succeeded in tighten- 
ing their bellies, developping their chests, sharpening 
their heads, widening their foreheads, and hardening 
their limbs? Behold them pass by the side of a herd of 
gazelles and you would see no difference between the 
one and the other : the same grace, the same vigour in 
their bounding, the same swiftness in the course. Like 
the gazelles have they not eyes level with the head, 
large eyeballs, bold, sharp ears, thin legs, a rounded 
croup, and hoofs hard and well knit?" 


The details touching the education of the colt are true. 
It is what we really do. Too great fatigue and too long 
journeys do not suit the colt because they prevent the 
development of his strength and stature. The djeda, or 
less than three years old colt is like a shrub — any 
impediment in his w^ay stops his growth. But what 
does suit the colt is exercise and a cautiously graduated 
fatigue. He must be accustomed to the saddle and 
bridle, but should only be ridden by a child or by a 
man of discretion whose weight is in proportion to the 
age and strength of the animal. 

A very customary kind of exercise is after this manner. 


The colt is mounted by a child, who, with a light stick 
in his hand, sets off at full gallop. When the colt is 
tired, he stops, and hrowses, and lies down as soon as he 
returns home. On the following morning they give him 
a feed of harley and take him back to the same starting 
point, whence he again sets off. This time he is 
expected to go a greater distance, and in this manner 
they continue until they have obtained from him a 
course twice as long as that of the first day. 

The Arabs look for a free-going pace in a young 
horse, and they demand three varieties of gallop ; 1st a 
short gallop, such as is usual in taking a ride for 
pleasure; 2nd a strong and regular gallop, useful in war, 
or in hunting wild beasts ; 3rd a gallop at full speed, as 
in races or in fleeing for one's life. This last should not 
be too freely indulged in. 

In fine, the education of the colt should be commenced 
very early. This is an excellent practice, and not to 
conform to it is disgraceful — it is making a horse unfit 
for war. An animal that is not thoroughly trained from 
its earliest years is intractable, difiicult, and awkward : 
with the slightest exertion it bursts out into a sweat 
and is good for nothing. It is therefore incumbent in 
sparing the colt, as I have already said, whatever may 
cheek his growth and the full development of his 
proportions, to endeavour to obtain by work a horse that 
is supple and patient of fatigue. 

The first horse possessed by the Prophet was called 
OusTioulj, by reason of his speed, for the word sakab 
denotes water that escapes. 

Another horse belonging to the Prophet was named 
Mortacljez^ because of the beauty of his neigh which 


resembled poesy and the harmonious metres of the 
Aadjaz. He was of a white colour, and was also styled 
-''Gracious" and ''Noble." 

A third was kno^\^l as the " Trailer," as if he trailed 
his tail along the ground. A fourth was ElRezzez, "the 
fixed " or " the adherent," as if he were already fixed and 
adherent at the goal it was proposed to reach. Others 
affirm that his name referred to the vigourous set of his 
limbs. A fifth was named the " Hill," either because of 
his height, or because of the power and hardness of his 
limbs. The Prophet's sixth horse was called the '-'Rose," 
on account of the colour of its coat, which was a cross 
between a chestnut and a dark bay. The seventh was 
named the " Swimmer," because of the beautiful move- 
ments of his shoulders, and because in gallopping he 
raised his forelegs as if he were swimming. 

His first horse, OusTioiib, was his favourite. He had 
besides these the "Sea," the "Wolf," etc., etc. 

It has been my object in recalling to mind these 
notices to teach the Arabs the rule they ought to follow 
in naming their horses, which should always be called 
after those of the Prophet. Djarada, a javelin, — Belim, 
male ostrich, — Bahil), vigilant [the wild ass], are likewise 
designations suitable to horses. 

There are three kinds of horses : the first loads with 
crimes and belongs to Satan ; the second preserves from 
eternal fire and belongs to man ; the third brings down 
rewards and belongs to Allah. 

Loads with crimes and belongs to Satan the horse 
that is trained out of pride and ostentation, and kept to 
support wagers to play at games of hazard, or to do 
injury to Mussulmans. 


Preserves from the lire and belongs to man the horse 
reared for the purpose of reproduction, to save his 
owner from poverty, and to be useful to him in his 
personal affairs, without his wandering from the way of 

Lastly, draws down rewards and belongs to Allah 
the horse destined exclusively for good works, in the 
interest of religion. The grass eaten by such a horse in 
the field or the garden, his evacuations, the water he 
drinks with his master on his back while crossing a 
river, without even any intention on the part of the 
latter to give him to drink, are inscribed by Allah in the 
register of good works. 

Remonstrate with your horses, and they will avoid the 
faults which have brought down your anger upon them, 
for they understand the wrath of man. Treat them, 
however, habitually with great gentleness; and when 
you mount them, fear not to guide them into the midst of 
a crowd or of uproar. Let them hear the report of fire- 
arms, the guellal (the tabour), the shouts of men, and 
the cries of camels ; let them see everything, too, which 
appears strange to them, and in a short time they will 
manifest neither surprise nor terror. 

A man of a noble family of the Oued-Shelif * setting 
out for Mecca, started in company with a few friends who 
wished to do him honour. He was riding a blood mare, 
still in the possession of the family. Suddenly she 
stumbled, and to punish her he gave her a smart cut 
with his bridle end, which put her* into such a state of 
agitation that for some minutes she did nothing but rear 
and jump about from right to left. On his return from 

• A river in Algeria. 


Mecca he rode the same animal, and the friends who had 
accompanied him on his departure went forth to meet 
him and give him welcome. Scarcely had they reached 
the spot where the mare was beaten than she began to 
rear and caper about, going through absolutely the same 
movements as on the day she was struck. Every one 
was astonished at this proof of extraordinary memory in 
an animal that had preserved for a whole year the 
recollection of a punishment, and of the place where she 
received it. 

"Our noble coursers pass their time in vying with 
each other in swiftness." 

" The women wipe off with their veils the sweat that 
runs down their faces." 

" They balance their heads as if they would free them- 
selves from the fastenings that hold them captive, and 
are attentive to the slightest command." 

" On their backs are mounted fierce lions." 


If in the Sahara ewe's or camel's milk is frequently 
g-iven to horses, it must not be supposed that that is 
their only drink. It is more generally a substitute for 
barley, which is a scarce commodity, than for water, 
which is not usually difficult to find. The Arabs are 
convinced that milk maintains health and strengthens 
the fibre, without increasing the fat. It is needless to 
add that the rich who possess many she-camels are less 
sparing of milk than the poor, Avho have hardly enough 
to satisfy the wants of their families. The latter dilute 
it with water when they can. In the spring time they 
make use of ewe's milk, to which at other seasons they 
add camel's milk. 

At Souf, Tougourt, Ouargla, Metlili, Gueleaa, and in 
the Touat, where there are more camels than horses and 
where grain is scarcer than in the first zone of the 
desert, dates oftentimes take the place of barley. When 
they are dry they are given in a nosebag. In eating 
them the horse, of himself, rejects the stones with 
considerable address. In certain districts the stones are 
taken out and crushed in a mortar, and are then mixed 

DIET. 113 

with the dates, which are likewise slightly bruised. 
Dates are also giyen to horses before they are perfectly 
ripe, and are eaten stones and all — being quite soft they 
do no harm. When it is desired to mix the dates with 
the drink, the Arabs proceed after this fashion. After 
the fruit is gathered they take three or four pounds of 
fresh dates, and manipulate them in a large vase full of 
water until the pulp of the date has become a sort of 
liquid paste. The skins and stones are removed and 
the mixture after being well shaken is presented to 
the animal. The date regimen makes fat, but does 
not harden the fibre. 

In the first zone of the Sahara the ordinary diet of the 
horse is as follows for each season : — In the spring 
the shoes are generally removed, and the animals are 
turned out on the pastures, which at that period of the 
year abound with a succulent and fragrant herbage 
known under the generic name of el dacJieiib. They are 
clogged. Care is taken to avoid the districts where the 
ledena is met with, a velvety plant the leaves of which 
resemble a rat's ear. It grows close to the ground and 
is usually covered up and hidden in the sand. It brings 
on colics that for the most part terminate fatally. 
Persons of distinction who keep many servants, and 
experienced horsemen, never give green food to their 
war-horses. Rich or poor, no one gives barley, which 
is replaced by ewe's milk, which in this season is very 
abundant, and preserves the horse in perfect condition. 
The animals are watered only once a day, at two in the 

In summer the Saharenes proceed to the Tell to lay 
in their provision of grain. They are surrounded by 



unfriendly strangers, and sometimes by enemies. They 
do not, therefore, care to send their horses out to graze, 
as they would run the risk of being stolen. Nor are 
they sorry to have them close at hand in case of any of 
the numerous accidents happening- which so often occur. 
Barley and barley straw are purchased from their hosts : 
it is the period of the year when the animals fare most 
liberally. I mention barley straw, because no Arab 
would ever consent to feed his horses on fresh wheaten 
straw. They fancy it produces jaundice if used before 
the winter. If, perchance, any thing should prevent 
them from going to buy grain in the Tell, as the plains 
afford no herbage but what is dried up by the sun, they 
make for the mountains of the Sahara, where there is a 
better chance of coming across rivers, or ponds, or at 
least marshes. If this resource fails them, they encamp 
in the neighbourhood of the Kiiesours^ where straw can 
be had for money or in the way of barter. In either case 
the mares alone are sent out to graze, the horses being 
fastened in front of the tents. Whatever be the tempe- 
rature, the Arabs never give their horses that mixture of 
bran, barley meal, and water which we call a mash, and 
of which we make such a mistaken use. They accuse 
it of relaxing the tissues and of weakening the system, 
while favouring the growth of fat, an evil they dread 
above all things. When their horses are over heated 
they lessen their v^ork, and if they can procure it they 
give them green barley straw, and if that is not to be 
had they have recourse to cooling baths. As to the 
barley, they like it heavy, without any bad smell, and 
free from the dirt which gets mixed with it in the'' silos," 

* The plural form of Ksar, a hamlet, villag-e, or town of the desert. 

DIET. 115 

as well as from the black, ^^^ithe^ed, and blighted grains 
which have been struck by the South wdnd. 

In autumn the horses are again turned out into the 
pastures, w^here they find the sliielili, that invaluable 
resource of the Sahara, so that it is said in praise of a 
man \vho is as capable as he is modest : 

So-and-so is like the shielili : 
He lias parts, but is no prattler. 

So much for the day. At night are given handfuls of 
seurr, a species of thorny shrub. It is cut down close to 
the ground, and beaten with a stick to get rid of the dry 
prickles, which might injure the oesophagus, or the 
membranous lining of the stomach. It contains many 
nutritive elements. Another plant somewhat resembling 
the common bramble and called el ddem is prepared in a 
similar manner. 

The horse is watered only once in the twenty four 
hours, about two in the afternoon. That time is thought 
the most favourable because the water will have lost 
something of its coldness, — the temperature then falling 
every day. Those who are well off give barley, but the 
poor cannot always do so. 

In winter the horses continue to be sent to the 
pastures, wdiich are now verdant in proportion to the rain 
that has fallen. The sliielih, the ddem, the derlne,'' etc., 
are met with, and afford a very sufficient diet. At night 
house is thrown to them in quantities. It is called by the 
Arabs " brother of the barley," so highly do they appre- 

» The ^iipa harhala of Desfontaines. This plant prows abundantly in the Sahara. 
The inhabitants of that unproductive reg'ion wander far and wide to gather the seeds 
of this grass, and often collect a large quantity. The seed is ground down and used 
for the same purposes as wheaton flour. 


ciate its mitritiA^e properties. Bouse is in fact, nothing 
else tlian the alfa, * which, at the moment of forming its 
ear, having been pulled by its upper part has come away 
and got separated from its sheath. Being gathered into 
small sheaves it is cut up in pieces and answers the 
purpose of chopped straw. The alfa is turned to account 
in yet another manner. Its roots are laid bare with a 
mattock and being freed from their reddish coating, are 
eaten with avidity by the animal. This article of food 
takes the name of gtieddeine or zemouna, according to 
the locality. It is nutritious, but not a substitute for 
barley. Hay is unknown in the desert. The Arabs 
might, if they chose, lay up an abundant supply of it for 
the winter, but they reject it as having a tendency to 
make a horse heavy, to soften the fibre, and in the long 
run to occasion inflammatory disorders. The animals 
are watered only once a day as in autumn. It is a 
proverbial saying with the Arabs that " The food of the 
morning goes out into the draught, while that of the 
evening passes into the croup." They affirm, therefore, 
that if the horse has drunk sufficient over night, and 
eaten heartily through the night, there is not the 
slightest inconvenience in not giving him anything on 
the morrow, especially if he has to set out early in the 
morning. Thus in our camps, with fifteen to eighteen 
hundred Arab horsemen making- part of the expedition, 
what did we witness? Every officer of the old African 
army can vouch for the truth of what I am about to say : 

* This plant is very common throug-hout Alg'eria, and is much used for feeding- 
horses. In our expeditions our chargers have often had nothing- else to eat. It is the 
Lyyevm S2)art>iiii. The culms of this g-rass do not rise ahove ten or twelve centimetres 
in height. It is the St/pa tCiiariRninia used in the East for making basket work, etc.. 
and in some parts of Algeria the natives weave it into mats. 

DIET. 117 

Contrary to our habits, to the very last moment the 
most perfect tranquillity continued to reign in the Arab 
bivouac. Not a minute was taken from the rest of the 
animal. They gave him nothing either to eat or to drink. 
The instant before starting they rubbed him down with 
a nose-bag. The saddle replaced the covering worn 
through the night. The bridle was put on, the tents 
struck, the morning prayer offered up, and at the hour 
named they were on the march. More than once I have 
happened to testify my surprise at such a system, but 
always received the same reply : "Why wouldst thou 
do for thy horse what thou wouldst not do for thyself? 
If thou leavest the table at ten or eleven at night, canst 
thou sit down again to it on the morrow at the dawn of 
day?" With this regimen the animals remain thin and 
slender. They are always ready to march or gallop, or 
do whatever hard work may be required of them. They 
pick up in an astonishing manner when instead, of a few 
handfuls of barley and what they can graze off plains 
parched by a burning sun, they fall in with the produce 
of the Tell. How would it be, then, if they were placed 
on the diet of European horses? Instead of their flesh 
being firm they would get quite fat, and so gain in our 
estimation, but they would lose in that of the Arabs, who 
little appreciate that style of beauty generally acquired 
at the cost of the best qualities of a war-horse. 

However, if the Arab is too genuine a horseman not 
to attach the greatest importance to vigour, he is on the 
other hand too fond of pomp and distinction and the 
fantasia — to use a word already popular in Europe — 
not to bestow upon himself, when he can, the luxury of 
a horse for show and parade. It is therefore no rare 


tiling to see Arabs of hig'li position leave their favourite 
mares for three or four months fastened in front of their 
tents, without putting* them to any work. They thus 
get into good condition, and are employed only at 
festivals and marriage feasts and on occasions when the 
chiefs are particularly anxious to distinguish themselves. 
For the chace, for razzias, and for long and arduous 
journeys, they keep horses of less apparent value, but of 
which they are sure, and do not fear to fatigue them. 
The mares to which we have alluded are equipped with 
great ostentation. The stara, or cloths, and the bridles 
are embroidered with pure gold, the stirrups are plated 
or gilt, and the felt saddle-cloths are as fine as cloth; 
the most esteemed coming from Ouaregiaa. 


One of the Prophet's companions as he went out one 
morning found him wiping with his cloak the head of 
his horse. "Why, with thy cloak?" "What know'st 
thou? " replied the Prophet. " It may be that the Angel 
Gabriel has been angry with me on his account last 
night." "At least let me give him his food." "Ah!" 
cried the Prophet, "Thou would'st take for thyself all 
the rewards, for the Angel Gabriel has told me that 
every grain of barley eaten by the horse is accounted to 
me for a good work." 

The Saharene gives his horse camel's milk to drink 
which has the particular property of imparting speed, so 
that a man— according to what is said by reliable 

DIET. 119 

persons who guarantee the truth of the statement — if he 
takes nothing" else for a sufficient time, will attain to such 
a degree of swiftness that he may vie with the camels 
themselves. In fact, camel's milk strengthens the brain 
and the tendons, and does away with fat, which 
produces a relaxation of the muscles. 

In some parts of the Sahara the chiefs and horsemen 
of renown never give green food to their war-horses. 
Milk, barley, and the plants known by the names of 
sldelili, derine, louse, and seuliane form their sole keep. 
This diet does not enlarge the belly or fatten like green 
food, which distends the intestinal canal, partly because 
of the enormous quantity consumed by the animal before 
he is satisfied, and partly because of the water it 

In summer the horses are not watered until three 
o'clock in the afternoon. In winter they are watered 
rather earlier — from noon to one. It is the time of 
day when in the open air the water has lost much of 
its coldness. These principles are expressed in the 
following proverb, known to the meanest horseman of 
the desert : — 

In the hot season * put back the hour of the watering-place 

And put forward that of the nose-hag; 
In the cold season put forward the hour of the watering-place, 

And put hack that of the nose-hag. 

Among' the desert tribes, for forty days counting from 
the month of August, the horses are watered only every 
other day. The same method is pursued during the last 
twenty days of December and the first twenty days of 

♦ The Arabs understand by th j hot soason from April to September inclusive, and 
by the cold season from October to March inclusive. 


January. In cold weather the rich let their horses have 
as much barley as they can eat, but decrease the ration 
considerably in hot weather. Milk and louse may be 
substituted for barley. It is seldom that any thing to 
eat is given in the morning. The horse marches upon 
the food of the previous evening, and not on that of the 
same day. 

Looking at two horses, one from the Tell and the 
other from the Sahara, a man who has not studied the 
subject will always prefer the former, which he will find 
handsome, heavy, sleek, and fat, while he will despise 
the second, fool that he is, and abuse the very points 
which constitute his worth — that is, the fine, dry 
extremities, the tightened belly, and the bare ribs. And 
yet this horse of the desert that has never been accus- 
tomed to barley, green food, or straw, but only sMelih, 
louse, and seuliane, that has never had any thing but 
milk to drink and from his earliest years has served at 
the chace and in war, will have the swiftness of the 
gazelle and the patience _of the dog, while the other will 
never be any thing but an ox by his side. 
The greatest enemies of the horse are repose and fat. 


Grooming is unknown in the Sahara. The horses are 
merely wiped down wath woollen rags, and covered with 
very good djellale, or rugs that envelop both the croup 
and the chest. In truth, labour of this sort is little 
wanted, the horses being habitually placed in a healthy 
spot, on raised ground, and sheltered from draughts. 
Arabs who have observed us grooming our horses 
morning and evening with elaborate carefulness, pretend 
that this continual rubbing of the epidermis, especially 
with the curry-comb, injures their health, and renders 
them delicate and impressionable, and consequently 
incapable of supporting the fatigues of w^ar, or at all 
events more liable to disease. 

When the weather is hot and facilities exist for the 
purpose, the horses are washed morning and evening. 
Frequently in winter time they are fastened up inside 
the tents, which are very roomy, to shelter them from 
the sun and rain. The great thing is to keep them 
clean. One day a horse was led up to the Prophet who 
examined it, rose up, and without saying a word, wiped 
his face, eyes, and nostrils with the sleeves of his 


under-garnment. "What! with your own garnments ! " 
exclaimed the bystanders. "Certainly," replied he; 
"the Angel Gahriel has more than once rebuked me, 
and has commanded me to act thus." 

In winter the covering is kept on day and night; and 
in summer until three o'clock when it is taken off, but 
put on again at eight for the whole night, to preserve 
the animal from cold and dew, w^iich are all the more 
dangerous, say the Arabs, because the skin has been 
heated throughout the day by a burning sun. The 
following proverb expresses their dread of the cold of 
summer nights : — 

The cold of summer 

Is worse than a sabre cut. 

If the Arabs do not, like ourselves, attach much im- 
portance to grooming, they are, on the other hand, very 
careful and particular in their choice of the food, and 
above all of the water, they give to their horses. Many a 
time during the early days of the conquest, while on an 
expedition, after long marches in an intolerable heat, 
with a south wdnd blowing that choked us and drove 
the dust and sand into our faces, when horse and foot 
alike panting, exhausted, without power of motion, we 
dehvercd ourselves up, worn out as we were, to a 
fatiguing sleep often interrupted by the alerts caused by 
the enemy prowling around us — at such a time I have 
seen the natives go a league from the bivouac in order 
to water their horses at some pure spring known to 
themselves. They preferred to risk their own lives to 
experiencing the pain of watering their horses at the 
scanty rivulets in the encampment, quickly converted 


into filthy drains by the trampling of men and beasts of 

It can hardly be necessary for me to dilate any farther 
on the hygiene of the horse among the Arabs. Indeed, 
I could only repeat what I have already said. It seems 
to me preferable to refer the reader to the various 
details scattered through the preceding pages, and 
particularly to the principles enunciated in the chapter 
on the education of the colt. If I have made myself at 
all understood, I have shown how every owner of a horse 
among the Arabs is an active, vigilant, I had almost 
said devoted, master who watches and directs the pro- 
gress , corrects the defects , and perfects the qualities 
of his pupil from the very first day. This education 
embraces every thing, including what I may fairly call 
the moral faculties; and it augments, modifies, and im- 
proves the physical qualities. Every thing is weighed 
and foreseen. The drink, the diet, the exercise, the 
position in rest, the whole is graduated and proportioned 
to age, place, and season; it is all the object of inces- 
sant and sustained solicitude. Moreover, the grand 
principle, and I myself think it a good one, seems to be 
to avoid, on one hand, excessive fatness which is opposed 
to all energetic work, and, on the other, any check to 
perspiration which is the cause of the greater number of 
diseases. Once more, the question is not : is all this care 
well founded? are they wrong, or are we mistaken? But 
after having propounded the formula, that in the life of 
an Arab his most absorbing and almost exclusive occu- 
pation is the rearing and training of his horse, I have 
shown that the Arab is not guided by mere chance, that 
his is not a bhnd, inconsiderate passion, as is supposed 


by those who see him from afar and bestow only a glance 
on him. Any one who will study him perseveringly, 
who will examine him, as it were, under the microscope, 
and analyse his daily acts and doings, will be forced to 
the conclusion that he is guided by traditional and 
logical motives. In a word, this education, this careful 
bringing up, of the horse is based upon fixed and 
constant principles having for their aim to endow the 
animal with spirit, bottom, and health. And what is 
this but hygiene ? 

The Arabs, says Ben-el- Ouardy, have always preferred 
good horses to their own children, and they love so much 
to show them off on occasions of rejoicing that they 
would deprive themselves of all nourishment rather than 
see them suffer from hunger and thirst. In the arduous 
and critical circumstances of life, especially in years of 
famine, they go so far as to give them the preference 
over their own persons and families. This is proved 
both by faithful narratives, and by the chaunts composed 
by their poets. Witness the verses addressed by the 
learned Ben-Sassa to the great tribe of the Beni-Aamer.* 

Beni-Aamer, why do I behold your horses 

Blemished and changed by misery? 
Such a condition cannot be right for them. 
Though death has an hour that no man can put back, 

Horses are your safeguard : 
Give them the good things you yourselves like best ; 
With pure barley fill their nose-bags, 
And with iron furnish their hoofs. 
Love horses, and take care of them ; 
In them alone lie honour and beauty. 
In taking care of them, you take care of yourselves, 
The Arab who has not a good horse can never aim at renown. 
For my part, on this earth, I know no other happiness. 

* A very important tribe situated to the North- West of Oran. 


And had I hundreds of gold soiiWumis.* 
I should enjoy them only by sharing them \\'ith him. 
I would also support my family with them, 
And \\iaen they came to fail me, 
I would humble my pride 
Even to beg alms proudly for my friend. 
All the treasures of Karoun,t without a horse, 
Would not make me happy. 

Does the north wind begin to blow, 
Do the heavens open upon the earth, 
Secure your horses from the cold rain. 
Keep them warm, they deserve these attentions. 
For sports, for war, 
Adorn them with your richest saddles, 
"With bridles embroidered with gold, with superb garments, 
And the Prophet will love you. 

Sympathise, too, with, the mares of your poor dependents, 
When in spite of all their efforts 
They have not sufficed for their wants ; 
Bestow upon them a generous hospitality, 
Share with them your ordinary food ; 
Associate them with your own families, 
Many sins will be forgiven you. 

The sabres are drawn, 

The warriors are in their ranks, 

The horse is about to become more precious than a wife. 

The fire of battle is kindled, 

I guide him into the midst of perils. 

He protects me with his head, and his croup, 

And makes my enemies to flee. 
May Allah preserve this well-maned horse, 
Wliose eyes flash fire! 
Love horses, take care of them, 
In them alone lie honour and beauty. 

In the Sahara, then, the horse is the noblest creature 
after man. The most honourable occupation is to rear 

* Gold coins, worth from ten to twelve francs e.ich. 

f An Indian prince who flourished hefore the birth of the Prophet, and whose 
riches were iiroverbial. 


him, the most delig-htful pastime is to mount him, the 
best of all actions is to tend him well. 

The Arabs assert that they can tell beforehand, by 
certain methods, what will be a colt's stature and 
character when he becomes a horse. These methods 
vary in different localities, but those most generally 
adopted are the following : — For the height, they 
take a cord, and passing it behind the ears and the nape 
of the neck, they bring the two ends together on the 
upper lip just below the nostrils. Having established 
this measure, they apply it to the distance from the foot 
to the withers. It is an article of belief that the colt 
will grow as high as this last measurement out-tops the 

When it is desired to ascertain the value of a horse by 
his proportions, they measure with the hand from the 
extremity of the dock to the middle of the withers, and 
take note of the number of palms. They then begin 
again from the middle of the withers to the extremity of 
the upper lip, passing* between the ears. If in the two 
cases the number of palms is equal, the horse will be 
good, but of ordinary speed. If the number of palms 
behind is greater than in front, the horse will have no 
" go " in him. But if the number of palms between the 
withers and the extremity of the upper lip is more 
considerable than in measuring from the tail to the 
withers, rest assured the animal will have great qua- 
lities. The more the number differs to the advantage of 
the forepart, the greater will be the value of the horse. 
With such an animal, say the Arabs, they can '' strike 
afar" — go a long distance — thus expressing the pace 
and bottom promised by such proportions. With a httle 


practice they easily come to judge by the eye so as lo 
have no occasion to measure. While a horse is passing 
they compare rapidly, starting from the withers, the 
hindpart with the forepart, and without going into details 
the animal is judged. 


Passing before a horse the Prophet began to rub his 
face with his sleeve, saying- : "Allah has been wrathful 
with me because of horses." "Felicity is attached to the 
forelocks of horses." And it is on their account that their 
owners can reckon on the aid of Allah. Therefore it 
is your duty to wipe their forelocks with your hands. 
A wise man has said : — " The noble labours with his 
hands without a blush, in three cases; for his horse, for 
his father, and for his guest." 

One mode of judging of a horse is to measure him from 
the root of the mane close to the withers and descend 
to the end of the upper lip between the nostrils. They 
then measure from the root of the mane to the end of the 
tail-bone, and if the forepart is longer than the hindpart 
there is no doubt the horse will have excellent qualities. 
To ascertain if a young horse will grow any more or 
not, the Arabs measure first from the knee to the highest 
point situated in the prolongation of the limb above the 
withers, then from the knee downwards to the beginning 
of the hair above the coronet (to the crust of the hoof) : 
if these two measures are to one another as two-thirds to 
one-third, the horse will grow no more. If this propor- 


tion does not exist, the animal has not done growing, for 
it is absolutely necessary that the height from the knee 
to the withers should represent in a full grown horse 
exactly douhle the length of the leg from the knee to the 

In the desert the curry-comh is never used, the horses 
are cleaned with the nose-hag, jwhich is made of horse 
hair, and are frequently washed if the weather is favour- 
able. Milk is their ordinary drink. Should it happen to 
run short, the Arabs do not hesitate to go a considerable 
distance to find clear and pure water for them. The 
barley ought to be heavy, very clean, without any bad 
smell, and completely clear of the impurities which are 
unavoidably mixed with it in the '' silos." The horses 
are covered with good djellale, which fully protect the 
loins, the belly, and the chest. They are manufactured 
in the tribe. Those that are made with care are water 

There are some coats which must be preserved with 
equal attention from cold and from heat. Experience 
has demonstrated that this is necessary for all horses of 
a light colour, beginning with the white, the fineness of 
whose skin makes him very susceptible. 

In the sun he melts like butter : 
In the rain he melts like salt. 

Coats of a dark colour do not need so many precau- 
tions. When it is very hot or very cold, the horses are 
brought inside the tent. In the Sahara the nights are 
always cool ; in summer, as in winter, the animals must 
be covered. Nothing is overlooked that may avert 
checked perspiration. After a long journey the saddle 


is not removed until the horse is dry. Nor do they give 
him any thing to eat until he has recovered the regula- 
rity of his breathing, and for the most part they give 
him water to drink with the bridle on. Lastly, the 
encamping grounds are studiously selected. What is 
preferred is a dry ground, cleared of the stones that 
might encumber it, on which the horse is placed so that 
the forequarters shall be a little higher than the hind 
quarters, and facing as much as possible the master of 
the tent, who watches him night and day like one of his 
own children. To place a horse with his forequarters 
lower than the hind quarters is to ruin his shoulders. 
Particular care should always be taken of the (Ijellale. 
A horseman is little respected by the Arabs when it can 
be said of him : 

His horse drinks troubled water, 

And his coverino- is full of holes. 


The favourite coats are : — 

The White : '' Take the horse white as a silken flag", 
without spot, with the circle of his eyes black." 

The Black : "He must be black as a night without 
moon and stars." 

The Bay : He must be nearly black , or streaked with 
gold. "The dark red one said to the dispute, 'Stop there.' " 

The Chestnut : "Desire a dark shade. When he flees 
beneath the sun, it is the wind. The Prophet was 
partial to chestnuts." 

The Dark Dappled Gray, called " the grey of the wild 
pigeon," if resembhng the stone of the river. 

He -will fill the douar 
When it is empty, 
And will preserve us from the combat, 
On the day when the muzzles of the guns touch each other. 

The Grays are generally esteemed when the head is of 
a lighter colour than the body. 

The Green, or rather the yellow dun, which must be 
dark, with black tail and mane. 

White is the colour for princes, but does not stand 

COATS. 131 

heat. The black brings good fortune, but fears rocky 
ground. The chestnut is the most active. " If one tells 
you that he has seen a horse fly in the air, ask of what 
colour he was; and if he replies : 'Chestnut,' — believe 
him." "In a combat against a chestnut, you must have 
a chestnut." The bay is the hardiest and most sober. 
" If one tells you that a horse has leaped to the bottom of 
a precipice without hurting himself, ask of what colour 
he was; and if he replies : 'Bay,' — believe him." 

Ben Dyab, a renowned chief of the desert, who flou- 
rished in the year of the Hijra 955, happenning one day 
to be pursued by Saad-el-Zenaty, sheikh of the Oulad 
Yagoub, turned to his son and asked : "What horses are 
in the front of the enemy?" "White horses," replied his 
son. "It is well; let us make for the sunny side, and 
they will melt away like butter. " Some time afterwards 
Ben Dyab again turned to his son and said : "What hor- 
ses are in the front of the enemy?" "Black horses," 
cried his son. "It is well; let us make for stony ground, 
and we shall have nothing to fear — they are the negroes 
of the Soudan, who cannot walk with bare feet upon the 
flints." He changed his course, and the black horses 
were speedily distanced. A third time Ben Dyab asked : 
"And now, what horses are in the front of the enemy?" 
"Dark chestnuts and dark bays." "In that case," ex- 
claimed Ben Dyab, "strike out, my children, strike out, 
and give your horses the heel, for these might perchance 
overtake us had we not given barley to ours all the 
summer through. " 

The coats despised are : 

The Piebald : " Flee him like the pestilence, for he is 
own brother to the cow. " 


Tlie kouskoussou arrives when he is gone, 
And he finds the dispute as soon as he arrives. 

The Isabel, with white mane and tail; no chief would 
condescend to mount such a horse. There are some 
tribes even that would not consent to allow him to re- 
main a single night with them. They call such a one 
sefeur el ilioudy, "the Jew's yellow." It is a colour that 
brings ill luck. 

The iron gray 
And the Jew's yellow, 
If his rider returns from the fight 
Cut off my hand. 

The Roan; this is called meghedeur-el-deum, "a pool of 
blood." The rider is sure to be OA^ertaken, but will never 

The horse is to be valued that has no white spots 
except a star on the forehead, or a simple white stripe 
down the face. The latter must descend to the lips, and 
then the owner will never be in want of milk. It is a 
fortunate mark. It is the image of the dawn. If the 
star is truncated or has jagged edges, it is universally 
disliked, and if the animal adds to that a white spot in 
front of the saddle no man in his senses would mount it, 
nor would any judge of horse-ilesh deign to possess it. 
Such a horse is as fatal as a subtile poison. If a horse 
has several white spots, three is the preferable number 
— one of the right feet should be exempt, but it matters 
not whether it be behind or before. It is a good sign 
to have stockings on both the off forefoot and the near 
hindfoot. It is called. 

The hand of the writer 

And the foot of the horseman. 

COATS. 133 

The master of such a horse cannot fail to be fortunate, 
for he mounts and dismounts over white. The Arabs, it 
must be remembered, generally mount on the off side 
and alight on the near side. Two hind stockings are a 
sign of good fortune ; 

The horse with the white hind feet, 
His master will never he ruined. 

It is the same with white forefeet — his master's face 
will never turn yellow. Never buy a horse with a white 
face and four stockings, for he carries his winding-sheet 
with him. The prejudices of the Arabs on the subject of 
wdiite spots are summed up in the following little story : 

"An Arab had a blood mare. There was a dispute 
beforehand as to what her foal would be. So when she 
w^as on the point of foaling he invited all his friends to be 
present. The head first of all came in sight — it bore 
a star. The Arab rejoiced. His horse would one day, 
outstrip the dawn, for he had the mark on his forehead. 
Next appeared the near forefoot, when the owner in 
ecstasy demanded one hundred doiiros for the foal. The 
off forefoot then showed itself with a stocking, and the 
price was reduced to fifty douros. After that came the 
near hindfoot. It also had a stocking, and the Arab 
overjoyed, swore that he would not part with his foal 
for the whole world. But lo! the fourth foot presents 
itself likewise with a stocking, when the dweller in the 
Sahara cast the animal out,' in his fury, on the refuse- 
heap, unable to bring himsel to keep such a brute. " 

A horse has forty white Tvffs, of which twenty eight 
are generally considered as being of neither good nor bad 
omen, while to the remaining twelve a certain influence 


is attributed. It is agreed on all hands to regard six of 
these as augmenting riches and bringing good fortune, 
and the other six as causing ruin and adversity. 

The tufts of good omen are : 

'The tuft that is between the two ears, neklilet el addar, 
"the tuft of the head stall" : such a horse is swift in the 

The tuft that grows on the lateral surface of the neck, 
sebda enneby, "the finger of the Prophet" : the owner will 
die like a good Mussulman in his bed. 

The tuft of the Sultan, neklilet essoultan. It runs 
along the whole length of the neck, following the 
tracheal artery : love, riches, and prosperity. The horse 
that bear this offers up three prayers every day : 

"Allah grant that my master may look upon me as the 
most precious possession he has in the world! " 

" May Allah give unto him a happy lot, so that mine 
may benefit by it ! " 

" May Allah grant unto him the happiness of dying a 
martyr upon my back ! " 

The tuft on the chest, zeradya, fills the tent with 

The tuft where the saddle-girths pass, nelililet el 
Jiazame multiplies the flocks. 

The tuft on the flank, oieMlet esJiedour, "the tuft of the 
spurs." If it is turned towards the back, it preserves the 
rider from misadventure in war : if it is turned towards 
the belly, it is a sign of riches for its master. 

The following white tufts bring misfortune : 

Netaliyat, a tuft over the eyebrows : the master will 
die, shot through the head. 

Neklilet el ndasli, the coffin tuft, grows close to the 

COATS. 135 

withers and goes down towards the shoulder. The rider 
will not fail to perish on the back of such a horse. 

Nedddbyat, the mourners; a tuft on the cheek; debts, 
tears, ruin. 

Neklilet el hhrimia, the thieves' tuft. It is close to the 
fetlock joint, and night and morning it prays : "0 Allah! 
grant that I may be stolen, or that my master may die! " 

The tuft by the side of the tail announces trouble, 
misery, and famine. 

The tuft on the inner part of the thigh : women, 
children, flocks, all will disappear. 

Such is the classification generally adopted. It is not, 
however, absolute, for it varies according to localities, 
each tribe increasing or diminishing the number of its 
lucky and unlucky tufts. It will be seen that I have 
alluded only to the principal coats w^ithout entering upon 
the gradation of shades, which would have carried me 
too far astray. Making every allowance for prejudice 
and superstition, it is clear that the Arabs are fond of 
dark and decided colours, while they look upon light 
and faded colours, as well as white spots upon the head, 
carcase, and limbs, if broad or long, as signs of weak- 
ness and degeneracy of race. Every Arab has his own 
favourite coat. Some like black horses and others gray, 
while others ag-ain affect bays or chestnuts. Their 
preferences and antipathies are usually based on family 
associations. With such a coat their ancestors achieved 
a brilliant success — with such another they encountered 
a grievous calamity. They will thus often refuse a good 
horse, without giving any other reason than "It is not 
my colour." 



The horse the most esteemed is a black one with a 
star on his forehead and white spots on his feet. Then 
comes the blood-bay, and after that the dark chestnut. 
Horses of other coats are placed on the same line with 
the exception of the piebald, with which the Arabs will 
have nothing to do. 

The Prophet has said : " If thou wouldst go to the 
war, purchase a horse with a star on the forehead and 
stockings on all his legs with the exception of the right 
forefoot. " 

A horse with white feet, his off foreleg being alone 
of the colour of his coat, resembles a man who carries 
himself gracefully in walking, with the sleeve of his 
cloak floating in the air. 

The Prophet has said : " If I were to gather together 
in one spot all the horses of the Arabs, and make them 
race against one another, it is the chestnut that would 
outstrip the rest. " 

According to the traditions of our Lord Mohammed the 
black horse is superior in the beauty of its mould and 
in its moral qualities, but the chestnut in fleetness. The 
Arabs have a saying : " If thou hast a chestnut, bring him 
along. If thou hast only a sorry chestnut, still bring 

In a spacious arena constructed for races, cast thy eyes 
over the assemblage of noble coursers. 

Thou wilt see the one who, arriving the first at the 
goal, has removed his master's anxieties. 

Then the second who followed close at hand; — they 

COATS. 137 

both reached the goal without slackening their speed. 

Every horse of noble race fascinates the eyes and rivets 
the gaze of the enthusiastic spectator. 

One of a rose colour, whose coat resembles the red 
tints which the setting sun leaves on the horizon. 

Another of a white colour, like to a shooting star 
hurled against the evil genii. 

A third, a blood-bay, of incomparable beauty and tall 
stature, in whom may be recognised traces of his paternal 
and maternal uncles, famous in the annals of racing. 

There may also be seen a bright bay with a skin like 

And then a chestnut that pleases the eye with its shin- 
ing mane. 

Or another, black as night, adorned only with a white 
star on the forehead, that shines like the first light of 
dawn. Oh! blessed is the horse with white stars and 
stockings ! 

The Prophet abhorred a horse that has white marks on 
all its legs. The horse with a white mark that does not 
come down to the tip of the upper hp, accompanied by a 
stocking on the off forefoot, bears upon him the signs of 
the most evil omen. Thus, whosoever sees him prays 
to Allah to avert from himself the calamity announced 
by this animal. He is like the "hour poison." * 

The fleetest of horses is the chestnut ; the most endur- 
ing, the bay; the most spirited, the black; the most 
blessed, one with a white forehead. 

The Arabs distinguish forty knots or tufts in a horse. 
Of these, twenty eight arc without any significance in 
their eyes, and are of neither good nor bad omen. To 

* Poison that is fatal within the hour. 


twelve of tliem alone do they ascribe an influence allowed 
by tradition and confirmed, as they think, by personal 

''Horses are eagles mounted by riders tall as a lance; 
they arrive, cleaving the air like a falcon swooping on 
its quarry. " 


In the Sahara horses that are celebrated for their 
blood and speed sell easily and at a good price. There 
are blemishes that totally exclude a horse from serving 
in war. Such as el maateuli, a narrow and hollow chest 
accompanying lean and perpendicular shoulders. It is 
difficult to form an idea of the importance attached by 
the Arabs to the development of the muscles of the 

Another blemish is fatness and want of prominence in 
the withers. You can never fix the saddle properly on 
such a horse, nor handle him boldly in galloping down 
hill. Again, the jardens "father of bleaching" (of the 
beard) : curbs, when too far gone; ring-bone; spavin, 
especially when it is near the saphena; the processes 
known as louzze, or ''almonds," on the ribs, diXX-^feliroune, 
or "tortoise," on the forequarters ; splints, if near the 
back sinew; the pastern prolonged and bent; the pastern 
short and upright ; windgalls along the tendons ; and a 
long and concave back, are all serious objections. An 
animal is also rejected if he cannot see at night, or when 
there is snow. It is discovered by the manner he raises 


his feet when it begins to grow dark. The defect may 
be ascertained by placing a black surface before him in the 
day time — if he steps upon it without hesitation, there 
is no doubt on the subject. As the Arab passes much of 
his life-time in making nocturnal marches to surprise his 
enemy, or to escape from him, what could he do with 
such an animal? 

Let us pass on now to the faults or blemishes which, 
through generally dreaded, do not prevent a horse from 
changing masters. These are narrow nostrils — they 
will leave you in trouble ; long, soft, and pendant ears ; 
and a short, stiff neck. A horse is little worth that does 
not lie down, nor one that switches his tail about while 
in quick motion; also horses that scratch their neck 
with their feet, that rest on the toe of their foot, that 
over-reach themselves in trotting or galloping, or that 
cut themselves by knocking their feet together. To dis- 
cover if a horse cuts himself, pass the two wrists, joined 
together, between his two fore -arms and place them 
below his breast. If they are touched by the inner part 
of the fore-arms, be sure that the animal has too narrow 
a chest and cannot help cutting himself. 

Distrust a horse that wets his nose-bag in eating his 
barley, and that seems to sip the water with the tips of 
his lips. An ambler is not fit for a chief : it is the horse 
of such as " clash the spurs," (carry messages). Beware 
of a horse that rears, refuses the spurs, bites, is difficult 
to mount, and breaks away from his rider when the latter 
dismounts : these are all grave faults in war time. Leave 
to the pack-saddle a horse that is deaf. You will know 
him by his hanging ears, void of expression, and thrown 
backwards, and also by his not answering to any sound 


of the voice. By sight, by smell, by hearing, a horse 
will warn his master of coming danger, if he do not save 
him from it. He saith : 

Preserve me from what is in front, 

I -will preserve thee from what is hehind. 

"The lion and the horse disputed one day as to whose 
eye-sight was the best. The lion saw, during a dark 
night, a white hair in milk, but the horse saw a black 
hair in pitch. The bystanders pronounced in favour of 
the latter." 

The highest virtue in a horse is endurance, to which, 
in order to constitute a perfect animal, must be joined 
strength. A horse is considered strong' if he clears 
fifteen to sixteen foot-lengths in his first bound. If he 
covers a greater space he is deemed to be of superior 
strength, but if he clears no more than eight to ten feet 
he is set down as a heavy animal. A very fiery horse 
never exhibits patience of fatigue; nor one whose legs 
are lanky, neck too long, and buttocks too heavy to be 
in harmony with other parts of his body; nor one who 
lacks vigour in his heels. Such a horse, after a long 
course, will be exhausted in his legs, so that when he is 
pulled up by his rider he will still take several steps 
contrary to the latter 's washes. A horse that has neither 
patience nor mettle is easily recognised. The form of 
his body is irregular, his chest narrow, and his breathing 
short. Strength and wind are the two highest qualities 
of a horse. The absence of either is likely to affect his 
endurance and lower his spirit. 

"Look in a horse for speed and bottom. One that has 
speed alone, and no bottom, must have a blemish in his 


descent; and one that has "bottom alone and no spcfed, 
must have some defect, open or concealed. 

"Reject a horse high in the middle, with a narrow . 
chest, flat ribs, and lanky limhs and that is for ever 
fidgetting about and holding up his head. If you give 
him his head, he says : ' Hold me in ! ' and if you hold 
him in, he says : ' Let me go 1 ' 

"But if in the course of your life you alight upon a 
horse of noble origin, with large, lively eyes, wide apart, 
and black, broad nostrils, close together; whose neck, 
shoulders, haunches, and buttocks are long, while his 
forehead, loins, flank, and limbs are broad; with the 
back, the shin-bone, the pasterns, and the dock short; 
the whole accompanied by a soft skin, fine, flexible hair, 
powerful respiratory organs, and good feet with heels 
well off the ground — hasten to secure him if you can 
induce the owner to sell him, and return thanks to Allah, 
morning and night, for having sent thee a blessing." 

Never burden yourself with an animal that is broken- 
kneed, diseased, or wounded, though they assure you 
that it is only a temporary accident. Recall to mind the 
saying of your ancestors ; 

Ruined, and son of a ruined one, 
Is he who buys to cure. 

It is no uncommon thing for an Arab to buy a horse 
in partnership with another. The usual conditions of 
such a compact arc after this fashion. An Arab sells 
a mare to another for 100 clouros, but receives only 
50 douros in payment, the balance representing his 
share in the animal. The purchaser rides the mare 
about, and makes use of her for war, the chace, and for 


his private journeys. If he make a razzia, three-fourths 
of the plunder belong- to himself, and one-fourth to his 
partner. Should the mare he killed in war, in an expe- 
dition mutually agreed upon, the loss falls upon them 
equally. But should death overtake her at a fantasia, a 
wedding, or any other festival, the purchaser is alone 
answerable — he has to make good 50 douros to the 
vendor. If the animal, however, is killed in front of the 
tent, suddenly, or under the horseman, while the latter 
is defending his wife, his children, and his flocks, — the 
circumstances were beyond his control, and he is not 
called upon for any reimbursement. 

Should the mare produce a colt, it is reared until it is 
a year old, when it is sold, and the proceeds equally 
divided between the partners. On the other hand, if the 
mare has produced a filly, the latter is valued when a 
year old, and the vendor has the privilege of choosing 
the filly or the dam, paying or receiving the difference 
of value. This sort of compact is never made with 
respect to horses. 

An Arab who wishes to sell a horse will never consent 
to be the first to name a price. Some one comes up and 
says : "Sell; thou wilt gain." The vendor replies : 
"Buy; thou wilt gain." 

"Speak thou first." 

"No, speak thou." 

"Was he purchased, or reared?" 

"Reared in my tent, like one of my own children." 

"What hast thou been offered for him? " 

"I have been offered 100 douros." 

" Sell him to me at that price — thou wilt gain. Tell 
me, then, what thou askest." 


"See what is written with Allah." 

- Come, let us drive away the previous bidder, and do 
thou take 10 douros over and ahove his offer." 

" I accept. Take thy horse, and Allah grant thou 
mayst he successful upon his back as many times as he 
has hairs upon it." And should he be desirous to avoid 
all risk of future annoyance on the subject of warranty, 
he adds in the presence of witnesses : '' The separation 
between us is from this very moment. Thou dost not 
know me, and I have never seen thee." 

It is not permitted to mount a horse 'for a trial until 
after the price has been agreed upon. Nevertheless, 
before the bargain is completely concluded the animal 
is tested against a horse that has a certain local reputa- 
tion. The mode of trial is somewhat singular. The 
riders are barefooted, and are not allowed to touch their 
horse with the heel during any part of the race. 

Horses whose reputation is well established in the 
country are never sold in the market-place. It is a 
positive insult to an Arab to ask him, "wilt thou sell thy 
horse?" before he has made known his intentions. "They 
must think me then in a miserable condition," he will say, 
"that they should dare to make such a proposal to me." 

Certain tribes are particularly addicted to traffic in 
horse-flesh. The most noted of these Arab horse-dealers 
are the Beni-Addas. It is said of them : 

With others, horses are mere carrion, 
With them, they are youthful hrides : 
"With others, they are asleep, 
With them, they dance. 

For the rest, the Arab is no horse-dealer after the 
European fashion. He never makes use of ginger, nor 


does he resort to any trickery to disguise the bad points 
of his horse. He simply places him before the purchaser. 
But for the fraud he disdains he substitutes a flow of 
seductive eloquence. His inexhaustible oratory pours 
itself forth in metaphors and hyperboles. Pointing to 
the animal, he will say : " Uncover his back and satisfy 
thy gaze." 

He will then go on : 

"Say not it is my horse; say it is my son. He out- 
strips the flash in the pan, or a glance of the eye. He 
is pure as gold. His eyesight is so good that he can 
distinguish a hair in the night time. In the day of 
battle he delights in the whistling of the balls. He 
overtakes the gazelle. He says to the eagle: 'Come 
down, or I will ascend to thee ! ' When he hears the 
voices of the maidens, he neighs for joy. When he 
gallops he plucks out the tear from the eye. When he 
appears before the maidens he begs with his hand. It is 
a steed for the dark days when the smoke of powder 
obscures the sun. It is a thoroughbred, the very head 
of horses! No one has ever possessed his equal. I 
depend on him as on my own heart. He has no brother 
in the world : it is a swallow. He listens to his flanks, 
and is ever watching the heels of his rider. He under- 
stands as well as any son of Adam : speech alone is 
wanting to him. His pace is so easy that on his back, 
you might carry a cup of coffee without upsetting it. A 
nosebag satisfies him, a sack covers him. He is so light 
that he could dance on the bosom of thy mistress with- 
out bruising it." 

The owner of the truly beautiful offers him for sale; 
The owner of the swift one makes protestations. 



Ben Youssouf, having one day given in exchange for 
a mare of the desert twenty she-camels with their young 
replied to his father who had keenly rehuked him : ''And 
why are you angry, my lord? Has not this mare 
brought me the agihty and the softness of skin of the 
jerboa, the movement of the neck of the hare, the 
fleetness and the vision of the ostrich, the hoUow belly 
and the limbs of the greyhound, and the courage and 
breadth of head of the buU? She cannot fail to turn 
yellow the face of our enemies. When I pursue them, 
she will plunder without ceasing the croups of their 
horses; and if they pursue after me, the eye will not 
know where I have passed ! " 

It wdll be seen, as I had previously indicated in 
tracing the outline of a thoroughbred horse as sketched 
by the Arabs, that they esteem it of consequence that in 
his form he should borrow certain details from other 
animals. He should unite in himself the qualities that 
are separately remarked in the gazelle, the greyhound, 
the bull, the ostrich, the camel, the hare, and the fox. 
It is agreed that he should have the long, clean limbs of 
the gazelle, the fineness and strength of its haunches, 
the convexity of its ribs, the shortening of its fore-legs, 
the blackness of its eyes, and the straitness of its armpits. 
He should also recall to mind the length of the lips and 
tongue of the dog, the abundance of its saliva, and the 
length of the lower part of its fore-paws. They go so 
far as to regard this resemblance of the horse to the 
greyhound as a means of guiding inexperienced pur- 
chasers : at least, such appears to be the moral of an 
anecdote widely circulated among them. 

"Meslem-ben-Abou-Omar, having learned that one of 


his relatives was travelling' near the banks of the 
Euphrates, desired to avail himself of this opportunity 
to obtain one of the famous horses of that country. His 
relative knew nothing about horses, but was very fond 
of the chace, and had some very fine dogs. Despatching 
a servant with proper instructions, Meslem informed his 
relative that the form of the horse he wished for corres- 
ponded to that of the best of his greyhounds. An 
animal was thus procured, the like of which the Arabs 
have never since met with." 

Merou-ben-el-Keyss replied one day to some friends 
who accused him of knowing nothing about either horses 
or women : 

Yes, I have ridden horses 
Sober, strong, and swift in the course, 
"Whose thighs were solid, 
Their sinews ^an and their rump rounded. 
Forming as it were a channel towards the tail : 
Their hoofs were hard : they could go without shoes. 
By Allah! I used to fancy myself on an ostrich. 

To find the tall grass 
Vhich grows in solitudes dangerous to traverse. 
In solitudes defended by the points of lances, 

And by the descent of torrents, 

I have many a time galloped. 
When the birds were yet asleep in their nests. 

To hunt the white-skinned zebra. 
Whose legs are striped like Indian stuffs, 
Or to overtake the antelope that lives in wild regions. 
I have ridden horses with flesh hardened by exercise, 
It was Allah who created them for the happiness of Believers. 

^lany a time, too, have I rested my heart 
On that of a maid with budding bosoms, 
And legs adorned witli anklets of gold ! 
In our incursions of horsemen, 
When eye must meet eye. 


Many a time have I said : 

Fonvard! forward! my beloved courser! 

Follow up the enemy routed and fleeing ! 

The value of a horse is in his stock. 


To a King who asked a poet for his horse named 
Sahcib, the latter replied : ''Sahab is not for sale, nor is 
he to be exchanged. I would ransom him at the price of 
my life. My family should die of hunger rather than 
that he should suffer." 

An Arab once said : ''My countrymen blame me for 
being in debt, and yet I contracted it for a horse of noble 
race and well rounded forms, who confers honour upon 
them and serves as a talisman to vnj gomn, and to whom 
I have given a slave as his attendant." 

An Arab one day sent his son to buy a horse in the 
market place, and he, before setting out, asked his 
father what qualities the animal should have. The 
father made answer : "His ears should be ever in motion 
turning sometimes forward, sometimes behind, as if he 
were listening to something. His eyes ought to be 
keen and restless, as if his mind were occupied with 
something. His limbs must be well set on and well 
proportioned." ''Such a horse," the son rejoined, "will 
never be sold by his master." 

Many of the Arabs of Upper Asia have genealogical 
trees, in which they state and confirm by evidence that 
would be accepted in a court of justice, the birth and 
parentage of the colt, so that when a proprietor wishes to 


sell a horse he has only to produce his genealogical tree 
to satisfy the purchaser that he is not deceiving him. 

I have seen among the Annaza, a tribe extending 
from Bagdad to the confines of Sj^ia, horses so abso- 
lutely priceless that it Avas impossible to buy them, or at 
least to pay in cash for them. These horses are usually 
disposed of to great personages or wealthy merchants, 
who pay a fabulous price for them in thirty to fifty bills, 
falling due at intervals of tw^elve months, or else they 
bind themselves to pay an annual sum for ever to the 
vendor and his descendants. 

"I take them by surprise in the morning, while the 
bird is yet in its nest and the moisture from the dew is 
making its way to the river. 

" I surprise them with my sleek-coated courser that by 
its swiftness overtakes the wild beasts and never wearies 
of hunting the gazelle in all seasons and far from our 

"He has the flanks of the gazelle, the legs of the 
female ostrich", and the straight back of the wild ass 
standing as a sentinel on a hillock. 

"His croup, like to a heap of sand which moisture has 
rendered compact, harmonizes with withers rising above 
the back, like the pack-saddle of the camel kept in its 
place by the crupper. 

"The swellings behind his ears are rounded like 
spheres : the headstall and the headband seem as if they 
were fixed to the extremity of the trunk of a palm-tree, 
stripped of its leaves. 

"Fastened by the side of other horses, he bites and 
demeans himself in his jealousy as if he were possessed 
by a demon." /^ 


Contrary to the accepted opinion, the Arabs of the 
Sahara are in the custom of shoeing their horses, whether 
on the two forefeet, or on all four feet, according to the 
nature of the ground they occupy. Those who shoe 
them on all four feet are the inhabitants of the stony 
districts, and these constitute the majority. Among 
them are the Arhaa, Mekhadema, Aghrazelia, Saaid- 
Mekhalif, Oulad-Yagoub, Oulad-Nayl, Oulad-Sidi-Shikh, 
Hamyane, etc., etc. It is the universal practice to take 
the shoes off in the spring, when the animals are turned 
out to grass ; the Arabs asserting that care must be 
taken not to check the renewal of the blood which takes 
place at that season of the year. 

In every desert tribe there is a douar set apart by the 
name of doiiar-el-7nadllemin, "the master's douar." It is 
that of the farriers. A profession entirely and especially 
devoted to that indispensable complement of the Arab, 
his horse, might be expected to be made the object of 
particular esteem. Accordingly, numerous and invalu- 
able privileges arc accorded to them, but I am not 
certain if the concession of these privileges is to he 


regarded as an homage rendered to an art that refers 
exclusively to the horse, and not also, seeing that it is 
the only art that survives in the desert, as a remem- 
brance of the encouragements formerly given to the able 
and learned men of Arabia, Egypt, Africa, and Spain, 
by the Arabs of the olden times, the brilliant conquerors 
of the Goths and contemporaries of Haroun-al-Raschid. 

The Arabs of the Sahara say that their first farriers 
came to them from the towns on the sea-board, such as 
Fez, Tunis, Mascara, Tlemcen, and Constantino, since 
when their knowdedge and their calling have been 
perpetuated in their families from generation to genera- 
tion. A farrier must likewise be something of an 
armourer and iron-smith, to repair their bits, spurs, 
knives, guns, sabres, and pistols, besides making horse- 
shoes, sowing needles, sickles, small hatchets, and 

In return he enjoys the following immunities : He pays 
no contributions — on the contrary, when his tribe 
proceeds to the Tell to buy grain a collection is made 
for his benefit. This immunity, however, he shares 
with the maker of sandals. "The worker in iron and 
the maker of boots pay no imposts." Neither is he called 
upon to offer kouskoussou or shelter to any one : in 
other words, he is exempted from the duty of hospitality, 
which in certain cases is imposed upon all. The cons- 
tant toil demanded by his calling, the unavoidable 
accidents to which he is liable through the urgent wants 
of his brethren night and day, the sleepless nights he 
has to undergo, entitle him to certain dues, called 
addet-Gl-7nadllem, "the master's dues." On their return 
from the purchase of grain in the Tell every tent makes 


over to him 2ifeutra of wheat and barley, and d.feutra of 
butter. In the spring he receives in addition the fleece 
of a ewe. If a camel is killed for eating, he claims the 
part comprised between the withers and the tail, deduct- 
ing the hump, which, being covered with fat, is esteemed 
a delicacy. In razzias and expeditions, whether or not 
he has taken part in the enterprise, he is entitled to a 
share of the booty. Usually, it is a sheep, or a camel, 
according to the value of the prize. This due is known 
as the horseman's ewe. The most important privilege, 
however, accorded to farriers, the indisputable token of 
the protection they formerly enjoyed and of the esteem 
in which they are still held, is the gift of life on the field 
of battle. If a farrier is on horseback, with arms in his 
hands, he is liable to be killed like any other horseman 
of the goum\ but if he alights and kneels down and 
imitates with the two corners of his burnous — raising 
and depressing them by turns — the movement of his 
bellows, his life will be spared. Many a horseman has 
saved his life by means of this stratagem. A farrier can 
only enjoy the benefit of this privilege by leading an 
inoffensive life, absorbed in the duties of his business; 
but if he distinguishes himself by his warlike prowess, 
he forfeits the privileges of his calling, and is treated as 
an ordinary horseman. These advantages, on the other 
hand, are compensated by a serious drawback. Should 
he happen to grow rich, a quarrel is fastened upon him 
and in one way or another a portion of his wealth is taken 
from him to prevent him from quitting the district. 

A farrier whose tribe has been plundered seeks out the 
victors, and on the simple proof of his trade, recovers his 
tent, tools, utensils, and horse- shoes. His implements 

.SHOEING. 153 

consist of a pair of bellows, which are nothing more 
than a goat-skin bag with three openings, of which 
two are on the upper part in the same line, and the third 
at the opposite end. Through this last protrudes the 
barrel of a gun, or pistol, that conveys the blast to the 
fire. It is the wife's department to work the bellows. 
She kneels down before the charcoal which is placed in 
a hole, and takes in each hand one of the upper ori- 
fices, which she closes by clutching the skin around 
them. Then by alternately opening and closing her 
hands, she produces a movement that causes a current 
of air sufficient for the purpose, though not very power- 
ful. The Arabs of the Sahara give the preference over 
a more perfect one to these bellows with their feeble 
blast, but which are easily transported in their nomadic 
expeditions. To the bellows the farrier joins an anvil, 
a hammer, files, pincers, and a vice. These instruments 
they obtain chiefly from the seabord, though some of 
them they make for themselves. Formerly they used to 
procure the iron in the great markets of the central 
desert, at Tougourt, among the Beni-Mezabe, or at 
Timimoun, according to the greater or less distance of 
those points from their own neighbourhood; but now 
they begin to purchase them from us. The charcoal 
they prepare themselves with the arar, the rcmt, the 
senoiibeur, and the djedary, the last being the most 

The horse-shoes are kept ready made, and always 
command a sure sale, the Arabs being in the habit of 
laying in their supply for the whole year, consisting of 
four sets for the forefeet and four for the hindfeet. The 
nails are likewise made by the farriers. When a horse- 


man goes to a farrier, taking his shoes with him, the 
latter is paid by his privileges, and when the horse is 
shod, its master gets on its hack, merely saying : "Allah 
have mercy on thy fathers ! " He then goes his way and 
the farrier returns to his work. But if the horseman 
does not bring his shoes with him, he gives two loudjous 
to the farrier for the complete set, and his thanks are 
couched in the simplest formula of Arab courtesy. ''Allah 
give thee strength!" he says, as he takes his departure. 

In the Sahara, they put the shoes on cold. In the foot 
of the horse, say the Arabs, there are hollow interstices, 
such as the frog, the heel, etc., which it is always dan- 
gerous to heat, if only by the approach of the hot iron. 
This aversion for the hot iron, founded on the destructive 
action of heat on the delicate parts of the foot, is so 
strong among them that in bivouacs, when they see us 
shoeing our horses, they exclaim : "Look at those 
Christians pouring oil upon fire ! " In a word, they can- 
not understand why — especially in long marches, when 
the exercise draws the blood dow^n to the foot of the 
horse — any one should wish to increase this natural 
heat by the action of heated iron. 

The shoes are very light, of a soft, pliant metal. In 
the fore-shoes only three nails are driven in on each side. 
The toes are free, and never fastened. According to the 
Arabs, nails in the toe would interfere with the elasticity 
of the foot, and would cause the horse at the moment he 
sets his foot on the ground precisely the same sensation 
that a man experiences from w^earing a tight shoe. 
Many accidents thence ensue. 

The feet are neither pared nor shortened. The hoof is 
jillowed to grow freely, the very stony ground and in- 


cessant work sufficing' to wear it off naturally as it tries 
to get beyond the iron. The necessity of paring the feet 
is only felt when horses have been for a long time fast- 
ened in front of the tent without doing any work, or 
have remained long in the Tell. In such a case the 
Arabs simply make use of the sharp-pointed knives which 
they are never without. This method has this further 
advantage that if a horse casts a shoe, he can still pro- 
ceed on his journey, as the sole remains firm and hard. 
"With you," say they, " and with your practise of paring 
the foot, if the horse casts a shoe you must pull up, or 
see him bleeding, halting and suffering." 

The shoes are joined at the heel. As the horse can 
only suffer in the part that is quick, and not in the 
part that is hard, it is, of course, the frog that should 
be shielded from accident. The shoes should therefore 
follow the curvature of the frog. They give to the nail- 
heads the form of a grasshopper's head, the only form, 
as they allege, that allows the nails to be worn down to 
the last without breaking. They approve of our method 
of driving the nails into punched holes and clinching 
them outside, which prevents a horse from cutting him- 
self; but their scarcity of iron obliges them to content 
themselves, for their part, with hammering the nails 
down upon the hoof, so as to render them serviceable a 
second time by making a new head. If a horse over- 
reaches himself they cut away his heels and place light 
shoes on his forefeet, but heavier ones on his hindfeet. 
They are careful not to leave one foot shod and the other 
bare. If during an excursion a horse happens to cast 
one of his foreshoes, and his rider has not a fresh supply 
with him, he takes off both the hind. shoes and puts one 


of them on the forefoot ; and if the animal is shod only 
on his forefeet, the rider ^\'il take the shoe off the other 
foot, rather than leave him in such a condition. Should 
a horse, after a long journey such as the horsemen of 
the desert not unfrequently make, require to be shod, it 
is no uncommon thing to place a morsel of felt between 
the shoe and the foot. 

The necessity, caused partly by the nature of the 
ground and partly by the length of their excursions, of 
shoeing the horses of the Sahara, has shown the expe- 
diency of accustoming the colt to let himself be shod 
without resistance. They therefore give him kouskous- 
sou, cakes, dates, etc., while he allows them to lift his 
foot and knock upon it. They then caress his neck and 
cheeks, and speak to him in a low tone; and thus after 
a w^hile he lifts his feet whenever they are touched. The 
little difficulty experiencqd at a later period, thanks to 
this early training, has probably given rise to the Arab 
hyperbole : " So wonderful is the instinct of the tho- 
roughbred horse that if he casts a shoe he draws 
attention to it himself by showing his foot." This 
exaggeration at least proves how easy these horses are 
to be shod, and further explains how every horseman in 
the desert ought to have the knowledge and the means 
of shoeing his own horse, while on a journey. It is a 
point of the highest importance. It is not enough to be 
very skilful in horsemanship, or to train a horse in the 
most perfect manner, to acquire the reputation of a 
thorough horseman — in addition to all this, he must 
likewise be able to put on a shoe if necessary. Thus on 
setting out for a distant expedition every horseman 
carries with him in his djehira shoes, nails, a hammer, 


pincers, some strips of leather to repair his harness, and 
a needle. Should his horse cast a shoe, he alights, 
unfastens his camel-rope, passes one end round the 
kerdouss of the saddle and the other round the pastern, 
and ties the two ends together at such a length as will 
make the horse present his foot. The animal stirs not 
an inch, and his rider shoes him without assistance. If 
it be a hind shoe that has been thrown, he rests the foot 
upon his knee, and dispenses with aid from his neigh- 
bours. To avoid making a mistake he passes his awl 
into the nail holes in order to assure himself beforehand 
of the exact direction the nails should take. If, by 
chance, the horse is restive, he obtains for the hindfeet 
the help of a comrade who pinches the nose or ears of 
the animal. For the forefeet, he merely turns his hind- 
quarters towards a thick prickly shrub, or extemporises 
a torchenes with a nose-bag filled with earth. Such 
cases, however, are rare. 

The Saharenes declare that our shoes are much too 
heavy and in long and rapid excursions must be dread- 
fully fatiguing to the articulations, and cause much 
mischief to the fetlock -joint. "Look at our horses," 
say they, " how they throw up the earth and sand behind 
them ! how nimble they are ! how lightly they lift their 
feetl how they extend or contract their muscles! They 
would be as awivward and as clumsy as yours did we not 
give them shoes light enough not to burden their feet, 
and the materials of wiiich as they grow thinner com- 
mingle with the hoof and with it form one sole body." 
And when I have answered that we did not discover in 
our mode of shoeing the inconveniences pointed out by 
them, they would reply : " How should you do so? Cover 


as we do in a single day the distance yon take five or 
six days to accomplish, and then you will see. Grand 
marches you make, you Christians, with your horses! 
As far as from my nose to my ear! " 


I have stated that the Arab saddle furnishes the rider 
with such a firm seat that he does not trouble himself at 
all about certain vices in a horse that are apt to cause us 
uneasiness. I will therefore say a few words on the 
subject, though it is one now familiar to every body. 

The Arab saddle consists of a wooden saddle-tree, 
surmounted in front by a long herlouss or pommel, and 
by a broad troussequin behind, high enough to protect 
the loins. The whole is covered and held together, 
without nails or pegs, by a plain camel's skin which 
gives it great solidity. The bands rest on the animal's 
back, and are broad and flat, with a proper regard for 
the freedom of the withers and loins, and afford a roomy 
and commodious seat. This last is very hard, and it 
requires long practice to get used to it. The chiefs 
cover it with a woollen cushion ; but the common horse- 
men make it a point of honour to ride on the bare wood, 
pretending that the use of cushions is excessive effemi- 
nacy, and by diminishing their points of contact cannot 
fail to invite them to sleep during a long course, and 
consequently expose them to injure their horses. This 


is all the more meritorious that for the most part, and 
especially in summer they ride without trousers or 

The saddle-tree is concealed by a stara, or covering 
of red morocco, without ornament, in the case of 
individuals who are poor or not very well-to do ; and hy 
a ghrebaria, or covering* of cloth or scarlet velvet, 
embroidered with gold or silver thread, |and ornamented 
with fringes, in the case of rich people and chiefs. The 
d^ir, or breast-piece, is very broad and is placed like 
that of our French saddle. Its extremities are provided 
with two strong buckles of iron or chased silver, and are 
fastened to the saddle-tree by small girth-leathers, so 
placed as to keep the saddle in its true position. The 
Arabs will have nothing to do with a crupper. They 
say it interferes with every forward movement by the 
restraint it imposes on the animal. They use it only 
with bat mules and donkeys, and even then they do not 
pass it under the tail. 

The stirrups are broad and clumsy. Their lateral 
faces gradually diminish so as to unite with the upper 
bar which supports the ring for the stirrup-leathers. 
They are used very short, and the whole foot is thrust 
into them, and thus shielded from balls or falls. These 
stirrups are extremely painful for those who are not 
accustomed to them, because in raising oneself on them 
the eye strikes against the bone of the leg. After a time 
the skin hardens and an exostosis is formed that destroys 
all sensibility. It is by these exostoses that a horseman 
is distinguished from a foot- soldier, and so clearly, in- 
deed, that in the province of Oran a certain Bey, having 
resolved to inflict an exemplary chastisement on a tribe 


that had revolted, put to death all who fell into his hands, 
bearing these marks. He \\'ell knew that his anger was 
vented only on the horsemen. The stirrups of wealthy 
individuals are either plated or gilt, and in former times 
the great Turkish officers had them made of solid silver 
or gold. The stirrups are suspended by leathers placed 
behind the girth, which are simply twisted straps of 
morocco or camel's skin — when doubled seven or eight 
times, they are of great strength. The noble make their 
stirrup-leathers of silken cord; but as these, let them be 
ever so solid, will not suffice wdien going at a rapid pace 
with the whole weight thrown upon the stirrups, they 
add what are called maoune, or stirrup-holders. 

By way of horse-cloths the Arabs make use of pieces 
of felt fastened to the saddle, to allow of the operation of 
saddling being quickly performed. They are seven in 
number, and dyed blue, red, and yellow — the blue 
being uppermost. An eighth one is added, but white 
and unattached, so that it can be washed and dried in 
the sun if the horse has perspired much. When these 
pieces of felt are well shaped, the different colours lying 
one over the other and slightly projecting, form an 
ornament in very fair taste, while they preserves the 
horse from wounds and sores. Care is taken that they 
should partially cover the loins. 

The saddle-girth is placed in front of the stirrups, and 
is narrower than ours. The Arabs as a rule girth their 
horacs loosely; and they can do so without inconve- 
nience, as their saddles never slip round. 

The headstall of the bridle is very broad ; blinkers are 
used, and occasionally, but not often, a throat band, loose 
and fastened to the headband. The Arab of the Sahara, 



however, does not approve of it, "because if liis horse, as 
raay often happen, should be seized by the bridle in a 
fight, it deprives him of his usual resource of slipping the 
bridle over the head, and so escaping from the enemy, 
whose prize is thus reduced to the bridle alone. The 
blinkers have the advantage of preventing a horse from 
being disquieted by external objects, and are perhaps 
partly the cause of his not fearing anything. The head- 
stall and the headband of the bridle are embroidered in 
silk for the commonalty, and in silver or gold for the rich. 
The bit is attached to the bridle, and is never cleaned. 
The bars are broad, short, straig'ht, and fashioned a la 
Conde. The canons are flat, and the curb is a circular 
ring fixed to the upper part of the mouth piece. The 
Arab bit allows no liberty to the tongue, and its lever- 
arm is much shorter than in a French bit : consequently, 
it is much less severe than has been hitherto imagined. 
The advantage it offers in wartime of being free from 
those curbs and hooks which are often so difficult to 
replace, cannot be too highly appreciated. 

The reins are long. Two knots are made in them, 
one at the length whence a horse can be kept at a foot 
pace without impeding the freedom of his movements, 
and the other at the point where experience has shown 
that the horse, after shortening the muscles of the neck 
for a gallop, begins to bear on the hand. They are held 
very full, and at times used as a whip to quicken the 
animal. The Arabs reject the snaffle as calculated to 
confuse a horse. Rarely combatting with the sabre, 
they have never experienced the necessity of it. 

As with them the horse is constantly fastened by 
hobbles, the Arabs do not understand the value of the 


halter \Yhicli we employ. They replace it by a gonlada, 
a thick cord of silk or camel's hair, of a more or less 
lively colom* according to the coat of the animal. It is 
passed round the neck, and from it are suspended small 
morocco sachets, inclosing talismans that have the vir- 
tue of preserving from the evil eye, of averting sickness, 
and of bringing success in ^var. This goulada is, in the 
first place, an ornament, and, besides, it serves to hold 
the horse by, when required. To take him by the fore- 
lock to hold or lead him, as we do, is to dishonour him; 
for the Prophet has said : "The good things of this world 
to the day of the last judgment shall be suspended from 
the hairs that are between the eyes of your horses." 

The Arabs of the Sahara make use of a whip to correct 
a horse when they are breaking him in, or to excite him 
in war or at the chace. It is composed of five or six 
twisted leather thongs, attached to a ring fixed to a bar 
of iron six or seven inches long, terminating in another 
ring. To the latter is fastened the small leather thong 
that is slipped over the wrist. Round the iron rod, but 
shorter by an inch, is a hollow cylinder, also of iron, of 
a diameter that allows the rod to play easily within it. 
The whip is used with all their might. It punishes so 
severely that after a time it suffices to shake it in order 
to make the animal dash forward at full speed — the noise 
made by the cylinder coming in contact either with the 
rings or with the bar that connects them, recalling to 
his memory the nearly similar sound of the tekerleda. 

In the desert the Arabs carry from the licrlouss of the 
saddle a club a cubit in length, and terminating in a 
large knob garnished with spikes. It is hung from the 
wrist by a leather thong. Some replace this by a longer 


club terminating" in a hook, for the purpose of picking 
up booty from off the ground, without alighting from 
the saddle. The latter is called el adraya, or the 
despoiler. Neither the Arba nor the Harrars would ever 
mount on horseback without one of these clubs. 

The spurs have only one spike, and are clumsy, solid, 
and long. They are kept in their place by a simple 
leather strap crossed, and are attached very loosely. 

Every Arab carries as a complement of his equipment, 
suspended from the lerlouss of his saddle, a kind of 
sabretache called djebira or guerdb. It contains several 
compartments, for the purpose of carrying bread, biscuit, 
a mirror, soap, cartridges, shoes, a flint, writing mate- 
rials, etc., etc., according to the calling of the owner. 
Some djeUras are extraordinary rich. I am convinced 
that tiie sabretaches of our Hussars must have come to 
us from the East. The common people on an expedition 
carry also suspended from the troussequin of their saddle 
a kind of wallet, which they call semmdte. They are 
shorter than ours, so as not to irritate the animal's flanks. 

With the exception of the great chiefs, the Arabs have 
no holsters to their saddles. They carry their pistols in 
their girdles, or in a heart-shaped case that rests on the 
left side, and is held in its place by a leather strap over 
the shoulder and another round the body. They prefer 
this latter mode, because they are sure of having them 
on their person if they chance to be separated from their 

Those who do not put a throat-band to their bridle 
generally adorn their horses with boar's tusks or lion's 
teeth, or with talismans which they attach to their necks 
by means of silk or woollen cords. 


To our taste, the less covered a thoroughbred horse 

may be, the better are the beauty and elegance of his 

form displayed. The Arabs think differently. They 

say : 

Kohol* embellishes the bearer of babes, 

A tribe embellishes a defile, 

And the saddle embellishes horses. 

During my residence in Africa, I have seen so many 
horses that it was impossible to dispose of when girt 
with an English saddle, bought up with avidity when 
caparisoned with an Arab one, that I am much inclined 
to adopt the native prejudice. Many a time also I have 
observed that when an Arab, who had purchased a horse 
from an European, had covered its back with his own 
saddle, the vendor was seized with regret, being struck 
with a beauty he had never before noticed. It is true, 
the only extravagance indulged in by the Arabs is in 
their harness; for the Prophet, while proscribing the use 
of gold in their garnments, authorised and even enjoined 
it, in respect of arms and horses. He said: "Whoso 
fears not to spend money on the maintenance of horses 
for the holy war, shall be considered, after his death, as 
the equal of him who has always been open-handed." 
It is therefore no uncommon sight to see, even in these 
times of trouble and misery, an Arab chief treat himself 
to a saddle worth from £80 to £120, and on days of 
feasting or on solemn occasions, cover the croup of his 
horse with slielil, a silken stuff of brilliant hues. 

* Kfihnl, sulphide of antimony, used to stain the ej'ehds. When a married woman 
has stained her eyes with Kolwl, adorned herself with henna, and chewed a stick of 
snuak. which sweetens the breath, whitens the teeth, and reddens the lips, she 
becomes more pleasant in the eyes of Allah, and more beloved of her husband. 


When thou mountest a horse, first pronounce these^ 
words: Bi es-sem Allah, "in the name of Allah." The 
grave of the horseman is always open. 

The cavalier of Truth should eat little, and, above all, 
drink little. If he cannot endure thirst, he will never 
make a warrior — he is nothing hut a frog of the 

Purchase a good horse. If thou pursuest, thou attain- 
est : if thou art pursued, the eye presently knoweth not 
where thou hast passed. 

Prefer a horse from the mountain to a horse from the 
plain, and the latter to one from the marshland, which 
is only fit to carry the pack-saddle. 

For the combat mount a horse with a trailing tail 
[that is, one at least eight years old]. In the day when 
the horsemen shall be so crowded together that the 
stirrups knock against one another, he will save thee 
from the thick of the fight and bear thee back to thy 
tent, though he were pierced by a ball. 

When thou hast purchased a horse, study him care- 
fully, and give him barley more and more every day 


until tliou liast ascertained the quantity demanded by 
his appetite. A good horseman ought to know the 
measure of barley suited to his horse, as exactly as the 
measure of powder suited to his gun. 

Suffer neither dogs nor donkeys to lie down upon the 
straw or barley you intend to give to your horses. 

The Prophet has said: "Every grain of barley given 
to your horses shall secure you an indulgence in the 
other world." 

Give barley to your horses ; deprive yourself to giA^e 
them still more; for Sidi-Hamed-ben-Youssouf has re- 
marked ; " Had I not seen the mare produce the foal, I 
should have said it was the barley." He has also said : 
"Superior to spurs there is nothing but barley." 

Do not water your horses more than once a day, at 
one or two in the afternoon; and give barley only in the 
evening, at sunset. It is a good practice in wartime, 
and, besides, it is the way to make their flesh firm and 

To train a horse that is too fat for the fatigues of war, 
reduce him by exercise, but never by lowering his keep. 

vSo long as your horse, when at work, sweats over his 
whole body, you may say that he is not in good wind. 
But you may count upon him as soon as he sweats only 
on the ears and chest. 

Leave not thy horse near others that are eating barley, 
without he has some likewise, for otherwise he will 
fall ill. 

Never water your horse after having given him barley. 
It would be the death of the animal. 

Never give water to a horse after a rapid gallop, for 
here is danger of checked perspiration. 


After a rapid gallop, water him with the hridle on, and 
feed him with the saddle-girth on, and thou wilt not 
repent of it. 

Be clean, and perform your ablutions before mounting 
your horse, and the Prophet will love you. 

Whoso is guilty of an impropriety on the back of his 
horse is not worthy to own him. Moreover, he will 
suffer for it, for his horse will do himself a hurt. 

Never fall asleep upon thy horse. The sleep of the 
rider wounds or wearies the animal. 

When you put a horse to his speed, husband his 
strength for the time of need. He must be treated like 
a goat- skin water -bag, which if you open gradually, 
keeping the neck nearly closed, you will easily preserve 
the water. But if you open it hastily, the water will rush 
out all at once, and not a drop will remain to quench 
your thirst. 

A horseman should never urge his horse to full speed, 
while going up or down hill, unless he is forced to do 
so. He ought, on the contrary, to hold him in. 

''Which dost thou prefer? " the horse w^as asked one day, 
" The getting on, or the g^etting off thy back?" And he 
made answer : "Allah curse the point where they meet ! " 

When you have a long journey to accomplish, relieve 
your horse by changing his pace, to enable him to 
recover his wind. Repeat this until he has sweated and 
dried three times, then shift his girth, and afterwards do 
what you will with him. He will never fail you in a 

If, on a march, you have a strong wind right in your 
teeth, contrive if possible to save your horse from facing 
it — you will spare him various diseases. 


If at the bivouac your horse is so placed that he 
cannot move out of the wind that is blowing violently 
into his nostrils, do not hesitate to leave the nose-bag 
suspended from his nose — you will preserve him from 
serious mischief. 

If you have put your horse to the gallop and other 
mounted men are following behind, soothe him, do not 
urge him on, for he will be sufficiently excited of himself. 

If you are chasing an enemy and he commits the 
error of pushing his horse on, hold in your owm — you 
are sure to overtake the fugitive. 

Never strike a thoroughbred. It humiliates him, and 
his pride will revolt and urge him to resistance. It is 
quite sufficient to correct or animate him by w^ord or 

If, after having w^andered a long time in the mountains 
and by narrow path-ways, the horseman descends into 
the plain, it is good to give the animal a gallop over 
a short distance. 

At starting the rider should not scruple to play with 
his horse for a few minutes, as he will thereby relax his 
joints, and assure himself peace for the rest of the day. 
In like manner, after a painful and fatiguing excursion, 
at the moment he reaches his tent let him perform the 
fantasia for a while. The women of the doiiar will 
applaud, saying : "Look at so-and-so, son of so-and-so!" 
and he will find out, besides, wiiat his horse is really 

The rider wiio does not teach his horse a good pace is 
no true horseman, but an object of pity. 

If, in war time or in hunting", your horse is in a lather, 
and you happen to come across a stream, have no fear 


of allowing him to swallow half a dozen mouthfuls with 
the bridle on. So far from doing him any harm it will 
enable him to continue his course. 

When you dismount think of your horse before think- 
ing of yourself. It is he who has carried you, and is to 
carry you again. 

After a long journey, either unsaddle your horse 
immediately and throw cold water over his back, at the 
same time leading him up and down ; or else leave the 
saddle on until he is perfectly dry and has eaten his 
barley. There is no middle path between these two 

When after a long journey in winter, through rain 
and cold, you at length regain your tent, cover your 
horse well, and give him parched barley and warmed 
milk, but do not let him have any w^ater that day. 

Suffer not your horse to have anything to eat or drink 
directly after a journey of unusual length, or you will 
produce inflammation. 

Put not your horses to speed, unless positively 
compelled to do so, during the great heats of summer. 
The animal himself says : 

Put me not to speed in the summer, 
If thou would'st that I should one day save thee from the sabre. 

In a case of life or death if you feel your horse's 
wind failing, take off the bridle if only for an instant, 
and strike him on the croup wdth a spur sharply enough 
to draw blood. 

If after a rapid gallop you are able to give a little res- 
pite to your horse, you will know wdien to start again by 
the drying up of the mucus that issues from his nostrils. 


If you would know, at the end of a day of excessive 
fatigue and hard riding, how far you can yet depend 
upon your horse, get off his back and pull him strongly 
towards you hy the tail. If he remains unmoved as if 
rooted to the ground, you may still rely upon him. 

On an expedition when, after great fatigue, you have 
only a moment for repose, take for your pillow some of 
the bridles of your brethren, and you will not be aban- 
doned or forgotten, happen what may. 

A horseman ought to study the habits of his horse and 
obtain a thorough knowledge of his character. He will 
then know whether, when he alights, he can have any 
confidence in him and can leave him in the midst of 
other animals, or whether he must keep an eye upon 
him and hobble him. Not one of these details is a matter 
of indifference in the presence of an enemy. 

The proper season for calling on a horse to do great 
things, is the spring, before the great heats; or the 
autumn, before the intense cold. 

The horse is what his work is. 

Yes, give the heel to your steeds, 
Leai'ii and teach them what -will be of service to you. 
In tliis world it is certain that, one day or another, 
Every man has to face him who demands his life. 


The Arabs have preserved the practice of racing their 
horses against one another, in which they indulged so 
far back as in the times of idolatry, prior to Mohammed, 


The new law has in no w^ay altered this usage. On 
the contrary it has consecrated its lawfulness, and, by 
impressing it with the seal of religion, has attached 
additional importance to it. 

For racing, the Arahs subject their horses to a prepa- 
ratory regimen, which is called tachnir, or training. 
Thank to this treatment, a horse acquires a wonderful 
speed. The tadmir is in this wise. 

They begin by increasing the animal's allowance of 
food, so that he gains fat to a perceptible degree. When 
this result has been attained, they begin to reduce his 
condition by gradually diminishing his rations for forty 
days, until they have reached the minimum of nourish- 
ment. During these forty days, they subject him to 
progressive exercise. At the same time, and from the 
very first day from lowering his keep, they cover the 
animal with seven djellale, or horse-cloths, one of which 
they remove every six days. The sweating disperses all 
the fat, gets rid of a useless weight, gives tone to the 
muscles, and leaves nothing but hard flesh. By means 
of this treatment, a horse attains, according to the stock 
he comes from, the highest degree of speed. Thus 
prepared, the horse is brought on to the djalha or race 

Horses arriving from all districts are led on to the 
djciTba, and crowTls of people likewise flock thither. At 
no other time, except at the period of the assemblage of 
pilgrims, is such a concourse of men to be seen, and all 
the nobles and chiefs are present. 

"We have taken part in the races, and, although it 
was yet early, the crowd w^as as great as at the period 
of pilgrimages." 


Horses properly trained are never suffered to run 
against those that are not. They are placed in different 
classes, to each of which a different goal is assigned. 
The trained horses have much the longest course to run. 
The race-course in this case in called el midmar, and 
upon this the learned Bokhari has remarked : 

"The Prophet caused the trained horses to run by 
themselves, and fixed a distance of seven miles to 
traverse, while for ordinary horses he fixed a distance of 
only three miles."* 

The horses are grouped together by tens, but before 
allowing them to start and to prevent false starts, the 
following precaution is taken. A rope is stretched 
across touching the animals' chests, the two ends of 
which are held by two men. This rope is called el 
milihad, and el mihouas; and in reference to it the 
Prophet said : " The horse runs according to his race, 
but placed before the mikouas he runs according to his 
chance of a rider." Or, in other words: "In ordinary 
cirumstances the speed of horses depends on the qualities 
of blood with which they are more or less endowed ; but 
in a race success depends greatly on the skill of the rider, 
and not unfrequently a horse of the purest blood may be 
outstripped by a less noble animal." To each of the ten 
horses that have contended, a name is assigned indicative 
of his degree of swiftness. Thus the one that arrives 
first at the goal is called Mocljalla, "taking away," 
because he takes away care from the heart of his master. 
The second is named el MousalU, from the word saloncm, 
" the extremity of the buttocks," because he follows the 
first so closely that the point of his nose touches the 

* This mile is only a kilometre. 


other's hindquarters. " I must positively he the mo^isalU, 
[that is, the second] if I consent to thy carrying off the 
first prize." The third receives the surname of el Msali, 
'' Consoling," because he consoles his master, who is 
content that there is only one horse between his own 
and the winner. The fourth is el Tali, or " the Follower ; " 
the fifth el Mourtali, " the fifth finger of the hand ; " the 
sixth el Adtif; the seventh el Hadi, ''the Lucky one," 
because he has his share of success with the foremost ; 
the eighth, el Mouhmmnil, "one who gives hopes," 
because he caused his master to hope that he might be 
among the winners; the ninth, el Latliim, or "the Buf- 
feted," because he has been humiliated and rejected on 
all sides; and the tenth, el SoTielt, "the Taciturn," 
because his master undergoes the lowest humiliation 
without uttering a word — shame closing his mouth. Of 
these ten horses seven gain a prize, but the others 
obtain nothing. At the further end of the course a vast 
tent is pitched, into which the seven winners are admit- 
ted in order to shelter them, while the three others are 
ignominiously driven away. 


"We took part iu the horse races. Though it was early 
morning the crowd was as dense as at the season of pilgrimage. 

" Horses were brought from every quarter, hut no one knows 
better than ourselves how to rear and train them. 

" We arrived at the peep of day with horses whose hoofs were 
as hollow as cups. The stars had announced good fortune to 

" They are drawn up according to the purity of their race. 
The noble is placed by the side of the noble. 


" Among them is a black horse with robust limbs and adorned 
with a white mark on his forehead. When he feels the bit in his 
mouth, he dashes off, clearing the lines traced to indicate the 

" The star that shines on his forehead equals the brilliancy of 

" Then a dark bay with a black mane, endowed by nature 
with admirable qualities, with a sleek skin, bearing also a star 
on his forehead, and a white mark on the upper lip. 

" Next a horse completely black without a white spot any- 
w^here, but participating in the excellent qualities of the pre- 

" They have been brought to excite the admiration of the 
spectators, impatient to see them appear in the lists. 

"Horsemen mount them, hardy as bars of iron and short of 
stature. Their voice is like the roaring of the lion. 

" Seated on their coursers they look like starlings hovering 
over the table-land of a mountain. 

" At last they draw up in line. In the midst of the assembly 
of spectators, a man, a Mussulman like the others, sits in the 
capacity of umpire. He has been chosen by common accord as 
arbiter, and surely his awards will not be tainted with par- 

"The steeds let loose in the arena disperse immediately like 
pearls that fall from a necklace, or like a covey of ketda (gray 
partridges) discovered by a falcon that swoops down upon them, 
attacking them with fury. 

"The black, with a white mark on the forehead, comes in first. 

"The bay with the dark mane is second, and the entirely black 
is without reproach, for he runs in third. 

The Tall is the fourth, and follows the others. But how far is 
the inhabitant of the Tahama from the inhabitant of Nedjed! 

The fifth, el Mourtah^ is not to be blamed, for he has done as 
well as he could do. 

The Aatlf is the sixth. He comes in all trembling, and his fear 
W'ell nigh stopped him in mid-career. 

" The seventh is the Hadi. The awarder of prizes will give 
unto him his due. 

"The MouJiammil^ who gave such hopes to his master, has 

» A star in the constellatiou of Orion. 


come in the eighth. He was mistaken. The unfortunate one 
encountered on his path the bird of ill omen. He suffered seven 
horses to pass before him and ran in the eighth— but the eighth 
horse is not one of the winners. 

" The ninth arrives at last. He is the Latliim., the buffeted one, 
and receives blows from every one. 

" On his traces follows, capering about, the Soke'it^ the Silent 
one, with trouble in his face and humiliation on his forehead. 
The horseman who rides him at the tail of the others is the object 
of reproaches from all sides, and still more so his groom. It is of 
little use to ask who is his master,— no answer is to be had from 
those whom shame has made dumb. 

" Whoso does not take to the race-course the horses that are 
most noble by birth ought to repent of it. 

" In being present we have experienced the greatest gratifica- 
tion, without speaking of the glory and advantages we have 
carried off. 

" In exchange for the seven reeds planted at the end of the 
course and carried off by the first seven as they arrived, we have 
received magnificent presents, such as it is seemly to offer. 

" Striped calico from Yemen, dyed of various colours, and ha/iks 
of silk and of wool. 

"We carried off all these stuffs spread out over our horses, 
with borders red as blood. 

" In addition to all this they gave us silver coins by thousands, 
but this silver we never keep for ourselves. We distribute it 
among the servants who tend our horses, though we ourselves 
tend these with our own hands far more carefully than they do. 

" These are horses that never drink any but the purest water, 
and never feed on any but the choicest food. 

The Mussulman law distinguishes three ways of offer- 
ing prizes for horse racing. The first is positively per- 
mitted, the second is so conditionally, and the third is 
utterly prohibited. In the first case, some one entirely 
without interest in the result of the race offers a prize, 
saying : "Whoever shall he victor in the race shall gain 


the prize." Kings, chiefs, and great personages whose 
rank or fortune places them in an exalted position, some- 
times propose prizes in this manner, which is sanctioned 
Avithout any condition. In the second case, an individual 
interested in the race, says : "I offer a prize which shall 
be given to the one first in." This mode is allowed, 
with the condition that if the donor himself is the first 
to arrive at the goal, the prize shall be given to the 
assembly. The third manner is that by which every one 
interested in the race offers a prize for the benefit of him 
by whom he is beaten. This style of racing is nothing 
more than a wager, and consequently is absolutely for- 
bidden. Much more is betting by persons not concerned 
in the race formally prohibited. 



Having known the Emir Abd-el-Kader during the 
time I hehl the office of French Consul at Mascara, from 
1837 to 1839, and having again met him at Toulon 
in 1847, Avhither I had been ordered on special duty at 
the time of his first landing in France, I had full oppor- 
tunity in my numerous interviews with him to appreciate 
his intimate acquaintance with all that related to the 
history of his country, as well as to all questions of 
horse-flesh. I did not hesitate, therefore, to ask his 
opinion on a subject of a purely scientific nature, which 
may nevertheless be of great moment, not only for the 
future interests of our colony, but for those of the country 
at large. The following is his reply, written under date 
of the 8th November, 1851. 

Glory to the one God, wliose reign alone endureth for ever ! 

Peace be with him who equals in good qualities all the men of 
his time, who aims only at what is good, ^vhose heart is pure 
and his word abiding, the wise, the intelligent, the Lord General 
Daumas, on the part of your friend Sid-el-Hadj Abd-el-Kader, son 

Behold the reply to your inquiries : — 

1st. You ask me how many days an Arab horse can march 


without rest and without suffering too severely. Know, then, 
that a horse sound in every limb, that eats as much barley as his 
stomach can contain, can do whatever his rider can ask of him. 
For this reason the Arabs say : " Give barley and over-work him." 
But without tasking" him overmuch, a horse can be made to do 
sixteen parasangs day after day.* It is the distance from Mascara 
to Koudiat-Aghelizan on the Oued-Mina; it has been measured 
in cubits. A horse performing this journey every day, and 
having- as much barley as it likes to eat, can go on, without 
fatigue, for three or four months, without lying by a single day. 

2nd. You ask me what distance a horse can accomplish in a day. 
I cannot tell you very precisely, but it ought to be about fifty 
parasangs, or the distance from Tlemcen to Mascara. However, 
an animal that has 'performed such a journey ought to be care- 
fully ridden on the following day, and allowed to do only a very 
much shorter distance. Most of our horses used to go from Orau 
to Mascara in a single day, and could repeat the journey for 
two or three consecutive days. On one occasion we started from 
Saida about eight in the morning to fall upon the Arb&.a, who 
were encamped at Aain-Toukria, among the Oulad-Aiad near 
Taza, and we came up with them at break of day. 

3rd. You ask for examples of the temperance of the Arab horse, 
and for proofs of his power of enduring hunger and thirst. 
Know that when we were established at the mouth of the 
Melouja, we used to make razzias into the Djebel- Amour, fol- 
lowing the route of the Sahara, and on the day of attack pushing 
forward at the gallop for five or six hours at a stretch — the 
entire expedition, going and returning, being completed in 
twenty to twenty-five days at the outside. During this space of 
time our horses had no barley except what they carried with 
them, about enough for eight ordinary feeds. Nor did they find 
straw, or anything except the alfa and sldehlh and grass in the 
spring time. And yet, on rejoining our people, we performed 
the fantasia on our horses, and some among us burnt powder. 
Many, too, who were not fresh enough for the latter exercise, 
were quite able to go upon an expedition. Our horses would go 
a day or two without water, and once they found none for three 
days. The horses of the Sahara do far more than that, for they 
go three months without touching a grain of barley. Straw 

» A parasang' is equal to about 5,000 metres. Sixteen parasang-s are equal, in 
numbers, to fifty Euglisli miles. 



they meet with only when they go to the Tell to buy grain, and 
for the most part feed on the alfa, the shieh/i, and sometimes the 
ffuetof. The shiehh is better than the alfa^ but not so good as the 
ffuelof. The Arabs say : 

The alfa is good for marching, 
The shiehh is good for fighting. 
And the ffnetof is superior to barley. 

In certain years the horses of the Sahara have gone the whole 
twelve months without a grain of barley to eat, especially when 
the tribes have not been suffered to enter the Tell. At such 
times the Arabs give dates to their horses, which is a fattering 
fool, and keeps them in condition for marching or fighting. 

4th. You ask why, seeing the French do not mount their 
horses before they are four years old, the Arabs mount theirs at 
a very early age. Know that the Arabs say that horses, like 
men, are more easily taught when quite young. They have a 
proverb : 

The lessons of infancy are engraved upon stone, 
The lessons of ripe age pass away like birds' nests. 

They likewise say : 

The young branch is made straight without much trouble. 
But the old wood can never be straightened. 

In the very first year, the Arabs teach the colt to let itself be 
led by the reseum, a species of cavesson. They call it then djeda, 
and begin to fasten and bridle it. As soon as it has become 
tejii, that is, as soon as it has entered on its second year, they 
ride it a mile or two, or even a parasang, and after it has com- 
pleted eighteen months they do not fear to fatigue it. When it 
has become rebda telata, that is, when it has entered on its third 
year, they tie it up, cease to ride it, cover it with a good djellal^ 
and get it into condition. They say : 

In his first year, tie him up lest he should meet with an accident ; 
In his second year, ride him until his back bends ; 
In his third year, again tie him up, and after that, if he does not 
suit you, sell him. 

If a horse is not ridden before his third year, it is certain that 
he will never be good for anything but to gallop, which he does 


not need to learu, as it is his nature to do so : an idea thus 
expressed by the Arabs : "The noble horse gallops according to 
his race" — that is, a thoroughbred horse has no occasion to be 
taught to gallop. 

5th. You ask me how it is, seeing that the foal derives more 
qualities from its sire than from its dam, that mares are always 
higher priced than horses. The reason is this. He who buys a 
mare does so with the expectation that he will not only be able 
to make use of her for the saddle, but will also obtain from her 
a numerous stock; while he who buys a horse cannot hope to 
get any other advantage out of him than by riding him. 

6th. You ask me if the Arabs of the Sahara keep registers to 
establish the descent of their horses. Know that the inhabitants 
of the Algerian Sahara do not, any more than those of the Tell, 
concern themselves with these registers. The notoriety of the 
fact suffices them; for pedigree of their blood horses is as well 
known to every one as that of their masters. I have heard it 
said that some families possessed these written genealogies, but 
I cannot answ^er for the fact. Such books, however, are kept in 
the East. 

7th. You ask me which are the tribes of Algeria the most 
renow^ned for the pure breed of their horses. Know that the best 
horses of the Sahara are unquestionably those of Hamy^n. They 
possess none but excellent animals, because they never employ 
them to till the ground, or as beasts of burden. They employ 
them solely on expeditions and in battle. These are superior to 
all others in endurance of hunger, thirst, and fatigue. Next in 
order come the horses of the Harar, the Arbc\a, and the Oulad- 
Nail. In the Tell, the horses in the first rank for nobility of race, 
for height and beauty of mould, are those of the Shelif, especially 
those of the Oulad-Sidi-Ben-Abd- Allah, near the Mina, and those 
of the Oulad-Sidi-Hassan, a section of the Oulad-Sidi-Dahhou, 
who dwell in the highlands of Mascara. The fleetest in the 
race-course, and at the same time of a beautiful shape, are those 
of the Flittas, the Oulad-Sherif, and the Oulad-Lekreud. The 
best for traversing stony ground, without being shod, are those 
of the Hassasna in the Yakoubia. The following words are 
ascribed to Mulay-Ishmael, the celebrated Sultan of Morocco. 

May my horse have been reared in the Maz. 
And watered in the Biaz. 


The Maz is a district of tlie Hassasna, and the Biaz is tlie stream 
known hy the name of Foufet, tliat flows tlirough their territory, 
The horses of the Oulad Khaled are also famous for the same 
qualities. In reference to this tribe Sidi-Ahmed-Ben-Youssel has 
said : " The long locks and the long" djellals will lie seen in the 
midst of you to the day of the resurrection," thus eulogising 
their women and their horses. 

8th. You say that people maintain against you that the horses 
of Algeria are not Arabs but Barbs. It is a theory that turns 
against its own authors, for the Barbs were originally Arabs. A 
well known writer has said : "The Berbers inhabit the Mogheb. 
They are all sons of Kais-Ben-Gliilan. It is likewise stated that 
they spring from two great Hemiarite tribes, the Senahdja and 
the Kettama, who came into the country at the time of the inva- 
sion of Ifrikesh El Malik." According to both these opinions, 
the Berbers are decidedly Arabs. Historians, moreover, establish 
the descent of most .of the Berber tribes from the Senahdja and 
the Kettama. The arrival of these tribes was anterior to Islam. 
Since the Mussulman invasion the number of Arabs who have 
emigrated into the Mogheb is beyond computation. When the 
Obeidin [the Fatimites] were masters of Egypt, immense tribes 
passed into Africa, among others the Riahh, and spread themselves 
from Kairouan to Merrakesh [Morocco^ It is from these tribes 
that are descended the Algerian tribes of the Douaouda, the 
Aiad, the Madid, the Oulad-Mahdi, the Oulad-Iakoub-Zerara, the 
Djendel, the Attaf, the Hamis, the Braze, the Sbeha, the Flittas, 
the Medjahar, the Mehal, the Beni-Aamer, the Hamian, and many 
more. Without doubt the Arab horses were dispersed through 
the Mogheb in like manner with the Arab families. At the time 
of Ifrikesh-ben-Kaif, the empire of the Arabs was all powerful. 
It extended as far west as the confines of the Mogheb, just as iu 
the time of Shamar the Hemiarite it extended eastward to the 
frontiers of China, as it is related by Ben-Kouteiba in his book 
entitled "El Marif." 

It is quite true, however, that although the Algerian horses 
come of Arab stock, many have degenerated from their noble- 
ness from being employed much too often in the plough, in 
carrying and drawing heavy loads, and in other kinds of labour, 
and from other causes which did not exist among the Arabs 
of the olden times. It is sufficient, they say, for a horse to have 
walked over ploughed land to lose something of his excellence, 


and by way of illustration they relate the following anecdote : 

"A man was riding one day, mounted on a thoroughbred, 
when he met his enemy also mounted on a noble courser. The 
one turned and fled, while the other gave chace. The latter was 
distanced, and despairing to overtake the former, cried out to 
him : 

"I demand of thee in the name of Allah, has thy horse ever 
been in the plough? " 

" He has ploughed for four days." 

" Ah ! mine has never been in the plough. By the head of the 
Prophet, I am certain to overtake thee." 

" He then followed up the pursuit and towards the end of the 
day the pursued began to lose ground and the pursuer to gain 
upon him. At last the latter succeeded in coming up with and 
combating him whom he had at first despaired of overtaking.' 

"My father— Allah be merciful to him! — was in the habit of 
saying : 'There was no blessing for our land since we converted 
our coursers into beasts of burden and tillage. Did not Allah 
create the horse for riding, the ox for the plough, and the camel 
for the transport of burdens? There is nothing to be gained by 
changing the ways of Allah.'" 

9th. You ask me further what is our practice with regard to 
the keep and maintenance of our horses. Know that the master 
of a horse gives him very little barley to begin with, and goes 
on increasing the quantity little by little, until he fails to consu- 
me it all, when the quantity is reduced and afterwards main- 
tained at the exact measure of his appetite. The best time of 
day for giving barley is the evening. Unless on a journey, it is 
useless to give it in the morning. The best way is to give it to 
the horse saddled and girthed, just as the best way of watering 
him is with the bridle on. There is a saying. 

Water with the bridle. 
And barley with the saddle. 

The Arabs greatly prefer a horse that eats little, provided he 
does not lose strength. Such a one, say they, is a priceless trea- 
sure. To water a horse at sunrise, makes him lose flesh. To 
water him in the evening, puts him into good condition. To wa- 
ter him in the middle of the day, keeps him as he is. During 
the great heats which last for forty days, the Arabs water their 
horses only every second day : a custom, they assert, attended 


with beneficial effects. In summer, autumn, and winter they 
throw an armful of straw to their horses; but the substance of 
their keep is barley, in preference to every other kind of food. 
They say : " Had we not seen that horses come from horses, we 
should have said that it is the barley that produces them." 
Again : 

" Of forbidden flesh, choose the lightest," that is, choose a 
horse that is light and nimble — horse-flesh being forbidden to 

" No one becomes a horseman until he has been often thrown." 

" Thoroughbred horses have no vice." 

" A horse in a leading-string is an honour to his master.'' 

" Horses are birds without wings." 

"No distance is far for a horse." 

" Whoso forgets the beauty of horses for that of women will 
never prosper." 

" Horses know their riders." 

The pious Ben-el- Abbas— Allah be good to him! —hath said : 

Love horses and take care of them, 
Spare no trouble ; 
By them comes honour, by them comes beauty. 
If horses are forsaken of men, 
I will receive them into my family, 
I will share with them the bread of my children; 
My wives clothe them with their veils. 
And cover themselves with the horse-cloths; 
I ride them every day 
Over the field of adventures ; 
Carried away in their impetuous career 
I combat the most valiant. 

I have 'finished the letter which our brother and companion, 
the friend of all men, the Commandant Sidi-Bou-Senna [Boisson- 
net], will cause to be delivered into your hands. Peace ! 



My steed is black as a night without moon or stars ; 
He was foaled in vast solitudes ; 
He is an air-drinker, son of an air-drinker. 
His dam also was of noble race, 
And our horsemen of the days of powder have surnamed him Sabok.* 
The lightning flash itself cannot overtake him : 
Allah save him from the evil eye ! 

His ears vie with those of the gazelle, 

His eyes are the eyes of a woman with wiles, 

His forehead resembles that of a bull. 

His nostrils the cavern of a lion. 
His neck, shoulders, and croup are long, 
He is broad in the seat, in the limbs and flanks, 
He has the tail of a viper, the thighs of an ostrich, 
And his vigorous heels are lifted above the ground. 
I reckon upon him as upon my own heart. 
Never has mortal mounted his equal. 

His flesh is firmer than that of the zebra; 
He has the short gallop of the fox. 
The easy and prolonged running of the wolf; 
He accomplishes in one day a five days' march ; 
And when he stretches out at full speed, he strikes the girts with 

his hocks. 
You would say that it was a dart hurled by fate, 

* Sal/oh, rapid, outstripping-. 


Or a thirsty pigeon that precipitates itself 
Upon the water preserved in the hollow of a rock. 

Yes, Sabok is a war horse ! 
He loves the chace of savage animals, 
He sighs only for glory and booty, 
And the cries of our virgins excite his ardour. 
When I urge him into the midst of dangers, 
His neighing summons the vultures 
And makes my enemies tremble ; 
On his back, death cannot overtake me. 
It fears the sound of his hoofs. 

Aatika * said to me : " Come and be without a companion ! " 
Docile as the sabre one draws from the sheath, 
Sabok hears my spurs, and divines my thoughts ; 
He cleaves through space like a falcon regaining its nest, 
And when I arrive near her whose eyes are languishing. 
Alone, in the midst of peril, patient and immovable, 
He champs his bit until my return. 
By the head of the Prophet, this horse is the resource of caravans, 
The ornament of a tent, and the honour of my tribe. 

I am an Arab. I know how to command and to combat, 
My name protects the feeble and the afflicted. 
My flocks are the reserve of the poor, 
And the stranger in my tent is named The Welcome One. 
The Almighty hath loaded me with his gifts, 
But time turns upon itself, and turns back. 
And if I must drink one day of the two cups of life, 
I will show that adversity cannot humiliate my soul. 
My virtue shall be resignation, 
My fortune, contempt of riches, 
My happiness, the hope of another life; 
And if poverty were to grasp me by the throat, 
I would not the less glorify Allah. 

* Autiha, the noble lady. 




It is certain that the Arabs are the most experienced 
horsemen in the world. They know a horse thoroughly 
and minutely, and can rear and train one better than 
any other people. It is also certain that the Arab horses 
are better than those of all other nations. A sufficient 
proof of this is that they always finish by overtaking" the 
gazelle, the ostrich, and the wild ass, which they some- 
times pursue to a great distance. 

"He has chased the onager, the buffalo, and the 
ostrich, without once pulling up, and without a single 
drop of sweat moistening his coat." 

The nature of the horses of the Sahara is a conse- 
quence of the life led by their masters. The Saharenes 
are obliged to accustom their horses to support hunger 
through the scarcity of food, and likewise thirst through 
the scarcity of water, which is frequently not to be found 
within a couple of day's march of the encampment. 
Endurance of fatigue and speed are the result of the 
countless quarrels of these Arabs, their incessant hostile 
excursions, and their fondness for the chace of the swift- 
est animals, such as the ostrich, the gazelle, and the 


wild ass, which some 'among them hunt the whole year 
round without interruption. 

The Most High hath said : '' Put on foot all the forces 
you can dispose of, and hold in readiness a large numher 
of horses, to intimidate the enemies of Allah and your 
own, and yet others, whom you know not but who are 
known to Allah. Whatever you shall have expended in 
the service of Allah, shall be recompensed to you. You 
will not be forsaken." 

And the Prophet never ceased to repeat : 

"Whoso possesses an Arab horse and honours him, 
will be honoured of Allah." 

"Whoso possesses an Arab horse and contemns him, 
will be contemned of Allah." 



Glory to God alone! 

thou who takest up the defence of the hader * 

And condemnest the love of the hedoui'^ for his bound- 
less horizons ! 

Is it for their Hghtness that thou findest fault with our 

Hast thou no word of praise but for houses of wood 
and stone? 

If thou knewest the secrets of the desert, thou wouldst 
think like me : 

But thou art ignorant, and ignorance is the mother 
of evil. 

If thou hadst waked up in the middle of the Sahara, 
If thy feet had trampled this carpet of sand, 
Sprinkled with flowers like to pearls. 
Thou wouldst have admired our plants. 
The singular variety of their hues. 
Their grace, their delicious perfume ; 

* Hader, inhabitant of cities, t Bcdoiti, inhabitant of the wild parts of the Sahara. 


Thou wouldst have drawn in this balmy breath which 
doubles life, for it has not [passed over the impurity of 

If, going out some splendid night, 

Cooled by an abundant dew. 

From the summit of a mcrlieb, * 

Thou hadst cast thy eyes round thee. 

Thou wouldst have seen far away and on all sides 
troops of wild animals 

Browsing the fragrant shrubs. 

At that moment all care would have fled from before 

Overflowing joy would have filled thy soul. 

What a charm, too, in our hunting! At sunrise. 

Through us every day brings terror to the savage 

And the day of the raliil^ when our red liaouadjej ^ are 
fastened on our camels. 

Thou wouldst have said that a field of anemones were 
bedecking themselves, under the rain, with their richest 

Upon our liaouadjej recline our virgins ; 
Their talia "^ are closed by houri eyes. 
The conductors of their animals raise their shrill 
chaunt ; 
The tone of their voice finds the door of the soul. 

» In the Sahara this name is given to hillocks the outline of which resembles that of 
a ship. 

t Raid], min-ration, a nomadic movement. ^ Haonadjcj, red camel-littei s. 
V Tulici, windows: the bull's-eyes of litters. 


We, swift as the air, on our generous coursers, • 
The sJielils * waving over their croups, 
We give chace to the liouache.^ 
We overtake the ghezal, ^ that fancies itself far from us. 
It escapes not from our horses at full speed, 
With thin flanks. 

How many delim ? with their females became our prey ! 
Although their running is not less rapid than the 
flight of other birds. 


We return to our families at the hour of halt, 

On a new camping ground, free from pollution. 

The earth exhales the odour of musk, + 

But purer than it, 

It has been cleansed by the rains 

Of evening and morning. 

We pitch our tents in circular groups ; 

The earth is covered with them, as is the firmament 
with stars. 

They of old time have said, who are no more, but our 
fathers have repeated it, 

And we say as they did, for truth is always truth : 

Two things are beautiful in this world, 

Beautiful verses and beautiful tents. 

In the evening, our camels come up to us ; 
At night the voice of the male is heard like distant 

» Veils waving- over the horses croups. 

f HovacJie, a species of bison, or wild ox. (♦) Ghezal, the gazelle. 

'j' Delim, the male ostrich. 

% The odour of musk remains where the ghezal has passed. 



Light ships of the land, 

Safer than ships, 

For a ship is inconstant ; 

Our maharis^ rival in speed the maliaf^ 

And our horses — is there a glory like unto theirs? 
Always saddled for the fight, 
When any one invokes our aid. 
They are the promise of victory. 
Our enemies have no place of refuge against our blows, 
For our coursers, celebrated by the Prophet, swoop 
upon them like the vulture. 

Our coursers have the purest milk to drink. 
The milk of the camel, more precious than that of the 

Our first care is to divide the booty we have taken 
from the enemy. 

Equity presides at the distribution. Every one re- 
ceives the due reward of his valour. 

We have sold our rights of citizenship. We have no 
reason to regret the bargain. 

We have gained honour, of which the liader knows 

We are Kings. There is none to be compared with us. 

Is it life to undergo humiliation? 

We suffer not the insults of the unjust. We leave him 
and his land. 
True happiness is in wandering Hfe. 

» Maliari, a ridinj^ camel, i Maha, a species of white wild doc. 


If contact with our neighbour annoys us, 
We withdraw from him — neither he, nor we, have any- 
thing to complain of. 

What fault, then, hast thou to find with the dedo^iif 
Nothing but his love of glory, and his liberality that 
knows no stint. 

Under the tent, the fire of hospitahty is kindled for the 

He finds, whoever he may be, a sure remedy against 
cold and hunger. 

Ages have told of the salubrity of the Sahara. 

All disease and sickness dwell only beneath the roof 
of cities. 

In the Sahara, whoever is not reaped by the sword sees 
days without number ; 

Oar old men arc the most as'ed of all men. 


The most frequent and almost daily incident of Arab 
life is the razzia. Glory is a fine thing, no doubt, and in 
the Sahara hearts are as open to its fascination as 
elsewhere. But there, the idea of glory is to injure the 
enemy and destroy his resources, and at the same time 
augment one's own. Glory is not smoke, but plunder. 
The thirst for revenge is also a motive; but what ven- 
geance is sweeter than to enrich oneself with the spoils 
of one's enemy? This threefold craving for glory, 
revenge, and plunder, could not possibly be gratified 
more promptly or efficaciously than by the razzia — the 
invasion by force or stratagem of the ground occupied 
by the foe, which contains all that is dear to him, his 
family and his fortune. 

In the desert, there are three kinds of razzia. First of 
all there is the teKha ["the falling," from the verb talih, 
"it is fallen"], which takes place at ^^fedjeiir, or dawn 
of day. In a teliha, the object is not pillage, but mas- 
sacre : no thought is given to riches, but all to vengeance. 
The next is the hhrotefa, which comes ofi' at el aasseur, 
or two or three in the afternoon, and means nothing 


but rapine. And lastly, the terligiie, which is neither 
war, nor an affair of brigandage, but, at most, a thievish 
operation. The terUguc is attempted at nous el le'il, or 
midnight. When a razzia is determined upon, those 
who propose to take part in it say to one another Rana 
akeud, "we are a knot." The enterprise is arranged, the 
association formed, and a compact concluded — compact 
of life and death. 


When a tclilia is contemplated, the sheikh issues or- 
ders to shoe the horses, to prepare food, and to provide a 
supply of barley for five or six days, more or less. These 
provisions are put into a semmdt, or w^allet, each taking 
his own. Previous to setting out, two or three mounted 
scouts are sent forward to reconnoitre the position of the 
enemy they propose to attack. The scouts are men of 
intelligence, well mounted, acquainted with the country, 
and circumspect. They take every precaution and make 
a great circuit, so that in the event of a surprise, they 
will appear from a quarter whence those whom they in- 
tend to assail are accustomed to see only friends appear. 
On arriving near to their destination, they place them- 
selves in ambush, and one of them, separating from the 
band, penetrates on foot to the very heart of the douar, 
without exciting the slightest suspicion. As soon as 
they have obtained the necessary information respecting 
the numbers and disposition of the enemy, they retrace 
their steps and rejoin the goiim, who aw^ait them at a 
spot previously agreed upon. Like the scouts they, too, 
have followed a path little calculated to inspire with 


apprehension those whom they propose to surprise. All 

necessary intelligence having been ohtained, and the 

foe being now near at hand, it is arranged to fall upon 

him at the dawn of day, because at that hour they will 


The wife without her girdle, 
And the mare without her bridle. 

Before dashing into the melee, the leaders address to 
their followers a few impassioned words : ''Listen. Let 
no one think of despoiling the women, driving off the 
horses, entering the tents, or alighting- for purposes of 
plunder, before taking many lives. Bear in mind that 
we have to do with 'children of sin,' who will defend 
themselves vigourously. These people have butchered 
our brethren. No mercy! Kill! Kill! if you desire at the 
same time to take revenge and the goods of your ene- 
mies. I tell you again they will not give these up to 
you without a struggle." Thegoum then breaks up into 
three or four bands, with a view to strike terror into 
the assailed from several different quarters at the same 
time. As soon as they are within range they open fire, 
but not a cry is uttered until their fire-arras have made 
themselves heard. 

These razzias are for the most part frightful scenes of 
carnage. The men, taken off their guard, are nearly all 
put to the sword, but the women are merely stripped of 
their clothing and jewels. If time permit, the victors 
carry off with them the tents, the negroes, the horses, 
and the flocks, leaving the women and the children, for 
in the desert no one ever burdens himself with prisoners. 
On their return the flocks are committed to the custody 
of a few horsemen, while the others form themselves into 


a strong rearguard to cover the retreat. On reaching 
the douar, the combatants divide among themselves the 
flocks and the booty captured without personal risk, and 
give to the sheikh, over and above his share, thirty or 
forty ewes, or three or four camels, as the case may be, 
besides bestowing a special gratuity on the horsemen 
who where sent forward as scouts. 

Previous to attempting an enterprise of this kind each 
tribe places itself under the protection ofa particular ma- 
rabout to whom it is in the habit of applying in difficult 
circumstances. In the eyes of the Saharene, to plunder 
an enemy, though an incident of no uncommon occur- 
rence, is an affair by no means devoid of solemnity. It is 
thus that the tribe of the Arbaa regard as their regular 
and accredited marabout Sidi-Hamed-ben-Salem-Ould- 
Tedjiny. A successful razzia is celebrated by great 
rejoicings. In each tent an ouadda, or feast, is prepared 
in honour of the marabouts, to which are invited the 
poor, the toWas, or men of letters, the widows, the far- 
riers, and the free negroes. 

The telilia is usually achieved wdth five or six hundred 
horses, and not unfrequently foot soldiers accompany the 
expedition, mounted on camels. Sometimes the tribe 
that is to be attacked has received timely warning, and 
been able to adopt measures for defence. The horses 
are saddled, the arms ready to the hand. A combat 
takes place, instead of a massacre, and many fall on 
both sides. The assailants, however, have usually the 
advantage, as they are not embarrassed with women 
and children like their adversaries ; and it rarely happens 
that they return home without booty. 

Perhaps I cannot do better than reproduce in this place 


one of those popular chaiints which so well depict the 
rage and the varying fortune of these bloody struggles, 
that generally originate in love or jealousy. 

My horse is whiter than snow, 
"Whiter than the winding-sheet of men ; 

He will bound like a gazelle, 
And will hear me to the tent of thy father. 

Yamina, fools are they who foster thy pride. 
Greater fools they who tell me to forget thee ! 

Would that I were the pin* of thy hail; 
A lock of thy black hair, 
The meroueudi that blackens thy eyes, 
Or, still better, the carpet thou tramplest under foot. 

1 watered my horse at the fountain-head. 

Then lightly leaped on his back. 
My chabir are glued to his flanks. 
And I have faith in my arms as I have faith in my own heart 
They betrayed me for the moon of my soul, 
But time shall betray them also. 

By Allah, ye vultures ! 
Why hover ye in the air? 
I ask of Allah to grant us one of those bloody combats. 
In which every one can die in health and not of disease. 
You will pass days and nights in gorging yourselves! 
Our lives and those of our horses, 
Do they not belong to our maidens? 

Away, strangers, away ! 
Leave the flowers of our plains 
To the bees of the country. 
Away, strangers, away ! 

the generous One! Behold, then, the night 
In which our ffotcms shall burn powder 
Close to the very douar of Yamina, 
While the women are yet without their girdles, 

* A thick silver pin used by women to fasten their /(«?*, a long- piece of woollen, 
stuff with which they robe themselves. In the desert this pin is called khelala. 

T A small piece of polished wood, with which women smear on their eyelids the 
kohol, or antimony, they value so highly. 

THE RAZZIA. ^ 201 

And tlie horses have iron fastenings on their feet, 
Before the aatatouche* has been placed on the hacks of the camels, 
And the horsemen have drawn on their temag. 
Grant that I may receive seven halls in my burnous. 

Seven halls in my steed. 
And that I may place seven f in the body of my rival. 
The best of all loves is that which causes gnashing of teeth. 

Strike out, young men, strike out ! O 

The bullets do not slay; 
It is fate alone that takes life. 
Strike out, young men, strike out! 

The horse of Kaddour is dead, the horse of Kaddour is dead ! 
Publish it through your tribes, for they will rejoice at it; 
But, if you are not Jews, 
Add that, bleeding and wounded. 
He was able to save his master and bear him out of the m4l^e. 
He was not one to be false to his ancestors, 

Never had he been trained to flee. 
He knew only how to throw himself on the foe. 
Merouau is dead for Yamina— his days were counted! 

my heart ! why art thou so bent 
To make the waters flow back to the mountains? 
Thou art the madman who giveth chace to the sun ! 

Believe me ; cease to love a woman 

Who will never say to thee. Yes. 
The seed sown in a sebkha ? 

Will never produce ears of corn. 


The object of the razzia called hhrotefa is to carry off 
a flock of camels grazing at a distance of seven or eight 

» A kind of seat, more or less ornamented according to the means of each indi- 
vidual, which is placed on camel's backs for the use of women who are going on a 
journey. Temag are red morocco boots. 

t Many Arabs in battle load their pieces with seven balls or deer-shot ; but their 
fire-arms are generally in such bad condition that this practice becomes the source of 
innumerable accidents. The number of persons maimed by guns bursting in their 
hands is very considerable. 

^ " Dash on at full speed." The metaphor is taken from the act of swimming. 

"? A salt soil that yields nothing but salt. 


leagues from the tribe. From a liimdred and fifty to two 
hundred horsemen join together as "a knot" and set out 
on the expedition. The reconnaissance is conducted in 
the same manner as for the tehlia, only the arrangements 
are made with a view to arrive at the appointed spot 
towards el aasseur — three or four in the afternoon — and 
not at \hQfedjeur, or dawn of day. 

When the razzia has heen accomplished, and four, 
five, or six ylal — or flocks of one hundred camels each — 
have been driven off, they divide into two parties. The 
one, consisting of the weakest horses, goes forward with 
the booty, while the other forms a sort of rearguard 
whose duty it is, if necessary, to make head against the 
enemy. After appointing a rendez-vous for the morrow, 
the parties separate ; but, in order to throw out the pur- 
suers, those who are to cheek the enemy follow a 
different path to that taken by the drivers of the flocks. 

In these forays the shepherds are usually spared ; nor 
do they, indeed, take much trouble to defend property 
that does not belong to them. But the noise and 
shouting soon give the alarm. Every one saddles his 
horse and gallops forward ; then they halt and rally, and 
finally appear in force upon the ground. Here again the 
assailants have every chance in their favour. They are 
on the look-out, and ready to receive the enemy. Their 
horses have had time to rest, while those of the tribe 
that has been plundered are exhausted and blown. 
Musket-shots are nevertheless exchanged, but night 
supervenes; and, as soon as the darkness has thickened 
so that '' the eye begins to grow black," the plunderers 
decamp and go off at full gallop to rejoin their comrades, 
whom they overtake at sunrise. The pursuit lasts but a 


short time. The conviction that the camels cannot be 
recovered, and the fear of falling into an ambuscade, 
soon induce the plundered tribe to return to their tents. 

Although the actual fighting incidental to this kind of 
expedition is devoid of animation and soon interrupted 
by nightfall, they who take part in it do not the less run 
considerable risk. A horseman may receive a wound 
sufficiently severe to disable him from continuing his 
march. In that case he is lost, unless he happen to be a 
personage of distinction, for then he is certain not to be 
deserted. Some strong, vigourous fellow takes charge 
of him, lifts him up, places him across his saddle, and 
carries him home dead or ahve. As for slight wounds, 
with the Arab saddle they do not give much trouble, nor 
do they prevent the return to the gonm. On rejoining 
the tribe, the spoils are divided among those who shared 
in the lilirotefa. 


In a terligiie not more than fifteen to twenty horsemen 
make ''a knot," and propose to drive off the flocks from 
the very middle of a douar. They send some of their 
party to reconnoitre the tribe, and arrive close to the 
tents on one of the darkest nights. An isolated doiiar is 
selected, to which they approach as near as two or three 
hundred paces. Three of them dismount and stop, while 
one goes round to the opposite side, and makes a noise 
to attract the attention of the dogs. The people of the 
tribe fancy it is a passing hyoena, or a jackal, and take 
no notice of it. In the meanwhile the two other robbers 
penetrate into the interior of the douav, loosen the 


fastenings of ten, fifteen, or twenty camels, according 
as fortune favours them, and knock their shoes together, 
to frighten the liberated animals and cause them to run 
away. They then make off as quickly as they can, 
rejoin their horses, and all assist in collecting the 
scattered camels. After that they separate into two 
bands, one of which conducts the captured animals, 
while the others, lagging a little behind, allow them- 
selves to be pursued in a different direction. If by chance 
they have succeeded in letting loose ihefadle, or stallion, 
their success is certain, for all the females strive to 
follow him. 

Siner, in these operations, the secret is generally well 
kept, they seldom fail, nor are accidents at all common. 
Should the douar be on its guard, the attacking party 
at once retires. They who venture upon such enterprises 
are usually well mounted, and speedily escape from a 
pursuit that is rendered almost impossible by the obscur- 
ity which effaces all traces and inspires dread of ambush. 
For a razzia of this sort, they do not hesitate to go thirty 
or forty leagues. 

Sometimes incidents of a grotesque nature characterise 
the terligue. When a party of horsemen does not care 
to leave a reserve to fight the enemy, they conceal them- 
selves in an ambuscade seven or eight hundred steps 
from the douar; while the most experienced robber of 
the band strips himself naked, and, taking only his 
sword with him and tying his shoes to his head to look 
like enormous ears, penetrates into the douar. He 
carries in his hand an old saddle-bow, which he shakes 
in all directions, every now and striking the earth. To 
this dull sound he joins cries of alarm and terror : '' The 


goum! the goum! up ! up ! We are betrayed ! " The cla- 
mour, the jumping about, the strange aspect of the indi- 
Tidual, and the noise of the saddle which he keeps on 
shaking, strike terror into the animals. Horses, sheep, 
and camels rush pell-mell out of the douar, and are 
caught by the concealed horsemen. The others rush 
out of their tents, snatch up their guns, and spring into 
the saddle; but flocks and plunderers are already far 
away, fleeing at full speed, and protected by the night. 


The terhigne is, in fact, a robbery, but it is at the same 
time almost a warhke operation — it is, at least, arazzia. 
The streng-th of the party that executes the enterprise, 
the importance of the wrong inflicted upon an entire 
division of a tribe, the high qualities of the perpetrators 
of the robbery, who, after all, are real warriors, — all these 
circumstances taken together, if they do not suffice as a 
justification in the eyes of scrupulous ;Europeans, are 
esteemed in the desert as extremely plausible motives. 
Since a few brave and reckless fellows have imperilled 
their lives to injure a hostile tribe, there cannot be 
otherwise than joy and triumph in that to which they 

In the Tiliriana, however, we descend a step lower, and 
arrive at a mere marauding expedition, executed by 
professional thieves. It is no longer war, even in minia- 
ture — it is nothing more than theft. It is no longer a 
subject of rejoicing for a whole tribe, though still a 
matter for praise and congratulation among friends; 
always provided the robbery has not been committed on 
their own or on a friendly tribe — ^which would l)e a 


disgrace — but absolutely on an enemy. They say, 
"Such a one is a brave man — he robs the enemy." As 
may readily be imagined, all thefts are not managed in 
the same manner, but are adapted to the nature of the 
capture that is proposed to be made. 


This species of theft is practised towards the end of the 
Mussulman month. When the moon is scarcely visible, 
five or six men, having a proper understanding between 
themselves, take a supply of provisions with them in their 
wallets, and go forth in search of adventures. Before 
starting, they give alms to the poor, and intreat them to 
intercede with Allah for the success of their enterprise. 
They then swear by some well-known marabout, gene- 
rally Sidi-Abd-el-Kader, that, if they succeed, they will 
do him homage by putting aside a portion for the unfor- 
tunate. "0 Sidi Abd-el-Kader," they exclaim, "if w^e 
return with joy, loaded with spoils and free from accident, 
we will give thee thy lance's share, if it please Allah! " 

On leaving the douar the robbers travel in broad day- 
light, but, as they approach the tribe they propose to rob, 
they proceed only at night, and conceal themselves, when 
two or three leagues from the tents, in the bed of a river, 
or among the herbage, or in the mountains. As soon as 
the darkness has become dense, they issue from their 
hiding-place and try the different dollars one after the 
other, stopping at last at that which seems the least 
securely guarded, and where the dogs are the least wake- 
ful. If the robbers arc six in number, four of them 
remain about fifty paces from the douar, silent and mo- 


tionless, while the two others, the most daring and 
adroit, make their way into the interior. Before separat- 
ing", they agree upon a pass-word ; and then the two 
thieves go to work. If they find the dogs on the watch, 
they return for a third companion, whom they station a 
little way oif , in front of the tent guarded by the vigilant 
dogs, and they themselves enter the douar from another 
quarter. They agree upon the tent they propose to rob; 
and while one of them, called the gaad, remains as a 
sentinel beside it, the other, the hammaze, pushes on to 
the horses. If the latter comes upon a horse or a mare, 
fastened only by leather thongs ropes, he unties or cuts 
the knot, seizes the animal by the goiilada, or necklace 
of talismans, and leads it to the side opposite to where 
the dogs are held engaged by the layahh* the third 
accomplice who was stationed for that purpose in front 
of the tent. The gaad stays behind ready to shoot with 
a pistol, or to knock down with a stone or stick, the 
first man who comes out of the tent, and then to mislead 
the rest by flying in a direction different to that taken by 
his comrade with the horse. He then rejoins the layaJih, 
and the two quickly come up with the hammaze, when all 
three return to their expectant companions. A second 
robbery is committed, if the douar, buried in sleep, has 
had no suspicion of what was going on ; otherwise they 
prepare for flight. One of them, placing his folded ha^iJi 
on the back of the horse so as to use it for stirrups, starts 
forward at a gallop, after naming a rendez-vous for the 
morrow or the day after. The others, to escape from the 
pursuit which is sure to be instituted in the morning, 
hide themselves during the whole of the first night. The 

» Layahh, he who amuses, or distracts the attention. 


one who mounted the horse only continues his iiig-ht if 
the theft has been committed in the first hours of tiie 
night; otherwise, he passes the whole of the morrow 
concealed in a dry and stony spot, w^here the animal 
would leave no trace. 

Should the fastenings of the horse, instead of being 
woollen, be of iron, the operation is more difficult. The 
preliminary arrangments are the same, but, once fairly 
at work, the liammaze cautiously raises the clog up to 
the knee, and binds it there with his camel's rope, which 
he throws round the animal's neck, and leads it out 
very slowly. As soon as he has rejoined his comrades 
and is sufficiently far from the scene of his exploits, he 
bethinks him of giving his prize the liberty that is still 
wanting. He therefore removes the clog by means of a 
small saw, or picklock ; at the worst he turns the padlock 
to the outside of the animal's legs and shatters it with a 
pistol ball, or else fills it with powder and blows it open. 
The explosion, however, rouses the owners of the animal, 
who set out in search of it, but nearly always in vain. 
The night is dark, and the robbers separate; though, if 
things come to the worst, they abandon their prize to 
save their lives. 

Sometime the master of a tent is troubled by the bark- 
ing of the dogs, and awakens his people by calling out 
to them. El liayi TCih liena, "there is somebody here." 
They go out, and, fimling nothing, they conclude that 
a hyoena, or a jackal, has occasioned the uproar, and so 
turn in again. The thieves then come out of their 
hiding places, and perhaps proceed to some other douar 
that is less upon the watch. 

In preparing for a Mriana, each one provides himself 



with a pistol which he secretes under his burnous, a 
knife, a thick cudgel with a cord at one end, and a po- 
niard. If a robber fancies that the dogs will distinguish 
him because of the whiteness of his garments, he leaves 
them with his comrades, and enters the doum entirely 
naked, his knife in one hand and the cudgel in the other. 
It is a popular belief in the Sahara that a man in a 
complete state of nudity is invisible in a dark night. A 
vicious horse, or one that is thoroughbred, or entire, is 
safe from robbers. Their habit of neighing on seeing 
a man would betray the plunderers. To avoid being 
scented by the dogs the precaution is taken to stalk up 
the wind. There are likewise other details which should 
not be neglected — the absence of moonlight, for in- 
stance. The twenty-first of the Mussulman month is the 
right time for setting out, and the night of the twenty- 
second is usually the most favourable for the execution 
of the enterprise. Dust and a high wind are useful 
allies, but rain is treacherous, for, by moistening the soil 
so as to retain foot-marks, it favours the pursuit. The 
cold season is the best for robberies of this character. 
There is a common saying : "In winter, cattle- stealing, 
because the dog sleeps in the tent. In summer, theft in 
the tent, because the dog goes away to sleep." 

Like all other Arabs, the robber believes that Allah 
does not disdain to give him warnings — whence super- 
stitious hopes and fears. If, on leaving the douar, he 
meets a black mare, dirty, lean, and altogether in bad 
condition, it is an evil omen and he goes back again. 
Another bad sign is to hear yourself called by people 
who know not whither you are going. To see two 
partridges is an auspicious augury, but one by itself 


portends calamity. To find yonrself, on starting*, con- 
fronted by a cheerful, conrag'eous person, well dressed, 
and well mounted, infaillibly betokens success. An old 
woman, blind or maimed, and covered with rags, will 
certainly prevent you from succeeding. Start, however, 
with perfect confidence, if you have met a beautiful 
woman, richly dressed, to whom you have said : " Open 
thy girdle, Fatma, for that will bring us good fortune." 
She will not refuse to open to you the door to riches. 
It is equally desirable to see on one's road a woman 
carrying milk, and to drink a mouthful of it. 

On their return, the robbers divide their spoils. The 
vow^ made to the marabouts who were invoked is scrupu- 
lously fulfilled. The chief of the douar, and the woman 
who opened her girdle, each receives a present. The 
share that falls to the lot of the lumvmaze is the largest; 
for it is he who has played the most important part, and 
incurred the greatest risks. 


Camel-stealing is practised in the same manner as 
horse-stealing. They choose full grown camels, — or, at 
least, such as no longer cry — or she-camels with foal. 
Having removed the clogs, the robbers prick the animal 
with a poniard or knife to make it go off, and get on its 
back as soon as they are far enough away from the 
tents. All that night they travel on, and if at daybreak 
they do not feel that they have gone sufficiently far to 
escape the pursuit of horsemen, they halt and conceal 
themselves in a spot the soil of which does not retain 
foot-marks. The pursuers give up the chace if they 


find no traces of the fugitives. In the other event they 
often recover what they have lost ; and, unless the robbers 
let go their prize and hide themselves, they may pay for 
their daring with their life.* This is the supreme mo- 
ment for invocations and vows. "0 Sidi Abd-el-Kader," 
cries the robber, on seeing the enemy close at hand, and 
in dread of discovery, " if thou wilt save us yet this one 
time, we will make in thy honour an ouadda for the 
poor." In the Sahara, Sidi Abd-el-Kader-el-Djilaly is the 
patron of robbers. This very undesirable patronage is 
due to the charity of the holy marabout, who shrinks 
from leaving in troublethose who invoke his name. 


Sheep are but a poor prey, and more troublesome than 
profitable. They walk slowdy, and it is impossible to 
drive them far enough away by the day after the theft. 
The Arabs, therefore, content themselves with stealing 
from an enemy, in his absence, to feed themselves wdiile 
lying in ambush. Nevertheless, the opportunity is some- 
times tempting. A flock is seen grazing at a distance 
from the douars. The shepherd is lying dowm, asleep, 
or in some other way occupied. It is yet early morning, 
and there is time to cover a considerable distance before 
sunset, when the flocks are driven home, and the theft 
is likely to be discovered. Sometimes, therefore, they 
risk the hazard. Striking the negligent shepherd a 
hea^y blow on the head with a stick, they throw dust 

* In some of the desert trilies a robber taken in the act is covered from head to foot 
with alfa (mat-weed), to which they set fire, and the poor wretch r\ishes awaj', 
amid general hooting-, to die a little way off". 


into his eyes, and, tying his hands behind him, draw 
over his face the hood of his hurnous. The robbers then 
share with one another the task of driving off the flock, 
broken up into small sections, each taldng a separate 
course, and going slowly at first, but after awhile quick- 
ening their pace. On the morrow, after traversing 
none but lonely paths, they meet again at an appointed 
spot. In an affair of this kind they take the shepherd 
with them, and set him free only in the middle of the 
night, when they have nothing more to fear from him. 


A caravan has been plundered — the women of the tribe 
have been insulted — the right of water and pasturage 
has been disputed. These are wrongs which no razzia, 
not even the terrible telilia, can sufficiently avenge. The 
chiefs, therefore, assemble and decide upon war. Then 
they write to the chiefs of all their allied tribes, and 
claim their aid. The allies are loyal and faithful — are 
they not also enemies of the tribe to be chastised? Have 
they not the same sympathies, the same interests, as those 
who summon them? Are they not an integral part of 
the confederation? Not a single tribe will refuse to send 
a contingent in proportion to its importance. But the 
allies are distant. They cannot arriA^e within a week or 
ten days, and in the meantime counsels are taken, and 
the passion of the warriors excited by the proclamations 
of the chiefs : — 

" You are warned, servants of Allah ! that we have 
to exact vengeance from such a tribe that has offered us 
such or such an insult. Shoe your horses. Supply 
yourselves with provisions for. a fortnight. Forget not 
the wl]eat, the barley, the dried meat, and the butter. 


You must provide not only for your own ^Yauts, ])ut also 
that you may be able to afford a generous hospitality to 
the horsemen of such and such tribes that are coming- to 
our assistance. Command your prettiest women to hold 
themselves in readiness to accompany us, and to array 
themselves in their finest garments, and adorn their 
camels and litters to the utmost of their power. Do 
you yourselves also put on your handsomest dresses, for 
with us it is a matter of nif [self-love]. Keep your arms 
in good condition. Supply yourselves with powder, and 
be assembled on .such a day at such a spot. The horse- 
man who owns a mare and does not come, the foot-soldier 
who possesses a gun and stays at home, shall be fined, 
the former twenty ewes and the latter ten." 

Every able-bodied man, thoug^h he should have to go 
on foot, is bound to join in the expedition. Before set- 
ting out, the chiefs confide the flocks, tents, and baggage 
of the tribe to the care of experienced veterans, who are 
likewise charged to exercise a sort of police supervision 
over this assembly of women, children, invalids, and 

The enemy, on their part, likewise make their prepara- 
tions. Warned by travellers, by friends, and even by 
relatives whom they claim in the opposite party, they 
hasten to write in all directions to assemble their allies. 
Their flocks, tents, and baggage they place in a secure 
spot, and then assign a rendez-vous to the horsemen 
with the least possible delay. To guard against a 
surprise, they select a position suitable for defence, and 
await whatever may happen. They have not long to 
wait. The tribe that has taken up arms to avenge itself 
is very soon on the march, for it has not lost a sing-le 


moment. On the evening before their departure, all the 
auxiliary chiefs join those who have summoned them, 
and, in the presence of the marabouts, take the following 
oath on the sacred book of Sidi Abd-AUah : — 

" friends ! let us swear by the truth of the sacred 
book of Sidi Abd-AUah that we are brothers, that all our 
guns shall be as one, and that, in dying, we will all die 
by the same sabre. If you call us by day, we will come 
by day, and if you summon us by night, we will hasten 
to you by night." 

Having taken this oath, they arrange to start on the 
following morning. At the appointed hour a man of 
high birth, noble among the noblest, mounts on horse- 
back, orders his women, borne on camels, to follow him, 
and gives the signal. There is a general movement, 
and all set out. The eye is dazzled by the strange and 
picturesque confusion, the many-hued crowd of horses, 
warriors, and camels bearing rich palanquins in which 
the women are inclosed. Here are the foot-soldiers, who 
march by themselves — there the horsemen, who superin- 
tend the female procession. Others, again, more impe- 
tuous and thoughtless, dash on in front or spread out on 
the flanks, but rather as hunters than as scouts, and 
with their greyhounds run down the gazelle, the hare, 
the antelope, and the ostrich. The chiefs, however, are 
more serious. Upon their shoulders rests the whole 
reponsibility. To them will accrue the largest share of 
the plunder, if the expedition succeed; and upon them, 
also, in the event of failure, will fall imprecations, ruin, 
and shame. They, therefore, consult together and form 
their plans. Lastly, come tlie camels that carry the 
supplies. Thus the host advances, adapting itself to 


th'e irregularities of the ground, all in wild confusion, 
every one noisy and joyous, thinking much of the ad- 
venture, nothing of the fatigue, dreaming of glory, not 
of danger. The warriors relate their former exploits, 
while the players on the flute accompany them, inspirit- 
ing or interrupting them, and the women utter joyful 
cries. And above all this uproar are heard the loud 
reports of fire-arms. The firing ceases, and a young 
and handsome horseman strikes up one of those love- 
songs, through which the ardour of their passion scatters 
stranges images and striking colours, and which, in the 
desert, have always a fresh charm for these chivalrous 

My heart burns with fire 
For a woman come forth from paradise ; 
Oye who know not Meryem [Mary], 
That miracle of the one Allah, 
I will show you her portrait. 

Meryem, she is Osman Bey himself 
When he appears -with his standards, 

And the roll of his drums, 
And his ffoums following- behind. 

Meryem, she is a blood mare 
That lives in luxury 
In a gilded palace ; 
And loves the leafy shade, 
And drinks limpid water, 
And A\ ill have negro slaves to wait upon her. 

Meryem, she is the moon of stars 

That betrays robbers; 
Or, rather she. is the palm-tree 
Of the country of the Beni-Mezab,* 

» The Beni-Mezab form, in the midst of the populations of the desert, a small nation 
by themselves, distinj^uished by the severity of their manners, a peculiar dialect 
honesty that has passed into a proverb, and certain differences in their rchyious 


The fruit of which grows so high 
That no one can gather it. 

Meryem. rather is she the gazelle, 
Bounding in the desert. 

The hunter covers her j'oung ; 

She sees the powder flash, 

Leaps forward to receive the hall, 
And dies to save its life. 

She appointed to meet me 

On Monday night. 
My heart heat, she came. 

All enveloped in silk. 
And threw herself into my arms. 
Meryem has no sister [no equal] 
In the four corners of the world ! 

She is worth all Tunis and Algiers, 

Tlemcen and Mascara, 
Their shops, their shop-keepers. 
And their perfumed stuffs. 

She is worth the vessels 
That traverse the azure deep with their sails. 
Going in search of the riches 
Which Allah has created for us.* 

She is worth five hundred mares 

The fortune of a tribe. 
When they hasten to the flght 
Beneath their proiid riders. 

She is worth Ave hundred she-camels 
Followed by their little ones. 

Besides a hundred negroes of the Soudan, 
Stolen by the Touareug f 
To serve Mahommedans. 

» The Arab pride is here revealed in its full foree. The produce of our horses, our 
camels, and our sheep, say they, exempts us from the necessity of working-, and yet 
we can procure without difficulty all that these miserable (llu-istians manufacture 
with so much labour. 

t A large tribe of Berber OYv^'m who hold the g-ates of the Sahara and the Soudan, 
and levy upon caravans a tax for entering-, a tax for leavin^^ and a tax for [lassing- 
through, their territory. They deal, also, in slaves. 


Slip is worth all The Avanderiiig Arabs. 

Happy and independent, 
And those with fixed abodes. 

Unhappy victims 
Of the caprice of Sultans. 

Her head is adorned with pure silk. 
Whence escapes in flowing curls 
Her black hair perfumed with musk, 

Or with amber from Tunis ; 
Her teeth, you would say they were pearls 

Set in the reddest coral, 
And her eyes, charged with blood. 

Wound like the arrows 
Of the savage inhabitants of Bernou.* 

Her saliva, I have tasted it, 
Is the sugar of dried grapes, 

Or the honey of bees 
In the flower of spring time. 
Her neck is the mast of a ship 
That ploughs the deep seas. 

With its white sails 
To float along with the wind. 

Her throat resembles the peach 
Which is seen ripening on the tree : 
Her shoulders are like polished ivory. 

And her rounded ribs 

x\re the haughty sabres 

Drawn by the Djouadt 
When weary of using their fire arms. 
How many valiant horsemen 
Have died for her in battle ! 

Oh! would that I possessed 
The best horse of the desert, 

* A ncpro kiiig-dom to the soutliwnrd, in which cortaiu smnll tribes still make use 
of poisoned arrows. 

f The Arabs give the name of Djovad to the military noliility who derive their 
orig-in from tlie Mehal, the con(iuerora from the I'last, and followers of the companions 
of the Prophet. The common people suffer much from the injustice and ojjpressinn of 
the Djouad, who strive to efface the memory of their ill-treatment, and maintain their 
influence, by {generously according- hospitality and protection to all who claim them. 
In other words, they combine in the highest degree the two salient traits ot the 
national character, avidity of g-ain, and love of pomp and ostentation. 


To ride pensive and alone 
■ By the side of her white she-camel ! 
That horse would fill with rage 
The 3^oung men of the Sahara. 

I hunt, I pray, I fast. 
And follow the laws of the Prophet : 
But, were I forced to go to Mecca, 
Never would I forget Meryem. 
Yes, Meryem, w^ith thy black lashes 
Thou wilt always be beautiful, 
And as delightful as a gift. 

At the end of a few hours the heat becomes unpleasant, 
and a halt is called. The tents are pitched, breakfast is 
prepared, and the horses are unbridled and allowed to 
graze — and all rest themselves. As the sun goes down, 
the heat diminishes — it is now between two and three 
in the afternoon. To your saddles and forward, ye 
daring cavaliers! Display in a brilliant fantasia the 
worth of your horses and of yourselves. The women 
behold you; show them what you can do with a horse 
and a gun. Ah ! more than one of you shall be rewarded 
for his prowess. Do you see that negro ? He is bearing 
to one of you the recompense of his skill in managing 
his arms and his steed. He is the messenger to whose 
care one of the lovely spectators has confided the secret 
of her love, in charging him to deliver to the hero of the 
fantasia her liliroTkliral, or anklets, or her meMranga, or 
necklace of cloves. 

It is not enough, however, to be a brave and skilful 
horseman — it is incumbent on thee, also, to be discreet. 
Thou hast a friend; to-morrow thou wilt give him thy 
horse and thy garments. Urge him strongly, for thy 
sister* wishes it, to show himself in the midst of the 

* Sister is here used in the sense of lover or mistress. 


goiim upon thy steed and in thy dress, so as to deceive 
the other horsemen. In the mean time thou wilt pass 
unperceived as a humble foot-soldier, and wilt walk 
beside the camel that bears thy mistress. Attention ! 
watch the favourable moment, and slip into her palan- 
quin. She is just as impatient as thyself, and stretches 
her hand to thee. Profit by this assistance, and let thy 
movements outstrip suspicion. 

In love, as in war, fortune favours the bold, but they 
have likewise the largest share of perils. If such meet- 
ings are frequent and nearly always successful, there 
is nevertheless risk to life; for, if the lovers are ever 
surprised, both of them perish without mercy. But who 
is there to betray them? All who surround them are in 
their favour. The lover tells his good fortune to his 
friends, all of whom are anxious to forward his happi- 
ness, and ten or a dozen douros have been sent to his 
mistress. Nor is this all. Her confidential servant has 
received two or three douros, and money has been freely 
distributed among- her slaves and attendants. All, 
therefore, keep a good watch, and give timely notice to 
the lover when he must ghde out of the litter, in the 
midst of the disorder and confusion caused by the pitch- 
ing of the camp at the approach of night. 

Previous to sunset, the chiefs reconnoitre a spot suit- 
able for an encampment. It must be supplied with 
water, grass, and shrubs for fire-wood. On arriving at 
the place selected, each tent is pitched, the horses are 
unbridled and hobbled, as are also the camels, the 
negroes go in search of wood and grass, the women 
prepare the food, and they all sup. A thousand little 
scenes impart to a camp of this kind an aspect full of 


charm and novelty. Then total darkness envelopes the 
scene, unless there happen to be moonlight. The fires 
are extinguished — there is nothings alight to diminish 
the darkness. In the Sahara, oil and wax are alike 
unknown. Immediately after supper, each tent selects 
a man to watch the animals and the baggage. It is his 
business to prevent thefts, which his most active 
vigilance is, nevertheless, powerless to avert. 

Not robbers alone wait for the night. Protected by 
the same obscurity, the lover, with the privity of his 
mistress, cautiously approachs the tent in which she 
reposes, raises the canvass, and guided by a devoted 
slave, takes the place of the husband who, fatigued by 
the day's journey, is sleeping in the men's chamber, — for 
in the tents of the desert there are always two distinct 
compartments, one for men, the other for women. 
Besides, it is deemed disgraceful for a man to pass the 
whole night by the side of his wife. There is nothing 
therefore, to interfere with these clandestine meetings. 
The presence of the two or three other wives permitted 
by the Mussulman law would certainly not be considered 
an obstacle. According to an Arab proverb, only a 
Jewess surpasses Shitan in trickery, but next to Shitan 
comes the Mussulmanee. It is a thing unheard of in the 
desert that women should denounce one another. But 
if, perchance, the adventure should seem too hazardous, 
the woman issues from the tent when every one is 
asleep, and proceeds to a spot she has indicated to her 
lover by means of one of the usual intermediary agents, 
the negroes and shepherds. 

At the very hour that happy lovers meet, are accom- 
plished schemes of vengeance. A rejected lover pene- 


trates into the tent of the woman who has treated him 
with scorn, goes up to her, and shoots her with a pistol. 
At the sound of the explosion, the other w^omen jump 
up, run against one another, and utter shrieks. The 
murderer, however, has had time to disappear, and the 
crime, perpetrated unseen, nearly always remains unpu- 
nished. Love adventures are common in the Sahara. 
Willingly or unwillingly, an Arab woman is sure to 
have lovers. The jealous precautions of the husbands 
excite and foment to an unnatural degree the libertine 
propensities of the women, by the very restraints that are 
placed upon them. To wdiatever class they belong, they 
pass their time in inventing stratagems to deceive their 
husbands while they are young, and, when they are old, 
to facilitate the amours of others. 

The night is over; the sky is covered with a golden 
light; it is time to depart. The chiefs now send forward 
scouts to reconnoitre the enemy's position, and to form 
an opinion, from external signs, of his moral condition, 
and of the reinforcements he has received. The scouts 
advance very cautiously, and, when they are nearing the 
hostile camp, travel only at night. One of them is then 
detached on foot, wlio takes advantage of every irre- 
gularity of the ground to avoid being noticed, and often- 
times, disguised in rags, penetrates boldly into the midst 
of the dollars. JThere he makes himself acquainted with 
the number of foot-soldiers, horses, and tents; observes 
whether they are laughing and amusing themselves, or 
if sadness reigns in the camp ; and then returns to com- 
municate the result of his investigations. The scouts 
remain all night in a concealed spot, impatient to dis- 
cover what will be the attitude of the encn:iy at sunrise. 


If he executes the fantasia and discharges his fire-arms, 
— if shouts of joy are heard, and singing, and the 
sound of the flute, — it is certain that he has received 
reinforcements, and troubles himself very little about the 
approaching attack. 

The tribe continues its march until it is not above nine 
or ten leagues from the enemy. The advance has been 
made by short stages. The baggage, the women, the 
foot-soldiers, are so many causes of delay; but what has 
chiefly retarded the advance are the orders of the chiefs, 
who are desirous to afford time for reflection to those they 
proposed to chastise. It was acting prudently, and they 
were influenced by powerful motives. Who knew but 
that terms of peace might be asked for, accompanied by 
many presents for themselves, the leading- councillors? 
Examples were not wanting to that effect — indeed, it 
was the usual custom. For them would be the cotton 
stuffs, the garments of cloth, the guns mounted in silver, 
the anklets, and the douros! When an affair takes such 
turn as this, an amicable arrangement is not far distant. 

The two hostile bands are at length divided from one 
another by no more than ten leagues, and no proposi- 
tions, direct or indirect, have been exchanged. Does 
the tribe recognise the impossibility of resistance, or will 
it accept battle? If it declines the contest, it assembles 
the most influential marabouts, and furnishes them with 
money and presents, towards which each individual has 
contributed his share. These holy men then proceed to 
the opposite camp in the middle of the night, under the 
protection of a chief who has received timely notice of 
their coming, after being seduced by their gifts. By 
him they are conducted to another, who is in like manner 


induced to accept the presents offered to him. The two 
now accompany the messengers of peace to a third chief, 
and so on to others, until they have gained the votes of 
all the most powerful. Then, and not till then, do the 
marabouts, secure of a friendly audience, unfold the 
propositions they are instructed to make — expressing 
themselves after this fashion : — "We have come only 
for the love of Allah. You know we are marabouts, and 
that we desire only what is right. For our sake, you 
must come to terms with the Mussulmans who have sent 
us. That is far better than bringing down upon us all 
the calamities of war, ruin and death. If you will do 
w^hat is right, Allah will bless you, yourselves, your 
wives, your children, your mares, and your she-camels. 
If you choose what is wTong, may it recoil upon your 
own heads. We repeat, make peace, and may Allah 
curse the demon ! " 

Having first raised a few difficulties for form's sake, 
the chiefs finish by saying in reply to the marabouts : — 
"Well! we will make peace for the sake of Allah, and 
for your sake, but on the following conditions : 1st, You 
will restore to us the objects, goods or animals, which 
were taken from us when your people robbed our ca- 
ravan at such a place. 2nd, You will pay the dya* of 
our people slain by yours on such a day. 3rd, You will 
restore to us all the flocks that w^ere carried off from 
us by your people on such a day, in such a Mrotefa. 
4th, You will restore to us all the camels and horses 
which your thieves have stolen from us, and which are 
still within your bounds." 

» Blood money. In the Sahara the ihja is reckoned at three liundred sheejj, or fifty 
three-year old camels. 



The marabouts accept these conditions, and g^uarantee 
their fulfilment. The sacred hook of Sidi Ahd-AUa is 
then produced, and the chiefs swear to make peace. 
After the oath has heen taken, they who have come to 
prevent the shedding' of blood return to their tribe, to 
g-ive an account of what has been decided, and compel 
them to execute the terms which they have just gua- 
ranteed. On the morrow the tribe that has accorded 
peace continues its march, and encamps within a league 
of the enemy. It is barely installed, when the marabouts 
and chiefs of the opposite party arrive with the ratifica- 
tion that was stipulated. The leading men of the two 
rival camps meet together, and again swear on the book 
of Sidi Abd- Allah :— "By the truth of Sidi Abd-Allah, 
we swear that there shall not again be between us raz- 
zia, or theft, or murder, or reprisals [o%isiga~\, that we are 
brothers, and that our guns shall henceforth fire in 

The marabouts of both parties next read i\\e,fataliJi, or 
religious invocation, and conclude with these words : 
"Allah bless you, our children, for having' thus buried 
the knife of contention, and prosper you in your families 
and in your goods ! " The marabouts are afterwards 
visited by the chiefs of both sides who present to them 
offerings called zyara, literally a visit. 

Peace concluded, the tribe that had put itself into 
motion retraces its steps, and at its departure executes 
a fantasia of the most noisy character. The horses 
caracole, reports of fire-arms resound, and the women 
utter loud cries. All is joy, happiness, and delirium. A 
dozen of the chiefs of this tribe remain in the midst of 
their late enemies, and receive from them a splendid 


hospitality, and even costly presents. And at their 
departure they take with them some of their hosts, and 
requite their new-found friends ^\'itl^ a generous wel- 
come. These truces last a considerable time; that is, 
from one to tw^o years. 

Peace, however, would certainly not have been 
concluded if the marabouts who came to intercede for it 
had not presented themselves under cover of the night. 
Had they come in the day-time, the Arabs, discerning 
their intrigues, w^ould have exclaimed out of jealousy: 
" By the sin of our w^omen ! we will fight. This one has 
received cloth-goods, that one money, another jewels, a 
fourth cotton-stuffs, and that other one arms. But we, 
w^hose brothers are dead, whose flocks have been carried, 
w^e have got nothing. Yes, we swear it by Sidi Abd- 
Allah, the pow^der shall speak." And, in truth, the 
powder very often does speak, and without the envious 
having had any cause to complain of the presents made 
to their chiefs, and without their having prevented the 
latter from entering' into negociations, and accepting 
conditions from which no advantage would accrue to the 
commonalty. This happens when the tribe threatened 
has resolved to oppose force to force, and has prepared 
for a struggle. 

In the latter event the enemy is allowed to approach 
within a day's march. No advances are made, no pro- 
positions offered. The march is therefore continued on 
the morrow, and the camp is pitched about two leagues 
from that of the tribe which awaits the assault. The 
scouts of the two parties come into collision, and, mu- 
tually exasperating each another, prelude actual hostil- 
ities by insults. A few musket shots are exchanged, and 


they cry out to one another : — "0 Fatma, daughters 
of Fatma! The night has arrived; why go on to-day? 
To-morrow shall be called your day." Or, ''Dogs, sons 
of dogs, wait till to-morrow! If you are men, you will 
meet us." 

The skirmishers fall back, and the leaders on both 
sides organise as quickly as possible a guard of one 
hundred horsemen and one hundred foot- soldiers, to 
insure the safety of the camp. On the morrow they 
watch each other attentively. If one party strike their 
tents, the others do the same; or if they leave their 
tents pitched, and advance to the combat with horses and 
foot, and with the women mounted on camels, the 
example is followed on the other side. The cavaliers of 
the two tribes confront one another. The women are 
placed in the rear, ready to excite the combatants by 
their cries and applause, and are themselves protected 
by the foot-soldiers who form the reserve. The battle 
begins by small parties of ten or a dozen horsemen 
bearing down upon the flanks, and trying to turn the 
enemy. The chiefs, at the head of a tolerably compact 
mass, keep in the centre. Presently the aifair grows 
warm and animated. The bravest and best mounted of 
the young men dash forward, carried away by passion 
and the thirst for blood. Uncovering their heads, they 
strike up their war-songs, and excite themselves by loud 
outcries : — 

"Where are they who have mistresses? It is beneath 
their eyes that the warriors will combat this day ! 

"Where are they who, in the presence of the chiefs, 
were always boasting of their valour? It is to-day that 
tongues should be long, and not in peaceful gossipings. 


"Where are they who run after fame? 

"Forward, sons of powder! You see before you those 
sons of Jews ! Our sabre shall drink of their blood, and 
their goods we will give to our women. 

" Strike out, young men ! Strike out ! It is not the 
balls that kiU, but fate." 

These shouts madden the horsemen. They make their 
steeds rear up on end, and fire off their pieces. Every 
face asks for blood. They rush together, and at last 
attack each other with the sabre. One party or the 
other, however, soon gives way, and begins to fall back 
upon the camels carrying the women. Then shrieks 
arise from both sides. These scream with joy, to ani- 
mate yet more the victors — those utter wrathful and 
terrible imprecations, to rally the failing courage of their 
husbands and brothers. 

"Look at those famous w^arriors who show off w^ith 
their bright stirrups and splendid garments at marriage- 
feasts and festivals ! Look at them running away and 
abandoning even their women! Jews, and sons of 
Jews! alight and let us mount your horses, and from 
henceforth you shall no longer be counted among men. 
Oh ! Allah curse all cowards ! " 

These railings recall the spirit of the vanquished. 
They make a vigorous effort, and, supported by the fire 
of the foot-soldiers wdio are in reserve, they recover the 
lost ground, and even hurl the enemy back into the 
midst of his own women, who now rail as loudly as they 
lately applauded. The struggle is renowned on the 
ground that separates the women of the two tribes. 
During these varying phases the contest has been very 
desperate, and before long the side that has most men 


and horses wounded, that has lost the greatest number, 
and, above all, that has witnessed the fall of its most 
valiant chiefs, takes to flight, notwithstanding the exhor- 
tations and prayers of a few energetic men, who fly from 
right to left, trying to rally the fugitives and restore the 
fight. These brave fellows cry aloud : — "Are there 
any men here, or are there not? Hold your own souls! 
If you flee, they wdll carry off your women and leave you 
nothing but shame. Die! Let it not be said : 'They 
fled ! ' Die ! and you will yet live ! " 

A beautiful and touching scene will, perhaps, then 
be enacted. A chief of the highest rank, in despair at 
being defeated, throws himself into the meUe to seek 
death, but is held back by the young men who gather 
round him, and beseech him to retire. "Thou art our 
father ! " they will exclaim ; " What will become of us if 
thou shouldst perish? It is our duty to die for thee. 
We will not remain as sheep without a shepherd." A 
handful of warriors still endeavour to make head against 
the foe, but they are swept away in the general rout, 
and soon find themselves by the side of their women. 
Every one, then, seeing that all is lost, devotes himself 
to saving what is dearest to him. As rapidly as possible 
they make to the rear, only from time to time facing 
about to check the pursuit of the enemy. 

The audacity of desperation has more than once chang- 
ed the face of things. Aissa-ben-el-Sheriff, a child of 
fourteen, mounted on horseback with his tribe to repel 
an attack directed by Sid-el-Djedid. The Arbaa were 
beginning to give way and take to flight, when the boy, 
throwing himself before them, tried to stop them : "What! 
he exclaimed, "You are men, and are afraid! You have 


been brought up in the midst of powder, and do not 
know how to burn it ! Did you pay all that attention to 
your mares only to make use of them in fight? " And 
when the others replied, "Djedid! Djedid! Look at 
Djedid!" "Djedid," continued the child. "It is a 
single man that makes you flee! Behold, then, this 
terrible warrior, wdio puts hundreds to the rout, checked 
in his victorious career by a child ! " With these words 
he dashed his spurs into his horse's flanks, and came up 
with the redoutable warrior. Djedid, fearing nothing 
from a mere boy, was oif his guard, but the latter threw 
himself round his neck, entwined his arms round him, 
and, leaving his own horse, hung by one arm, while 
with the other he endeavoured to stab him with his 
knife. Astonished at such audacity, and hampered in his 
movements, Djedid strove in vain to shake him off, but 
with all his presence of mind he was unable to parry the 
boy's frequent thrusts. Puzzled what to do, he slipped 
off his horse, hoping to crush Aissa in his fall. The 
latter, however, succeeded in avoiding him, and throw- 
ing himself on the courser of the dreaded chief, rejoined 
his tribe, to whom he exhibited a trophy that made the 
oldest warrior blush for the momentary panic to which 
they had yielded. 

Were it not that the conquerors usually build a golden 
bridge for the conquered, the latter might be easily 
destroyed; but the thirst for pillage gains the day, and 
the victors disperse in search of plunder. One despoils 
a foot-soldier, another a horseman whom he has over- 
thrown; another, again, leads away a steed, and yet 
another a negro. Thanks to this disorder, the bravest of 
the discomfited tribe succeed in saving their women, and 


even their tents. When the pillage is at an end, the 
horsemen of the victorious trihe are anxious to return 
home, and their chiefs encourage the desire. "We have 
slain numhers," say -they. "We have seized their 
horses, captured their women, taken their guns, and 
refreshed our souls hy making orphans of these sons of 
dogs. Our hest plan now is to go and sleep at such a 
place, for the enemy, strengthened by his reinforcements, 
may possibly resume the offensive and attack us during 
the night." The baggage is sent forward in front, 
and, protected by a strong rearguard, during the first 
few days they continue their march until nightfall. 

In this species of warfare, the greatest respect is 
shown to the captive women. Men of low birth, indeed, 
despoil them of their jewels, but the chiefs make it a 
point of honour to restore them to their husbands, with 
their camels, their jewels, and their ornaments. They 
even take pains to properly array those who have been 
robbed, before sending them back. 

In the desert, they make no prisoners, and cut off no 
heads, and they have a horror of mutilating the wounded, 
who are left, however, to themselves to escape or perish, 
for no one takes any trouble about them. Rare examples 
of cruelty do sometimes occur, but these are acts of 
private revenge, when men have recognised the mur- 
derers of those who were dear to them, a friend or 

On reaching their own territory, the tribe is welcomed 
by extraordinary rejoicings. The universal exultation 
betrays itself by the liveliest demonstrations. The wo- 
men draw up their camels in a single row, and utter 
cries of joy at regular intervals. The young men execute 


in their presence a fantasia of the wildest description. 
Salutations, embraces, and interrogations are exchanged 
on all sides. Food is prepared for the warriors and their 
allies, and the chiefs collect the sum that is to be divided 
among them. A common horseman never receives less 
than ten douros, or an article of equal value. This re- 
compense, called zebeim, is obligatory, and is given over 
and above the plunder each may have seized for himself; 
and, in addition to this, three camels are bestowed upon 
every cavalier who has lost a horse. It is needless to 
add that a larger sum than ten douros is offered to the 
chiefs of the allied tribes, whose influence has been so 
successful. They receive their share like the others, but 
in secret they are presented with money, or articles of 
considerable value, such as carpets, tents, arms, horses, 
etc., etc. 

A generous hospitality is offered to the allies ; and on 
the morrow, when they set out to return to their own 
territories, the chiefs mount on horseback and accom- 
pany them. After riding on together for two or three 
hours, they renew the mutual oath never to raise but one 
war-shout, never to make but one and the same gun, to 
come in the morning if summoned in the morning, and 
to come at night if summoned at night. In the desert, 
if feuds are keen and hereditary, sympathies, on the 
other hand, are also numerous and profound. The 
following verses illustrate the extreme degree of delicacy 
and devotedness to wiiich the sentiment of friendship is 
carried by the Arabs : 

If a friend docs not walk as blindly as a child, 
If he does not voluntarily expose himself to death. 
Forgetting that suicide is a crime, 


He shall have no place in the tents of our tribes. 

I will obey the summons of my friend. 

Though the morning light should he the reflection of swords, 

Though the darkness of night should he the cloud of dust raised 

hy the tramp of horses, 

I will go to die or to he happy. 

The smallest of the sacrifices to which I have agreed is death. 

Can I live far away from the place of refuge so dear to me? 

Can I support the absence of neighbours to whom I have become 


It may be naturally asked why a tribe that is menaced 
with an attack, but will not make the necessary sacrifi- 
ces to obtain peace, does not ilee, instead of awaiting 
the assault. To ilee, is to invite pursuit while in the 
disorder of a retreat. It means leaving one's country, 
exposing oneself to scarcity of water for the flocks, or 
even falling into the hands of some other enemy, who 
w^ould certainly take advantage of this opportunity for 
pillage and revenge. The wisest plan is to choose a 
good position, assemble the alHes, and await the enemy 
if confident in one's own strength, or else to make con- 
cessions if conscious of weakness. 

"0 Allah! save us and save our horses. Every day 
we lie down in a new country. It may be that She 
remembers our vigils with the flutes and tabours." 


How can any strange people contend with us, who 
are brought up in the highest sense of honour, even 
above all the tribes collected in the great assemblies? 
Dq we not advance against the enemy on horses of pure 


race, terrible as raging lions, that gallop wildly along 
the perilous mountain path? 

I have prepared, against the time when fortune shall be 
unfavourable to me, a noble courser of perfect shape, 
and which none can rival in swiftness. 

I have also a flashing sabre which severs at a stroke 
the body of an enemy. And yet fortune has treated me 
as if I had never tasted the pleasure of bestriding an 
air-drinker ; 

As if I had never rested my heart on the virgin bosom 
of a well-beloved maiden, with legs adorned with brace- 
lets of gold ; 

As if I had never felt the anguish of separation ; 

As if I had never taken part in the exciting spectacle 
of our blood horses surprising the enemy at the break of 

As if, in short, after a defeat, I had never brought back 
the runaways to the fight, by crying aloud : — 

" Fatma ! daughters of Fatma ! 

''Death is a tax levied on our heads; turn the neck of 
your horses, and repeat the charge. 

"Time turns upon itself and returns. 

" Would that I could throw the world on its face ! " 


On returning to their dollars after a razzia, or an ex- 
pedition , the Arabs of the desert proceed to divide the 
spoils in equal shares, a certain portion being set aside 
for special cases. Thus a cavalier who has slain another 
in battle is entitled to the horse of the deceased, to his 
arms, garments, harness, pouch, and djehira. "In fact, 
he has risked a life to take a life, and will have to 
answer before Allah for the death he has inflicted, 
rightly or wrongly." A horse that is captured without 
its owner being killed, is comprised among the general 
stock to be divided. If a horseman has been slain by 
several persons firing simultaneously, without it being 
clearly shown by whose hand he fell, his spoils are 
equally shared by all. In some tribes, the plunder 
reverts to the chief when it cannot be proved from whose 
gun the fatal ball was fired. Should a cavalier learn 
after the fight is over, that he has killed an enemy with 
his own hand, and be able to produce witnesses to the 
deed, he obtains restitution of the entire plunder of the 

When a tribe makes an expedition against another 


tribe, each individual retains whatever he has taken in 
Tidiks, burnouses, arms, and garments; but tents, flocks, 
horses, mules, camels, provisions, and grain, are public 
property. The chief alone is entitled, over and above an 
ordinary share, to thirty or forty ewes, or three or four 
camels, as the case may be. Even should he not have 
accompanied the tribe in person, he would still be assi- 
gned what is called the alieud ek-slieilih, or the sheikh's 
knot. If any one, not caring to join the expedition, has 
lent his mare to a friend, he shares the booty acquired 
by the latter. If the animal be killed and any prize is 
made, the value of the mare is deducted and paid over to 
her owner, for she had gone for the service of the tribe. 
Should the result be unfavourable, the ow^ner puts up 
with his loss — ''he sought his good fortune." 

Whoever offers a supply of food to a party of horsemen 
is entitled to a share if the party prove successful, as he 
was interested in the expedition. 

A " lance " [one share] is given to the farrier of the 
tribe, for he contributes his skill and labour to the 
success of the enterprise. To kill a farrier is deemed 
infamous. It is a deed that will recoil upon the guilty 
tribe, who will be pursued by a curse ever after. 

He who takes off his burnous and goes up to the 
enemy with the butt end of his rifle in the air, must also 
be spared. 

Shepherds, likewise, have their life accorded to them. 

A special share of the plunder is reserved for those 
who have been sent forward as scouts previous to the 
attack upon the enemy. It is their just recompense for 
offering their lives to secure the triumph of their bre- 
thren. If a scout loses his mare, he is compensated by 


one hundred ewes, or another mare, or by one hundred 
Spanish douros. There is no exaggeration in this esti- 
mate, for it is always the best mounted who are se- 
lected. If a band returns with booty, a "lance" is 
bestowed upon the woman of distinction who goes forth 
from her tent, and lifts up her voice in honour of the 
victors. In an affair of nif ( self-love), the pretty women 
who accompany the expedition to animate the comba- 
tants are entitled to a share of the spoils. Whoever 
lends his rifle, receives one-fourth of the share that falls 
to the lot of the borrower. 

Suppose an Arab finds a horse at pasture away from 
its owner, at a time when his tribe happens to be at- 
tacked, or is on the point of setting out on an expedition. 
Suppose he takes the animal, and places on its back a 
borrowed saddle. Suppose, further, that this saddle is 
not complete ; but that he gets stirrups from one, a girth 
from another, a bridle and a breast-band from a third, 
until at last he is completly equipped. He sets out and 
returns with plunder ; but the proprietor of the horse has 
no right to any portion of it. Had the animal been 
killed, the owner would have been reimbursed, in the 
event of success ; but if it is brought back safe and sound, 
he cannot claim anything : " The animal has been no- 
thing more than an instrument of Allah to render service 
to the brave horseman who exposed himself for the 
public good." The proprietors, however, of the different 
parts of the equipment are entitled to a share. The 
wanderers of the desert have an apologue quite in the 
Arab style which exactly defines the respective dues of 
each : 

"Quoth the saddle-tree to the horseman : 'Do you 


purpose to keep all the prize to yourself? Who furnished 
you with a seat ? What would you have done had you 
not found me there ? ' 

"A pretty story!" exclaims the girth. "The service 
you brag" of, was it after all so very great? Why, you 
would have done more harm than good, had I not held 
you on the horse's back." 

"Gently, gently!" cry the stirrups. "I acknowledge 
you may both 'of you have been useful in your way ; but 
pray tell me who supported the horseman when he 
dashed forward? On whom did he lean when he made 
use of his rifle to bring down the enemy from whom he 
took the spoils about which you are wi'angling so 
sharply? Who was it that enabled him to look far ahead, 
to stoop down, or turn round, according as he wished to 
strike a blow, or to avoid one with which he was 
threatened? " '' 

"It was you," replied the bridle. " There is no deny- 
ing the truth. And yet, my sons, by Allah, master of 
the world! our horseman would not have much riches to 
boast of to-day had he employed only your services. You 
did not take the road to the plunder, and assuredly you 
would be far enough from it now had I not guided you. 
Cease, then, these disputes. The palm is mine, for it 
was, I alone who enabled you to reach the goal." 

"Ah ! that is rather too much of a good thing ! " the 
horse ironically observes, after listening thus far without 
uttering a word. " Somehow I fancied that the greatest 
praise was due to myself. I thought I had seen you 
lying forgotten in a corner, and that you were picked 
up only because I had been found. I was dreaming, no 
doubt, and it is you who have carried me. I own that I 


was mistaken. Take me back, then, as quickly as 
possible to my pasture, or at least let me hear no more of 
your squabbles." 

"To put an end to all this jangling, the horseman 
divided his booty into six equal parts, one of which he 
gave to the saddle-tree, one to the girth, and one to the 
bridle, and kept the three others for himself. Leading 
the horse back to the pasture he said to him : ' I do not 
give thee anything, for thou hast the honour of having 
been useful to thy tribe.'" 

If any one lends a saddle complete, he is entitled to 
one-half share. This distribution is called dadet esserdj, 
or the custom of the saddle. 

When on the point of starting on an expedition, the 
goum offers up the following invocations : " Sidi Abd- 
el-Kader-el-Djilaly! Sidi-Sheik-ben-el-Dine! Sidi-el- 
Hadj-bou-Hafeus! If we succeed and return safe and 
sound, we promise a camel to each of you. Protect us!" 
Before any division takes place these three camels are 
always put aside for the marabouts. 

The division of the plunder, as may be imagined, is 
never carried out without many remonstrances, for the 
prevention or repression of which the mehadim were 
instituted. Sometimes the chiefs make choice of five or 
six individuals of approved discretion. At other times, 
after a razzia or capture of property, the booty is divided 
into four equal parts. They who execute the enterprise 
form themselves into four sections, and each section 
names a mekadem whose business it is to manage the 
subdivision. The mekadim search out and demand the 
restitution of all articles concealed by dishonourable 
persons, such as jewelry, money, coral, etc. When an 


Arab is suspected of having purloined things in this 
manner, and nothing is found upon him, the mekadim 
make him swear by Sidi-Ben-Abd- Allah, and that oath 
clears him. In the Sahara, Sidi-Ben-Abd- Allah is held in 
great yeneration. No one would dare to invoke his 
name falsely, through fear of dying, or of seeing his 
flocks w^aste away. The mekaMm are acknowledged to 
be honest among pilferers. They are well treated and 
receive a handsome remuneration, consisting for the 
most parts of articles not included in the division of the 


I have surprised them with horses of pure race, with 
sleek coats, foreheads adorned with stars announcing 
good fortune, flanks lean through exercise, and flesh 
firm and hard. I have fallen upon them like a cloud 
charged w^th lightning that hangs over a defile. 

It is a horse that, Avithout ever being fatigued, ahvays 
finishes by asking pardon of his rider. His head is lean, 
his ears and lips fine, his nostrils well open, his neck 
slender, his skin black and soft, his coat sleek, and his 
joints large. By the head of the Prophet! he is of noble 
race, and you would never ask how much he cost if you 
had seen him marching against the enemy. 

When you see the horses of the goiim marching 
proudly, their heads up, and making the air re-echo with 
their neighings, rest assured that victory accompanies 
them. But, on the other hand, when you sec the 
horses of the (joum marching sadly, with their heads 



down, without neighing, but lashing themselves with 
their tails, be sure that fortune has abandoned them. 

Nevertheless, Allah is wiser than man. 

Oh ! would that I could see my blood flowing over my 
JicCiTi, white as ivory from Soudan! It would be the 
more beautiful for it. 


In the desert there are two principal modes of hunting 
the ostrich — on horseback, and in ambush. There is, 
indeed, a third method which is only a modification of 
the second, and consists in kiUing the bird while drink- 
ing at a stream of water. 

The true sport is on horseback. Watching for the 
bird is no better than taking a sitting shot with us. 
The former is a noble and royal pastime, the latter is 
only fit for a common fellow, or a poacher. It is not 
enough to kill, the thing is to run the bird down. For 
this purpose the general sort of education given to a 
horse will not suffice. A special preparation is required, 
just as a race -horse needs a particular training for some 
days previous to the contest. 

Seven or eight days before a hunting expedition, both 
grass and straw are entirely stopped, and nothing but 
barley given. The horse is watered only once a day, at 
sunset, when the water begins to get cool, and he is 
then washed all over. He is taken out for a long ride 
every day, now walking, now galloping, during which 
the rider carefully ascertains that nothing is wanting to 


the equipment proper for the purpose. At the end of 
these seven or eight days, say the Arabs, the belly dis- 
appears, while the neck, chest, and croup show firm 
flesh. The animal is then ready to endure the fatigue. 
This special training is called teslialia. 

The equipment also is modified with a view to lighten 
the weight. The stirrups should be much less heavy 
than usual, the saddle-bow very hght, the two Tierlouss, 
or pommels, of less than the ordinary height and with- 
out the stara. The breast-band is likewise omitted, and 
instead of the seven pieces of felt only two are used. 
The bridle, in like manner undergoes several metamor- 
phoses. The blinkers and headstall are omitted as too 
heavy, the bit being simply fastened to a tolerably stout 
camel-rope, without any throat-band, and kept in its 
place by a make-shift headstall of cord. The reins are 
also very light, but strong. All four feet are shod. 

The most favourable season for this sport is during the 
great heats of summer. The higher the temperature, 
the less energy does the ostrich possess to defend itself. 
The Arabs describe the exact period by saying that it is 
when a man, standing upright, casts a shadow no longer 
than the sole of his foot. Ostrich hunting implies a 
regular expedition lasting over seven or eight days. It 
requires preparatory arrangments which are concerted 
by ten or a dozen horsemen bound in '' a knot," as for a 
razzia. Each hunter is accompanied by a servant, called 
a zemmal, who is mounted on a camel that carries, 
besides, four goat-skin bag's filled with water, barley for 
the horse, wheaten flour, another kind of flour parched, 
dates, a pot to boil the food in, leather thongs, a needle, 
and a set of horse-shoes and nails. 


Each hunter should take only one woollen or cotton 
shirt, and one pair of woollen trousers. He winds round 
his neck and ears a kind of thin stuff called in the desert 
liaoiiU, and fastens it with his camel-rope. His feet are 
protected by sandals attached by cords, but he also puts 
on light gaiters \trdbag\ He takes neither rifle, nor 
pistol, nor powder. His only weapon is a club of wild 
olive or tamarisk, four or five feet long and terminating 
in a very heavy knob. The party do not start until they 
have ascertained from travellers, or caravans, or from 
messengers sent forward for that purpose, where a 
large number of ostriches are collected at one point. 
These birds are generally met with in places where there 
is a good deal of grass, and where rain has recently 
fallen. According to the Arabs, whenever the ostrich 
sees the lightnings flash and a thunder storm coming on, 
it immediately hastens in that direction, however dis- 
tant it may be, for it thinks nothing of going ten days 
on the stretch. In the desert it is proverbially said of a 
man who is particularly careful in tending his flocks and 
supplying them with what is necessary, that "he is like 
the ostrich — where he sees the lightning flash, he is 

The start is made in the morning. At the end of one 
or two days' march, wdien the hunters have arrived near 
to the spot where they were told to look for ostriches, 
and where tracks are observable, they halt and bivouac. 
On the morrow two intelligent servants, stripped to the 
skin, and wearing nothing but a handkerchief round 
their loins, are sent forward to reconnoitre. They take 
with them a goat's-skin bag suspended from the side, 
and a small quantity of bread, and walk on until they 


come upon the ostriches, which usually keep to the 
high ground. As soon as they have sighted them, they 
lie down and observe their movements; and then, while 
one remains, the other returns to the camp, and says 
that he has seen thirty, forty, sixty ostriches — it is 
alleged that djeliba or troops to that number are really 
to be met with. At certain times, and especially when 
mating, the ostriches are seldom found more than three 
or four couples together. 

Guided by the man who has brought the information, 
the hunters advance cautiously in the direction of the 
ostriches, and on nearing the hillock on which the birds 
were sighted, they use every precaution to avoid being 
seen. Having at length reached the last inequality of 
ground that affords them any sort of cover, they dis- 
mount, and two scouts crawl forward to make sure that 
the birds are still in the same place. If these bring 
confirmation of the former tidings, each rider gives his 
horse a small draught of the water brought on a camel's 
back, for it is rare to find a place where water is to be 
had. The baggage is piled up where the halt takes place, 
without any one being left to watch it, so certain are 
they of being able to retrace their steps to the identical 
spot. Every hunter is provided with a cliibouta, or 
goat's-skin bag of water. The attendants follow the 
tracks of the horses — the camel carrying only the 
horses' evening feed of barley and his own, and water 
for both men and animals. 

Carefully reconnoitring the ground occupied by the 
ostriches, the hunters concert their mode of attack. 
Spreading out, they gradually form a circle, in which 
they inclose the quarry at a sufficient distance not to be 


seen, for the ostrich is very far-sighted. The attendants 
fill up the gaps between the horsemen. Then, when all 
are at their respective posts, the latter advance straight 
upon the ostriches, who flee panic-stricken, but are met 
by the horsemen, who at first content themselves by 
driving them back within the circle. The ostrich thus 
exhausts its strength by the rapidity of its movements ; 
for, when surprised, it does not "husband its wind." 
Again and again it repeats the same manoeuvre, always 
trying to break through the circle and always driven 
back in affright. At the first symptoms of fatigue, the 
hunters dash at them, and presently the troop scatters 
in all directions. Those that are losing strength open 
out their wings, w^hich is a sure sign of weariness. The 
hunters, now secure of their prey, hold in their horses. 
Each one picks out a bird, rides after it, overtakes it, 
and, either from behind or from the side, fetches it a 
terrible blow on the head v^ith the cudgel already men- 
tioned. The head is bald and very sensitive, whereas 
others parts of the body would offer greater resistance. 
vStunned with the blow, the ostrich falls to the ground, 
and the hunter, springing out of his saddle, cuts its 
throat, taking care, how^ever, to hold it away from the 
body, so that the wdngs may not be stained with the 

The delim, or male bird, when its throat is cut, espe- 
cially if near its young ones, moans in a lamentable 
manner, but the reiimda, or female, utters not a sound. 
When the ostrich is on the point of being overtaken, it is 
so exhausted that, if the hunter is willing to spare its life, 
it is easy for him to lead it away captive, guiding it with 
his cudgel; for by that time it can scarcely walk. 


Immediately after being bled, the bird is carefully skin- 
ned, so as not to spoil the feathers, and the skin is 
stretched on a tree or on a horse. When the camels 
arrive, salt is plentifully rubbed in. 

The servants now light fires and prepare the pots, in 
which they boil for a long time over a fierce fire all the 
fat of the bird. As soon as it is reduced to a very liquid 
state, it is poured into a sort of leather bottle formed of 
the skin stripped off from the thigh to the foot, and 
strongly tied at the lower end ; it would spoil if put into 
skin taken from any other part of the body. The fat 
of an ostrich in good condition ought to fill both its 
legs. When the bird is brooding, it is very lean, and at 
that time its fat would certainly not fill both legs; and it 
is, at that time, hunted only for the sake of its feathers. 
The rest of the flesh is served up for the hunters' supper, 
seasoned with flour and pepper. 

The attendants having watered the horses and given 
them a feed of barley, and the hunters having refreshed 
themselves, they hasten, no matter how fatiguing the 
chace may have been, to return to the spot where they 
left their baggage. There they remain forty eight hours 
to rest their horses, on whom they bestow the greatest 
care. After that, they regain their tents. Sometimes 
they send the produce of the chace to the douar, whence 
the servants bring back a fresh supply of provisions, and, 
on receiving favourable intelligence, they start on a new 

In the desert, the male bird is called delhn; the female, 
vcumda; a one-year old, vol; over one year, oiilkl gleub; 
a two-year old, oulid hougleitbtin; a three-year old, garah, 
at which age the bird attains its full growth. 


The fat of the ostrich is used in the preparation of 
food — of kouskoussou, for instance — and it is likewise 
eaten with bread. The Arabs also apply it as a remedy 
in many diseases. It is sold in the market-place, and in 
the tents of the rich a store of it is often kept to give 
away to the poor, as a medicine. It is not, however, by 
any means expensive — one pot of ostrich grease being 
exchanged for only three pots of butter. 

The plumes are sold in the Mesours, at Tougourt and 
at Leghrouat, and among the Beni-Mzab, who, at the 
time of the purchase of grain, bring ostrich skins down 
to the seaboard. Among the Oulad-Sidi-Shikh the skin 
of the male w^as formerly sold at from four to five douros, 
and that of the female at from ten to fifteen francs ; but 
of late the price has risen considerably. In the Sahara, 
before our time, the beautiful ostrich plumes were only 
used to ornament the top of a tent or a straw hat. The 
Shamba strengthen their shoes with the skin of the 
under part of an ostrich's foot. They place a strip under 
the toes, and another under the heel, and the sole will 
thus wear a long time. With the sinews they make 
laces to sow the saddles, and to mend various articles 
made of leather. 

In the eyes of the Arab ostrich hunting possesses the 
double charm of profit and pleasure. It is a favourite 
exercise of the horsemen of the Sahara, and it is also a 
remunerative enterprise, the value of the skin and fat 
much more than covering the expense. Notwithstanding 
the numerous train indispensable for this species of 
sport, it is not by any means the exclusive privilege of 
the rich. Any poor man who feels that he can acquit 
himself well can generally contrive to join a party of 


horsemen who propose to hunt the ostrich. He goes 
to a wealthy Arab, who lends him a camel, a horse and 
harness, and two-thirds of the barley required, two-thirds 
of the goat-skins, and two-thirds of the supply of food. 
The other third of all things is provided by the borrower, 
and the produce of the chace is divided between the two 
in the same proportions. The servant who, during the 
expedition, rides the camel lent to the poor man, 
receives from the latter two loiidjous for every male 
killed, and one loudjou for every female. He is, besides, 
fed from the provisions taken with him by the horseman. 

The ostrich is also hunted by lying in ambush, after 
it has laid its eggs, or towards the middle of November. 
Five or six horsemen, taking with them a couple of 
camels loaded with supplies for at least a month, go 
in search of places where rain has recently fallen, or 
where ponds are to be found. In such localities there is 
certain to be abundance of herbage, which never fails 
to attract the ostriches in considerable numbers. To 
avoid idle wanderings to and fro, they question every 
individual, every caravan, they happen to meet : besides, 
they know beforehand the most likely stations. On 
these occasions they provide themselves, not with a 
cudgel, but with a rifle and an ample supply of powder 
and ball. 

As soon as they come upon ostrich tracks, the hunters 
examine them closely. If they appear only in the form 
of patches here and there eaten down to the ground, it 
shows that the ostrich has come here merely to graze. 
But if the tracks cross each other in all directions, if the 
grass has been trampled under foot, but not eaten, it is a 
sure sign that the ostrich has made her nest in the 


neighbourhood. The hunters thereupon search attent- 
ively for the spot where she has deposited her eggs, and 
approach it with the greatest precautions. While the 
ostrich is digging out her nest, all day long her plaintive 
meanings may be heard, but after her eggs are laid she 
never utters her usual cry until about three in the 

The female sits on her eggs from morning till mid-day, 
while the male goes to the pasture. At noon he returns, 
and the female goes to feed in her turn. When she 
comes back, she places herself four or five paces from 
the nest, in front of the male, who incubates all night. 
The male himself keeps watch over the eggs to defend 
them from all enemies. Jackals, among others, often 
times place themselves in ambush near at hand ready to 
play them an evil turn, and their bodies have frequently 
been found by the hunters lying not far from the nests, 
stricken to death by the male — the female being too 
timid to inspire any fear. 

It is in the morning, during the time the female is 
sitting, that the hunters dig on each side of the nest, 
and not above twenty paces distant, a hole deep enough 
to contain a man. They then cover it over with the 
long grass so common in the desert, so that only his rifle 
is seen. The best marksmen are, of course, placed in 
these holes. 

vSeeing all these preparations, the female takes fright, 
and runs off to join the male, who beats her and compels 
her to return to the nest. If these preparations were to 
be made while the male is brooding, he would go off to 
join the female, and neither of them w^ould ever come 
back again. 


When the female returns to the nest, they take care 
not to molest her, it being the rule to kill the male in 
the first instance. It is, therefore, customary to await 
his return from the pasture, which happens about noon, 
when the hunter holds himself ready. The ostrich, 
while engaged in incubation, spreads out its wings so 
as to cover all the eggs. In this position, with its legs 
bent under the body, the thighs are very conspicuous. 
This circumstance is favourable to the marksman who 
aims to break the leg of the bird. All chance of escape 
is thus cut away, which would not be the case were it is 
wounded in any other part. As soon as the ostrich is 
down the hunters run up and cut its throat. The two 
marksmen come out of their holes, and their companions, 
attracted by the report, lend their assistance. All traces 
of blood are quickly covered with sand, and the body of 
the bird carefully concealed. At sunset the female 
returns as usual to pass the night close to the nest. 
The absence of the male causes her no anxiety, for she 
fancies he has merely gone away to feed, and she 
quietly sits upon the eggs. She is then killed in the 
same manner as her mate, by the hunter who has not 
previously fired. The one who shot the male receives a 
douro in addition to his proper share; but if, what 
rarely happens, he should miss his aim, he pays to his 
companions the value of the bird : "We chose thee," 
they say, " as the best shot : we placed thee in the good 
position to do us a benefit, and lo ! thou workest us such 
a wrong as this. Thou shalt pay for it." The hunter 
who killed the female receives only an agg over and 
above his share. If he miss, he forfeits what would have 
come to him from the price of the male and the eggs. 


The one who is to fire at the male is appointed before- 

The nest of an ordinary couple contains from twenty 
five to thirty eggs, but it frequently happens that several 
couples combine to lay in common. In that case, they 
form a large enclosure, and the oldest couple are placed 
in the centre, with the others around them in regular 
order — so that, if they are four in number, they will 
occupy the four angles of a square. When the eggs are 
all laid they are pushed towards the centre, but not min- 
gled together; and when the oldest male comes to sit 
the others take their places around, where their eggs 
were laid — and the same with the females. These 
companies are composed of the young of the same 
family — in fact, of the young of the oldest couple. They 
do not all lay the same number of eggs. The one -year 
olds, for instance, do not lay more than four or five, and 
those of a small size. At times as many as a hundred 
eggs are found in the same nest. These family gather- 
ings are most common where the herbage is most 
abundant. The Arabs have observed a very singular 
circumstance. The eggs of each couple in these 
monster nests are carefully piled up together, with one 
egg conspicuously at the top. It is the one first laid, 
and it serves for a special purpose. As soon as the male 
perceives that the moment has arrived for hatching, he 
breaks with his beak the egg he judges to be the most 
forward, and at the same time very carefully makes a 
small hole in the one which surmounts the others. The 
latter furnishes their first meal to all the young ones as 
they are hatched, and, though open, will remain sweet 
for a considerable time. This quality is peculiarly 


useful ; for the male does not break all the eggs on the 
same day, but only three or four at a time, when he hears 
the young ones moving inside. The egg which sup- 
plies them with nourishment is always liquid, w^hether 
through the prevision of nature, or that the old birds 
have instinctively avoided sitting on it. 

The fledglings, after having partaken of their first 
meal, and being speedily dried in the sun, begin at once 
to run about, and at the end of a few days follow the 
parent birds to the pasture : in the nest, they always 
nestle under their wings. The nest is generally of a 
circular form, and is formed in a sandy soil. The ostrich 
constructs it with its feet, by simply throwing- out the 
sand from the centre to the circumference. The dust 
raised by this operation may be seen at some distance. 
The period of incubation lasts ninety nights. 

The hunters eat the eggs if they are fresh, and not 
near ready to be hatched. The shells they either throw 
away, or take with them, to give as presents to friends, 
or to deposit them in the houbla.* However, for some 
time past, the Arabs have become aware that eggs are 
an article of traffic on the seaboard, and they now re- 
serve them for that object. 

The ambush hunt is very lucrative. It is quite pos- 
sible to kill several birds and carry off their eggs. At 
that season, the ostrich itself is very lean; but, on the 
other hand, the feathers are better and hold more firmly 
together. Where several couples are assembled together 
in one nest, it is only the oldest male and female that 
are killed. Were the hunters to make as many holes as 

* A small square chapol surmounted by a dome, iu which a marabout lias usually 
been interred. Solitary travellers liud iu them a resting- place. 


there are birds, they would very soon be discovered, and 
the whole company would take to flig-ht. 

According to the Arabs, ostriches kill vipers with a 
stroke of their beak, and swallow them. They eat, also, 
serpents, locusts, scorpions, lizards, and a very large 
fruit called liadj , abundant in the desert, and produced 
by a creeping plant, bitter as turpentine, having leaves 
like those of a water-melon : in short, they digest any- 
thing, even stones. Such is the voracity of this bird 
that where it is kept in a domesticated state, it bolts 
everything it comes across, knives, jewelry, bits of iron. 
The Arab who gave me these details declared that a 
woman one day had a coral necklace snatched from her 
neck and swallowed by an ostrich, and I have heard an 
officer of the African army relate how one tore off and 
bolted a button from his tunic. It is at the same time 
very adroit, and will snatch a date from a man's lips 
without hurting him. When lightnings flash and an- 
nounce a coming storm, they cannot contain themselves 
for joy. They jump about, and hasten towards the water 
of wiiich they are so fond, though capable of long endu- 
rance of thirst. 

Paternal love is a strong passion in the male ostrich. 
He never deserts his young, and fears no danger, be it 
what it may, whether from dogs, hyoenas, or man him- 
self. The female, on the contrary, is easily frightened, 
and forsakes all in her terror. Thus, in speaking of a 
man who defends his tent with courage, they compare 
him to the delim; while a feeble, timid man is likened 
to the reicmda. Ostriches are generally met travelling 
together in couples, or in family parties of four or five 
couples. But, where rain has fallen, one is certain to 


find two or three hundreds of these Mrds together. From 
a distance, they resemble a flock of camels. They never 
approach a spot that is inhabited except to drink, after 
which they flee away in haste. 

The Arabs hunt the young of the ostrich by a very 
simple method. Once upon the track, and at a short 
distance from the birds, they begin to shout aloud. The 
young ones, being frightened, run for protection to the 
parent birds; and the hunters, coming up with them, 
seize upon their prey in spite of the male, and under his 
very eyes. The delim becomes terribly excited, and 
exhibits the most poignant grief. Sometimes grey- 
hounds are employed in this sport. While the old birds 
are defending themselves against the dogs, the hunters 
carry off' the little ones without any difficulty, and 
bring them up in their tents, where they are easily 
tamed. They play with the children and sleep under 
the canvass. In the wanderings of the tribe they follow 
the camels. There is no instance of any bird brought 
up in this way taking to flight. They are full of spirits, 
and frolic with the horsemen, dogs, etc., etc. Does a 
hare happen to start up, away go the men in full chace, 
and the ostrich, becoming excited, rushes after them 
and takes part in the hunt. If it meets in the douar a 
child with something in its hand of an eatable nature, 
it lays him gently on the ground, and endeavours to 
take it from him. The ostrich is. a great thief; or rather, 
as I have already said, it desires to swallow everything 
it sees. The Arabs, therefore, distrust it when they are 
counting out money, for two or i\iVQQ douros would soon 

It is no uncommon thing to see a wearied child placed 


on the back of an ostrich. The bird proceeds with its 
burden straight to the tent, the little fellow holding on 
by its pinions. But it would not submit to carry a 
heavier load — a man, for example, but would hurl him 
to the ground by a blow^ from its wing. On the march, 
in order to keep it from running about to the right or 
left, they pass a cord round one of its hocks, to which 
they fasten another cord by which to hold it. In the 
desert, the ostrich has no other enemy to fear than man. 
It can repel the dog, the jackal, the hyoena, and the 
eagle, but yields, perforce, to man. 

I mentioned that there was a third mode of hunting 
the ostrich, when on its way to w^ater. The Arabs 
simply make a hole near the water, conceal themselves 
in it, and fire upon the creature as it approaches to 

Ostrich hunting, in the Sahara, makes numerous and 
excellent marksmen, who practice at hitting- nothing 
but the head, in order that the blood may not stain 
the feathers. A marksman of note always carries a 
chaplet of talismans behind the lock of his rifle, and his 
name is quoted in the tribes. Among the defenders 
of Zaatcha there was more than one crack hunter of 

The ostrich drinks every fifth day if water is to be 
had : if not, it can endure thirst for a long time. Ostrich 
hunting is a very profitable sport. The Arabs say of a 
successful speculation : " It is an excellent transaction 
— as good as an ostrich hunt." 

The Arab to whom I am indebted for these particulars 
is an Oulad-Sidi-Shikh, named Abd-el-Kader-Mohammed- 
bon-Kaddour, a professional hunter. According to liim, 



the country for ostriches is comprised in a triangle 
contained by lines drawn from Insalah to Figuig, from 
South to North— from Figuig to Sidi-Okba, from West 
to East— and from Sidi-Okba to Ouargla, from North to 



The chace of the gazelle is not, like that of the ostrich, 
at the same time a lucrative and a toilsome enterprise — 
it is merely an exercise, a pastime, a party of pleasure. 
The gazelle is barely worth a franc or a franc and a half, 
and it is not for such a valueless prey that an Arab will 
prepare, train, fatigue, and even risk the loss of a horse, 
— as frequently happens in ostrich hunting. Besides, 
in this species of sport, the chief credit belongs neither 
to the man nor to the horse, — for whom it is, properly 
speaking, nothing more than a promenade — but to the 
greyhound, that other companion of the noble of the 
desert, of whom I shall have occasion to speak hereafter. 

If the gazelle be of little value, it is because it is by no 
means rare. Everywhere, but above all in Sersou, is 
found the sine, or diminutive gazelle; in the Tell and in 
mountainous districts, the ademi, the largest kind; and 
in the Sahara, the rime, or intermediate species, distin- 
guished by the whiteness of its belly and thighs, and the 
length of its horns. All these varieties alike travel in 
herds of four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, a hundred; and 
not unfrequently as many as two or three hundred are 


found herding together. At a distance they may he 
taken for the flocks of an emigrating trihe. A herd of 
gazelles is called a djeWm. 

Gazelle hunting is not a sport exclusively reserved for 
horsemen. In the mcessant and daily wanderings of 
the Sahara tribes, as soon as the camp is fixed near a 
fountain or river, the hunters set off in great numbers, 
taking care to go up the wind. The gazelles possessing 
a very fine sense of smell, the scent of the men wafted 
on the wind would soon put them to flight. The hunter 
advances under shelter of bush after bash, and from 
time to time imitates the cry of the gazelle. The latter 
stops, looks about on all sides, and seeks the companion 
it supposes to have gone astray. The hunter approaches 
close to it, and may even be seen without scaring it 
away. At a proper distance he pulls the trigger, and 
rarely misses his aim, "unless a spell cast upon his rifle 
causes it to hang fire, and prevents it from going off 
during the whole day." At the sound of the report the 
entire herd dashes off at top speed, but at the end of a 
league or a league and a half, their fright has passed off 
with the recollection of the cause of their alarm, and 
they again halt and go on browsing as before. 

The genuine hunter is a hardy, indefatigable walker. 
Experience teaches him in what direction the herd is 
likely to stop, and to that he bends his steps. Again he 
conceals himself and repeats the former manoeuvre. In 
this manner, in the course of the day, he can bring down 
three or four gazelles, which his friends or servants will 
lift up and carry to the camp in triumph. In the spring 
time, when the djcdi, or fawns, sleep amidst the alfa, 
having taken their fill of the milk of their mother, it is 


easy to catch a dozen or fifteen of them in a single 
morning. It is the old hind that generally betrays them^ 
But not such is the sport of persons of distinction, of the 
real horsemen. What the great chiefs affect is to hunt 
them on horseback. A dozen or fifteen cavaliers take the 
field, accompanied by their servants, and seven or eight 
greyhounds, and carrying with them tents and provi- 
sions. Directing their course towards a place where, 
gazelles are usually found, they ride forward at a venture. 
When a herd of gazelles appears in the distance, they 
proceed towards it, covering their advance as much as 
possible by means of shrubs and the inequahties of the 
ground. When they get within a quarter of a league, the 
attendants who hold the hounds in leash, squeezing their- 
throats to prevent them from giving tongue, dismount 
and let them slip. No sooner do they find themselves 
free than they go off like an arrow, the Arabs stimulat- 
ing them to still greater speed by shouts and passionate 
invocations : '' My brother ! my lord ! my friend ! there 
they are ! " The horsemen follow leisurely at a gentle 
gallop, so as not to be quite thrown out; and behind them 
comes the baggage. The best greyhounds will not fairly 
overtake the herd until after a course of two or three 
leagues. Then, at last, the spectacle becomes full of 
incident and interest. A thoroughbred greyhound picks 
out the finest animal of the herd, and springs forward. 
A contest of agility and swiftness ensues. The gazelle 
doubles, now to the right, now to the left, bounds for- 
w^ards and backwards, leaps even over the greyhound, 
and strives sometimes to throw him out, sometimes to 
strike him with its horns. Its windings and doublings 
are all to no purpose. Ardent and indefatigable, its 


enemy hangs close upon its track. When on the point 
of being pulled down it utters plaintive cries, and chants, 
as it were, its death song — song of death to it, but of 
-victory to the greyhound who seizes it by the back of 
the neck, and snaps the vertebral column with its teeth. 
The gazelle falls to the ground, and lies motionless at 
the feet of the victor, until the hunters come up and cut 
the throat of the still living animal. 

Now, as every true Believer should conform to the 
Law, and as it is possible that he may not reach the spot 
for a quarter of an hour after the gazelle has been pulled 
down, the hunters, before letting the hounds loose, do 
not omit to exclaim : Bi es-sem Allah/ Allah akiarf 
"In the name of Allah! Allah is great!" For the 
Prophet hath said : " When thou hast let loose thy dog 
and hast invoked the name of Allah, if thy dog has 
not killed the game that he has overtaken, and thou 
hast found it yet alive, cut its throat to purify* it; and 
if it was already dead when thou hast found it, and thy 
dog has not eaten of it, thou mayest eat of it." If the 
previous invocation was omitted through accident, the 
game may still be eaten ; but not if the omission has 
been voluntary. 

The horsemen who are well mounted, and own the best 
greyhounds, renew the chace, and not until the evening 
do men and animals take rest. Sometimes the hunters 
cook the gazelle on the spot where they have pitched 
their camp. At other times, on their return home on the 
morrow, they send the product of the chace to their 
friends and relatives, and these presents give rise to 

» In order to make the purification complete, it is necessary to cvit tlirouph the 
a!soi)h;ifrus, the tracheal artery, and the two jug'ular veins. 


family feastings at which the chief dish consists of the 
flesh of this animal, so highly esteemed by the Arabs. 
Gazelles are brought up in the tents, and are driven with 
the sheep at every change of encampment; but in the 
end they always contrive to escape. The winter is the 
proper season for hunting the gazelle and the antelope. 
The earth, softened by the heavy rains, retards and em- 
barrasses their flight, while the dogs and horses find 
water everywhere. When the snow is on the ground, if 
a party of Arabs come upon a herd of gazelles, a regular 
massacre ensues. They are then unable to run, and 
being famished are easily overtaken. Ten or a dozen 
may be killed by each Arab. In hunting this animal 
the Arabs take with them three burnouses, boots, and 
shoes, and carry the horse-cloth upon the top of the 

The proverbial beauty of the gazelle's eyes, and the 
whiteness of its teeth, have given rise to a curious 
practice. Women with child have one brought to them 
that they may lick its eyes with their tongue, in the 
belief that the eyes of their infant will have the same 
lustrous melancholy. Under a similar idea they touch 
its teeth with a finger, which they afterwards put into 
their own mouth. The horns, shaved thin and mounted 
in silver, are used by women as instruments to put Tiohol 
on their eyes ; and the skin, after being carefully tanned, 
is made into mezoiieud, or cushions, in which they 
enclose their most valuable articles. 


If it were necessary to prove how aristocratic are the 
habits of the people of the Sahara, how lordly their 
tastes, I could give yet another very simple proof, which 
some persons may regard as puerile — I mean the love 
they have for the slougui, or greyhound. 

In the Sahara, as in all Arab countries, the dog is 
looked upon as a servant in disgrace, troublesome, and 
cast oif, no matter how useful he may be in guarding the 
douar, or in looking after the flocks. The greyhound 
alone enjoys the esteem, the consideration, the tender 
attention of his master. The rich as well as the poor 
regard him as a companion of their chivalrous pastimes ; 
while for the latter he is also the purveyor that supplies 
them with food. They do not grudge him, therefore, 
the most assiduous care. The couplings are as scrupu- 
lously superintended as those of their horses. A 
Saharene will go twenty or thirty leagues to couple a 
handsome greyhound bitch with a dog of established 
reputation ; for one that is really famous will run down 
a gazelle. "When he perceives a gazelle cropping a 
blade of grass, he overtakes her before she has time to 


swallow what she already holds in her mouth." This 
is an hyperbolical expression, no doubt, but still it is 
based on a certain degree of truth. 

When the sloiigtcia, or bitch, has pupped, the litter is 
never lost sight of for an instant. The women will 
sometimes give their own milk to them. Visitors arrive 
in troops, the more numerous and eager according to 
the reputation of the mother. They surround the owner, 
offering him dates, kouskoussou, etc. There is no sort 
of flattery they will not lavish upon him in the hope of 
obtaining a pup : "I am thy friend. Prithee, give me 
what I ask of thee. I will attend thee in thy hunts," etc. 
To all these solicitations, the owner usually replies that 
he will not decide upon what pups he means to keep for 
himself until after seven days. This reservation has its 
motive in a very singular observation, or fancy, of the 
Arabs : in every litter, one of the pups gets upon the 
back of the others. Is it a sign of greater vigour? or is 
it mere chance? To ascertain this point they rem.ove it 
from its habitual position, and if it returns to it for seven 
consecutive days, the owner builds upon it such extra- 
vagant expectations, that he would not accept a negress 
in exchange. A prejudice causes them to attach the 
greatest value to the first, third, and fifth pups, in fact, 
to all the odd numbers. 

The pups are weaned at the end of forty days, but are 
still fed with goat's, or camel's milk, thickened with 
dates, or kouskoussou. In the Sahara, the flocks are so 
numerous and milk so abundant, that it is not at all sur- 
prising that wealthy Arabs, after having weaned their 
greyhound pups, should set aside so many she-goats for 
their nourishment. When the pups are three or four 


months old, their education commences. The boys drive 
out of their holes the jerboa, or the rat called loualal, 
and set the pups at them. The latter by degrees get 
excited, dash after them at full speed, bark furiously at 
their holes, and only give up the pursuit to begin 
another. At the age of five or six months, they are 
assigned a prey more difficult to catch — the hare. Men 
on foot lead the greyhound close to the form where the 
animal is couched. Then, by a slight exclamation, they 
set the young dog, who rushes at the hare, and soon 
acquires the habit of coursing with speed and intelli- 
gence. From the hare, they pass to the young of the 
gazelle. The Arabs approach the spot where these are 
lying near their mother, and direct the attention of the 
greyhound to them. As soon as he is thoroughly excited 
and rears up with impatience, they let him go. After a 
few lessons of this kind, the greyhound understands 
perfectly what to do, and begins to press forward re- 
solutely in chace of the old hinds themselves. 

When a year old the greyhound has very nearly 
reached its full strength. His scent is developed, and 
he follows the gazelle by its slot. Nevertheless, he is 
kept under some restraint, and not until the age of 
fifteen to eighteen months is he regularly allowed to 
hunt. From that period, however, he is held in leash, 
and often with great difficulty ; for the Arabs say that 
when the greyhound scents the game, his muscular 
power becomes so great that, if he stiffens himself upon 
his paws, a man can hardly make him lift a leg. As 
soon as^he sights a herd of thirty or forty gazelles, he 
trembles with joy, and looks up at his master, who cries 
to him : "Ah son of a Jew! thou canst not say this time 


that thou didst not see them." The hunter then takes 
off his goat's-skin bag, and pours a little water on the 
back and belly of the hound, who, in his impatience, 
casts a suppliant eye on his master. At last, he is free 
and bounds forward. Presently, he tries to hide himself, 
stoops down, and follows a circuitous course until he is 
within an easy distance, when he springs forward with 
all his might, and picks out for his victim the finest male 
in the herd. When the hunter cuts up the gazelle, he 
throws to the slougui the flesh around the kidneys. If 
he were to offer him the intestines, he would reject them 
with disdain. 

The greyhound that cannot hunt at two years old, will 
never be able do so. There is a saying to this effect, 

A greyhound after two years 
And a man after two fasts [fifteen years] ; 

meaning thereby that that is the proper age to judge 
what either will ever be worth. 

The greyhound is an intelligent animal and full of self- 
love. If, in slipping him, a fine gazelle is pointed out to 
him, and he kills only a common looking one, he is very 
sensible of the reproaches addressed to him, and slinks 
off, ashamed of himself, without claiming his portion. 
He has no lack of vanity, and indulges much in fantasia. 
A thoroughbred slougui will neither eat nor drink from 
a dirty vessel, and refuses milk in which the hand has 
been dipped. Has he not been taught this disdainful 
daintiness? And yet the utmost that is done for the 
common dog, their faithful and vigilant guardian, is to 
let him find his food among the offal and bones that are 
lying about. And while the latter is driven with hoot- 


ings from tent and table, the greyhound sleeps in the 
compartment reserved for men, on carpets by his 
master's side, or on his very bed. He is clothed and 
sheltered from the cold, like the horse, and is even 
preferred for being chilly, as that is an additional proof 
of the purity of his race. The women take pleasure in 
bedecking him with ornaments, in tying collars of shells 
round his neck, and in securing him from the evil eye 
by fastening talismans on him. He is fed with care, 
nicety, and caution, kouskoussou being lavished upon 
him. In summer-time, to give him strength, they make 
a paste of milk and dates, of which the stones have been 
extracted. There are some who never feed their grey- 
hounds during the day. Nor is this all. The slougiii 
accompanies his master when on a visit, and receives 
the same hospitality with him, having a portion of every 

A thoroughbred greyhound will hunt with no one but 
his master. By his cleanliness, his respect for decency 
and the graciousness of his manner, he shows that he 
recognizes the attention paid to him. On his master's 
return after a somewhat prolonged absence, the slougui 
leaps with a bound on to his saddle, and caresses him. 
The Arabs talk to him : " friend, listen to me ! You 
must brings me some meat. I am tired of eating dates," 
and flatter him in many ways. The petted animal leaps 
about in a frolicsome manner, and seems not only to 
understand but to wish to reply. The death of a slougui 
fills the whole tent with mourning, the women and 
children bewailing him as if he were one of the family. 
Sometimes it falls to the greyhound to find food for all, 
and one that nourishes a family can never be for sale. 


Now and then, however, he may be given away in 
compHance with the supplications of women and relati- 
ves, or of the most respected marabouts. 

A greyhound that catches with ease the sine and the 
ademi, is worth a she-camel ; but one that can overtake 
the rione is priced as a valuable horse. They are very 
generally named gliezal or gJiezala, "a gazelle." Fre- 
quently wagers are laid on such or such a slotigui, the 
stakes being sheep, or a feast of taam, dates, etc. 

The greyhound of the Sahara is far superior to that of 
the Tell. He is of a tawny colour, and tall, with a 
sharp snout, broad forehead, short ears, and muscular 
neck; the muscles of the hindquarters being', also, very 
prominent. He has no belly, clean limbs, well detached 
sinews, the hock near the ground, the under part of the 
paw small and dry, the palate and the tongue black, and 
the hair very soft. Between the two ilia, there should 
be the breadth of four fingers, and the tip of the tail 
should be able to pass under the thigh and reach the 
hip-bone. Both the fore-arms are generally fired in five 
lines to harden the muscles. 

The most renowned greyhounds of the Sahara are 
those of the Hamian, the Oulad-Sidi-Shikh, the Harar, 
the Arbaa, and the Oulad-Nail. 


The sporting* equipments of a noble of the Sahara are 
complete when he has a thair el Jiorr, or a bird of race ; 
for there men of distinction are still addicted to falconry. 
The thair el Jiorr is of a dark yellow plumage, with a 
short, powerful bill, thick, muscular thighs, and very 
sharp talons. It is very rare, and is caught in the fol- 
lowing manner. When a tliair el liorr has been sighted, 
they put a tame pigeon into a small net, and throw it up 
into the air in front of the bird of prey, who swoops 
down upon it. Her talons, however, get entangled in 
the net, so that she can neither draw them out, nor fly 
away, and is thus easily secured. When the falcon finds 
herself a prisoner, she shows no signs of fear or anger. 
There is a saying in the desert which is often quoted in 
seasons of calamity : 

A bird of race, when she is caught, never frets. 

Rings are passed round her legs and she is fastened 
to a small perch prepared for her in the tent. To 
accustom her to the presence of men, they cover her head 
with a hood, which allows only the beak to appear. 

HAWKING . 271 

Her master unhoods her, gives her fresh meat, holds her 
on his fist, and caresses and speaks to her as much as 
possible before a numerous company, to accustom her 
to noise. At the end of a month the bird knows her 
master, and is thoroughly tamed. They then take a 
leveret and tie it by one leg, the hawk also being held 
fast by a very long " creance." They unhood her, and 
let the leveret go before her eyes. As soon as the bird 
sees it, she rises into the air, uttering cries. The 
leveret stops and squats down, when the falcon swoops 
and kills it with a blow of her talons. The owner runs 
up, draws the leveret, and gives a portion to the bird. 
This manoeuvre is repeated until the falcon shows no 
desire to fly away, which is known by her remaining 
beside the animal she has killed. The falcon, naturally 
disposed to seize her prey, is further looked upon as 
trained, when she answers to the call before she has 
pounced upon her quarry. 

Having arrived at this point, the bird may jbe taken 
out to hunt. The owner mounts his horse and takes her 
with him, hooded, and perched upon his head or his 
shoulders. As soon as he sees a hare, he unhoods her 
and excites her with his voice. The falcon soars into 
the air, and swoops down suddenly with a sharp cry, 
and kills the animal with a single blow ; after which the 
hood is immediately put on again. Sometimes the hare 
is killed so far off that the hunter cannot bleed it in time, 
according to the religious injunction; but this inconve- 
nience is obviated by his exclaiming, when he throws off 
the bird, Bi es-sem Allah! Allah aHhar — "in the name 
of Allah ! Allah is great ! " If the falcon has devoured a 
part of the game, the rest may be eaten by the hunter. 


because the bird of prey has been trained to return to 
her master when he calls her, and not to eat the game. 
A bird of race will no more eat carrion |than will an 
eagle. She will kill hares, rabbits, the young of the 
gazelle, the lia'bara—2. bird, they say, as big as a 
bustard — pigeons, and turtle-doves. 

The principal tribes of the Sahara that practice hawk- 
ing are : in the province of Constantine, the Douaouda, 
the Selmya, the Oulad-Moulat, the Oulad-ben-Aly, the 
Sahari, the Oulad-Mahdi, the Oulad-Bou-Azid, the 
Rahman, and the Oulad-Zid; in the province of Algiers, 
the Bou-Aysh, the Oulad-Mokhtar, the Oulad-Yagoub, 
the Oulad-Shayb, the Oulad-Ayad, the Mouidat, the 
Zenakha, the Abadlya, the Oulad-Nail; and in the 
province of Oran, the Hassasna, the Rezayna, the Oulad- 
Mehalla, the Beni-Mathar, the Derraga, the Harar, the 
Angades, the Hamyan, the Oulad-Sidi-Shikh, and the 
Oulad-Khelif; and the inhabitants of all the regions 
where alfa grows in abundance. Hawking is also 
pursued in the higher table-lands, on the borders of the 


The Arabs recognize four species of birds of noble 
race, which they employ in the chace. These are the 
loerana, the terakel, the nebala, and the laliara. The 
lerana and the terctkel are the most esteemed ; especially 
the terakel, which is the largest — the female sometimes 
attaining the size of an ordinary eagle. This species 
has black wings, gray on the under side. The belly is 


black and white, the tail black, as is also the head when 
young, but gradually turning gray and then white as 
the bird grows older. Its beak is very hard and sharp, 
and its talons solid and yigorous. The lerana is less 
strong and somewhat smaller than the terakel. Its 
wings are of a whitish gray, its breast white, its tail 
gray and white, the latter predominating. The head is 
of many hues, but there also white is the dominant co- 
lour. The laliara is almost entirely black, with the 
exception of a few whitish spots on the breast. "It is a 
negro, and not worth much." In the nebala, gray pre- 
dominates; there are some w^hite spots, however, on the 
wings, and the feet are yellow. All these birds mew at 
the end of summer. 

In certain districts, the following species are likewise 
valued ; the shasliin, the aogab, the meguernes, and the 
l)az. The Mz is the most courageous. Its plumage is of 
a dark red, its eyes deep set, with arched eyelids, its 
shoulders wide apart, its feathers soft, its breast broad, 
its rump thick, its tail short, its thighs wide apart, its 
legs white, and its feet broad. The heavier it feels on 
the hand, the swifter it is on the wing. It is said that 
its wind is bad. 

The bird of noble race is given away rather than sold ; 
whoever catches one takes it to the master of a large 
tent, who makes him a present in return. It is in the 
summer-time that they endeavour to procure these noble 
birds, in order to have time to train them for the hawk- 
ing season, which is towards the end of autumn. They 
go to work in the following manner. 

They envelope a pigeon in a sort of shirt made of 
horse-hair and a quantity of wool. A horseman rides 



about a desert place carrying this lure with him, and 
when he sees a bird of race, throws it up into the air 
and then hides himself. The falcon stoops and strikes 
it, but her leg's and talons become entangled in the 
wool and hair, and her struggles only make her position 
worse. At last, stupefied and exhausted, she finishes 
by alighting, or rather by falling on the ground, when 
the horseman issues from his hiding place and secures 
her. A perch is prepared for her in the chief's own tent, 
to which the bird is fastened by an elegant thong of 
Jilali.*^ It is needless to add that the greatest care is 
taken to attach the jesses, so as not to hurt the bird, or 
cause her unnecessary inconvenience. The master of 
the tent feeds her with his own hands once a day, about 
two in the afternoon. Her ordinary food is raw mutton, 
very clean, and carefully cut up. She is not stinted as 
to quantity, may eat to satiety, and is even expected to 
improve in condition. 

By w^ay of commencing her education, they proceed 
in this manner. They show her a large piece of flesh, 
and at the same time call to her three times, with a cry 
that may be represented by the sound long drawn out of 
" Ouye ! ouye ! ouye ! " The bird throws herself upon the 
meat, which is not given up to her, but which she fights 
hard to get hold of. They draw it away slowly, still 
showing it to her and teasing her, until she is quite 
exhausted, when they give her several small morsels on 
her perch. Up to that time, the falcon is kept scrupu- 
lously within the tent, remaining hood-winked all day, 
and also during the first few nights, until she is ac- 
customed to live with the women and children, the dogs 

» A kind of leather dressed at TatiliUet. 


and other animals. This last point is difficult to manage, 
and is never completely achieved. 

When the " gentle " bird has got thus far, when she is 
used to accept her food upon the perch, in the manner 
above described, the circle of her prison is extended. 
She is fastened by the foot to a cord, or creance, of 
camel's hair, soft and pliable, from fifty to sixty cubits 
in length, which allows her to go abroad. Outside of 
the tent, they repeat the lesson of calls to come and be 
fed, cautiously feeling their w^ay. The falcon is in this 
manner tended a long time within the tent, going out 
only to receive her food. When her master is quite sure 
of having accustomed her to himself, he takes her with 
him on his fist to a considerable distance, putting on 
and off her hood several times, at different intervals. It 
is not without difficulty, without many struggles, that 
the bird accommodates herself to the scene abroad, but 
by degrees she becomes used to that also. 

At this period, the last touch is given to her education, 
by means of the same calls, the same alternations of 
teasing and gratifying; but far from the tent and the 
douar, without hood and without leash, her food is given 
to her. As soon as she is gorged, the hood and leash 
are replaced. After that, her master never moves a step 
without her perched upon his fist. But this is not 
enough. The bird is only tamed — she has yet to be 
trained for the sport. Accordingly, they take a hare 
and cut its throat, disclosing the gash by drawing back 
the skin, so as to let the flesh appear. Then, inside the 
tent, they take off the hood of the falcon, who springs 
at the throat of the animal, and is allowed to worry it 
for a time in order to get a taste for it; and a little later 


they give her some of the flesh. This manoeuvre is 
repeated seven or eight days following, with a live hare, 
whose ears the master keeps pulling to make it squeal, 
w^hile he himself utters the call " Ouye ! Ouye ! " The 
falcon precipitates herself on the head of the animal and 
fights for it, pecking out the eyes, and sometimes the 
tongue. The hare is then opened, and some of the flesh 
given to the bird. This exercise is repeated more or less 
frequently, according to the bird's aptitude for learning. 

The hawking season is now at hand. The bird must 
be put to the proof, to ascertain if she has profited by 
these lessons so skilfully graduated, by this education so 
laboriously inculcated, and so appropriate to her nature 
and to the style of sport for which she is intended. They 
go out, therefore, on horseback, taking the "gentle" 
bird hood-winked, and proceed to an open plain, or a 
vast plateau, having first provided themselves with five 
or six live hares. Having reached the appointed spot 
they take a hare and, having broken its four feet, let it 
go within the scope of the bird's ken. Squeaking and 
moaning it hobbles on as well as it can, when they 
unhood the falcon, and throw her off — exclaiming Bi es- 
scm Allah! Allah alibar! The terakel, impatient, soars 
straight up toward the sky, and from a great height 
swoops down upon the hare, which she kills, or stuns, 
wdth a single blow with her tightly closed talons, as 
with a fist. The hunters come up, bleed and open the 
animal, and give the entrails, the liver, and the heart to 
the bird, who devours them on the spot. After repeating 
this lesson several days in succession, the training of 
the bird is considered complete. 

This course of instruction has extended from summer 


to near the end of autumn, which is the favourable season, 
for the falcon only hunts w^ell in cloudy and cold weather. 
She cannot endure the glare of the sun, nor yet thirst or 
heat. She would leave her master to go in search of 
water, which she sees from afar, and would never return. 
At that period, then, a party sets out after a light break- 
fast, at about eleven in the morning, with the falcon on 
the shoulder or on the fist. The only provisions they 
take with them are camel's milk, dates, bread, and dried 

But the sport does not begin until after a tolerably long 
ride, towards three in the afternoon. The cavalcade is 
usually a numerous one. Having reached a suitable 
spot, they scatter about, beating the brush-wood and 
tufts oialfa in the hope of starting a hare, which they 
drive towards the man who holds the falcon. As soon as 
the quarry is sighted, the latter unhoods the bird, and 
throws her off; pointing with his finger to the hare, and 
exclaiming Ha liou! "there it is! " While her master is 
pronouncing the sacramental Bi es-sem Allah! Allah 
aMarf the bird is off, soars out of sight, keeping the 
hare in view all the time with her piercing eye, and then 
precipitates herself upon it, and strikes it, either on the 
head or on the shoulder, one blow with her closed talons, 
violent enough to stun, if not to kill it. The horsemen, 
seeing the falcon stoop, gallop up from all quarters, 
surround her, and generally find her engaged in picking 
out the eyes of the hare. To make her let go, some one 
draw out from below his burnous the skin of another 
hare, and throw it down a little way off, when she 
immediately pounces upon it. Her curce, or reward, is 
not ""ivcn to her until after their return to the douar. 


It will be readily understood that, thoiig^h the bird was 
fed abundantly, and even to excess, during the time she 
was being tamed, and taught to obey the call, she is kept 
somewhat sparingly during the hawking season, to avoid 
making her dull and depriving her of her full power, and 
in order to make her a good hunter, that is, ardent and 

It is no uncommon thing with two or three falcons to 
kill from ten to fifteen hares in a day. A lage bird called 
the habara* is also hunted with the thair el liorr, and in 
this wise. The hunters ride on until they meet with 
Jidbaras, who generally go in couples, or in companies 
of half a dozen and more. The falcon is on the fist. Her 
hood is removed, and the birds are pointed out to her. 
When thoroughly roused, she is thrown off with the 
invocation, Bi es-sem Allah! She soars aloft, stoops 
upon her quarry, strikes it on the head, and holds it in 
the pitiless grasp of her talons in spite of the desperate 
struggles of the victim, until the horsemen come up and 
snatch it from her. One of them then bleeds it to death, 
and gives the falcon her reward. The flesh of this bird 
intoxicates the falcon, according to the Arabs, either 
because of the perfumed vapour emanating from it, or 
because she is proud of the capture of a lidbara, a 
dainty fit to set before a Sultan. Thus, when she is 
replaced on the shoulder, she struts and balances herself, 
and executes her fantasia. If the luibara attempts to 
fiy, the falcon soars, and both mount together, the latter 
rising higher and higher till she is well above the other, 
when she precipitates herself upon it like a thunder-bolt, 
and breaks, first a wing, and then the sternum. They 

» Probably the Guinea-fowl. 


fall together, tumbling over and over, but the falcon 
always managing to keep uppermost and to hold her 
victim beneath her, so that it alone may feel the shock 
of this frightful fall. - 

The "gentle" bird hunts, also, the seroim, the hamma, 
and the agad. Some falcons will not hunt the Tidbara. 
They are never trained to hunt partridges, as it is feared 
that, if they became accustomed to it, they would prefer 
a feathered quarry to one with a skin. If a bird delays 
to return to her master, a horseman, holding in his hand 
the skin of a hare furnished with ears and feet, gallops 
up towards her and throws this lure to her, at the same 
time hooping " Ouye ! " : she generally answers to the 
call. This interjection, if I may so express myself, is the 
vocative of the bird of race. The falcon, when properly 
trained, seldom betrays, that is, escapes from her master. 
They are sometimes lost, however, by their passion for 
a desert bird called hamma, which they pursue with fury. 

The Uaz — such is the name of the falconer, the indi- 
vidual whose special duty it is to tend and feed the falcon 
— sometimes entertains a blind and fatal attachment for 
his pupil. He will pet and pamper her to excess; and 
although it is proverbially said that " vanity is her only 
counsellor and sole motive of her actions," yet, if she be 
not hungry, instead of hunting, she resumes her liberty. 
A bird, however, must be exceedingly well trained and 
even renowned, to be kept for more than one year. As a 
rule, unless she has displayed an exceptional prowess, 
she is turned loose at the end of the season, as another is 
sure to be obtained before the time comes round again. 
Birds that have been kept for three years are quoted as 
something quite out of the common run. 


When the djouad, or no"bles, go out hawking, it is in 
parties of five-and-twenty to thirty, without reckoning 
their attendants, and wagers are often laid. For a 
trained falcon, a camel is given, or a hundred houdjous, 
and at times even a horse. The falcon is regarded as a 
member of the family. She lives in the tent, and is the 
object of the most constant attention. Some chiefs are 
never to be seen without their falcon, which they carry 
about with them everywhere. It is a sign of distinction 
and of gentle birth to have marks of a falcon's muting- 
on one's burnous. In the Sahara, little or great, rich 
or poor, all alike love and caress the '" gentle " bird. 

" And how should it be otherwise? " said to me one day 
a noble Arab; "we love pomp, splendour, and magni- 
ficence, and one must be more or less than an Arab not 
to feel joy and excitement at the sight of our warriors 
returning from hawking. The chief rides on in front, 
followed by many horsemen, and carrying two falcons, 
one on his shoulder, the other on his fist, guarded by a 
leather gauntlet. The hoods of these birds are enriched 
with silk, morocco leather, gold, and small ostrich 
plumes, while their jesses are embroidered and orna- 
mented with silver bells. The steeds neigh, the camels 
are loaded with game, and their drivers murmur, in a 
melancholy tone, one of those chaunts of love, or war, 
wliich never fail to find the way to our hearts. Yes; 
I swear by the head of the Prophet, next to a goum 
taking the field, there is nothing so striking as the de- 
parture or return of a hawking party. Thus, however 
weary, exhausted, and out of breath one may be, sleep 
is less refreshing than the hope and expectation of re- 
commencing on the morrow." 



It is related that an Arab Sheikh was seated in the 
centre of a numerous group, when a man who had lost 
his ass presented himself before him, and asked if any 
one had seen the animal that had gone astray. The 
Sheikh immediately turned to those around him, and 
adressed them in these words : — "Is there any one here 
to whom the pleasures of the chace are unknown? Who 
has never pursued the game at the risk of life and limb, 
if he fell from his horse? Who, without fear of tearing 
his clothes or his skin, has not thrown himself into the 
midst of brushwood bristling with thorns, in order to 
overtake the wolf? Is there any one here who has never 
experienced the happiness of again meeting, the despair 
of leaving a woman who was dearly loved? " 

One of his hearers answered : " For my part, I have 
never done, or experienced any of those things you 

Looking to the owner of the ass, the sheikh thus 
spoke : "Behold the beast you were looking for! Lead 
him away." 


The Arabs, indeed, have a saying that "he who has 
never hunted, nor loved, nor felt emotion at the sound 
of music, nor prized the perfume of flowers, is not a 
man, but an ass." With us, war is especially a contest 
of agility and craft. Consequently the chace is the 
highest of all pastimes, as the pursuit of savage animals 
teaches how to pursue men. A poet has written the 
following eulogy of that art : 

"The chace disengages the mind from the cares by 
which it is harassed. It adds to the vigour of the 
intelligence, brings joyfulness, dissipates chagrin, and 
renders useless the science of the physicians by main- 
taining perpetual health in the human body. 

"It forms good horsemen, for it teaches them to spring 
quickly into their saddles, to alight promptly on the 
ground, to rush a horse across rocks and precipices, to 
clear stones and bushes at full gallop, to push on with- 
out stopping, even though some part of the harness has 
been lost or broken. 

"Every one who gives himself up to the chace, makes 
progress day by day in courage, and learns to despise 

"To fully enjoy his favourite diversion, he withdraws 
from perverse people. He puts falsehood and calumny 
to the rout, escapes from the corruption of vice, and 
emancipates himself from those fatal influences which 
tinge our beards with gray, and burden us, before our 
time, with the weight of years. 

" Days spent in the chace are not counted among the 
days of one's life." 

In the Sahara, the chace is the solo occupation of the 
chiefs and rich people. When the rainy season sets in, 


the inhabitants of that region transport themselves to 
the shores of the small lakes formed by the rain; and, if 
game get scarce at one spot, they open up a new scene 
in their wandering hfe. A legend familiar to every Arab 
shows with what force the passion for the chace may 
seize upon the heart of an African. 

A man of distinction fired at a gazelle and missed it. 
In a hasty moment, he took an oath that no food should 
come near his mouth until he had eaten the animal's 
liver. Twice again, he fired at the gazelle, and with no 
better success, but not the less did he continue the pur- 
suit for the whole of that day. At nightfall his strength 
gave way; but true to his oath, he refused to take any 
nourishment. His servants, therefore, resumed the 
chace, which lasted for three days more. At last the 
gazelle was killed, and its liver brought to the dying 
Arab, who touched it with its lips and yielded up his 
last breath. 

The Arabs hunt both on foot, and on horseback. A 
horseman who would chace the hare must take with him 
a greyhound, which is called slougui, from Slouguia, a 
spot where they were originally produced from the cou- 
pling of she-wolves with dogs. The male slougui lives 
twenty years, the female twelve. Greyhounds that are 
able to run a gazelle down arc rare. Few of them will 
give chace either to the hare or to the gazelle, even if 
those animals pass close to them. Their customary 
object of pursuit is the lekeur-el-ouliasli, which they 
generally catch by the ham and pull to the ground. It 
is said that this animal, in trying to recover itself, falls 
forward on its head and is killed. Sometimes, the slougui 
seizes the lekeur-el-ouash by the throat, and holds it until 


the hunter comes up. Many Arabs hunt this beast on 
horseback, and strike it from behind with a spear. It is 
also on horseback that they generally hunt the gazelle, 
which goes in herds. They select from among its com- 
panions the animal they intend to bring down, and shoot 
it without for a moment pulling up their horse, on which 
they started at full speed. There is an Arab proverb : 
"More forgetful than a gazelle." This pretty creature, 
in fact, appears to have the giddy brains as well as the 
soft, mysterious glance of woman. The gazelle, if 
missed, runs a little way further on, and again stops, 
without heeding the ball which, in another minute, will 
again seek its life. Some Arabs hunt this animal w^ith 
the falcon, which is trained to strike at the eyes. 

It is especially among the Arabs of the Eshoul country 
that this variety of sport chiefly prevails. I have there 
met w^ith a small tribe, called the Es-Lib, wdio lived 
entirely on the products of the chace. Their tents were 
made of the skins of gazelles and of heJieiir-el-ouhasli; 
and their clothing, for the most part, was nothing 
but the skins of wolves. A member of this little tribe 
of hunters told me that when he went out to hunt he 
generally took with him an ass laden with salt. Each 
time he knocked over a gazelle, he cut its throat, opened 
the belly, and rubbed the entrails with salt, and then left 
it to dry on a bush. After a while he retraced his steps, 
and carried to his family all the animals that he had thus 
prepared, for in that district there are no beasts of prey 
to dispute with a hunter for his game. The Es-Lib are 
so accustomed to feed upon flesh, that the children threw 
away the biscuits I gave to them, never supposing that 
they were good to eat. 


The hunt in ambush is often practised against both 
the male and female of the lelieur-el-OKJiasli. When the 
great heats have dried up the ponds in the desert, a hole 
is dug close to the springs whither they resort to drink, 
and they meet with their death w^hile in the act of 
quenching their thirst. The chace that demands the 
greatest intrepidity is that of the lerouy, an animal 
resembling the gazelle, but larger, though without 
attaining the size of the leTieur-el-ouhash. The levGuy, 
which is likewise called the tis-el-djebel, or mountain 
goat, frequents rocks and precipices, among which it 
must be pursued on foot, amid a thousand perils. As 
these animals have very little speed, any ordinary dog 
can catch them easily if they descend into the plains. 
But they have a singular peculiarity, as I am assured. 
A lerouy closely pressed by hunters throws itself down 
a precipice a hundred cubits deep, and falls on its head 
without receiving any hurt. The age of the animal is 
known by the knobs on its horns — each knob indicating- 
a year. Both the lerouy and the gazelle have two 
incisor teeth, but they have not those situated between 
the incisors and the canine teeth. 

If lerouy hunting be the glory of the pedestrian, 
ostrich hunting is the glory of the horseman. In the 
season of the sirocco, when a sort of burning sleep seems 
to weigh down all nature, when it might be thought 
that all animated beings must be condemned to repose, 
the dauntless hunters mount on horseback. Of all ani- 
mals, the ostrich is known to be the least provided with 
craft. It never takes a circuitous course, but, confiding 
in its swiftness alone, endeavours to escape in a line 
straight as that of^an arrow. Five horsemen station 


themselves at intervals of a league in the direction it is 
certain to take. Each one acts as a relay. When one 
pulls up, the next dashes off at a gallop in pursuit of 
the bird, which is thus deprived of a moment's rest, and 
has to contend against horses that are fresh. The 
horseman who is the last to start is necessarily the 
victor, but his victory is not achieved without danger. 
In falling, the ostrich, by the movement of its wings, 
inspires the horse with a panic that is often fatal to the 

On horses that have to accomplish this terrific running 
they place only a saddle-cloth, and a saddle of extreme 
lightness. Some hunters use only wooden stirrups, and 
an extremely light bit attached to a simple pack-thread. 
Each one takes with him a small leathern bottle filled 
with water, and from time to time moistens the bit, in 
order to keep the animal's mouth tolerably cool. This 
racing of five horsemen is not, however, the only mode 
of hunting the ostrich. Sometimes, an Arab who is 
thoroughly acquainted with the habits of the bird, takes 
his post by himself close to a spot where it is in the 
habit of passing — near a mountain defile, for instance 
— and as soon as the ostrich comes in sight he gives 
chace at full gallop. But it is rare for a hunter to 
succeed by himself, as very few horses can overtake the 
ostrich. However, I once possessed a mare that excelled 
in this sport. 

Although the horse is usually employed in this as in 
other kinds of hunting, he is not indispensable to man. 
Craft may sometimes of itself overcome the ostrich. In 
the laying season the hunters dig holes near the nests, 
in which they squat down, and kill the parent bird as it 


comes to visit its eggs. The Arabs have recourse, 
likewise, to disguises. Some of them will clothe them- 
selves in the skin of the bird, and thus approach close to 
those they wish to kill; but huaters, disguised in this 
fashion, have sometimes, they say, been shot by their 
ow'n companions. If an ostrich has had a leg broken by 
a ball, she cannot, like other bipeds, run along, hopping 
on the other leg. This is because there is no marrow in 
its bones, and, w^ithout marrow, bones wall not mend 
w^hen they have been fractured. The Arabs affirm that 
the ostrich is deaf, and that the sense of smell replaces 
that of hearing. 

The hyoena is a powerful animal, with formidable 
jaws, but a coward and afraid of daylight. For the most 
part it dwells in caves which it finds in ravines and 
among rocks. It seldom goes abroad but at night, and 
searches for carrion and dead bodies, and commits such 
ravages in graveyards, that the Arabs, by way of preven- 
tion, bury their dead at a great depth. In some districts 
they even construct two chambers for a single corpse, 
which is then interred in the lower one. As a rule, it 
does not attack the flocks; but sometimes at night, 
prowling round an encampment, it carries off a dog. 
The Arabs take little notice of it, though they amuse 
themselves by hunting it on horseback, 'and let it be 
pulled down by their greyhounds, but never pay it the 
compliment of tiring at it. After they have carefully 
reconnoitred the cave in which it makes its lair, it is no 
uncommon thing to find Arabs who despise the beast 
sufficiently to penetrate boldly into its den, after having 
carefully closed the entrance \\ath their burnouses, so as 
not to allow any light to enter. Having got thus far, 


they go up to it, talking with great energy, seize hold 
of it, gag it, without the slightest resistance on its part 
— so terrified is it — and then drive it out with heavy 
blows with a stick. The skin of such a cowardly brute is 
httle esteemed. In many tents they would not permit it 
to enter, for it can bring nothing but misfortune. The 
common people eat the flesh, which is not at all good, 
but they carefully abstain from touching the head or 
brains — contact with which, they believe, would make 
them go mad. 

Let us leave this ignoble animal, and pass on to one 
much more to be feared, and the chace of which presents 
some striking scenes, though its reputation is far from 
being in the eyes of the Arabs what it is in the imagina- 
tion of Europeans — I allude to the panther. 

The panther is found over the whole surface of Algeria, 
though it inhabits only wooded coverts, and broken, 
difficult ground. There are several species. Some 
never quit the neighbourhood of their lair, and are called 
dolly, that is, keeping to the house. Others, again, 
which are called lerani, or strangers, frequently wander 
away from the place where they usually dwell, and 
prowl about the surrounding districts to a considerable 

The dolly panther is larger, stronger, and more dan- 
gerous than the other species. Its coat is speckled with 
spots more elegantly disposed, of a very dark shade, and 
close to one another. The colours are black, white, and 
yellow. On the jowl, limbs, and back-bone, there are 
no spots, but stripes. Those on the jowl are arranged 
diagonally. The upper points start from the lower eye- 
lids, the nostrils, and the corners of the mouth, and 


descend towards the neck, gradually melting away into 
yellow, and finally lost in the white. 

Panthers lap hke dogs. They generally roam in 
couples. In districts that are well peopled, they are 
never seen in the daytime. In uninhabited regions, 
although they do go abroad in the day, they hunt only 
at night. They have not more than two or three cubs. 
The Arabs are far from regarding the panther with the 
esteem they accord to the lion. The lion, say they, if 
attacked, harassed, wounded, and surrounded by ene- 
mies, feels his courage heighten in the midst of the 
uproar and in the thick of the danger. He fearlessly en- 
counters his assailants and fights to the death, while the 
panther only accepts the combat w^hen it finds no way 
to retreat. In a word, the lion, as soon as the combat 
has fairly commenced, never retires, while the panther 
escapes whenever an opportunity presents itself. An- 
other difference is this — the lion will devour a man, the 
panther never. The latter generally strikes at his head, 
lacerates him with its claws, and inflicts terrible bites, 
and then, preferring' the flesh of other animals to that of 
a son of Adam, it leaves him there and goes in search of 
other prey. In a country where it is able to supply 
itself with the flesh of wild boar, sheep, cattle, and game 
of all kinds, and where it can satiate itself with the 
carcases of animals, it kills man, not because it is hun- 
gry, but in self-defence, as the only way of shaking off 
an enemy. In the case of the lion, man is often the 
game in guest of which he stalks abroad ; w^hile in that 
of the panther he is an adversary to be avoided, and 
never to be provoked. You may pass boldly and confi- 
dently close to the thick brushwood that conceals it, 



and, if you do not begin the attack, it will remain 
couched as close as a partridge, even holding in its 
breath. But if you fire and miss, it will spring upon, 
bite, and lacerate you, and then, still distrustful of itself, 
will take itself off. 

The Arabs have remarked, from the numbers of persons 
who have come in collision with panthers, and been 
wounded without being killed, that it uses only its teeth ; 
its bite being like that of the dog, and injuring only the 
flesh. The lion, on the other hand, by his violent shaking, 
breaks the bones of the victim he holds in his powerful 
jaws. When the panther has inflicted its bite, it does 
not trouble itself as to its being fatal or otherwise, but 
makes off with fear and caution. The lion grows more 
and more furious, and returns to the attack again and 
again. It is not enough that the enemy be disabled — he 
must feel the whole weight of a lion's ^\Tath. The lion 
bounds into a douar, and plunders boldly, at his leisure. 
He seizes his share without any concealment ; he has no 
fear ; he is exercising his right, the right of the strong- 
est. The panther covers its advance, glides, creeps, 
crawls along like a thief, accompanied by shame and fear. 
The panther's spring, when enraged, is like a flash of 
lightning; but after that tremendous effort, its pace is 
less swift than that of an ordinary horse. If a panther be 
surrounded, tracked down, and hard pressed — maddened 
by terror rather than by rage — it will spring on the tree 
in which the hunters are stationed, and close with them. 
But at another time, if only one or two men are lying in 
ambush, and it be not shut in on all sides and a path is 
left for escape, it forgets its power and runs away. Every- 
where and at all times, the lion is a dangerous enemy. 


to encounter whom is a terrible undertaking; whereas 
no one need dread the panther unless he has first attack- 
ed it. The cry of the latter animal resembles the clear, 
shrill, impotent neigh of the mule, and is in no way 
calculated to inspire terror hke the roar of the lion, 
which is as the growling of thunder. But it is quick and 
agile, and its movements baffle the eye. If the natural 
disposition of the panther leads it to spare, or at least to 
avoid, man, and to choose for its prey animals ^ild or 
tame, such as sheep, cows, gazelles, and antelopes, that 
cannot defend themselves, it is equally instructed by 
instinct to modify its mode of attack upon animals whose 
habits or courage render them difficult or dangerous to 
assail — against such, it has usually recourse to surprise. 
It will not attack a horse in the centre of a douar. Its 
habitual circumspection and cowardice wiU restrain it 
from seeking to seize upon a prey that might be rescued 
in time, or promptly avenged. Even when out grazing, 
a horse by itself might escape by galloping off; but if it 
has not been seen, or suspected, if with a single bound 
it can fall upon the horse, he is lost. 

Nor is the ^vild boar an easy victim. If it be full 
grown, and have had warning, and there be room 
enough, it will defend itself successfully. At times, 
indeed, it comes off absolutely victorious — the Arabs 
ha^'ing found panthers in desert places, ripped up by 
a boar's tusks. A frequent struggle, perhaps the only 
one which the panther openly engages in, is ^dth the 
porcupine; but the latter, though it grows to a consider- 
able size in Africa, is more formidable in appearance 
than in reaUty. It has indeed, the property of bristling 
up its long, hard, sharp-pointed quills, which it can even 


throw to some distance ; but these arms cannot save it. 
The slightest wound completely paralyses the muscular 
contractions by means of which it places itself in a 
state of defence : besides, it cannot do anything without 
something to fall back upon, such as a tree or a stone. 

However timorous and apt to run away the panther 
may be under ordinary circumstances, it becomes really 
dangerous if its cubs have been carried off in its absence 
— or under its very eyes by force, which only happens 
when the hunters are in considerable numbers. At such 
times it will sometimes perish in the attempt to save 
them — at least, the dolly, or larger species w^illdoso; 
but the 'berrani, or small panther, makes off, uttering 
the while lamentable cries. The cubs, thus torn from 
their mother, are given to chiefs residing in towns, to 
Sultans, Pashas, and Beys; but they are never kept in a 
tribe, for when still quite young they are dangerous 
even in their play, and no sort of attention will ever 
tame them or guarantee the master of the tent, or his 
wives and children, from a momentary outburst of fury 
on the part of the perfidious and capricious brute. We 
may mention, however, that in certain zamiias lions are 
tamed by marabouts and led up and down the tribes. 
Thus summoning curiosity to the aid of charity, they 
augment the amount of the alms which they beg for 
their congregation. The most celebrated zaou'ia in 
which tame lions are kept is that of Sidi- Mohammed - 
ben-Aouda, a tribe of the Flittas in the province of Oran. 

With this special exception the Arabs — and it is a 
characteristic trait worthy of note — never rear any but 
inoffensive animals. There is not a tent without a 
gazelle, an antelope, a jackal, an ostrich, or a falcon; 


but in no douar is a savage beast ever to be seen, such as 
a liyoena, a panther, or a lion. Some tribes take 
pleasure in rearing a young wild boar, under the idea 
that it amuses the horses, which like its smell. The 
little pig is faithful and always in motion. When the 
tribe is changing ground, it trots about, grunting 
joyously in the midst of the other animals, and accom- 
panies the sheep and the calves to the pasture. It is 
called "the father of good fortune," and strangely 
enough, it is a lucky omen to meet a wild boar on issuing 
from one's tent. Prior to Mohammed the Arabs used to 
eat swine's flesh, but the Prophet forbade it to them, as 
well as the blood of animals and the flesh of every 
creature that has not been bled. 

The panther, as I have already remarked, seldom goes 
abroad during the day; but if, by chance, shepherds or 
travellers happen to alight upon one near an inhabited 
neighbourhood, they utter in shrill tones lia lioua! "there 
it is ! " These cries are repeated with incredible rapidity. 
The entire population swarms forth — horse and foot, 
armed with whatever first comes to hand, guns, sticks, 
swords, spears, or pistols, and folio w^ed by their dogs 
and greyhounds. Surrounding on every side the spot 
whither the beast has retired, generally difficult ground, 
covered with thick high bruslnvood, they attack it 
fearlessly and usually end by killing it. It rarely 
happens that it escapes while it is light. 

But when, instead of this sudden outbreak of an entire 
population against an unexpected enemy, a genuine 
hunt is projected, certain preparations are made before 
starting. It is true, the panther will run away if it has 
the chance, but it is always possible that it may show 


fight; and although, in the long run, it is sure to be 
mastered ^\dthout a single casualty on the side of the 
hunters, it is as well to guard against the wounds it 
may inflict, however insignificant in themselves. It 
usually flies at the head. Against the lacerations of its 
teeth and claws a sufficient defence is the thick woollen 
cap, the sliasliia, the numerous folds of the haik, the 
hood of the burnous, and the long, coarse camel's rope. 
But the enemy may with a single bound spring on to a 
horse's croup, and with one blow on the head with its 
paw knock over, stun, and even kill the rider. On this 
account they not unfrequently don a helmet — a helmet 
of modest pretentions, which at other times serves as a 

The panther is also killed, like the lion, from an 
ambush. A hole is dug in the earth and covered over 
with branches, through which an opening is made for 
the rifle of the concealed hunter, who fires at the 
distance of about fifteen paces, as the animal approaches 
to devour the carcase of a sheep or goat placed there for 
that purpose. But lest the brute, if only wounded, 
should spring upon the melebda, as the hunter's hiding 
place is called, the latter is always provided with two or 
three guns, and perhaps with pistols likewise. At other 
times a gun is fastened to a tree, and at the muzzle of 
the barrel is fixed a bait, to which a string is tied, that 
passes round the tree and is attached to the trigger — so 
that if the bait be pulled at all forcibly the gun is sure to 
go off. And if the panther is not shot dead, it is certain 
to be wounded, and the hunters set off in pursuit, 
guided by the tracks of blood it leaves on its path. 
There is yet another mode of kilHng the panther, which 


is by surprising it while sleeping. Should it happen to 
be awake, it is merely a disappointment, not a danger, 
for it runs away at sight of a man. 

But whatever be the nature of the sport in which the 
Arabs indulge, the least timorous are liable to supersti- 
tious fears. As it is not always possible to relinquish 
an enterprise when they have once entered upon it, 
they endeavour by all means to avoid chances of sinister 
omen. On the other hand they become emboldened, and 
take courage if, on setting out, they are greeted by one 
of those encounters which are reputed fortunate — with 
a jackal in the morning for instance, or with a wild boar 
in the evening. 

Let thy morning be with a jackal, 
And thy evening with a wild boar. 

A hare or a fox is of ill omen; as is, also, a single 
crow, or a white mare. A still worse and more detest- 
able omen is the sight af an old woman. But it is a 
good chance for whoever sees two crows or a mare of 
any colour; and, above all, success, glory, and plunder, 
await the goum that, when starting on an expedition, is 
met by a beautiful young and noble maiden, who will 
uncover her bosom and show one of her breasts. It is 
the custom; and if the damsel were to refuse this blessing 
to the warriors of her tribe, they would dismount to 
compel her, were she the daughter of the chief and 
though he were himself at the head of the gonm — all 
the better, indeed, if her birth were so exalted, for the 
nobler the damsel, the happier the augury. In the west, 
young' girls loosen their girdle. If, in the morning, 
you hear affectionate and courteous wofds, you will have 


a pleasant day; but it will be the reverse if on first 
awaking you are greeted with an imprecation or an in- 
sult. Do not go out to hunt on a Tuesday, a Thursday, 
or a Friday. 

"We now come to the sport that is really worthy to 
sharpen the intelligence and inflame the souls of war- 
riors. The Arab hunter acts upon the aggressive with 
the lion. In this daring enterprise there is all the more 
merit, because in Africa the lion is a formidable monster, 
regarding whom there exist many mysterious and 
terrible legends, with which an awe-struck superstition 
surrounds his dread Majesty. With that keenness of 
insight which characterises them, the Arabs have made 
a series of observations on the subject of the lion that 
are worthy of being collected and preserved. 

In the daytime the lion rarely seeks to attack man. 
Very commonly, indeed, if a traveller happens to pass 
near him, he turns aside his head and affects not to see 
him. At the same time, if any one, walking close to the 
bush in which he is couched, be rash enough to cry 
aloud ra 'hena—''\iQ is there!" — the lion will at once 
spring upon his denouncer and the disturber of his repose. 
As night comes on, his humour completely changes. 
When the sun has set, it is perilous to venture into a 
wild, woody, and broken country. It is there the lion 
lies in ambush — it is there he is met on the pathways, 
which he intercepts by barring all further advance 
with his body. The Arabs thus describe some of the 
nocturnal scenes which are continually happening. If 
a solitary individual, a courier, traveller, or letter-car- 
rier, chancing to meet a lion, possess a courage of the 
highest temper, he will walk straight towards the 


animal, brandishing his sword or gun, but carefully 
abstaining from using the one or the other. He simply 
cries out : "Oh, the robber! the highway-man! the son 
of a mother who never said No ! Dost thou think to 
frighten me? Thou canst not know, then, that I am 
so-and-so, the son of so-and-so? Get up, and let me 
proceed on my journey." The lion waits till the man 
has come close up to him, and then goes off to lie down 
again a thousand paces farther on. The traveller has to 
endure a long series of terrific trials. Each time that 
he quits the path, the lion disappears, but only for an 
instant. Directly afterwards he again presents himself, 
and all his movements are accompanied by horrible 
noises. He breaks off innumerable branches with his 
tail. He roars, howls, growls, and emits gusts of 
poisonous breath. He plays with the subject of his 
fantastic and manifold attacks, and keeps him constantly 
suspended between fear and hope, like a cat playing 
with a mouse. If a man involved in such a difficulty 
does not allow his courage to fail him, if — to use an 
Arab phrase — he succeeds in firmly holding- his soul, 
the lion will finally leave him, and seek his fortune else- 
where. But if, on the contrary, the latter perceives that 
he has to deal with a man whose countenance betrays 
his fear, whose voice trembles, and w^ho dares not 
articulate a word, he repeats over and over again, in 
order to terrify him still more, the manoeuvre above des- 
cribed. He will approach him, push him out of the way 
with his shoulder, cross his path every other minute, and 
amuse himself with him in various ways, until at last ho 
devours his victim already half dead with terror. 
There is really nothing incredible in the facts thus 


stated by the Arabs. The ascendancy of courage over 
animals is indisputable. The professional robbers who 
roam abroad at night, armed to the teeth, instead of 
shunning the lion, cry out to him if they meet with him : 
" I am not what thou seekest. I am a robber like thyself; 
pass on, or, if it please thee, let us rob in company." It 
is said that the lion sometimes follows them, and attempts 
an assault on the douar towards which they are bending* 
their steps. It is even affirmed that this good under- 
standing between the robbers and the lions frequently 
displays itself in a striking manner. Robbers have been 
seen, when taking their meals, to treat the lions as other 
people treat their dogs, and throw to them at a certain 
distance the feet and entrails of the animals they them- 
selves are eating. 

Women likewise have been known successfully to 
have recourse to intrepidity in opposing a lion. They 
have run after him when engaged in carrying off a ewe, 
and have forced him to let go his prey by giving him 
a shower of blows with a cudgel, crying aloud all the 
time: "Ah, robber! son of a robber!" The Arabs say 
that the lion is seized with shame, and makes off as 
quickly as possible. This trait shows that in the eyes 
of the Arabs the lion is a peculiar sort of creature 
midway between men and beasts, which, by reason 
of its strength, appears to them to be endowed with a 
special order of intelligence. The following legend, 
intended to explain how it is that the lion allows a sheep 
to escape him more easily than any other prey, is a 
confirmation of this belief. Enumerating one day the 
various feats his strength enabled him to accomplish, 
the lion remarked : ''An sha Allah — if it be the will of 


Allah — I can carry off a horse without distressiDg 
myself. An sha Allah, I can carry off a heifer, without 
being prevented from running by its weight." But 
when he came to the ewe, he deemed it so much beneath 
him that he omitted the pious formula, " if it be the will 
of Allah ; " and, to punish him, Allah condemned him to 
be never able to do more than drag it along. 

There are several modes of hunting the lion. When 
one makes his appearance in the midst of a tribe, his 
presence is indicated by a multitude of signs of all 
kinds. The earth shakes, as it were, with roarings. 
Then a series of losses and accidents take place. A 
heifer, or a colt is carried off, or a man is missing. The 
alarm spreads through all the tents. The women 
tremble for their property and for their children. 
Lamentations arise on all sides, and the hunters decree 
the death of their troublesome neighbour. It is published 
in the market-places that on such a day and at such an 
hour, all who are capable of joining in the chace, 
whether on horseback or on foot, must assemble in arms 
at an appointed spot. Prior to this, the thicket has 
been discovered to which the lion retires during the day. 
Everything being ready, the hunters set out, the men 
on foot leading the way. When they have arrived 
within fifty paces of the bush in which they expect to 
find the enemy, they halt and await him. Closing up, 
they form three deep, the second rank ready to fill up 
the gaps in the first if succour be necessary, while the 
third, firm and compact, and composed of capital marks- 
men, forms an invincible reserve. Then commences a 
strange spectacle. The front rank begin to insult the 
hon, and even send a few balls into his hiding place to 


make him come out : " Look at him who boasts of being 
the bravest of all, and yet dares not show himself before 
men! It is not he — it is not the lion — it is a cowardly 
thief, and may Allah curse him ! " The animal some- 
times comes while they are abusing him in this manner, 
and, looking round serenely on all sides, yawns and 
stretches himself, and appears perfectly insensible to 
what is passing around him. 

One or two balls now hit him, upon which, magni- 
ficent in his audacity, he stalks forth and stands in front 
of the bush which sheltered him. Not a word is spoken. 
The lion roars, rolls his glaring eyes, draws back, cou- 
ches down, again rises up, and by the movements of his 
tail and body snaps off all the branches that surround 
him. The front rank discharge their pieces, whereupon 
the monster bounds forward, and generally falls dead 
beneath the fire of the second rank, who step forward 
and fill up the intervals left in the first. This is the 
critical moment, for the lion resigns the contest only 
when a ball has struck him in the head, or in the heart. 
It is no rare thing to see him continue the fight with ten 
or a dozen balls through his body. In other words, he 
is seldom overpowered until he has killed or wounded 
some of his foot assailants. The horsemen who accom- 
pany the expedition have nothing to do, so long as 
their foe does not quit the broken ground. Their part 
commences when, as occasionally happens, the men on 
foot have succeeded in driving out the lion upon a 
plateau, or into the plain. The combat then assumes 
a new aspect, full of interest and originality. Each 
horseman, according to his hardihood and agility, spurs 
on his horse at full speed, fires at the Hon as at an 


ordinary mark, at a short distance, and, wheeling his 
horse round the moment he has fired, gallops off to re- 
load his piece before making a second assault. The lion, 
attacked on all sides and wounded at every moment, 
faces about in every direction, rushes forward, flees, 
returns, and falls, but only after a glorious struggle. 
His defeat, indeed, must inevitably terminate in his 
death, for against horsemen mounted on Arab horses 
success is impossible. He makes but three terrific 
bounds, after which his pace is by no means swift, and 
an ordinary horse will distance him without trouble. To 
form a just idea of such a combat, it is absolutely neces- 
sary to have witnessed one. Every horseman hurls an 
imprecation; there is a wild confusion of sounds, the 
burnouses fly out, the powder thunders, the hunters 
crowd together or scatter widely apart. The lion 
roars, the balls whistle, and the whole forms a scene of 
movement and animation. But notwithstanding all 
this tumult, accidents are very unusual. The hunters 
have little to fear, unless a fall from their horse throws 
them under the pavv^ of their enemy, or — which is more 
frequent misadventure — they are hit by a friendly but 
ill-directed ball. 

Such is the most picturesque, the most warlike aspect 
that hon-hunting assumes. Other measures, however, 
are sometimes adopted, both more sure and more speedily 
efficacious. The Arabs have observed that on the 
morrow after he has carried off and devoured sheep or 
oxen, the lion, suffering from a weak digestion, remains 
in his lair, fatigued, oppressed with sleep, and incapable 
of moving. When a place that is usually disquieted 
with roaring is undisturbed for a whole night, it may 


be inferred that the formidable inhabitant who dwells 
therein is plunged in this state of lethargy. Upon this, 
a man of devoted courage, following the tracks that lead 
to the covert in which the monster is concealed, will go 
up to him, take a steady aim, and shoot him dead upon 
the spot with a ball between the two eyes. Kaddour- 
ben-Mohammed, of the Oulad-Messelem, a section of the 
Ounougha, is reputed to have killed several lions in this 

Recourse is likewise had to various forms of ambush. 
The Arabs sometimes excavate a hole in the path the 
lion usually takes, and cover it with thin woodwork, 
which the animal breaks by its weight and is caught in 
the trap. At other times they dig close to a dead body 
a hole covered by thick boards, between which a small 
opening is left to allow the barrel of a gun to pass 
through. In this hole, or melebda, the hunter squats 
down, and when the lion approaches the body, he takes 
a careful aim and fires. Not unfrequently the lion, if he 
has not been struck down, throws himself on the 
meUMa, shatters the barrier, and devours the hunter 
behind his demolished rampart. On other occasions, 
again, a single man will undertake an adventurous and 
heroic enterprise, recalling the feats of chivalry. Si- 
Mohammed-Esnoussi, a man of approved veracity, who 
inhabited the Djebel-Guerzoul, near Tiaret, thus descri- 
bes his own mode of going to work : 

''I used to mount a good horse and proceed to the 
forest on a bright moonhght night. In those days I 
was a capital shot, and my ball never fell to the ground. 
Then I began to cry aloud several times, O^ild el ata'iali! 
— ' Daughter of a mother who yields herself up ! '— The 


lion would come forth, and direct his steps towards the 
spot whence issued the cry ; and at that moment I fired 
at him. Occasionally the same thicket would contain 
several hons, who would issue forth all together. If one 
of these brutes approached me from behind, I would turn 
my head and fire at him over the back of my saddle, and 
then go off at full gallop in the fear that I might have 
missed him. If I was attacked in front, I wheeled my 
horse round and repeated the manoeuvre." 

The people of that district affirm that the number of 
Hons killed by Mohammed-ben-Esnoussi amounted to 
nearly a hundred. This intrepid hunter was still alive 
in the year 1253 [A. D. 1836]. When I saw him, he had 
lost his eyesight. May he participate in the mercy of 

A yet more dangerous sport than hunting the lion 
himself, is hunting a lion's cubs. There are individuals, 
however, adventurous enough to undertake even this 
hazardous enterprise. Every day, about three or four in 
the afternoon, the lion and lioness quit their lair to 
make a distant reconnaissance, with the object, no doubt, 
of procuring food for their litter. They may be seen 
upon the summit of an eminence, examining the douars, 
and taking note of the smoke that issues from them, and 
of the position of the flocks. After uttering some 
horrible roars, an invaluable warning to the surround- 
ing population, they again disappear. It is during this 
absence that the hunters cautiously make their way to 
the cubs and carry them off, taking care to gag them 
closely, for their cries would not fail to bring back the 
old ones, who would never forgive the outrage. After 
an exploit of this nature the entire neighbourhood is 


obliged to be doubly vigilant. For seven or eight days 
the lions rush about in all directions, roaring fearfully. 
The lion under such circumstances is a truly terrible 

monster. At such a time the eye must not encounter 
the eye. 

The flesh of the lion, though sometimes eaten, is not 
good, but his skin is a valued gift, and presented only 
to Sultans and illustrious chiefs, and occasionally, to 
marabouts and zaouias. The Arabs fancy that it is good 
to sleep upon one, as it drives away the demons, con- 
jures up good fortune, and averts certain diseases. 
Lion's claws, mounted in silver, are used as ornaments 
by women; while the skin of his forehead is a talisman 
worn by some persons on their head to preserve the 
energy and audacity of their brain. In short, lion-hunt- 
ing is held in high repute among the Arabs. Every 
combat with that animal may take the device : Kill or 
Die! He who kills him, eats him — says the proverb — 
and he who kills him not is eaten by him. In this spirit 
they bestow on any one who has killed a lion, this laconic 
and virile eulogy : Hadak Jioua — "that one is he!" A 
popular belief illustrates the grandeur of the part played 
by the Hon in the life and imagination of the Arabs. 
When a lion roars, they pretend that they can readily 
distinguish the following words : Ahna ou den el mera — 
"I and the son of woman." Now, as he twice repeats 
"hen el mera, and only once says alma, they conclude that 
he recognizes no superior save the son of woman. 


It was said by the Prophet : " The good things of this 
world, to the day of the last judgment, are attached to 
the forelocks of your horses ; 

" Sheep are a blessing ; 

"And the Almighty has created nothing, as an animal, 
preferable to the camel." 

The camel is the ship of the desert. Allah hath said : 
"You may load your merchandize in barks and on ca- 
mels." As in the desert there is very little water, and 
there are long distances to be traversed, the Almighty 
has endowed them with the faculty of easily enduring 
thirst. In winter they never drink. The Prophet more 
than once gave the following advice : "Never utter 
coarse remarks on the subject of the camel or of the 
wind : the former is a boon to men, the latter an emana- 
tion from the soul of Allah." Camels are the most 
extraordinary animals in the world, and yet there are 
none more docile, owing to their being so much with 

* I am aware that this is not the denomination bestowed by science upon this 
animal, which is actually the dromadary. However, I have adhered to the appeUation 
of " Camel," because it is the only one used in Algeria. Besides, the Arabic word 
Hj&mel applies to the camel as well as to the dromadary. 



men. So great, indeed, is their docility, that they have 
been known to follow a rat, that, in the act of gnawing, 
pulled a rope smeared with butter, by w^hich they w^ere 
fastened. Such is the will of Allah. These apoph- 
thegms suffice to show that the camel is, of all created 
animals, the most useful in respect of the wants of the 

The Arabs of the Sahara can tell the age of a camel 
by its teeth. They say it is long-lived, though they 
cannot give any very precise information on the subject. 
They put the case, however, in this manner. If a camel 
be born on the same day with a child, it has reached old 
age by the time the latter has distinguished himself in 
combats, which implies the age of eighteen to twenty- 
five years. Camels require much care and experience 
in managing them. Whenever it is possible, the male 
camels are led to a different pasture from the females. 
After the 15th of April, they are not sent out to feed until 
the afternoon, because it has been remarked that the 
grass is covered wdtli a sort of dew that lays the founda- 
tion of fatal diseases. Care is also taken to prevent the 
camels from eating within the douar what remains in 
the morning of the small quantity of grass given to the 
horses overnight. These precautions are necessary 
during the six weeks or two months in which the dew 
is observed. Throughout the whole winter, the end of 
autumn, and the beginning of spring, the camels may 
be permitted, with advantage, to browse on shrubs with 
a salt flavour; but in the beginning of April, and at the 
end of May, they must not be allowed to do so for more 
than five or six days. 

The shearing of the camels takes place in the latter 


part of April. They are made to lie down, and are 
operated upon by the shepherds and female slaves, a 
woman standing- behind them to gather the fleece which 
she thrusts into bags. It is a somewhat slow operation. 
El oubeur, or camel's fleece, is used in making canvas 
for tents, camel-ropes, sacks called glierara, and djellale, 
or horse-cloths. It is mixed almost invariably with 
common wool. 

The ordinary burden of a camel is two tellis of wheat, 
or about 250 kilogrammes. If not over-driven, it can go 
from dawn to sunset, at least if it be allowed, as it jour- 
neys along, to elongate its neck and pluck the herbage 
that grows on either side of its path. In this manner it 
will cover from ten to twelve leagues in the twenty four 
hours, and every fifth day it must be permitted to rest. 
In the desert, camels are let out to hire, not by the day, 
but by the journey, going and returning, according to 
the distance. For instance, from El-Biod, among the 
Oulad-Sidi-Shikh, to the Beni-Mzab, or about fifty lea- 
gues, costs from two to three douros, and from the same 
point to Timimoun six or seven douros. 

The flesh of the camel is eaten as food. The animal, 
however, is seldom killed unless it has a broken leg, or 
is sick. The flesh is sometimes salted, and, after being 
dried in the sun, is kept as a provision on a journey. 
The love and veneration felt by the Ai'abs of the Sahara 
for their camels are quite intelligible. "How should we 
not love them?" they exclaim. "Alive, they transport 
ourselves, our wives, our children, our baggage and 
provisions, from the land of oppression to that of liberty. 
The weight they can carry is enormous, and the distance 
they traverse very considerable. In other words, they 


further tlie relations of commerce and render aid in war. 
Thanks to them, we are ahle, whenever we please, to 
shift our encampment, whether in search of new pastur- 
ages, or to escape from an enemy. Moreover, we drink 
their milk, which is also useful in the preparations of 
food, and neutralises the injurious qualities of the date. 
Dead, their flesh is everywhere eaten with relish, and 
their hump is sought after as a savoury dish. Their 
skin serves as shoe-leather. If soaked, and then sewed 
to the saddle-tree, it imparts, without the aid of a single 
nail or peg, a solidity that nothing can affect. Then, 
their sobriety and endurance of heat and thirst permit 
them to be kept alike by rich and poor. They are truly 
a boon from Allah, who hath said : — 

Horses for a dispute, 
Oxen for poverty. 
Camels for the desert. 


No cattle are reared in the Sahara, owing* to the scar- 
city of water, the scantiness of the herbage, the stony 
nature of the ground, and the frequent removals from 
one place to another. But, if the desert be unfavourable 
for the rearing of cattle, it is, assuredly, the veritable 
country of the sheep. This animal finds there the salt 
shrubs eaten by the camel, as well as many fragrant 
and nutritious plants known by the generic name of el 
adshevl). Water it obtains from the ponds supplied by the 
rains, or from the basins formed by the side of wells, and 
kept up with great care. The wells themselves are, for 
the most part, surrounded with masonry, and sheltered 
from the driftings sands. Sheep, besides, are patient of 
thirst. In spring, they are given to drink once in five or 
six days; in summer, every other day; in autumn, every 
third day; and in winter every fourth day. During the 
great heats of summer, they are not allowed to touch 
the pools of water lying on the surface of the ground, — 
experience having shown that at that period of the year 
stagnant water, rendered tepid by the sun's rays, is very 
unwholesome. If a drought happens to have prevailed 


during the first two months of spring, and if rain falls 
plentifully in the third, the herbage grows luxuriantly, 
and is called Melfa, or compensation. As if to make 
amends for their long abstinence, the sheep eat it greed- 
ily, but it is apt to give them a sickness named el glioche, 
or treason. This disease does not manifest itself until 
after the summer heats. The head and lower jaw be- 
come much swollen, the animal coughs continually, and 
death usually supervenes. According to the Arabs, a 
rainy autumn, by causing fresh grass to spring up early, 
greatly tends to mitigate the pernicious effects of the 

Sheep are very prolific. They generally lamb twice 
in the year — in the early part of spring and autumn. 
The large tribes possess from two to three hundred 
thousand sheep, which are divided into flocks of four 
hundred, called glielem or ads8a [a stick]. Wealthy indi- 
viduals have from fifteen to twenty glielem, and the 
poorest a half, or even a quarter glielem . 

In the Sahara there is a species of sheep that yields a 
magnificent wool, very soft but not very long. This is 
the wool employed in the manufacture of articles of 
luxury. These animals are nearly red in the head, and 
the ewes give a great deal of milk. 

It is said of the finest ewes of this breed : 

They an owl, 
And walk like a tortoise. 

Their wool descends to their hoofs and so completely 
covers their head that, literally, nothing but their eyes 
is visible. In the Sahara and in the Mesours, a zedja, or 
fieece, is worth only one houdjou, but the price is greatly 

SHEEP. 311 

enhanced by the time it reaches the Tell, and especially 
the sea-coast. Some sheep have no horns, and are called 
fertass [bald]. Others, again, have four, and are known 
as el MerMiirl) ; while others have horns that are bent 
back, and are named el kheroubi. 

The Arabs take no care whatever of their sheep. 
They have no sheds in which to shelter them from the 
severity of the weather, nor supplies of forage to save 
them from starvation. Consequently, in bad seasons 
they frequently lose one-half of their flocks, and if 
blamed for this carelessness, or offered advice, they 
answer quite simply: "To what purpose is all that? 
They are the property of Allah [KJier Eurly]. He does 
with them as it pleases Him. Our ewes give us tw^o 
lambs every year. Next year our losses will be repaired." 

The following sentiments are ascribed to sheep : — 

"I love the close hand, that is, to belong to a miser 
who would neither sell us, nor slaughter us for the 
entertainment of his guests. 

"I love distant market-places; for when they are near 
to my master, for one reason or another we are sold, or 

"And every day a new house; that is, fresh and more 
abundant pasturage." 

Sheep arc the fortune of the child of the desert. He 
says of them : "Their wool serves to make our tents, our 
carpets, our garments, our horse-cloths, our sacks, our 
nose-bags, our camel's-packs, our ropes, our cushions. 
And what remains in excess of our own necessities we 
sell in the Mesours or in the Tell, when we go there, 
after harvest, to buy grain. Their flesh we eat, or give 
it to be eaten by the guests of Allah. Dried in the sun. 


it will keep, and be of use to us in our journeys. Their 
milk is very serviceable to our families, whether as drink 
or food. We make of it leben or sJieneen [sour milk], and 
what is over we give to our horses. We also get butter 
from it, which enters into the preparation of our food, or 
which we exchange in the huesours for dates. Of their 
skin we make cushions, and buckets to draw water from 
the well. With it we ornament the adtatoucJies* of our 
women, or we dress it for shoe-leather. We have no 
need to plough, or sow, or reap, or thresh out the corn, 
or to fatigue ourselves like vile slaves, or like the wret- 
ched inhabitants of the Tell. No ; we are independent, 
we pray, we trade, we hunt, we travel, and if we have 
occasion to procure that which others can only obtain by 
sweat and toil, we sell our sheep, and forthwith provide 
ourselves with arms, horses, women, jewels, clothes, or 
whatever else affords us gratification, or embellishes our 
existence. The owner of sheep has no need to labour, 
nor is he ever in want of anything. So Allah has willed 

* A sort of arm-chair iilacecl upon the backs of camels. 


In studying life in the desert, I have been greatly 
struck by its analogy to that of the Middle Ages, and by 
the resemblance which exists between the horseman of 
the Sahara and the knight of our legends, romances, and 
chronicles. This analogy will appear yet more real, this 
resemblance yet more striking, on a close observation 
of the accessory characteristics which I now propose to 
sketch with a rapid hand. 

By the Arab of the Sahara, I do not mean a dweller in 
the Mesours. The latter is rallied by the wandering 
tribes as much as the inhabitants of the Tell, and 
receives at their hands all sorts of derisive epithets. 
Grown fat through his habits of indoor and commercial 
life, he is called "the father of the belly," the grocer, 
the pepper-dealer. This rearer of fowls — the Arab of 
the tent possesses no fowls — this shopkeeper resembles 
the simple citizen of all countries and of all times. He 
is, at bottom, the villain, the churl of the Middle Ages. 
He is the Moorish citizen of Algiers — he has the same 
placid, apathetic, crafty physiognomy. 

It is of the master of the tent that I propose to speak : 


of him who is never more than fifteen to twenty days 
without changing his ahode ; of the genuine Nomad, of 
him who never enters "the tiresome Tell" but once a 
year, and then only to purchase grain. My horseman, my 
hunter, my warrior is the man ^\dth a hardy iron-nerved 
constitution, a complexion embrowned by the sun, limbs 
well proportioned, in stature rather tall than short, but 
making light of the advantage of heig'ht, " of that lion's 
skin on a cow's back," unless adroitness, activity, health, 
vigour and, above all, courage be combined with it. 
But if he values courage, he also pities rather than 
despises, and never insults those who "want liver.'" It 
is not their fault, he good-humouredly remarks, but the 
will of Allah. His abstinence cannot be exceeded, but, 
accommodating himself to circumstances, he never 
neglects an opportunity of making a good and hearty 
meal. His ordinary diet is simple and without much 
variety; but, for all that, when the necessity arises, he 
understands how to entertain his guests in a becoming 
manner. When the ouadda, or peculiar festival of a 
tribe, or douar, comes round, at which his friends will 
be present, he would not offer them the slight implied 
by his absence, and though it may be at a distance of 
thirty or forty leagues, he will not fail to go there and 
fill himself with food. Besides, they know well that he 
is quite ready to return their hospitality, and that they 
have not to do with one of those stingy town traders who 
never offer more than a space of four square feet to sit 
down in, a pipe of tobacco, and a cup of coffee either 
without any sugar at all, or sugared only after many 
preliminary phrases, carefully enunciated in recommen- 
dation of coffee without sugar. 


Among the Arabs, everything concurs to give power 
to the development of the natural man. Nervous, hardy, 
sober, though occasionally displaying a vigorous appe- 
tite, their eye-sight is keen and piercing. They boast 
that they can distinguish a man from a woman when 
two to three leagues distant, and a flock of camels from 
a flock of sheep at double that distance. Nor is this 
mere bragging. The extent and clearness of their vision 
arise, as in the case of our sailors, from the incessant 
habit of looking far ahead over an immense and object- 
less space. And, accustomed as they are to scenes 
and objects always the same and which encircle them 
within narrow limits, it would be strange if they did 
not recognize them under almost any circumstances. 
Nevertheless, diseases of the eye are very common. 
The refraction of the sun's rays, the dust and pers- 
piration cause numerous misadventures, such as oph- 
thalmia and leucoma, and blind and one-eyed men are 
numerous in many parts of the desert — for instance, 
among the Beni-]\Izab, at El Ghrassoul, Ouargla, and 

The dweller in the desert, in infancy and youth, has 
beautiful white, even teeth; but the use of dates as his 
habitual and almost exclusive diet spoils them as he 
advances in years. When a tooth is entirely decayed, he 
is compelled to have recourse to the armourer or farrier, 
who is privileged to torture his patient, to break his jaw 
with his pincers, and tear away the gums together with 
the tooth that was troubling him. 

The genuine chief, the real great lord, rarely leaves 
the saddle, and very seldom goes on foot, though he 
wears both boots and shoes. The common Arab, how- 


ever, is an indefatigable walker, and in the course of a 
days will get over an incredible distance. His ordinary 
pace is what the French call the ^^5 gymnastique [which 
is quicker than the English "double"], and what he 
himself calls a dog-trot. On flat ground, he generally 
takes off his shoes, if he happens to have any, partly 
that he may walk faster and more comfortably, and partly 
that he may not wear them out. Consequently, his foot 
is like that of antique statues, broad and flat, and with 
the toes wide apart. He is never troubled with corns, 
and more than once Christians, who have insinuated 
themselves into caravans, have been detected by this 
infalUble sign and expelled. The sole of the foot ac- 
quires such hardness, that neither sand nor stones affect 
it, and a thorn sometimes penetrates to the depth of 
several lines without being felt. In the desert, properly 
so called, however, the sand during the great heat of 
summer is so burning hot that it is impossible to walk 
upon it with naked feet. Even the horses are obliged to 
be shod, or their feet would become painful and diseased. 
The dread of being bitten by the lefd, a viper whose 
venom is fatal, also compels the Arabs themselves to 
wear buskins rising above the ankle. 

The most common disease of the foot is the cJieggag, 
or chaps, which are healed by having grease rubbed in, 
and by being afterwards cauterised with a hot iron. 
Sometimes these chaps are so long and deep that they 
are obHged to be sewed up. The thread used for the 
purpose is made of camel's sinews dried in the sun, and 
split into parts as fine as silk; spun camel's hair is, 
likewise, employed. All the inhabitants of the desert 
make use of this thread to mend their saddles, and 


bridles, and wooden platters. Every one carries about 
with him a housewife, a knife, and a needle. 

Not a few turn their powers of pedestrianism to a 
good account, and make it their profession. Hence 
come the runners and messengers, who gird themselves 
tightly ^\dth a belt. These who are called rekass under- 
take affairs of great urgency. They will do in four 
days what the ordinary runners take ten to accomphsh. 
They scarcely ever stop, but if they find it necessary to 
rest they count sixty inhalations of the breath and start 
again immediately. A rekass who receives four francs 
for going sixty leagues thinks himself well paid. This 
modest reward, however, is the more highly appreciated 
because it is paid in actual money. Specie is rare, and 
is the smallest portion of an Arab's fortune. The 
restricted circulation, and the facility of providing for 
the principal necessities of life without buying or selling, 
by simply having occasional recourse to barter are far 
from lowering the value of coined money. 

In the desert a special messenger travels night and 
day, and sleeps only two hours in the twenty four. 
Wien he lies down he fastens to his foot a piece of cord 
of a certain length, to which he sets fire; and, just as it 
is nearly burned out, the heat awakens him. In 1846, an 
Arab, named El-Thouamy, a native of Leghrouat, was 
sent by the Kalifa Sid -Hamcd-ben- Salem to Berry an, a 
town situated in the country of the Beni-Mzab. Starting 
at five in the morning from Kuesyr-el-Heyran, he 
reached his destination about seven in the evening of the 
same day. In fourteen hours he had covered 168 kilo- 
metres, travelling at the rate of twelve kilometres an 
hour. This same Thouamy set out one day from 


Negoussa to go to Berry an, a distance of 180 kilometres, 
charged with an important message, and accomplished 
the journey in sixteen hours. During hoth of these 
courses this man eat only a few dates and drank about 
two litres of water. 

In 1850, El-Ghiry, of the tribe of the Mokhalif, was 
hunting the ostrich, and, while wholly absorbed in 
chasing a delim, his horse broke down just as his last 
drop of water was exhausted. All trace of his compa- 
nions was lost. For thrice twenty -four hours he 
wandered about at random, in the desert, without food 
or water. During the day he slept under a lethoum, and 
walked all night. His family had given him up entirely, 
when at length they saw him approaching. At first they 
could hardly recognize him, so utterly exhausted was he, 
so blackened by the sun, and reduced to such a skeleton. 
He afterwards related that he believed he owed his life 
to his dreams, in which he beheld his mother tending 
him, and giving him something to eat and drink. These 
visions, he said, had comforted and sustained him in his 
sore distress. 

Let us now pass on from these examples of vigour and 
abstinence, which might be multiplied to infinity, and 
give a tolerably correct estimate of the goods and chattels 
of a Saharene nomade. This inventory will afford a far 
better idea of life in the desert than can be obtained from 
a long description. I take a man of influential family, 
and assume that his household is constituted after the 
following fashion. Himself, four wives, four sons, the 
wives of two of his sons, each of whom has a child, four 
negroes, four negresses, two white men servants, two 
white women servants : in all, twenty five souls. He 


may also, of course, daughters, but they are sure 
to be married, and are no further trouble to him. Such 
a household as this will possess : 

A spacious tent in thoroughly good condition, to make 
■which will require sixteen pieces of woollen cloth, 
forty cubits long hy two in width, each worth from T 

to 8 dmros. making a total of about 112 douros. 

Two Arab beds, or rather carpets of shaggy wool, thirty 
cubits in length by five broad; dyed with madder, 

20 douros each ; if dyed with kermes, 25 douros 50 

A carpet, twelve cubits long by four wide, hung up as 
a curtain to separate the men's apartment from that 

of the women. It is dyed with kermes and costs 16 

Six cushions, to contain wearing apparel and used as 

pillows : the price of each is 2 douros 12 

Six cushions of tanned antelope's skin, also used to 
contain dresses and spun wool, and to lean against in 

the tent 6 

Six pieces of woollen stuff, made into a sort of palan- 
quin carried on camels' backs, and in which the 

women travel 12 

Five red ha'i'ks to cover the palanquins 50 

Twenty woollen sacks for the carriage of corn 4o 

Six Tiamal, or loads o f wheat 48 

Twelve loads of barley 60 

Ten woollen sacks in which are kept jewels, wearing 
apparel, cotton stuffs, gunpowder, /Z«Zi/ money, etc., 

at 2 douros each 20 

Fifteen goat-skin bags to hold water 25 

Twelve sheep- or goat-skin bags to contain butter, 

valued each at 4 douros 48 

Four sheep- or goat-skin bags to hold honey, which is 
an expensive article, as it comes from the Tell; at 

8 douros each 32 

Eight liamal of dates. These liamal are sacks lined 

with wool 64 

Six tarahJi, each tarahh comprising six skins of morocco 
leather; in all, thirty six skins, at one douro a piece.. 36 

Gunpowder 30 

Lead 5 

• Goat-skins, generally dyed red, and prepared at Tafllalet in Morocco : it is v.'liat 
we call niorocco leather. 


Flints I (fottros. 

Ten mektan, or pieces of cotton stuffs 20 

Two meradjen, or vases of copper lined with tin, with 

handles, to drink out of a 

Two tassa, or vases, also for drinking purposes 'i 

Two guessaa, or large wooden bowls for making or 

eating kouskoussou 4 

Six dakia, or drinking vessels of wood 2 

A copper pot for cooking the food 2 

Three metreud, or wo'oden platters for strangers to eat 

f r m s 

Two/fl55, or mattocks, for preparing the site of the tent, 

fixing it, etc., and for clearing wood 2 

A kadouma, or small hatchet for shaping wood l 

Ten meudjesa, a kind of sickle for sheep-shearing l 

Two rekiza, or uprights of the tent 2 

A deus7iut-el-:emel, or tent with cai'pets, cushions, etc., 

for travelling, or for receiving strangers 30 

Total "lii dmros. 

The wearing apparel of five men will consist of : 

Eleven white burnouses, three for the father, and two 

for each of his sons : a burnous costs 4 dotiros 44 douroa. 

Five Tia'iks, at 4 donros each 20 

Five habaya, or woollen shirts l o 

Five mahazema, or belts of morocco leather embroidered 

in silk 10 

Five pair of helghra, or morocco shoes 2 

Five sTiasliia, or morocco fessy 2 

Five kate, or complete suits, for grand occasions, con- 
sisting of an ougkrlila or outer garment, a cedria or 
waistcoat, a seroual or pair of trousers; a haik of silk, 
a silken cord replacing the camel's rope ; and a cloth 

burnous : each suit at 60 douros will make 300 

Total msdmros. 

The wearing apparel of six women will consist of : 

Six women's haihs, dyed with kermes 60 douros. 

Six pair of morocco leather boots, embroidered G 

Six woollen girdles 12 

Six white ha'ihs worn over the head 6 


Six ienica, or silken hoods 6 douros. 

Six aasaba, or thread cord by which the women fasten the 

Jiaouly, or white ha'ik, over their heads 2 

Six pair of MioWiale, or silver anklets, 20 douros the pair. 120 

Six pair of sonar, or bracelets, T douros the pair 42 

Twelve bezima, or silver buckles, used by women to fas- 
ten the Jiatk, 6 douros the pair 30 

Six bezimat el ffuenrsi, or throat buckles, used to fasten 
the haouly under the chin after it has encircled the 

head V2 

Twelve ounaiss, or silver ear-rings set in coral. Every 

woman wears two pair 24 

i^ixmekhrauffaj or necklaces of coral and pieces of money. 4S 

Six necklaces of cloves interspersed with coral Z> 

Six zenzela, or silver chains with a small circular plate 
in the middle, called " the scorpion : " the chain stret- 
ches from ear to ear IJ? 

Six huerrahar, or silver boxes which the women hang 
from their necks, and in which they put musk and 

benjamin IS 

Eighteen Khatem, or silver rings u 

Six melyaca, or bracelets of djamous horn « 

Women in the desert do not wear any ornaments of gold ; the 
whole of their jewelry is in silver. 

Total i>.\:i douros. 

The arms for seven men are : 

Five guns for the masters, procured from Algiers, and 

. mounted in silver 100 douros. 

Two guns for the servants 20 

Five sabres, two of them mounted in silver 4o 

Five pistols, two of them mounted in silver 35. 

Four pistols for the negroes 12 

Four sabres for the negroes 12 

Total 219 douros. 

Harness and horsemen's equipment consist of: 

One saddle for the master 100 douros. 

Four ordinary saddles 160 

Two common saddles for the servants 20 

One master's djebira of tiger-skin n 

Four ordinary djebira 28 

One pair of master's temaff, or boots of morocco leather. 12 



Four pair of ordinary temag 24 donros. 

One pair of master's spurs, mounted in silver and orna- 
mented with coral 6 

Four pair of ordinary shabirs, or spurs 4 

Five niedol, or straw hats adorned with ostrich feathers. 5 

Total T.G donros. 

Horses, cattle, negroes, etc., consist of: 

A stallion for the chief of the tent 100 donros. 

Four blood mares for his sons 320 

Two servants' mares 60 

Six asses li^ 

Two slougid, or greyhounds [not purchasable] » 

Four negroes 240 

Four negresses 200 

Twenty ghelem, each glielem a flock of 400 sheep 8,ooo 

Four iheul, or droves of lOO camels each : of these 400 ani- 
mals, 130 are she-camels which command a higher 
price than the males, but I value them all round at 

30 douros a head 12,000 

Ten he- or she-goats, the only use of which is to make 

the sheep keep moving on a march 50 

Two tame gazelles, a young antelope, and an ostrich 

[these are never for sale] » 

Total 20,988 douros. 

The chief of a tent of this importance ought besides to 
possess, in depot, in three or four Miesotirs, or small 
towns : 

Twelve hundred zedja, or fleeces, worth each half a boud- 

jou • 200 douros. 

Thirty Avhite burnouses, at 3 douros each 90 

Thirty hai'ks at 2 douros 60 

Forty Mbaya, or woollen shirts at 2 douros 80 

Forty loads of dates at "7 douros 280 

Thirty camel loads of wheat 240 

Thirty loads of barley 150 

Four Khrabya, or enormous earthen vessels filled with 

hutter •. » 

Total \.,\QQ douros. 


I estimate at 600 douros the amount of what he may 
have lent or sold, to the people of the kuesotirs with 

whom he has business transactions 600 douros. 

In his tent he has 600 

Buried in a house belonging to him in one of the 
kuesotirs* i,ooo 

Total 2,200 douros. 

He has likewise a house in a knesoiir in the charge of 
a khremass, containing his most valuable property. . . 60 douros. 


Tents and furniture, etc 741 douros. 

"Wearing apparel of both sexes 815 

Arms 219 

Harness and Accoutrements 376 

Horses, cattle, etc 20,988 

Deposits 1,100 

Loans, etc • 2,200 

House 60 

Total 26,499 douros. -'r 

An Arab who possesses such a fortune does no work. 
He attends the meeting's and assemblies of the djemda, 
hunts, rides about, looks at his flocks, and prays. His 
only occupations are political, warhke, and religious. A 
poor Arab equally disdains manual labour. He is not 
forced to it, for there is no other kind of cultivation than 
that of date-trees, which is left to the inhabitants of the 
Jtuesours. Negroes are numerous and cost very little, 
and, with the assistance of a few white servants, suffice 
for the services which the free men refuse to perform for 
themselves. Some of the latter, however, mend their 
sacks and harness, but they form the exception. There 

• Money is never buried in the desert as it is in the Tell, lest the floods of winter 
should betray the hiding ylaces. 
t About f 5,721. The duvro worth aliout 4 shillings and 6 pence. 


are likewise farriers, "but these, in fact, are artists — the 
privileg^es that are accorded to them, of which I have 
already had occasion to speak, constituting them a sort of 
special corporation. The armourers are, in truth, mere 
workmen who repair, hut cannot manufacture, arms. 
The Arahs of the desert are for the most part worse 
armed than those of the Tell, though their chiefs yield 
to none in pomp and luxury. This is easily accounted 
for. As they obtain their arms from Tunis by way of 
Tougourt, or from Morocco through the Gourara coun- 
try, the great distance to be traversed prevents them 
from getting their arms repaired as soon as they need 
repairs, and the unskilfulness of those who undertake 
this business will not permit them to do their work very 
efficiently. Many of the Saharenes are still armed with 
lances, which they seldom use except when pursuing 
runaways. Their spears consist of a shaft of wood six 
feet long, with a flat double-edged head of iron, and are 
usually carried in a bandolier. 

The Arab of the Sahara is very proud of his mode of 
life, which is not only exempt from the monotonous toil 
to which the inhabitant of the Tell is subject, but is full 
of action and excitement, of variety and incident. If 
beards grow white at an early age in the desert, it is not 
only because of heat, fatigue, journeys, and combats, 
but much more from care, anxiety, and grief. He alone 
does not turn gray who " has a large heart, is resigned, 
and can say : It is the will of Allah ! " This pride in 
their country and in their peculiar mode of existence 
amounts to positive contempt for the Tell and its inha- 
bitants. What the dweller in the desert chiefly plumes 
himself upon is his independence ; for in his country the 


lands are wide and there is no Sultan. The chief of the 
tribe administers and renders justice, a task of no great 
difficulty where every delinquency has been provided for 
and its appropriate penalty fixed beforehand. Whoever 
steals a sheep, pays a fine of ten boudjous. Whoever 
enters a tent to see his neighbour's wife, forfeits ten ewes. 
Whoever takes life, must lose his o^ti ; or, if he makes 
his escape, all that belongs to him is confiscated, save 
only his tent, which is given up to his wife and children. 
The fines are set apart by the djemda for defraying the 
expences of travellers and marabouts, and of presents to 
strangers. Thefts within the tribe are severely punished. 
If committed on another tribe, they are looked over, and, 
if a hostile tribe be the sufferers, are even encouraged. 

The women attend to the cooking, and weave various 
kinds of carpets, sacks, stuff for tents, horse-cloths, camel- 
packs, and nose- bags, while the negresses fetch wood 
and water. Burnouses, Jia'iTis, and lidhaya are made in 
the Miesours. If rich, an Arab is always generous; and 
rich or poor, he is sure to be hospitable and charitable. 
He seldom lends his horse, but would regard it as an 
insult if the animal were sent back to him. For every 
present he receives he makes a return of greater value. 
Some men are quoted as never having refused anything. 
It is a common saying : " He who applies to a noble 
never comes back empty-handed." It is needless to 
speak of alms. Every one knows that next to a holy 
war, and on the same line with going on a pilgrimage, 
alms- giving is the act of all others the most pleasing to 
Allah. If an Arab is sitting down to a meal, and a 
mendicant, who happens to be passing, exclaims : 3Itd 
rebi ia el moumenin — "of what belongs to Allah, Belie- 


ver ! " — he shares his repast with him if there he enoug-h 
for two, or else ahandons it to him entirely. 

A stranger presenting himself hefore a doiiar, stands 
some little way off, and pronounces these words : Dif 
rebi — "a guest sent hy Allah." The effect is magical. 
Whatever may he his condition of life, they throw them- 
selves on him, tear him from one another, and hold his 
stirrup while he alights. The servants lead away his 
horse, ahout whom, if he he a man of good breeding, he 
will not give himself any further trouble. He himself is 
almost dragged into a tent, and whatever is ready to 
hand is set hefore him, until a banquet can be prepared. 
Nor is less attention shown to a traveller on foot. The 
master of the tent keeps his guest company throughout 
the whole of the day, and only leaves him to make way 
for sleep. No indiscreet questions are ever asked, such 
as : "Whence comest thou? Who art thou? Whither goest 
thou? There is no instance of any evil having ever 
befallen a stranger thus received as a guest, even 
though he were a mortal enemy. At his departure, the 
master of the tent will say to him : "Follow thy good 
fortune;" and after the guest has fairly taken his 
departure, his entertainer is no longer answerable for 
anything. In retiring from the hospitable repast, if the 
stranger pass before a douar and be seen, he is obhged 
again to accept the invitations that are pressed upon 


A certain class of men hve entirely on alms and hos- 
pitality. These are the dervishes. Absorbed in prayer, 
these pious individuals are the object of universal vene- 
ration. "Beware of offering them an insult, for Allah 
will punish you." A request made by them is never 


refused. Bj the side of these mendicant monks, who so 
exactly reproduce a particular feature of the Middle 
Ages, it seems appropriate to place the tolbas, or learned 
men, and the "wise women," who fill in the Sahara the 
part that belonged in the olden times to the magicians, 
alchemists, and sorcerers, and those other impostors 
celebrated by Tasso and Ariosto, and ridiculed by Cer- 
vantes. It is to these toWas and aged dames that both 
men and women apply for a philter, composed of various 
herbs prepared with solemn invocations and awesome 
or grotesque ceremonies, which is mixed with the food 
of the swain or damsel w^hose love is longed for. It is 
they, again, who wTite magic w^ords and the name of the 
hated one on a piece of paper and a dead man's bone 
taken from a cemetery, and then bury together the paper 
and the bone, which will soon be joined by the enemy, 
"with his belly full of worms." They will teach you, 
too, the formula you must pronounce while closing your 
knife, in order to sever the life of an odious rival; and 
that which you must throw into the furnace over which 
is being cooked the food of the family you would poison ; 
and that which you must write on a copper plate, or 
flattened ball, to be flung into the stream whither repairs 
to drink the w^oman on whom you would avenge yourself 
— seized with a dysentery as rapid as the river, she will 
die, if she do not yield herself up to you. To effect her 
cure, the first sorcery must be counteracted by a second. 
After these come the long train of spectres, the phan- 
toms of those who have died a violent death. If one of 
them pursue you, lose no time in exclaiming : "Return 
to thy hole. Thou canst not frighten me. I feared thee 
not when thou didst carry arms." It will follow you yet 


a little, but will soon desist. If you are seized with 
terror and attempt to flee, you will hear in the air the 
clashing" of arms, and a horse in full pursuit behind, 
with yells and horrible uproar, until you drop exhausted 
by fatigue. 

In Morocco, on the banks of the Ouad Noun, about 
twenty days march westward of Souss, the most famous 
sorcerers are found. There is there a whole school of 
alchemists and necromancers, and of occult sciences, 
besides a talking mountain, and many others marvels of 
the magical world. The common people alone are 
debased to these superstitions. The wealthy, the mara- 
bouts, the tolbas of the zaoiiia; and the slieiirfaa, 
scrupulously follow the precepts of religion and read the 
sacred books; but the vulgar herd are plunged in 
ignorance, and barely know two or three prayers and 
the confession of faith. They likewise pray very rarely, 
and only perform their ablutions when they find water. 
The chiefs do their utmost to dispel this ignorance. Even 
on a journey they take care that the moudden never fail 
to proclaim the hour of prayer, and they establish schools 
in their tents. But a life of fatigue, wandering, and 
migration, soon causes the Arabs to forget the lessons 
of their childhood. Men of all ranks, however, take 
pleasure in having them recalled to mind in the garb of 
poesy by the meddah, or religious bards, who go about 
at festivals singing the praises of Allah, and the saints, 
and the holy war, accompanying themselves the while 
with flute and tambourine. These bards are rewarded 
with numerous presents. 


"Take a thorny shrub," said the Emir Abd-el-Kader 
to me one day, "and water it for a whole year with 
rose-water, and it will still yield nothing but thorns. But 
take a date-tree, and leave it without water, without 
cultivation, and it still will produce dates." From the 
Arab point of view the nobles are this date-tree, and 
the common people that thorny shrub. In the East, 
great faith is placed in the power of blood and in the 
virtue of race. The aristocracy is regarded not only as 
a social necessity, but as an absolute law of nature. No 
one ever dreams of revolting against this truism, which 
is accepted by all with a placid resignation. The head 
is the head and the tail the tail, is what the lowest of 
the Arab shepherds would say. 

In addition to this long descended and sacred nobihty 
composed of the slierifs, or descendants of the Prophet, 
there are two distinct classes of aristocracy — the one 
the aristocracy of religion, the other the aristocracy of 
the sword. The marabouts and the djouad — for such 
are their designations — the former deriving their position 
from their piety, the latter from their courage, the 


former from prayer, the latter from battle, regard each 
other with an implacable hatred. The djoiiad reproach 
the marabouts with the offences which in all countries 
are eagerly attributed to religious orders that aim at 
the direction of human affairs. They accuse them of 
ambition, of intriguing, of underhand proceedings, and 
of an insatiable covetousness for the good things of the 
earth masked by a pretended love of Allah and of Heaven. 
One of their proverbs declares "From the zaouia^ a 
serpent is ever issuing." From this it appears that the 
Arabs, while chaunting the praises of the aristocracy, 
do not hesitate, sound Believers as they are, to speak 
the truth with regard to their priesthood. The mara- 
bouts, on the other hand, charge the djouad with 
violence, rapine, and impiety. This last accusation 
furnishes them with a terrible weapon of offence. They 
stand in the same relation towards their rivals as did the 
clergy of the Middle Ages towards the lay nobles who, 
notwithstanding the imposing appearance of their 
warlike power, could yet be reached by an anathema. 
In like manner, if the djouad exercise an influence over 
the people through the memory of perils encountered 
and blood shed, and all the prestige of military 
achievements, the marabouts on their part are armed 
with the omnipotence of religious faith acting on 
popular imagination. More than once has a marabout, 
feared or loved by the people, imperilled the power and 
even the life of a djieud^ Nevertheless it is the djieud 
whom I now propose to portray, because the life of the 

» Religious establishments, geueruUy comprising u mosque and a school, and the 
tumbs of their founders, 
t Singular of djouad. 


desert is especially the life of the warrior. To exhibit at 
one glance a noble of the Sahara in all the pomp, noise, 
and animation of his existence, it is necessary to depict 
the interior of a great tent at the moment when the day 
begins, from eight o'clock to noon. 

The poets of antiquity have many a time described 
the crowd of clients who were wont to inundate the 
porticoes of a patrician palace in ancient Rome. A 
great tent in the desert in these days resembles in its 
way the luxurious mansions painted by Horace and 
Juvenal. Gravely seated on a carpet, with that dignified 
demeanour which is the peculiar privilege of Orientals, 
the chief of the tribe receives in their turn all who come 
to invoke his authority. This one complains of a 
neighbour who has endeavoured to seduce his wife, that 
one accuses a wealthy man of refusing to pay a debt, 
another is anxious to recover some cattle that have been 
stolen from him, while a fourth demands protection for 
his daughter whom a brutal husband maltreats in the 
most shameful manner. The first quality in a chief is 
patience. Assailed on all sides by violent recriminations, 
he lends an attentive ear to each, and strives to heal the 
wounds of every description which are disclosed to him. 
"A man in authority," says an eastern apophthegm, 
" ought to imitate the physicians who never apply the 
same remedies to all diseases." In these '' beds of justice" 
that recall the primitive manner in which our ancient 
kings disposed of the private interests of their subjects, 
the Arab chief employs the utmost sagacity, the greatest 
force of character, with which he may have been endowed. 
To some he gives orders, to others advice: to no one 
does he refuse the aid of his wisdom and influence. Nor 


has he need only of the quahty that Solomon demanded 
of the Lord. Wisdom must be combined with generosity 
and valour. The highest praise that can be awarded is 
to say of him that " his sabre is always drawn, his hand 
always open." He must never weary of practising the 
somewhat ostentatious, and yet at the same time noble 
and touching, charity, enjoined by the Mussulman law 
as an obligation on all Believers. His tent must be a 
refuge for the unfortunate, nor may any one die of 
hunger in his neighbourhood; for the Prophet hath said : 
''Allah will never accord his mercy but to the merciful. 
Believers, give alms, if it be only the half of a date. 
Whoso gives alms to-day shall be amply recompensed 

If a warrior loses the horse that was his sole strength, 
if a family is robbed of the flocks that furnished its subsis- 
tance, it is to the chief, and to the chief alone, the sufferers 
address themselves. However strong may be the love 
of pelf, it never goes so far as to make him risk the loss 
of his influence ; and the Arab noble, while in so many 
respects resembling the Baron of the Middle Ages, differs 
from him in one essential point — he abhors gambling. 
Neither cards nor dice ever wile away the leisure hours 
in a tent. An Arab chief may neither indulge in play, 
nor lend money at usurious rates of interest. The only 
way in which he may turn his money to account, is by 
indirect participation in some commercial enterprise. 
He hands over a certain sum to a merchant, who trades 
with it, and, at the end of so many years, divides with the 
lender the profits he has gathered. It must not, however, 
be supposed that riches are therefore despised by 
Orientals. With them, as in every other part of the 


world, wealth is one of the indispensable conditions of 
power. Whoever falls into poverty, falls also very 
quickly into obscurity, while he who makes a fortune 
enters upon the path of honours. But, in order to follow 
out an ambitious career, it is by the right arm rather 
than by industry that wealth must be acquired. When a 
warrior has made a number of razzias that have brought 
him at the same time glory and gold, he is surnamed 
Ben-Deraou, "the son of his arm," and may aspire to 
the highest dignities of the tribe. This brings us back 
to the quality which should be the groundwork of every 
noble Arab's soul — valour. 

"Nothing," said Abd-el-Kader, "throws out so well as 
blood the dazzling whiteness of a burnous." An Arab 
chief, like our captains in the olden times, should be 
more valiant than all his men at arms. He must 
distinguish himself by warlike feats as much as by his 
bearing at fantasias. His influence would be for ever 
lost if he were suspected of faintness of heart. But it is 
the reality, not the appearance, which the Arabs 
appreciate. What they admire is a spirit nobly tempered, 
and not the frame of a mere giant, or athlete. This is 
the place to combat the widely spread prejudice that a 
lofty stature and bodily strength make a deep impression 
upon them. Such is far from being the case. They 
take pleasure in man's being robust, patient of thirst and 
hunger, and capable of enduring severe fatigue ; but they 
care very little for tallness of stature, or for muscular 
force like that of our porters, or showman's Hercules. 
They reserve their esteem for activity, address, and 
courage. It little matters to them whether a man be tall 
or short; and not unfrequently, while looking at some 


Colossus whose huge proportions are being" vaunted in 
their presence, they may he heard to murmur senten- 
tiously : '' What to us is the stature or strength ! Let us 
see the heart. After all, it may be only the skin of a 
lion on the back of a cow." 

But notwithstanding this admiration of valour, there 
is no point of honour among the Arabs such as prevails 
among ourselves. In their eyes there is no cowardice 
in retreating before superior numbers, or even in fleeing 
before an enemy of inferior strength, if there is nothing 
to be gained by fighting. They often laugh among 
themselves at our chivalrous scruples. Fond as they 
are of riding at furious speed, and of the noisy discourse 
of fire-arms, they nevertheless desire to have some 
object of public utility as their motive for battle. Full of 
ardour so long as Fortune leads them on, they disperse 
and disappear as soon as she betrays them. In forming, 
therefore, their judgment of acts of bravery, there are 
many essential points of difference between them and 
ourselves. Their respect for courage never urges them 
to excessive severity towards those who are deficient in 
that quahty. A coward will never rise to any post of 
dignity in his tribe, but neither will he be an object of 
contempt. They will merely say of him, with that 
absence of anger which usually accompanies fatalism: 
"It was not the will of Allah that he should be brave. 
He is to be pitied rather than blamed." A man of faint 
heart is expected, however, to redeem his shortcomings 
by the prudence of his counsels, and above all by an 
unfailing generosity. 

Braggadocio is treated with greater contempt than 
cowardice. "If thou sayest that the lion is an ass, go 


and put a halter on him," is an oriental proverb in very 
general use. In spite of the heat of their blood and the 
hyperbohcal character of their speech, the Arabs demand 
from true courage that dignified silence which they 
regard so highly. In this respect they have nothing in 
common with the nations with whom they fought in the 
time of the Cid; nor yet under the head of single 
combats, which are entirely unknown among them. A 
tradition, which probably dates from the crusades, 
asserts that in the olden time illustrious chiefs met each 
other in single combat, but the oldest members of the 
tribes of the present day have no personal recollection of 
anything of the kind. If a man deems himself seriously 
affronted, he avenges himself by assassination. There 
are individuals with easy consciences and complacent 
dispositions who, for a very moderate sum, will rid you 
of an enemy. But if the aggrieved happens to be more 
sparing of his gold than of his life — his hand being more 
ready to strike than his purse to open — he watches his 
opportunity to fall upon the man who has wronged him. 
He kills him, or is killed by him. In the former case it 
is a common thing to bequeath to another the debt of 
blood ; for, in the absence]]of duelling, private revenge is 
in a very flourishing condition among the Ai'abs, and 
descends from generation to generation. Among them 
still prevail those family feuds which formerly dyed red 
the pavements of Italian cities, and which even in the 
present day stain the soil of an island of France. 

The ordinary causes of the Arab vendetta are disputes 
as to wells, pasturage and landmarks, the rape of a 
young wife or daughter, the murder of a jealous hus- 
band, of a successful rival, or of a woman who has 


refused compliance, — or rivalries of chiefs, whose quarrel 
is espoused, first of all, by their relations, friends, and 
clients, then hy the whole tribe, and at last by the 
tribes in alhance with them. As a natural consequence 
of the absence of the duello, private disputes are settled 
by assassination, and the feud, being transmitted from 
kin to kin and constantly provided with new fuel, goes 
on to eternity. The vendetta is either of a private or 
public nature, according as the injury to be avenged 
affects an individual or a tribe. If from any cause a man 
happen to lose his life through the act of a chief, or even 
of a humble member of a neighbouring tribe, the homi- 
cide can arrange the affair legally by paying the dya, 
or blood-money, to the heirs of the deceased. The dya 
is the same as the WeTirgeld of the Germans, with this 
difference — that not only is it legal, but from its first 
institution it assumed a religious character. According 
to the tolbas, it may be traced back to Abd-el-Mettaleb, 
the grandfather of Mohammed, and was indirectly the 
cause of the birth of the Prophet. Abd-el-Mettaleb, chief 
of the tribe of the Koreishites, had no children, and in 
his despair he offered up the following prayer to Allah : 
" Lord, if thou wilt bestow upon me ten sons, I swear 
to sacrifice one of them unto thee as a thanksgiving 
offering." Allah heard his prayer and made him ten 
times a father. Faithful to his vow, Abd-el-Mettaleb left 
it to the drawing of lots to decide who should be the 
victim. The lot fell upon Abd- Allah; but, the tribe 
opposing this sacrifice, it was resolved by the chiefs that, 
instead of Abd- Allah, ten camels should be set aside as a 
stake and recourse again had to lots until they turned 
up in favour of the lad, ten camels being added to the 


first for every time the lots had been unfavourable. 
It was not until the eleventh trial that Abd- Allah was 
redeemed, and one hundred camels w^ere sacrificed in his 
place. Some time afterwards Allah manifested His 
satisfaction with this exchange, for He caused Moham- 
med his Prophet to be born to Abd- Allah ; and ever since 
then the price of an Arab's life has been fixed at one 
hundred camels. Circumstances, however, sometimes 
occur to reduce this high standard. 

There is scarcely an instance on record of a homicide 
who has paid the dya being otherwise proceeded against, 
or of the parents or the children of the deceased 
hesitating to accept this satisfaction. But if he be too 
poor to pay it, or if the Government has thought fit to 
interfere in the matter, he is condemned to suffer like for 
like, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a 
life. When I was consul for France at Mascara, in 1837, 
accredited to Abd-el-Kader, I had an opportunity of 
witnessing the application of the lex talionis in its utmost 
rigour. Two children having quarrelled in the street, 
their father interposed, and from insults proceeded to 
threats, until one of them, gradually becoming infuriated, 
drew his knife and stabbed his adversary, who fell down 
dead upon the spot. The latter received five wounds ; 
one on his right, a second on his left, breast, two in the 
stomach, and the fifth in the back. A mob collected, 
and the sliaouslis, or police agents seized the murderer 
and led him before the lidhem, or mayor of the town. 
The aoulemas, or doctors of the law, immediately 
assembled, and constituted themselves a tribunal. In 
less than half an hour the witnesses were heard, and the 
culprit was sentenced to undergo the full penalty of the 



lex talionis at the hands of his victim's brother. At a 
signal given by the Cadi, two sliaousJis bound his wrists 
together with a rope, and, placing themselves on either 
side of him, conducted him, preceded by the executioner, 
to the market-place, thronged at the time by two or 
three thousand Arabs. However horrible might be the 
singular drama about to be acted, it furnished me with 
an opportunity for a rare experience, and I succeeded in 
overcoming the instinctive repugnance, which I at first 
felt, to being present. By the time I reached the spot, 
the shaouslis, by dint of freely plying their sticks, had 
forced back the crowd to the circumference of a spacious 
circle, the centre of which was occupied by the execu- 
tioner and his victim, the one with his knife in his hand, 
the other calm and indifferent to what was about to 
happen. According to the sentence, the murderer was 
to receive as many stabs as he had inflicted, and in the 
same order and in the same parts of the body as the man 
he had murdered. When all was ready, — and the pre- 
parations were merely what I have described, — a shaousli 
raised his staff, by way of signal. The Arab with the 
knife immediately rushed on his victim, and stabbed him 
first on the right and then on the left breast, but evidently 
without touching the heart, for the poor wretch cried 
aloud : " Strike ! Strike ! But think not that it is thou 
who takest my life. Allah alone takes away hfe." The 
punishment, however, was continued with horrible fury, 
and the criminal, whose entrails protruded from two fresh 
wounds he received in the belly, never ceased to revile 
his executioner. There still remained one other blow to 
give. The wounded man turned round of himself, and 
the blade of the knife disappeared entirely in his loins. 


He staggered, but did not fall. "Enough! Enough!" 
cried the mob. "He gave only five blows, and he ought 
not to receive more." The execution was over, and the 
unfortunate man who underwent all this torture had still 
sufficient strength to return to his own house on foot. 
M. Warmer, physician to the consulate, arrived there 
almost at the same instant as himself, and while he was 
endeavouring to sew together the gaping mouths of the 
two wounds in the belly, the patient kept crying aloud : 
"Oh! I pray you, heal me ! They say thou art a great 
physician; prove it, heal me, so that I may kill that 
dog! " It was all in vain, for that night he died. 

But if the murderer be the master of a great tent, and 
sufficiently influential to induce the tribe to exercise for- 
bearance towards him, and therefore refuses to pay any 
blood money, he will sooner or later expiate that refusal 
with his life, which the vendetta will overtake though 
justice lag behind. From his death, however, wall arise 
a deadly feud, as I have already shown. • I could give 
many instances of the vendetta; and the one that follows, 
being equally illustrative of the customs of a powerful 
Saharene tribe, the Shamba, and of those of a people of 
the Great Desert, the Touareg, separated from one 
another by at least two hundred leagues, will afford a 
just notion of those obstinate hatreds, of that thirst for 
vengeance which always embody themselves in the same 
acts of violence. A band of the Shamba, commanded 
by Ben Mansour, chief of Ouargla, surprised, near the 
Djebel-Baten, some Touaregs who were w^atering their 
camels in the Oued-Mia, under the leadership of Khed- 
dash, chief of the Djebel-Hoggar. An implacable hatred, 
the origin of which is unknown, divides the Shamba from 


the Touaregs — the latter, besides, being in a state of 
perpetual vendetta against the Saharenes, either because 
they are Berbers and not Arabs, or because they levy a 
tax on the caravans to and from Soudan. A bloody 
conflict ensued, and the Touaregs were put to the rout, 
leaving ten of their party dead upon the ground, and 
among them their chief, whose headless body they found 
some days afterwards. Ben-Mansour had carried off his 
head, which he exposed, as a trophy of his victory, over 
one of the gates of Ouargla. The tidings spread 
mourning throughout the Djebel-Hoggar, and an oath 
was taken : " May my tent be destroyed if Kheddash be 
not avenged ! " Kheddash left behind him a widow of 
great beauty named Fetoum, and one young child. 
According to usage, Fetoum was entilled to rule, assisted 
by the Council of Nobles, until such time as her son 
should be of age to assume the leadership. One day, 
therefore, when the leading men were assembled in her 
tent, she said to them : "My brethren, whichever of you 
will bring me Ben-Mansour's head shall have me for 
wife." That same evening all the young men of the 
mountain armed themselves for war, and went to her, 
saying : " To-morrow we will set out with our servants to 
seek thy wedding present." And at the dawn of day 
three hundred Touaregs, commanded by Ould-Biska, a 
cousin of Kheddash , set out on their march to the north- 
ward. Hardly had they taken up their position at their 
first halt, when they beheld coming up behind them half 
a score of camels with riders, and among them one 
fleeter of foot and more richly accoutred than the others. 
They at once recognized the camel of Fetoum-, for 
Fetoum had come in person to join their httle army. 


She was greeted with loud acclamations, for it seemed 
to them, and perhaps with reason, that she had come 
expressly to be able more promptly to fulfil her promise. 
It was the month of May, when water is to be found in 
every ravine, and the sands are clothed with herbage. 
During the halt on the eighth day, the scouts came in 
with the news that a strong body of the Shamba, com- 
manded by Ben-Mansour, were driving their flocks 
towards the grazing grounds of the Oued-Nessa. The 
Shamba, however, having received intelligence of the 
approach of the Touaregs, had turned suddenly towards 
the north and had already gained the Oued-Mzab. But 
their retreat was speedily discovered, and by a forced 
march of a day and a night, the Touaregs placed them- 
selves in ambush in ravines and brushwood at a distance 
of only a few leagues from the enemy, who had now no 
suspicion of their presence. All that day they rested, 
and when night came they again took to the plain, 
putting their camels to a long swinging trot. At length 
about midnight the barking of the dogs betrayed the 
douar of which they were in search. The next moment, 
on a signal given by Ould-Biska, they dashed forward 
uttering their war-cry. Of the Shamba, at the most not 
more than five or six escaped, and one even of these was 
wounded by Ould-Biska who, with a thrust of his long 
spear, struck him in the loin. Run away with by his 
mare, the ill-fated horseman, rolling from side to side 
but still keeping his seat, went on a few steps, but 
presently he sank forward and fell over on to the sand, 
dragging down with him in his fall a child seven or 
eight years of age whom he had till then kept concealed 
in his burnous. "Ben-Mansour! Ben-Mansour! knowest 


thou Ben- Mansour?" demanded Ould-Biska. "He was 
my father — behold him!" replied the boy, calm and erect 
beside the dead body. At that moment, Fetoum came up, 
followed, surrounded, and closely hemmed in by a group 
of the Touaregs. "It is I who have slain him!" cried 
Ould-Biska. "And it shall be done as I said," answered 
Fetoum; "but take thy poniard, open the body of the 
accursed, tear out his heart, and throw it to the dogs." 

While Ould-Biska, kneeling on the ground and stoop- 
ing over the corpse, proceeded to execute this order, 
Fetoum, her lips compressed and her whole frame trem- 
bling with nervous excitement, gloated over the shocking 
spectacle. And w^hen at last the sloiigui had finished 
their horrible repast, her revenge being now complete, 
Fetoum remounted her maliari and gave the signal for 
retreat, without taking any heed of the booty her follow- 
ers were piling up, or of the flocks they were driving 
together. As to the son of Ben-Mansour, his life was 
spared, but they abandoned him to his fate. For two 
days he remained there, weeping, thirsting, hungering, 
and exposed to the sun, but oq the third day he was 
found by some shepherds who conveyed him to Ouargla, 
where he was living in 1845. Thus the dogs of the 
Touaregs have eaten the heart of the chief of the Shamba, 
and it may be easily imagined that this will be the 
subject of an undying feud', that will know neither 
respite nor mercy. 

I will not dwell any further upon customs impressed 
which such savage energy. By way of contrast, I will 
now trace some family sketches, commencing with the 
reverence attached to the paternal authority. So long 
as the child is in his infancy, the tent belongs to him, 


and his father is in some respects the first of his slaves. 
His sports are the delight of the family, his whims the 
life and soul of the domestic circle. But as soon as he 
attains to puberty, he is taught the utmost deference. 
He is not even allowed to speak in the presence of his 
father, or to attend the same meetings. This absolute 
respect which he is bound to exhibit tow^ards the head of 
the family, he is also obliged to pay to his eldest brother. 
However, notwithstanding their aristocratic severity, 
the customs of the Arabs do not come up to the gloomy 
rigour of the Roman Patricians. A father, for instance, 
would never condemn his son to death unless he has 
dishonoured his couch — for any other offence he would 
merely banish him from his presence. 

Thus far I have sketched with a coarse and rapid 
pencil the character of the Arab aristocracy; I will 
now endeavour to represent the actual Ufe of a noble in 
some of its most solemn moments. 

The day on which a child is born in a great tent is 
one of much rejoicing. Every one visits the father of 
the new-born, and says to him : "May thy son be 
happy ! " And while the men press round the father, 
the mother is not neglected, for the women of the tribe 
flock to see her. Both men and women have their hands 
full of presents, proportioned to their means. From 
camels, sheep, and costly apparel, do^^m to grain and 
dates, all the treasures of the desert abound in the tent 
which Allah has just visited with his blessing. The 
recipient of all these tokens of affection and respect is 
obliged to exercise a large hospitality. Sometimes for 
twenty consecutive days, he feeds and entertains his 
guests. These festivals in the desert have that air of 


grandeur which belongs to all the scenes that are enacted 
in this solemn theatre of primitive life. 

As soon as the child is old enough, he learns to read 
and write, which is an innovation among the djouad, 
for until recently the marabouts alone cultivated letters. 
The man of the sword, like our medioeval barons, held 
learning in contempt. It seemed to him that, in culti- 
vating his mind, some sort of injury was done to his 
energy of character. But since they have beheld the hum- 
blest of our soldiers possessed of knowledge without their 
courage being impaired, the Arabs have changed their 
opinion on the subject. Besides, those who took service 
with us soon dicovered that education conferred a title 
to favours. Many of them too, murmur to one another 
with a tone of sad resignation : "Formerly we were able 
to live in ignorance, for peace and happiness were with 
us; but in this time of trouble through which we are 
compelled to pass, science must come to our aid." Our 
influence thus gradually accomplishes, in the very heart 
of the desert, the work of civilisation, of which some 
among us speak so despondingly, and others so lightly. 

The culture of letters, however, does not lead, in the 
education of the Arab, to any neglect of the art of ma- 
naging a horse or of handling fire-arms. As soon as a 
child can sit on a horse, he is placed, first of all, on the 
back of a colt, and then on the full grown animal. 
When his frame begins to take form, he is taken out 
hunting, and taught to fire at a mark, and to bury his 
spear in the flanks of a wild boar. By the time he has 
attained his sixteenth or seventeenth year, has learned 
the Koran, and has been accustomed to fast, he is 
married. The Prophet has said : "Marry when young. 


Marriag-e subdues the glance of the man's eye, and 
regulates the conduct of the woman." Up to that epoch, 
paternal tenderness watches over the purity of his 
manners with unceasing vigilance. The lad is never left 
to himself. A tutor or an attendant accompanies him 
wherever he goes. Men of dissolute habits and women 
of a loose course of life are carefully kept away from him. 
He is expected to- bring to the companion of his life a 
body in robust health, and a soul untainted by pollution. 
They select for him a youthful maiden of birth equal to 
his own, of unspotted reputation, and, if possible, of great 
beauty. It is the women of the family who ascertain these 
points, being permitted to examine the tents in which 
dwell young girls of marriageable years. A betrothal 
takes place, followed in due time by the wedding. 

The first of these days of festival, which like those at 
the birth of a child, last for some time, is called nalir 
o^efoude, or the day of the rape. Four or five hundred 
horsemen, magnificently attired, riding their finest 
horses, carrying their most valuable arms, and conducted 
by the kinsmen of the bride, proceed to the tent of the 
latter. They are accompanied by women closely veiled 
and mounted on camels and mules. The youngest and 
most beautiful damsels of the tribe are chosen for this 
joyful mission. The journey, which sometimes lasts three 
days, is one continual fantasia. The horsemen gallop 
to and fro, there is a constant discharg'e of fire-arms, and 
the women utter that long-drawn cry of love and joy 
which fills the heart of the children of the desert w^th 
ineffable emotion. At the arrival of this triumphal 
procession, the father of the bride comes forth and 
exclaims • " You are welcome, quests of Allah ! " Then 


follow banquetings and rejoicings until the morrow, 
when they again set out. This time the bride forms one 
of the cavalcade, mounted on a camel, or mule, richly 
caparisoned. She has taken no leave of her father. An 
almost false sense of delicacy forbids her to appear in his 
presence at a moment when her fate is about to undergo 
an entire change. She is equally prohibited from seeing 
her elder brothers. Her girlhood's life is finished. 
Henceforth she belongs to another family. 

When she is on the point of starting, her mother 
tenderly embraces her and says : " You are going away 
from those from whose loins you sprang. You are going 
far away from the nest that has so long sheltered you, 
and whence you issued forth to learn to walk, and that 
in order to go to a man whom you know not, and to 
whose society you have never been accustomed. I 
advise you to be to him as a slave, if you wish that he 
should be to you as a servant. Be satisfied with little. 
Keep a constant watch over all that is likely to come 
under his eyes, and let not his eyes ever behold an evil 
action. See to his food and his sleep. Hunger causes 
anger, the want of sleep produces ill humour. Take 
care of his property. Treat his kinsfolk and slaves 
with kindness. Be dumb as to his secrets. When he 
rejoices, show no signs of sorrow. When he is sorrowful, 
show no signs of joy. Allah will bless you! " 

While this nuptial journey is being accomplished, the 
bridegroom prepares a tent richly ornamented, which he 
places under the safeguard of some of his friends. Into 
this the bride enters with her mother and female rela- 
tives. A choice banquet is presented to her, and outside 
a festival is celebrated, which, with gunpowder and 


music, combines all that enters into the desert notion of 
rejoicing. At ten at night the husband glides into the 
tent, now silent and deserted. 

A wedding feast is often prolonged over three days 
and nights, and is repeated each time the husband takes 
a fresh wife. An Arab chief is permitted by the law to 
have four wives at the same time, but even these do no 
suffice for the gratification of these fickle and voluptuous 
temperaments. It is in vain that, by a custom which 
recalls to mind Biblical manners, a Mussulman husband 
is allowed to associate concubines with his legitimate 
wives. Even this tolerance is insufficient, and recourse 
is had to divorce to appease these insatiable and ever 
craving appetites. Instances have been known of an 
Arab chief having had a dozen to fifteen lawful wives. 
As may easily be imagined, peace is far from reigning 
in households where the law recognizes the existence of 
such elements of discord. Sometimes the tent is divided 
into two parts, one chamber being exclusively reserved 
for the women, the other belonging to the husband, who 
selects from among his Avives the one he fancies for that 
night. Terrible jealousies secretly spring into being, 
and, gradually gaining strength, finish by an explosion. 
Frequently a wife who is preferred to her fellows is seized 
with a mysterious illness, under which she languishes, 
fades away, and dies — a poison prepared by a rival's 
hand has passed into her veins. This is the gloomy 
side of eastern manners — crime allying itself to lust. 

The immense part played by wives in the fife of the 
Mussulmans is shown by the following fact. Tell an 
Arab that he is a coward, he will submit to the insult — 
if he is a coward, it is the will of Allah that it should be 


SO. Call him a thief, he will smile; for iu his eyes a 
theft is sometimes a meritorious act. But address him 
as talian — a word which the language of Moliere could 
alone translate with concise forcibleness — and you will 
kindle in his breast a fury that blood only can extinguish. 
The only man whom an Arab will never forgive is one who 
can with truth cast in his teeth that ill-omened epithet. 

After marriage the noble of the desert enters upon a 
new life, and upon a sphere of individual action. He is 
now emancipated, though not in an absolute fashion 
unless he is the head of the tent, and master of his own 
goods and chattels, or if his father is still alive. How- 
ever, even under these circumstances, he henceforth 
counts among his tribe as a man of action and of 
counsel, and by accumulated experience he will put the 
finishing touch to his training as a great lord, thus far 
sketched out by the habit of seeing good examples and 
hearing good advice. Already he has his own clients, 
his own horses, his own greyhounds, his own falcons, 
and all the equipments for war and the chace. His 
clients are young men of his own age, the courtiers of 
his future eminence. His horses have been chosen from 
among those that bring good fortune, and of the best 
authenticated descent. His greyhounds have been fed 
on dates crushed in milk, and on the kouskoussou of his 
own meals. They have been broken in by himself; and, 
while the vulgar dogs of the tribe bark all night at the 
hyoenas and jackals, they lie couched at his feet, 
beneath the tent, and even upon his very bed. His 
falcons have been reared under his own eyes by his own 
falconer, and he himself has taken care to accustom them 
to his cry on throwing them off and on calling them 


back. Among his hunting and warlike equipments 
there are guns from Tunis, or Algiers, damascened and 
mounted in silver, the stocks incrusted with coral or 
with mother of pearl — sabres from Fez with scabbards 
of chased silver — and saddles embroidered in gold and 
silk on a groundwork of velvet or morocco leather. To 
complete his accoutrements, I may mention the sabre- 
tache ornamented with panther's skin, plated spurs 
incrusted with coral, the medal, or high -crowned broad- 
brimmed straw hat, with a plume of ostrich feathers, and 
the maliazema, or cartridge-box of morocco leather 
pinked with silk, gold, and silver. 

At some future days when his father has paid "the 
contribution levied by Allah on every head," that 
spacious tent will be his, with all its luxurious furniture, 
carpets, pillows, jew^el-bags, silver cups, and supplies of 
arms, ammunition, and food for the whole family, 
consisting of from twenty five to thirty individuals, 
including master and servants. His, also will be that 
stallion and those mares picketed in front of the tent, 
those eight or ten negroes and negresses, those stores of 
wheat, barley, dates, and honey prudently placed beyond 
all danger of a coii;p de main in a town or village of the 
desert, those eight or ten thousand sheep, and those five 
or six hundred camels scattered over the grazing ground, 
in the care of shepherds who follow their wanderings. 
His fortune may then be estimated at from twenty-five 
to twenty-six thousand doiiros [nearly £6,000]. 

At the age, however, at which we parted from him, 
that is, at eighteen or nineteen, he will have no need as 
yet to trouble himself about the management of this 
fortune. At present, he is merely a man of pleasure. 


In time of peace, he goes forth on horseback, accompanied 
by his friends and followed by his attendants mounted 
on camels, who hold his greyhounds in leash or even 
carry them on their saddle-bow, and proceeds to the 
distant pasturages to inspect his flocks, taking advant- 
age of the opportunity to hunt the ostrich, or the gazelle, 
or the heheur el ouliash, according to the nature of the 
ground and the season of the year. His leisure hours 
will be especially devoted to the peculiarly aristocratic 
and lordly pastime of hawking. These violent sports, 
which I have already described, mould the nobility for 
the toils of war and the razzia, to which these children 
of the desert consecrate all the adventurous ardour and 
energy that enter into their character. 

But as he advances in years, the Arab becomes more 
sedate. Every white hair in his beard leads him to 
thoughts of a religious nature. He more and more 
frequent the society of the men of Allah, and loads them 
with gifts ; and more and more rarely he is seen at the 
chace, at wedding feasts, and the fantasia. His occupa- 
tions as a chief leave him, besides, much less idle time. 
He has to administer justice, increase his means, bring 
up his children, and contract alliances. Nevertheless, 
the chivalrous spirit of his youth is only slumbering 
within him. Let the powder speak to redress an insult 
offered to his tribe, he will not be the one to remain in 
his tent. Too happy, he will say, to die like a man in 
battle, and not like an old woman. Some great families 
loudly boast that there is no tradition of any one of their 
ancestors having died in his bed. If, however, he 
escapes that coveted end, as soon as he feels the hand of 
death upon him, he summons his friends to his bed-side, 


for the presence of friends is desired at all the great acts 
of human existence. "My brethren," he will say to 
them if he he able to speak, "I shall never see you again 
in this world; hut I was only a pilgrim upon the earth, 
and I die in the fear of Allah." He will then recite the 
shehada, or symbolical act of the Mussulman faith: 
" There is only one God, and Mohammed is the messen- 
ger of God." If his lips refuse to pronounce these sacred 
words, one of those present takes his right hand and hfts 
up the forefinger. This sign, to which the dying man 
adheres with all the energy still remaining in his earthly 
tenement, is a testimony offered to the unity of the Deity. 
After he has accomplished the slieliada, he can die in peace. 
Funeral ceremonies are not w^anting to the Arab chief, 
especially to a warrior who has fallen in combating for 
his tribe. He is w^rapped in a white shroud, and exposed 
to view on a carpet, the borders of w^hich have been 
turned back. The neddabat, that is to say, the women 
who in the East replace the hired mourners of antiquity, 
stand round the corpse, their cheeks blackened with 
smoke, and their shoulders covered with tent-canvass, or 
with camel-hair sacks. A few paces off, a slave holds by 
the bridle the favourite mare of the deceased, and from 
the kerdoms of the saddle hang a long gun, a yatagan, 
pistols, and spurs. A little further off, the horsemen of 
the tribe, old and young, in silent sorrow, sit in a circle 
upon the sand, their Jiaiks held up close to their eyes and 
the hood of their burnous brought down over their brow. 
The neddalat chaunt to a melancholy rhythm the 
following lamentations : 

Where is he ? 
His horse has come, but he has not come ; 


His sabre has come, but he has not come; 

His spurs are there, but he is not there; 

Where is he? 

They say that he died on his day, pierced to tlie heart. 
He was a sea of kouskoussou [generosity] ; 
He was a sea of powder ; 
The lord of men, 
The lord of horsemen. 
The defender of camels, 
The protector of strangers. 
They say that he died on his day. 


My tent is empty, 

I am a-cold ; 

Where is my lion ? 

Where shall I find his equal ? 

He never struck but with the sabre; 

He was a man for the dark days : 

Fear is in the goum. 


He is not dead ! He is not dead ! 

He has left thee his brethren. 

He has left thee his children ; 
They shall be the bulwarks of thy shoulders. 
He is not dead! His soul is with Allah. 

We shall see him again some day. 

After these funereal lamentations, the adjciize, or old 
women, take possession of the body, wash it carefully, 
place camphor and cotton in all the natural orifices, and 
wrap it in a white shroud sprinkled with water from the 
well of Zem-Zem*, and perfumed with benzoin. Four 
relatives of the deceased then lift by the four corners the 
carpet on which it is laid, and take the road to the 

* A well at Mecca, the water of which is carried away by pilg-rims. It is said to be 
supi)lied from Paradise. 


cemetery, preceded by the Iman, the marabouts, and the 
tolbas, and followed by the others. The former chaunt 
in a grave manner : " There is only one God ! " to which 
the latter respond in chorus : "And our lord Mohammed 
is the messenger of God ! " 

For a brief space resignation soothes their despair. 
Not a cry, not a sob, troubles these prayers offered in 
common, these professions of the faith of the deceased, 
which the pious assemblage repeats on his behalf. On 
arriving at the cemetery, the bearers depose their sacred 
burden on the edge of the grave, and the Iman, placing 
himself by its side and surrounded by the marabouts, 
recites with a strong sonorous voice the salat el djena- 
zat, or the burial prayer : 

" Praise to Allah who gives death and who gives life ! 

" Praise to Him who raises up the dead ! 

"To Him reverts all honour, all greatness. To Hiui 
alone belong the commandment and the power. He is 
above all ! 

"Let praise be also to the Prophet Mohammed, his 
kindred, and his friends ! Allah ! watch over them and 
grant them Thy mercy as Thou didst to Ibrahim, and 
his, for to Thee belong glory and praise! 

"0 Allah! N*** was Thy worshipper, the son of Thy 
slave. Thou didst create him, and didst bestow upon him 
the good things which he enjoyed. Thou, too, didst 
take his life aw^ay, and Thou wilt raise him up again 
from the dead ! 

" Thou knowest his secrets and his innermost thoughts! 

"We come here to intercede for him, Allah! Dehver 
him from the horrors of the grave and from the fire 
of Hell. Forgive him. Grant him Thy mercy. Grant 


that the place he shall occupy be honourable and 
spacious. Wash him with snow and hail water, and 
cleanse him from his sins as they cleanse a white robe 
from the impurities that have soiled it. Give him a 
habitation better than his own, relations better than his 
own, and a spouse more perfect than his own. If he was 
good, make him still better. If he was wicked, forgive 
him his wickedness, Allah! He has taken refuge with 
Thee, for Thou art the best of all refuges ! It is a poor 
man who has gone to share Thy munificence, and Thou 
art too rich to chastise him and cause him to suffer. 

" Allah ! strengthen the voice of the deceased at the 
moment when he shall render to Thee an account of his 
actions, and lay not upon him more than he is able to 
bear. We ask it of Thee through the intercession of Thy 
Prophet, of all Thy angels, and of all Thy saints. Amml" 
^^Aoninf" cry all who are present, at the same time 
making a genuflection. Then the Iman resumes : 

"0 Allah! Forgive our dead, our living ones, those 
of us who are present, those of us who are absent, our 
little ones, our great ones. Forgive our fathers, all those 
who preceded us, and all Mussulmans ! 

" Those whom Thou wilt bring to life again, bring to 
life in the faith. And those among us whom Thou wilt 
cause to die, let them die true Believers ! 

"Prepare us for a good death, and may that death give 
us rest, and the favour of beholding Thee. Aminf" 

This prayer being terminated, and while the tolhas 
recite the salat el moMedat, the body is lowered into the 
grave, the face turned towards Mecca. Large stones 
arc fitted round it, and every one present makes it a 
point of honour to throw in a little earth. The grave- 


diggers level the surface of the grave, and cover it with 
thorny shrubs to protect it from hycenas and jackals. 

It is now time to return, and all retake the road to the 
tribe with the exception of a few women, the friends or 
relatives of the deceased, who, bowed down with sorrow 
over the grave, speak to the dead man and question him 
and wish him farewell, as if they thought he could hear 
them. At last the tolhas and the marabouts exclaim : 

"Come, women. Retire trusting in Allah, and leave 
the dead in peace to settle with Azrael ; * cease your tears 
and lamentations. Death is a tax levied upon our heads. 
We must all of us pay it. There is no alternative, 
neither is there any injustice in this event. Allah alone 
is eternal. What! should we accept the will of Allah 
when it brings us joy, and refuse it when it brings us 
sorrow! Depart. Your cries are an impiety." 

They understand these words, and with their hands 
before their eyes they go forth from the cemetery, but at 
every step turn round to renew their last adieus to him 
whom they will never again behold until the day of 
judgment. The foregoing funeral oration is pronounced 
in the desert over every grave. The monotony of habit 
is the handmaid of grandeur. If the Arab manners are 
deficient in variety, they are at least solemn and 

» Tlif anp'cl of flonth. As soon as a man yields his last brralh, Azrael is sent by 
Allah to sti'il;o tlie halanep betwoon the dcooaserrs fronrl and liail actions. 


Second Edition, in post Svo., with Illustrations, price lOs. 6<i. 

dj^ ^tisshms Ht Pome: 


Showing what newspapers they read; what theatres 
they frequent ; and how they eat, drink, and enjoy them- 
selves; with other matter relating chiefly to Literature, 
Music, and to places of Historical and Religious Interest 
in and about Moscow. By Sutherland Edwards, Esq. 

" It is a book that we can seriously recommend, not only to those who are de- 
sirous of abundant and reliable information respecting tlie social economy of the 
Russian people, but to those who. seek an entertaining volume, that may be pe- 
rused in any part witli both profit and amusement." — Edinhurc/h Evening Courant. . 

" This is not only one of the most anuising books that we have i-ead for a long 
time, but also the best and most reliable account of Russian life and manners 
which has hitherto been given to the public." — Spectator. 

" The tone is so gonial, the descriptions are so vigorously touched, and the 
author's perfect acquaintance with his subject, is so marked throughout, that his 
sketches are sure to delight any one into whose hands they may fall." — Lit. Oaz. 

" This book is full of useful information and sensible comment on a people and 
country which are very little known in England, even among the cultivated and 
travelling classes. Thei'e is a tone of truth and matter-of-fact about this work, 
which impresses the reader, and which of course leads him to rely on the infor- 
mation it imparts. The author shows not only that he has been in Russia, but 
that he has seen and heard all lie could about the state of the nation when he 
was there, and that he has taken some trouble to study the best literature, about 
this vast and rapidly improving empire — with which the English people have 
more sympathy, moral and intellectual, than with any other continental states." — 
Globe, June 13, 1861. 

" The tenor of ' The Russians at Home' will astonish the reader — it will pro- 
bably convince. Written in a clear style, which irresistibly conveys the idea of 
truth, the book describes the Russians as they appeared to Mr. Edwards — ^very 
worthy, intelligent people, of sound hearts and brains, accomplished, and im- 
proving. Certainly, the Russians were never so well spoken of before. The book 
may be recommended as embodying a large amount of varied information con- 
cerning Russia in the pleasantest possible fonn. Eveiy page has the advantage of 
being readable, and is always fresh in what it has to say, and in the manner of 
saying it." — Illustrated Times. 

"The chapter on Russian Gipsies is very curious ; so also is the chapter on 
' Tea-houses.' " — Economist. 

" We have to thank Mr. Edwards for his pictures of real Ufa, which are free from 
the aifectation and the faidts of style which taint the literature of the day. Our 
space has been limited, and many topics have been passed over on which our author 
throws new light, and gives us fresh antidotes against old prejudices. His book 
must be read to be appreciated." — Press. 

" We have had many sketches of Russia of late years, all more or less inter- 
esting or amusing, but few of them, as we think, getting far, if at all, beneath the 
surface which life and manners of St. Petersburg represent. No doubt the narra- 
tives of travellers have gone much further than that, and have embraced descrip- 
tions of rural and provincial Russia ; but few, if any of them, have possessed that 
knowledge of the Russian language, or have made Russian literature a study as 
well as men and things, as is the case with the author of this volume." — Illus- 
trated London News. 


Second edition, in 2 vols., post Svo., cloth, price £1 Is. 

By Sutherland Edwards^ Esq. 

" The new history of the lyrical drama which M Sutherland Edwards favors 
the public, has three qualities to recommend it. In jhe first place, it contains for 
its size a very complete account of the progress of an art, which now, beyond aU 
others, occupies the attention of the civihsed world ; in the second place, it is one 
of those treasures of amusing anecdote tliat may be taken up and laid down at a 
moment's notice ; in the third place, it abounds with the observations of a shrewd 
and independent thinker, wlio has seen much, read much, and travelled much, and 
who approaches his subject less as a professed musician than as one of those culti- 
vated men wlio take a position between the artist and the multitude, and who, 
after all, constitute the body upon whom the general appreciation of every art 
depends. « * * The anecdotes, which we have given in illustration, 
of an extremely short and inglorious period of operatic history, occupy but very 
few pages in Mr. Edwards's book ; and, when we inform our readers that his two 
volumes are replete with matter of the same kind, they will easily judge of the 
amount of entertainment to be derived from his labours. So abundant is his 
material, that he might, if he had pleased, have fdled a dozen quartos ; and, as he 
himself confessies, he found the task of omission heavier than that of collection. 
Let us add, that he has omitted well, and that he has seasoned a pleasant and 
instructive history with the very concentrated essence of agreeable gossip." — The 

" All who take an interest in operatic and musical matters, will find in Mr. 
Edwards an agreeable and lively companion, who can aflPord them some instructive 
and amusing information." — Saturday Review. 

" We commend these hght and pleasant volumes to all lovers of musical and 
dramatic arts, assuring them they will find ample entertainment in their animated 
pages." — Sun, February 21, 1862. 

" The numerous phases through which this great institution has passed, ofifered 
great scope for a writer, and the work now under notice will be found to deal with 
the subject in a very comprehensive manner. Anecdotes are plentiful throughout 
the work, and serve to make 'The History of the Opera' a highly entertaining 
work." — Observer, January 19, 18G2. 

" Mr. Sutherland Edwards has, in these two volumes, produced a lively and 
interesting histoi-y of tlic musical drama. The narrative is thickly interspersed 
with biographical sketches of actors, authors, singers, musicians, and composers, 
and enlivened by numberless characteristic anecdotes." Daily News, Jan. 27,1862. 

" Mr. Edwards's amusing narrative." — Spectator. 
" This delightful work." — Edinburgh Morning Journal. 

" We may proceed to enjoy these two volumes for the infinite fimd of personal 
anec<1iit,> with which they are filled." — Brighton Herald. 

. d; ■ ■ — 


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