Copyright © 1995 R.J. Cadranell II
originally published in The CMK Record Spring 1995 XI/2
used by permission
“Zeyd… offered 100 and 150, whereupon Ali Pasha exclaimed, ‘Ho, ho, ho! one hoof of the bint Nura is worth 100 pounds.'” — Lady Anne Blunt, Journals and Correspondence
Horses from the family of NURA consistently attracted Lady Anne Blunt’s attention, from her earliest visit to the Cairo stables of Ali Pasha Sherif. As Mr. Wilfrid and Lady Anne Blunt began to acquire more and more of Ali Pasha Sherif’s horses for their own studs at Crabbet and Sheykh Obeyd, the NURA line was frequently in the pedigrees.
Lady Anne Blunt first saw the Ali Pasha Sherif horses in 1880. Among them were two “banat Nura” (daughters of NURA in the usage that daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters are all “daughters” of an original mare):
…we saw 2 bay Doheymeh Nejib mares difficult to choose between. The more interesting at first is a 5 year old, bright full bay (like Kars) with 2 white hind feet and small star. Her crest, wither and shoulder exaggerated like the portraits of the Godolphin Arabian. She is a picture and at a little distance very like Kars. The other mare was darker bay and altogether I think the best. Legs stouter and more muscle. She is 6 or 7 – a daughter of a celebrated D.N. mare called Nurah who died of the disease when this mare was 2 yrs. old [i.e. in about 1875-6]. The first bay is a grand-daughter of Nurah. Both of these are daughters of Vizir [Wazir]. The younger one has a head like Jasmine [Dajania] and Kars. 25 Nov: 1880.
On the occasion of another visit, she commented on three banat Nura:
The three daughters of Nura the Doheymeh Najib, have two of them got foals within the last fortnight. The beautiful bay I admire more than ever. [If this mare is the bay with the Godolphin crest – and the markings described, the comparison to Kars, and “I admire more than ever” comment indicate that she is – Lady Anne was apparently incorrect in 1880 when she recorded her as a granddaughter of Nura.] Her colt foal is 8 days old, a bay with no white by Shueyman. She has a narrow white mark on the forehead and two white hind feet to above fetlock and the finest head I ever saw. Her sire Vizir [Wizir]. The brown mare her half sister (daughter to Shueyman) [ if this is the same “darker bay” Nura mare described in 1880, Lady Anne was apparently incorrect when she recorded her as a daughter of Wazir] has a colt by the Dahman horse [ Aziz}…. there is a third daughter of Nura, a white mare, but I did not care for her so much as the other two. If we could ever get the bay it would be the glory of the stud. She is exactly the color of Kars (though less black points). 3 Dec: 1881.
Just a few months later, Lady Anne wanted to know whether Ali Pasha Sherif would sell either of the bay NURA mares. She sent an emissary to inquire surreptitiously.
Zeyd…went to Ali Pasha Sherif to inquire, as we supposed, privately, whether his Excellency would be disposed to sell one or both of the bay daughters of Nura (Doheymeh Nejib). But Zeyd was no match for the Pasha, let the cat out of the bag at the first question and then offered 100 and 150, whereupon Ali Pasha exclaimed “Ho, ho, ho! one hoof of the bint Nura is worth 100 pounds.” … I told Zeyd he had no business to tell Ali Pasha who had asked him to enquire about the mares, it would be time for that if the Pasha wished to sell. 15 Feb:1882.
During this trip to Egypt the Blunts apparently made their last visit to Ali Pasha’s stables before they were barred from entering Egypt in 1883. In 1887 they were able to return to Egypt, but do not appear to have visited Ali Pasha’s stables. In December of 1888 the Blunts were again in Egypt, and saw the Ali Pasha Sherif horses for the first time in about seven years. The NURA family had grown:
There was a bay black points – if white on feet very little, can’t remember, something like Kars but rather small hocks….He had a star. They said he was five years old. I suppose 6 next spring which would make it fit with his being the foal of the bay Doheymeh Nejib saw in 1882….we found he was by Aziz. I thought hocks small but no defect. Head very fine, carriage of tail also, remarkably good feet. Then No. 2 a brother of the above, also bay – 2 years I think. Perfect head better than proceeding. Legs look as if they would be stouter.
…a grey Dahman with very beautiful head and good legs, back, not quite so strong in back….really lovely little horse [Probably IBN NURA, who would have been about 12 and whose head Lady Anne consistently admired.]
a brown…with star, I forget if any other white. Her last year’s foal same color also star – very rough coat – foal by…Aziz….The mare I understood to be the daughter of the brown Dahmeh (or Doheymeh) Nejib we saw in 1882 – her dam I was told is dead.
…the bay Doheymeh..with a last year’s foal a chestnut of course the Dahman’s. This mare I think called Nura. She is a wreck of her former self, the crest like the Godolphin Arabian has gone, nothing but the immensely high wither remains – light of bone, nevertheless I should not mind having her!
This Doheymeh Nejib must be about 12 years old….a lovely chestnut mare also Doheymeh Nejib, daughter of the white D.N. we saw (now dead). She is very fine. 19 Dec: 1888.
The Blunts were to acquire the blood of the NURA family through a mare they registered in Weatherby’s General Stud Book as “BINT NURA” and a stallion they entered in Sheykh Obeyd records as “IBN NURA.” In addition to BINT NURA and IBN NURA themselves, the Blunts also purchased two sons of BINT NURA, four daughters and a son of IBN NURA, and a grandson of both.
From published sources, the pedigree connections are not entirely clear between the IBN NURA and BINT NURA owned by the Blunts and the mares Lady Anne enthusiastically described on her early visits to Ali Pasha’s stud. A photograph of a Blunt herdbook entry describes IBN NURA as “a fleabitten White Dahman Nejib his dam Bint Nura a bay Dahmeh Nejiba by [illegible in reproduction] out of Nura a grey Dahmeh Nejiba….” Lady Anne consistently dated the bright bay mare with the Godolphin crest to approximately 1875 or 1876 – too young to have been the dam of her IBN NURA, whom she also dated to about 1876. Ali Pasha’s “darker bay” BINT NURA mare (apparently by Shueyman) would have been old enough to have produced IBN NURA as her first foal – especially if she was 7 and not 6 in 1880, and if IBN NURA was foaled closer to 1877 than 1876. But pedigree information Upton took from Blunt notes [DH p. 48) describes the dam of IBN NURA as BINT NURA, a bay mare by ZOBEYNI and out of NURA. A mare of this description does not seem to have been recorded in the Journals — although it is possible she had been sold or died before Lady Anne first visited Ali Pasha.
Upton (DH p. 108), working from Blunt records, gives the dam of BINT NURA (GSB) as a bay mare by ZOBEYNI and out of NURA. The tables in Arabian Horse Families of Egypt (p. xxxi), also compiled from Blunt notes, list IBN NURA and BINT NURA (GSB) as both out of the same bay BINT NURA, by ZOBEYNI x NURA.
Listed in order of acquisition, the NURA descendants the Blunts purchased were:
- MAHRUSS, purchased from Ali Pasha Sherif on January 7, 1896. He was a son of the BINT NURA Lady Anne was to acquire in 1897. MAHRUSS arrived in England in May of 1897. His breeding opportunity, as seen in GSB, was limited. In 1898 MAHRUSS covered four mares. All were barren except BADIA, whose 1899 colt broke a leg and was destroyed as a foal. MAHRUSS does not appear to have been used at all in 1899. In 1900 he covered five mares and was then sold from Crabbet. Three of these last five mares were barren, one was sent to the United States carrying a colt (registered as *IBN MAHRUSS 22, and an influence in American pedigrees), and one produced a 1901 colt named RIJM. “It would be well to have more of Mahruss’s stock,” Lady Anne commented, but RIJM was to be his sole representative at Crabbet. RIJM was a favorite of all the Blunts, and started his breeding career in 1905. His get include the sires *NASIK and *Nureddin II, and the broodmares NESSIMA, *RIJMA, FEJR, JAWI-JAWI, and BELKA. In Australia his son FAKREDDIN has pedigree influence.
- FULANA (Bint Bint Fereyha el Saghira) and
- ABU KHASHEB were purchased from Ali Pasha Sherif on December 14, 1896. ABU KHASHEB, full brother to MAHRUSS, was imported to England in 1898, but does not appear to have been used at stud prior to his sale to India in 1901. FULANA was a daughter of IBN NURA, and imported to England in 1897. Her family bred at Crabbet until 1911, but the only modern pedigree connection is through her son FARAOUN (by MESAOUD), a widespread influence in Australia.
- IBN NURA was purchased at auction January 15, 1897 when he was about 21 years of age. “Magnificent horse, head splendid and splendidly set on; neck shoulder and style perfection.” IBN NURA was apparently the only sire used at Sheykh Obeyd (except on his own daughters and BINT NURA) during the 1897, 98, and 99 breeding seasons, whether a mare was on her way to England or to remain in Egypt.
Of the 11 or more foals that could have been expected, there were but two born: MAKBULA foaled a grey IBN NURA colt at Newbuildings (in 1899 according to GSB) in what must have been one of those ordeals every breeder fears: “Foal dead, mare nearly dead,” Lady Anne recorded in herdbook records. The other IBN NURA foal was born at Sheykh Obeyd: an 1898 grey filly named WUJRA, out of BINT FEREYHA, and thus a full sister to FULANA. WUJRA was dam of a colt that died at ten months, and then on February 1st of 1904 a stillborn filly. A week later WUJRA herself was dead, apparently of complications related to foaling. It was a “great loss. She is the youngest daughter of Ibn Nura, she was also perfect to ride…And her temper was of the best.”
During the 1900 breeding season at Sheykh Obeyd IBN NURA covered only one mare, WUJRA’s dam, but once again it was a barren breeding. The other three mares bred in 1900 all went to FEYSUL. Thereafter IBN NURA was a pensioner at Sheykh Obeyd, where he died in the spring of 1903.
- BINT NURA (Bint Bint Nura es Shakra) and
- GHAZIEH (Bint Bint Horra) were purchased at auction March 26, 1897. BINT NURA was sent to England in May that year. For Ali Pasha Sherif she had produced MAHRUSS and ABU KHASHEB, as well as one of two colts by IBN SHERARA (one of these, an 1890 grey, was bred to JOHARAH). At Crabbet BINT NURA promptly produced three more colts. DEM-DEM (1900) and DURRAJ (1902) were sold, but DAOUD (1899) was a favorite of Lady Anne’s and a sire for her. In 1903 BINT NURA, along with NEFISA and ROSE OF SHARON, became one of Crabbet’s three oldest mares; BOZRA had died and JOHARA and BADIA were given away in 1903. Like some older mares, BINT NURA became a problem breeder. She produced just one more foal — a 1906 filly by HARB, which died. Among her barren breedings was one to her grandson RIJM. She was put down in 1912. DAOUD and RIJM were BINT NURA’s only breeding ties to later Crabbet pedigrees. DAOUD’s get included NASRA, SOMRA, NADIMA (exported to Argentina), MARHABA, SARAMA (dam of *SIMAWA), RUDEYNA and *RASIMA.
GHAZIEH, an IBN NURA daughter bred by Ali Pasha Sherif, remained at Sheykh Obeyd where she became a broodmare. Her son GHAREB was used for breeding there, was were her daughters GHAZWA and FEYDA. After Lady Anne Blunt died, FEYDA found her way to the stud of Prince Kamel el Dine. He bred her son IBN FAYDA (by IBN RABDAN), a sire at the Inshass Stud. Through IBN FAYDA, GHAZIEH has a presence in “New Egyptian” pedigrees.
- JELLABIEH, an IBN NURA daughter bred by Ali Pasha Sherif, was purchased December 10, 1897 from Ayub Bey. She was imported to Crabbet in 1898. JELLABIEH produced four foals at Crabbet from 1899 to 1902 (none of which carriedc her family into another generation), and then spent some time in the ownership of Lady Anne’s brother Ralph, Lord Lovelace. When Lord Lovelace died in 1906, JELLABIEH returned to Crabbet. She produced *BERK fillies in 1908 and 1910 for Lady Anne and was sold to Musgrave Clark in 1912 carrying a third *BERK filly, JERAWA (1908) produced at least one foal (which died) before she was exported. JASK (1910) was sold by Lady Anne Blunt and repurchased by her daughter, Lady Wentworth, in 1918 or 1919, carrying JELLAL, by RIYAL. Lady Wentworth sold both JASK and her son JELLAL abroad. According to Colin Pearson, JASK may have left a line in South American pedigrees.
- FEYSUL, an IBN NURA son bred by Ali Pasha Sherif, was acquired December 7, 1898. By 1900 it was becoming clear that old IBN NURA had a chronic fertility problem, and FEYSUL was promoted to head sire at Sheykh Obeyd, a position he held until he was sent to Crabbet in 1904 with his son IBN YASHMAK. FEYSUL’s sons FERID, GHADIR, and GHAREB were all, used for breeding at Sheykh Obeyd (although just briefly), as were his daughters GHAZWA and GHADIA, and GHADIA’s daughter ZARIFA. Lady Anne presented GHADIA to the Royal Agricultural Society in 1917, where she was listed as RADIA, and influenced Egyptian pedigrees enormously through her daughter BINT RADIA (dam of SHAHLOUL, ZAMZAM, SAMIRA and HAMDAN). ZARIFA was another who went to Prince Kemal el Dine after Lady Anne died. The Prince bred a daughter of hers who went to the Inshass Stud and founded a large family there.
At Crabbet FEYSUL and IBN YASHMAK were both used for breeding. Among FEYSUL’s get in England were RASIM (a sire at Crabbet) and AAJMAN (a sire in South America). IBN YASHMAK was part of the Newbuildings Half, where breeding opportunity was more limited than in the Crabbet Half. His get included AMIDA, AJJAM, *NAFIA, *FELESTIN, *RIZVAN and RAZIEH (BINT RISSALA in Egypt).
- AZZ was an IBN NURA daughter bred by Ali Pasha Sherif. Lady Anne Blunt purchased her in May of 1906 from Ali Pasha’s son, Osman Bey Sherif, but it was not until November, 1909 that she found out “Osman Bey swindled us as he knew that the mare had been hurt at last foaling.” Lady Anne sent AZZ to Crabbet in 1910, but she never produced another foal and was put down in 1916.
- SAHAB was a son of KAUKAB and AZZ bred by Osman Bey Sherif and foaled in 1903. Lady Anne Blunt bought him from Timur Bey in November, 1909, at about the same time she learned of the foaling accident of his dam. SAHAB was out of a daughter of IBN NURA and by a son of BINT NURA — apparently the BINT NURA owned by Lady Anne. When she saw KAUKAB she noted in her journal for February 20, 1914: “what style, the quarter splendid (I wish Sahab had inherited that)…Kaukab is son of B.Nura, and there is in him much to recall her – a perfect head.” SAHAB was used as a sire at Sheykh Obeyd from shortly after his arrival until Lady Anne’s death in 1917. He has Egyptian descent through his daughter ZARIFA (out of FEYSUL’s daughter GHADIA, thus with three NURA lines), his daughter SERRA (out of JEMLA, and dam of *BINT SERRA I and RASALA), and his daughter JAZIA (out of JAUZA and dam of GHANDOUR).
- Desert Heritage: An Artist’s Collection of Blunt’s Original Arab Horses, p. 8↩