For Thursday Art Day – Marian Duncan’s “The Legend of the Bloody Shouldered Mare.”

with 4 Comments

For Thursday Art Day – Marian Duncan’s “The Legend of the Bloody Shouldered Mare.”

Today for Thursday Art Day we celebrate the legends and poems of the Desert Arabian horse. If the beauty of the Arabian horse doesn’t seduce your reasoning, the legends and poems surrounding this ancient breed will have you dreaming of the Arabian Nights, waves of golden sands and black tents, slumberous horses, ears twitching, ever watchful to alert danger, beside a palm tree flanked oasis pool.
As an Arabian horse breeder a part of the allure of the Arabian horse would have to be reading and day-dreaming about the descriptive poetry and the legends.  The desert horse is praised to the highest degree and rightly so,  this noble horse assisted to support the very fabric of the nomad Bedouin’s life.

From Asil Arabian II The Noble Arabian horses an example of the poems. From el-Monachchal el Jesehkori in the Hamasa:

On slender horses of noble breed
The riders, as light as falcon’s young,
Dashing through divided dust
With prey and booty
v. Hammer – Purgstall

Another beautifully descriptive poem and one of my favourites would be sung by a strolling troubadour accompanied by a flautist :-
“My horse is the champion of all steeds.
He is blue like a pideon in the shadow
And his black mane and tail are undulant.
He endures hunger and thrist and can see a great distance.
He is a very great drinker of the Arabic air.
He is the terror of the enemy in combat.
At the moment of firing rifles
Mebrouk is the great pride of the country.”
Daumas, Horses

We read how the attachment of the Bedouin to their horse is the same as their love of family and how the marabout (Mohammedan holy man) insists, “horses are our riches, joys, life and religion. Has not the Prophet said: “The blessings of this world until Judgement Day shall hang from the forelocks between your horses eyes?” These holy men collected the many phrases, legends and noble traditions to share with the man in the street. One such legend, The Legend of the Bloody Shouldered Mare, excites the imagination, evoking both sadness and joy.

It’s such a pleasure to share Marian Duncan’s charming depiction of this legend. Marian says, “… I paint Arabian horses simply because they are my passion. I try to capture that special look and beauty that every Arabian admirer, owner and breeder knows they have.”

The Legend of the Bloody Shouldered Mare.

Many years again the desert of Arabia,there was a Bedouin warrior who owned a special Arabian mare-a mare he rode into battle and to whom he entrusted his life.Theirs was a very special relationship, a bond of trust, love and mutual respect. Either would have given their life for the other. In fact their bond of trust was so strong, that the mare often “read her masters thoughts” doing exactly what he needed at exactly the right time, allowing them to win many battles and to be the envy of all the Bedouin tribes. Years passed and one day in a fierce battle the master was severely wounded, falling across the neck and shoulder of his beloved war mare. Although her master was unconscious and she was miles from home, the mare carefully balanced him across her shoulder, dutifully carrying him towards home. She went for days without food or water to return her master to his family.
When the courageous mare finally arrived at the encampment, she was exhausted and weak, her master was dead. As the family removed the masters body, they saw that the mares shoulder was heavily stained with his blood, leaving a distinct red mark on her shoulder, Although they had lost their leader, the Bedouin family, was eternally grateful to the mare for delivering his body from battle, They knew that the long journey had been very difficult for the courageous mare, and they were concerned for her because she was heavily in foal.
Finally the time of her foaling arrived, and there was great concern for the cherished mare, but when the long awaited foal was born, he was vigorous , healthy and of exceptional quality! He also bore the identical “bloody shoulder” that his mother had from her masters blood. It was then that the tribe realised that Allah had rewarded this mare and their tribe for their courage, loyalty and faith, and the bloody shoulder was a reminder of his favour.
Since that time hundreds of years have passed, but once in a great while there is a mare of exceptional courage, beauty and quality who foals a very special foal graced by God with the bloody shoulder.The Bedouins continued to believe this is a sign of Allahs favour.

Thank you to Mahmoud Nagib for this this story.

You can contact Marian by email:
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4 Responses

  1. Beth Pulsifer
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing this with us, Carmel. I knew there was a story about the bloody shouldered Arabian but never knew what it was.. I love it.

  2. Carmel
    | Reply

    So happy you enjoyed the blog Beth. It’s a wonderful legend and Marian’s painting is divine. Lovely to bring to mind the poems and legends as well as the beautiful art, all associated with the amazing Arabian horse.
    Lovely to have you comment here, thank you.

  3. Dale Waldron
    | Reply

    Love these old Legends Carmel no matter how many times I hear them, just shows how old this wonderful breed is. Love Marion’s paintings as well. I haven’t seen this one before – just beautiful.

  4. Carmel
    | Reply

    Thanks Dale for your comments. The legends are are such an insight into the connection of the Arabian horse and man. This breed was so valued and relied upon and all we have left in this modern era are writings such as the legends to marvel over. The war mare has vanished but all breeders still have a duty of care to preserve the virtues so clearly outlined in the poignant and discerning legends and poems. Marian’s painting is beautifully tender. I love it too. Carmel

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