Hylke Hettema, is a Phd. candidate at Leiden University, Netherlands. Her main focus of study is the connection between the horse and Arab identity. Her research includes translating Arabic, studying 19th century texts and art related to the Arabian horse. Hettema explains, “Exploring the narratives based on both Western and Eastern memories throughout history will lead to a better understanding of the situation in which the concept of a desert horse came to life.”
She is currently presenting at the World Conference for Middle Eastern Studies 2018 (WOCMES 2018) conference at the University of Seville, Spain. Check out her blog Remembering a Desert Horse. Hettema will also be presenting at Equine History Collective (EHC) in November 2018.
Hettema notes that it is commonly held that early furūsiyya literature (horsemanship literature) is the record of a pre-Islamic horse culture. Those medieval Arabic works on horses have been the base for the memory of a medieval Arab horse culture, and that memory is subsequently used to justify the existence, breed standard and phenotype of the Arabian horse today.
Hettema has always loved horses and became a breeder of Arabian horses when she moved to the Middle East. Her fascination with history led her to ask questions that the breeding community could not adequately answer; breeding and oral history are very sensitive subjects in the equine world. Hettema used her skills as an academic to search for information about the origin of the breed, she soon realized, “…the actual titles included in the body of medieval Arabic works on horses were not written during the pre-Islamic period, we need to question the current assumptions that the Arabian horse breed was created and actively bred by pre-Islamic Arabs.”
(c) Marsh Tacky Tales 2018