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Desert-bred Saluqis

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Saluqi calligraphy (C) Taha al-Hiti - 2009, based on a line of medieval Arabic poetry

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Calligraphy in Kufic script of the same line of poetry, (C) M Jaafar

'If it were not for the chase, there would be no pleasure.'

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As-Saluqi

Why the spelling Saluqi rather than the standard English spelling Saluki?

Thereby hangs a long tale!

As a young diplomat in the late 1950s I was sent to study Arabic at the School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London and subsequently at the Middle East Centre for Arab Studies, Shemlan, Lebanon. Here I became immersed not only in the language but in all aspects of life in the Middle East, where I was to spend much of my later career. I served for varying periods in Syria, Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Iraq, but I also had occasion to visit nearly all the other Arab countries as well as Turkey and Iran. Part of my Arabic studies included reading some of the pre-Islamic and later poetry and it was here that I first came across references to the Bedouin hunting with a hound they called Saluqi in classical Arabic. So that is how I came to know the hound, long before I learned about the Saluki in the West, and as I lived and worked among the Arabs for many years afterwards, speaking their language, it became natural for me to call the hound Saluqi or rather Sloogui as it is pronounced everywhere in colloquial Arabic from Morocco to Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula. Contrary to popular belief in the West, the Arabic word Saluqi does not mean Sighthound but is an adjective describing a person or a thing from a place named Saluq, which according to Arab tradition was an ancient town in Yemen not far from modern Ta'izz and which has come therefore to be associated by the Arabs with the origin of the breed. However, there were in antiquity several other places from which the adjective saluqi might have been derived: Saluq in Armenia, and 3 towns called Saluqiyah, one near Selifke(Turkey), another near Antioch (Turkey) and third near Baghdad (Iraq). The latter was the capital of the Seleucid dynasty (312 BC to 65 AD) and the adjective saluqi may have been derived by the Arabs of the Arabian Peninsula from the simliar sounding word(s) for Seleucid used in the Aramaic and Syriac languages spoken there by the various peoples of that part of Mesopotamia, but so far irrefutable evidence is lacking. In these pages I refer for the most part to the hound in the Countries of Origin rather than to the breeds that have been developed in the West. As I was to discover later, Saluqi is also the spelling used previously by other Arabists with experience of these hounds in the Middle East, such as Colonel H A R Dickson and Hajj Abdallah Philby.

Then as now, it was rare to see a Saluqi in the Middle East, without making a determined effort to do so, as they are generally kept out of sight of covetous eyes. It was not therefore until the early 1970s that I saw my first one. I was living with my family in Oman and a British friend, who owned a beautiful red feathered dog, called Pasha, which he had brought with him from Jordan, offered him to me as he was returning to the UK and did not want to put an elderly dog through quarantine. However he had second thoughts later, as he felt the dog would be too upset by the change, and instead put it down. It was then that I resolved that when circumstances permitted I would have a Saluqi. However, as a diplomat leading a kind of nomadic existence, constantly moving between different countries and returning periodically to the United Kingdom, with its then strict quarantine for dogs, it was not until the mid-1980s that I realised my goal.

Oddly enough, my first hound was a British-bred Saluki! My wife and I were at Crufts before being posted to Iraq and an introduction to a well-known breeder there led to the acquisition of a delightful little bitch, as we thought it might be interesting to take a puppy back to the region of its origins. We arranged for the puppy to be sent on to us by air, as we were driving to Baghdad and could not take her with us. However, fate decided otherwise: the Iran-Iraq war reached a peak, Baghdad airport was closed  and it was impossible to send the puppy to us, so she had to stay with her breeder and we had to think again.

In the following pages I describe how I acquired my Saluqis and later bred them. I also describe how the progeny have done in Britain.

Finally I shall give an overview of how I see the situation of the Saluqi in those Arab Countries of Origin that I have been able to visit so far as well as in some countries on the periphery. I have not included Afghanistan or the Indian sub-Continent where I have no direct experience of the wide variety of Saluqi-like hounds there that I have seen only in pictures. Equally I have not included the hounds of the Sahel region of North Africa, as again I have no direct experience of them, but from the photographs sent to me by correspondents it would appear that there too a wide variety exists. I shall leave it largely to my own pictures to tell the story, but for those who would like more detailed information I also list the references to articles and books that I have written and some films that I have made on the various subjects touched on.

Welcome to the site! Ahlan wa Sahlan!

Terence Clark


General references

The Saluqi: Coursing Hound of the East, ed. G Goodman, Midbar Inc., 1995: chapters on: The Saluqi in Iraq; Further Observations on the Saluqi in Morocco; The Saluqi in Algeria; Coursers of the Tuareg and Coursing in Syria.
Dogs in Antiquity: D Brewer, T Clark & A Phillips, Aris & Phillips, 2001: chapter on The Dogs of the Ancient Near East.
Al Mansur's Book On Hunting, trans. by T Clark & M Derhalli, Aris & Phillips, 2001.
Skyhunters: the Passion of Falconry, ed. Hossein Amirsadeghi, 2008: chapter entitled Central Steps, dealing with the history and development of falconry, including with Saluqis.

Other articles:

1. Saluki v. Oryx- Saluki Heritage, Issue 20 Spring 1991; also in The Saluki Quarterly, Spring 1993
2. The "Townley" Greyhounds - The Saluki Quarterly, Winter 1991-92; also in The Windhound, February 1992
3. Saluki or Slougui? - Saluki International, Issue 2, 1993 (?); also in the SPDBS Newsletter Vol.3, No.4 July-September 1993
4. Swift as a Saluki - The Field,March 1994
5. Three remarkable women - and their Salukis - Crufts Issue, 1996
6. Ear cropping - SPDBS Newsletter, Vol.6, Issue 4, 1996
7. Sloughi-Azawakh-Saluki-Afghan-variations on a breed - Sighthound Review, #1, 1997
8. The northern frontiers of Salukidom - Saluki Heritage, Vol.6, Issue 12, Spring/Summer 1998; and as La frontiere nord du royaume des Salukis in Contact Levriers No. 14
9. Sloughi-Azawakh-Saluki-Afghan - a commentary - Sighthound Review March/April 1998
10. The Saluqi from the oreintal end of the telescope - Sighthound Review, July August 1998; and in Der Windhundfreund, Nr. 252, October, 2002
11. On Performance - Sighthound Review, November/December 1998
12. Letter from the Middle East - The Saluki, Championship Show Edition 1999
13. The Saluqi - Sighthound Review, March/April 1999
14. The Moray Trophy - a personal view - SPDBS Newsletter, Vol.9, No. 4, 2000
15. What's in a name - SPDBS Newsletter, Vol.10, No. 1, 2000
16. Salukis of the Fairford Kennels - The Saluki, Crufts Edition 2000
17. Salukis at Greyhound 2000- a Millennium Celebration - ASA Newsletter, Spring 2001
18. The Saluki in the Medieval Arab World - The Saluki, Championship Show Edition, 2003; also in Der Windhundfreund, No. 264, February, 2004
19. The Saluki Coursing Club in Portugal - Hares 'N' Hounds, Vol. XV, Issue 1, 2004
20. Hunting in the Medieval Arab World with Bows and Arrows, Lances, Nets, Raptors and Predators - Journal of the Society of Archer- Antiquaries, 2003
21. Saluki vs. Galgo - The Performance Sighthound Journal, Vol. 4, Issue 4, 2007
22. The Arab tradition of hunting with Saluki and falcon - The Saluki, Championship Show Edition, 2008
23. Saluki World Congress, Finland - The Saluki, Crufts Edition, 2009
24. Where does the word Saluqi come from?, Saluki Insights, issue 3, 2012
Films:
1. The Eastern Saluqi Parts 1 and 2.
2. The Saluqi - Travels with a camera in the Arab world, 2005..test

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Doubt is the first stage of certainty, Al-Ghazzali. (C)SirTClark