chapter  [2]
25 Pages

‘He Swalloweth the Ground with Fierceness and Rage’: The Horse in the Central Sudan II. Its Use

WithHumphrey J. Fisher

This chapter suggests that horses first entered the Sudan very early, before the camel came to dominate the Sahara. These early immigrants may have been the same horses as appear in Saharan rock art; their descendants may perhaps be the small local breeds today scattered across the Sudan almost from the Atlantic to the Nile. The most obvious contribution of the horse was military. To go into battle with one horse only, or even on foot, was an indication of the leader's resolve to fight to the finish. Slaving was a main purpose of much violence, from war to kidnapping, and horses were of special value in overtaking fugitives. Hunting, apart from the prime occupation of slaving already discussed, was also a function of horses, though apparently much more in North Africa than in the Sudan. Horse trappings provided an attractive opportunity for luxury craftsmanship: royal extravagance in this is well documented in North Africa.