Conducting monthly interviews with individuals in Saudi Arabia or interested in Saudi Arabia have led to many pleasant virtual friendships from around the world. Earlier this month, American Bedu had the opportunity to interview Behzad, who is an American working in the educational sector in Al Jouf. He was kind enough to share this recent interesting photo he had taken of the “Tribal Tree” and gave me permission in turn to share it with American Bedu followers.
How though does one define and understand what makes up the tribal tree? Anthropologist Donald Cole explains that “four to six patrilineally related lineages are grouped together in a clan (seven clans comprise the Al Murrah tribe). However the subdivisions of a tribe are defined, they are formed by adding larger and larger groups of patrilineally related kin. The system permits lineages to locate themselves relative to all other groups on a “family tree.”
He further adds that marriages and divorces increase the number of possible kin to whom an individual can trace a link and, concomitantly, of the ways in which one can view potential alliances and genealogical relationships.
Can you imagine though what the tribal tree would like look for King Saud bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud who had 110 children – 57 girls and 53 boys? One Arab who is an expert on Family Tribal Trees is Ali Mohammed Al-Matroushi, a historian and expert in Arab genealogy.
In the times of nomadic tribes, says Mr al Matroushi, the only way travelers could introduce themselves was through their oral connection to a particular tribe; back then, geographical location meant little.
“Whose son or daughter you were determined your status in the tribe as well as your reputation when you travelled and left your tribe,” he says.
“This tradition of judging someone based on their family still exists today, and is not fair as within the same family you can have a bad apple that ruins the reputation of the entire family.”
One of the biggest problems associated with tracing Arab ancestry is that “they never put the women into the family tree, and so we have lost a lot of information because of that”, he says. Children of the slaves, however, were included, although recorded differently from the children born to the wives of the free men.
According to genetic theory the entire human race came from one man and one woman, labeled as “Adam” and “Eve.”
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