Auda ibu Tayi


Auda ibu Tayi

Auda ban harb al-abo seed al-mazro al-tamame ibu Tayi, also Auda abu Tayi, Awda abu Tayi, etc. ( _ar. عودة أبو تايه) (1885 – 1924) was the leader (shaikh) of a section of the Howeitat or Huwaytat tribe of Bedouin Arabs at the time of the Great Arab Revolt during the First World War. The Howeitat lived in what is now Jordan.

Auda was a significant figure in the Arab Revolt; outside Jordan he is mainly known through his portrayal in British Col. T. E. Lawrence's account "Seven Pillars of Wisdom", and from the partly fictionalised depiction of him in David Lean's film "Lawrence of Arabia".

Life

Lawrence recorded that the Howeitat had formerly been under the leadership of the House of Rashid, the amirs of Ha'il, but had since fragmented and that Auda had come to control the eastern section, the abu Tayi.Lawrence, T. E. " [http://telawrence.net/telawrencenet/letters/1917/170724_the_howeitat_and_their_chief.htm The Howeitat and their Chiefs] ", "Arab Bulletin" report of 24 July 1917, from telawrence.net] Auda had taken up the claims of his father, Harb abu Tayi (? - 1904), who had contested the tribe's chieftainship with Arar ibn Jazi.Peake, F. "A History of Jordan and its Tribes", University of Miami Press, 1958, p.212] Auda and his ibn Jazi rival, Arar's half-brother Abtan, diverted the energies of the Howeitat - previously settled farmers and camel herders - into raiding, greatly increasing the tribe's wealth but introducing a mainly nomadic lifestyle.Alon, Y. and Eilon, J. "The Making of Jordan: Tribes, Colonialism and the Modern State", Tauris, 2007, ISBN 1845111389, p.34. Lawrence (in his report above) stated that the Howeitat were "altogether Bedu", but they had in fact only recently abandoned farming for nomadism.] Tensions between them and the Ottoman administration had increased after an incident in 1908, when two soldiers were killed who had been sent to demand payment of a tax that Auda claimed to have already paid.Fischbach, M. "State, Society, and Land in Jordan", BRILL, 2000, ISBN 9004119124, p.48. Auda claimed that the troops were shot when they opened fire on him.]

During the War, Auda was initially in the pay of the Ottoman Empire, but switched allegiance to Lawrence and Faisal bin Al Hussein's Arab Revolt, becoming a fervent supporter of the Arab independence movement (and apparently going so far as to smash his Turkish false teeth with a hammer to demonstrate his patriotism).Lawrence, T. E. " [http://telawrence.net/telawrencenet/letters/1917/170724_the_howeitat_and_their_chief.htm The Howeitat and their Chiefs] ", "Arab Bulletin" report of 24 July 1917, from telawrence.net] Lawrence, in "Seven Pillars of Wisdom", called Auda the "greatest fighting man in northern Arabia"; he and his tribesmen were instrumental in the fall of Aqaba (July 1917) and Damascus (October 1918). Although Lawrence represents the attack on Aqaba from the desert, taking the Turkish garrison by surprise, as having been his own idea, the tactic was in fact suggested by Auda.Pagden, A. "Worlds at War: The 2,500-year Struggle between East and West", Oxford University Press, 2008, ISBN 0199237433, p.399]

After the collapse of the Arab government in Damascus, Auda retired to the desert, building a modern palace at Al-Jafr east of Ma'an with captured Turkish slave labour. Before it was complete, however, he died in 1924 of natural causes; he is buried in Ras al-Ain, Amman, Jordan.

Portrayal in film and media

He was portrayed in the David Lean film "Lawrence of Arabia" by Anthony Quinn as a complex character who blended together paternal wisdom and desert piracy. The depiction of Auda as only interested in financial rewards has been criticised, however, as he was a genuine supporter of Arab independence and was closely involved in planning the Revolt's military actions. Whatever the real motivations of Auda abu Tayi, much of his presentation seems rooted in his sensationalised depiction by Lowell Thomas (and to an extent by Lawrence himselfFact|date=June 2008) as a figure of anarchic, primitive masculine energy deliberately set against the idea of British 'civilisation' (see also Orientalism).Dawson, "Soldier Heroes: British adventure, empire, and the imagining of masculinities", Routledge, 1997, ISBN 0415088828, p.184] Auda's descendants were so incensed by the portrayal of their ancestor that they sued Columbia Studios, the film's producers; the case was eventually dropped . [Turner, Adrian, "Robert Bolt: Scenes From Two Lives", pp. 201-206]

Auda was also featured as a supporting character in Terrence Rattigan's Lawrence-themed play "Ross". The portrayal of Auda here is generally more well-rounded than in the film; he is shown to be a true Arab patriot, although he still retains fondness for financial reward. As Feisal and the film's fictional Sherif Ali were not present in the play, he served as the primary Arab character.

In "The New York Sun"'s review of British historian James Barr's 2008 book "Setting the Desert on Fire", Auda abu Tayi was described as such: "Auda abu Tayi, the Huwaytat chieftain who boasted of having killed 75 Arabs (he didn't keep track of Turks), and ate the hearts of his slain enemies, was a man such as Achilles must have been." [ [http://www.nysun.com/article/71551?page_no=2 Arabian Knights - February 20, 2008 - The New York Sun ] at www.nysun.com]

Lawrence on Auda

:Auda was very simply dressed, northern fashion, in white cotton with a red Mosul head-cloth. He might be over fifty, and his black hair was streaked with white; but he was still strong and straight, loosely built, spare, and as active as a much younger man. His face was magnificent in its lines and hollows [...] He had large eloquent eyes, like black velvet in richness. His forehead was low and broad, his nose very high and sharp, powerfully hooked: his mouth rather large and mobile: his beard and moustaches had been trimmed to a point in Howeitat style, with the lower jaw shaven underneath.

:His hospitality was sweeping, inconvenient except to very hungry souls. His generosity kept him always poor, despite the profits of a hundred raids. He had married twenty-eight times, had been wounded thirteen times, and in the battles he provoked had seen all his tribesmen hurt, and most of his relations slain. He himself had slain seventy-five men, Arabs, by his own hand in battle: and never a man except in battle. Of the number of dead Turks he could give no account: they did not enter the register. His Toweiha under him had become the first fighters of the desert, with a tradition of desperate courage, and a sense of superiority which never left them while there was Me and work to do [...] but which had reduced them from twelve hundred men to less than five hundred, in thirty years.Lawrence, T. E. "Seven Pillars of Wisdom", Wordsworth, 1997, ISBN 1853264695, pp.212-213]

References


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