Auda Abu Tayi

Portraits - Arab 2

Auda Abu Tayi (1870 – 1924)

Changi POW Camp set up a functional library, see One of the books in the collection was Lawrence of Arabia. While in Changi, Major Frank Murray read this book. It is likely Des also read this book & painted these caricatures, who were Lawrence’s close friends, from the book.

SOURCE: The Belfast Doctor, The POW Diaries of Dr Frank Murray, 3rd April 1942,

The original portrait in pastel was completed by Eric Kennington (1921) & appears in several books of Lawrence of Arabia, which Des must have accessed somehow in Singapore. Des has carefully reproduced this prominent figure in watercolour in 1942. Perhaps this was a book scavenged from Singapore & placed in the Changi Library? Auda Abu Tayi assisted guerrilla Captain TE Lawrence of Arabia from 1916 to 1918, during the Great Arab Revolt during the First World War.

‘11 January 1874 – 27 December 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 Saudi Arabia/Jordan.

Many considered Auda the real hero of the Arab revolt. Lawrence described him as the “greatest fighting man in northern Arabia.” His tribesmen were reputedly the finest fighters in the desert which is why his support and assistnace was vital to the Arab Revolt. With the incentives of kicking the Turks out of Arabia – and the lure of gold and booty – Auda jointed the Revolt.

He was repeatedly approched by the Turks with further fiancial inducements if he would switch to thier side, but he refused to go back on his word. He was an Arab patriot and he rode with Lawrence, proving instrumental in the capture of Aqaba.

Only by means of Auda abu Tayi” wrote Lawrence, “could we swing the tribes from Maan to Aqaba so violently in our favour that they would help us take Aqaba and it’s hills from their Turkish garrisons.”

Auda could trace his roots back through many generations of great desert Howeitat warriors of the Arabian peninsula. He epitomized everything noble, powerful and proud about the Bedouin.’

Source: Original Painting: ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’, Author: T.E. Lawrence (1888-1935),  A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook; Wikepedia