THE ASIL – GENERAL BREED INFORMATION
The Asil is found on the Indian sub-continent and as mentioned earlier is probably the world oldest gamefowl breed. The oldest evidence of organized cockfighting is based on archeological finds which have been found in the Indus valley (today Pakistan but Indian territory till 1947). Understanding the Asil is not that easy. The breed is domestic to the Indian subcontinent. At present day this landmass consists of the following countries India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. This huge landmass is home to an enormous variety of ethnic groups and cultures. Tracing back local names of varieties or expressions is a pure hell as India alone has 21 national languages and over 200 registered dialects. Sometimes information from the homeland is controversial. Therfor analysis and comparison of this information is a delicate matter. Asil enthusiasts from all over the world provide valuable information. The International Asil Community (IAC) tries to provide genuine information enabling all Asil fanciers around the world to preserve the Asil breed along the proper conservation and breeding criteria.
NAMES – ASEEL, ASIL OR ASLI ?
The name of the breed can be written in various ways as in India and neighbouring countries various (local) names excist. This of course caused by the complexity of the Indian languages. The meaning of the names Asil, Aseel or Asli is “purebred”or “from pure decent’. These names are originally of Persian-Arabic origin. Before Islamic rule the Asil and sub-varieties were only known throughout the Indian continent by their local names. How come they were called Asil, Aseel or Asli ? The answer lays in the history of India (including Pakistan and Bangladesh). Onwards the 7th century the north of India (and Pakistan) slowly came under Islamic rule. This Islamic conquest of the northern part of India started with the invasions of the Turkish-Afghani Ghaznavids. This finally resulted in the founding of the great Islamic Mughal dynasty in 1707 ! Islamic culture including the use of the Persian-Arabic language influenced Indian society and culture. Therfor the name Asil or Aseel must have been introduced by the Muslim rulers. Asil are throughout India also known by their local names.
In my opinion the Asil family can devided into two main groups, the small Reza type (also known in some Western countries incorrectly known as -Rajah-type) and the large Asil type (in western countries known as Kulang Asil). As mentioned in the “Name” paragraph the information is based on the information (whereunder local names) provided by breeders from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Iran, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Russia (Caucasus region) and Central Asian republics (Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Dagestan, etcetera). Other ideas and Asil classification systems excist. Visitors of this website should after analysis the displayed information decide what for him or her is the most plausible or logic interpetation of the listed information. Remark: some sources in and outside the Indian- subcontinent also mention a third Asil group, the socalled mediumweight Asil, in many countries outside India referred to as “Calcutta Asil”. There however no evidence to backup this claim.
The color names such as Sonatol, Jawa, Amir Ghan, Kaptan (Kalkatiya) are mainly used outside India and these expressions refer to the names used in the old kingdom of Oudh. The massive presenece of British troops and a loyal “Nawab”(local Muslim ruler) made this region very important. It was a stronghold for the British and stiff promotion of this region was made by good old Herbert Atkinson (see his publications) and his friends which were stationed as servicemen or administrators in this area. Today this former kingdom is known as Awadh and is situated in the state of Uttar Pradesh (with famous cities like Lucknow and Allahabad). Native Indians, Pakistani, Bangla and Sinhala people use colour names (for example Zardi = yellow, Lakha = red, Kala or Kali = black , Naila = blue, etcetera) or names which refer to a qualtiy or specific features (for example Jangli = wild, Kalkatiya = black spurs) or even names of places (for example Amroha, Mianwali, Rampur, etcetera).
Reza Asil bred by Mr.Mullapudi Narendranath (India)
The Reza is a small Asil with a weight not exceeding a weight of about 3 Kg (6.6 Lbs). This group of Asil reached worldwide popularity due to books and articles written by the English gamefowl expert Herbert Atkinson, Siran and Paul Deraniyagala from Sri Lanka and Carlos Finsterbusch from Chile. The Reza Asil family according the old (Western) gamefowl literature is subdivided into following strains: (Amir) Ghan, Sonatol, (Siyah) Rampur, Kalkatiya (Kaptan) and Jawa. All these strains are indentified by their specific color (!) In chronological order: blackreds, lightreds, black, speckled reds and silver duckwings. In the old days (colonial times) other colors such as whites, spangles, etcetra were regarded as -inferior-. According Herbert Atkinson purebred Asil should not exceed the weight of 3 Kg (6.6 Lbs). At present day the “classic” strains and names given mentioned by Atkinson are more or less forgotten. Anyone with a bit of breeding expirience will understand that after many decades the vitality of a bloodline slowly will be prone to degeneration. Remark: the native people in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka only know the Reza-type Asil by their local names (see Names paragraph).
KULANG ASIL (NORTH & SOUTH INDIAN TYPE)
Kulang Asil (South Indian) bred by Mr.Mullapudi Narendranath (India)
Kulang Asil (North Indian) bred by Wilem van Ballekom (Holland)
Madras Asil bred by Mr.Mullapudi Narendranath (India)
The Kulang Asil family when it comes to classification is a tricky league. In the older Western gamefowl literature, like Carlos Finsterbusch’s “Cockfighting all over the World” (1938) following varieties are mentioned: Hyderabad, Calcutta and Madras. Asil experts from the homelands use a more “modern” classification system. The large Asil are divided into sub-varieties : North Indian, South Indian and Madras type. The North and South Indian varieties dont differ much. Only type of comb, shape of the beak and body shape are different. For example : Northern type = slender, Southern type = heavier build), the Madras Asil however is significantly different. They have a lower station, are heavier build and stronger boned. This variety is found in the deep south of India, the Tamil Nadu state. In the homelands of the Kulang Asil the birds reach weights from about 4 to 6 Kg (8.8 to 13 Lbs). Kulang Asil outside the Asil homelands and neighbouring countries generally differ in weight getting ±4,5 to 5,5 Kg (9.9 to 12.1 Lbs). Exemptions to the rule are possible as weight is influenced by various conditions.
THE MALAY – A KULANG ASIL SUBVARIETY
The Malay we know in the Western world as a separate breed is nothing more then a Kulang asil sub-variety. There are no Malays in Malaysia. The physical features of the Malay are identical to the large Kulang Asil found in the south of India (Kerala and Tamil Nadu states). These are also high stationed and they have walnut combs too. Anyone comparing present day pictures from the south of India with the breed known in the West as Malay will confirm that we can speak of one and the same gamefowl type. Some of these birds are also known as “Desi” and produced mating Asil with local (sometimes non-gamefowl) poultry breeds. Malays in India reach heights of upto 85 Cm (33 Inches) and weights between 4.5 to 6 Kg (9.9 to 13.2 Lbs) ).
Malay from Kerala state – photos by Dr.Anurenji (India)
ASIL VARIETIES (BEARDED, TASSLED, HENNY-FEATHERED & SINGLE CRESTED)
The Asil familiy does also includes a couple of rare varieties. There are bearded, tassled, henny-feathered and single crested Asil. In the homelands of the Asil breed these varieties have a very good fighting reputation, especially the single crested variety. The birds are very fast, agile and extremely aggressive.
Bearded Asil (from Iran) owner Konstantin Ticipidis (Russia)
Single crested Asil known as “Bihaingam” bred by Mr.Nadeem (Pakistan)
Crested Kulang Asil bred by Mr.Mullapudi Narendranath (India)
Madaroo (henny-feathered) Asil by Mr.Asad Fareed (Pakistan)
Bantam Asil have been created at the end of the 19th century by an English breeder named William Flamank Entwisle. The breed got very popular after its creation but after a couple of decades interest in this variety slowly died out. Bantam Asil appeared in the Dutch poultry standard of 1920 in several colours. Till beginning of the 1980’s nothing was heard abouth these little Asil. A Belgian breeder named Willy Coppens created them again using Ko Shamo, Indian Game bantams and Reza Asil. After this succesful introduction German breeders like Andreas Niehsen and Hartmut Vieregge worked with the breed which resulted in recognition into the German standard. The breed was also introduced again in Holland and United Kingdom. At present day Bantam Asil are quite popular and they are bred in various colours. Weight max.750 Gram (1.65 Lb).
Bantam Asil – bred by Willem van Ballekom (Holland)
ASIL – BREEDING STANDARD
image @ by Beech Publishing House
(SOURCE – CALCUTTA ASIL CLUB / INDIA)
At this moment of writing (October 2007) only one official Asil club in India exists. The club is based in the city of Calcutta located in the state of Bengal in Northeast India. Every year the best Asil are chosen by series of elimination tournaments (tape heel fights). After the final tournament, the winners are on display. A member of this club Mr.Imtiaz Qasem has confirmed that the information provided by Herbert Atkinson is correct.
INTRODUCTION TO ASEEL STANDARDS
The following are the standards of the Aseel as per manuscripts of the 19th century and still rigourously followed by us in Calcutta.
BEAK – short, thick, powerful, the colour of ivory and shutting tight. The upper mandible should be straight.
EYES – bright, rather prominent, iris white and pearl like, the eyelids a pointed oval, a yellow or bloodshot tinge in the irises is seen in some birds.
COMB – pea or triple comb, short, thick and low (except “Bihangam” strain).
WATTLES – totally absent (except “Bihangam” strain).Face and earlobes red.
HEAD – large and slightly elongated like that of a mongoose, jawbone and cheekbones large, lean covered with a little flesh, the skin tough, the throat not prominent and with as little dewlap as possible, the hackle feathers beginning low beneath it in front.
NECK – medium length, inclined to short, the neck bone next to the skull prominent, thus giving it the shape of a cobra’s open hood. The neck bones small, the ridges fleshless, thick to feel, especially 2 or 3 inches (5 to 7½ Cm) below the head. On the whole strong like an iron rod, covered with wiry feathers.
BACK – broad and flat. Viewed from above back and wings are heart shaped.
WINGS – carried well apart from the body and held high in a fit bird. They must be muscular and fleshless, with hard strong rather strong quill feathers.
CHEST – Thrown out, wide, muscular, hard, the flesh where showing through the feathers on breast, thighs and shoulder joints.
STERN – The belly small, “the Pope’s Nose” large, broad and very strong (IMPORTANT POINT !), the sickle feathers narrow, scimitar shaped, wiry, pointed, drooping from the base, less curved than other breeds, feathers irridescent, not carried above the horizontal, close together, but not shut up, cloak and and saddle feathers pointing backward than in other breeds, tough, pointed and beautiful.
BODY – compact and muscular
THIGHS – Not to long, large, round, hard muscular, and sparsely feathered (the flesh often shining through), in line with the body, and not so wide as his wings when the bird faces you, as such a bird would be unable to strike properly.
LEGS – Thick and square, down the front, not round in matured birds. The meeting of the scales makes a straight line slightly indented. White is the only colour acceptable, but the legs often turn yellow due to feeding of green plants.
TOES – Straight, thick, yet tapering and strong, nails very broad, strong, curved and white.
APPERANCE – the carriage of the Aseel has to be upright, standing firmly and well on its legs, the bird handsome, sprightly and shapely, and quick as a cobra in its movements. A standing bird viewed from the side should have its eye and middle toe nail in a parallel line.
CHARACTERISTICS – the crow of the Aseel is unlike that of any other breed, being short, as if cut off at the end. The plumage has little or no underfluff. The weight of an adult cock in proper condition should not exceed 3 Kilograms (7 Lbs). The hen with exemptions for sex typical physical points , should resemble the cock in all points. The Aseel when tickeled or touched lightly near the vent at once begins to preen and oil its feathers. This characteristic behaviour applies in lesser degree to birds who are only a remote cross with Aseel blood. The purebred Aseel hens go with their chicks from 6 months to 1 year. This unlike the ordinary hens doing this for 6 weeks. Aseel hens lay around 2 clutches of eggs in a year.
Aseel cocks are quiet easy to handle and are never savage in the hand. When one snaps one’s fingers, an Aseel cock will put its wing down and dance around, as a cock circles round a hen. It loves being handled and stroked and one can pick up an Aseel at any time when at liberty.