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Nasreddin or Nasreddin Hodja was a Seljuq Sufi, born and died in what is now Turkey. He is considered a populist philosopher and wise man, remembered for his funny stories and anecdotes. He appears in thousands of stories, sometimes witty, sometimes wise, but often, too, a fool or the butt of a joke. A Nasreddin story usually has a subtle humour and a pedagogic nature.

Mark Twain's Library of Humor includes a story attributed to Nasreddin Hoja.



Two sides of a river

Two sides of a river
Nasrudin sat on a river bank
when someone shouted to him
from the opposite side:
"Hey! how do I get across?"
"You are across!" Nasrudin shouted back.

Who do you trust

A neighbour comes to the gate of Nasreddin Hoja's yard. The Hoja goes out to meet him outside. "Would you mind, Hoja," the neighbour asks, "to lend me your donkey today? I have some goods to transport to the next town." The Hoja doesn't feel inclined to lend out the animal to that particular man, however; so, not to seem rude, he answers: "I'm sorry, but I've already lent him to somebody else." Suddenly the donkey can be heard braying loudly behind the wall of the yard. "You lied to me, Hoja!" the neighbour exclaims. "There it is behind that wall!" "What do you mean?" the Hoja replies indignantly. "Whom would you rather believe, a donkey or your Hoja??"

Camel Ride

One day, the venerable Mullah Nasrudin came galloping on camel-back through a small village. His camel carried him at a rush into and out of the village without stop, while the villagers all stared in curiosity at his passing. The very next day, the Mullah and his camel came rushing back through the village, all the time his eyes furiously searching on all sides of him. Again, the villagers watched open mouthed wondering just what Nasrudin was up to. On the third day, the Mullah Nasrudin and his camel once again came galloping through the village, but this time a small boy ran out in front, causing him to screech to a halt.:
The small boy asked, "Great Mullah, what are you looking for?!"
The Mullah Nasrudin responded, "For my camel. Have you seen him?"

Pots and pans

One day Nasruddin's neighbor, a notorious miser, came by to announce he was throwing a party for some friends .

Could he borrow some of Nasruddin's pots ? Nasruddin didn't have many but said he was happy to lend whatever he had. The next day the miser returned, carrying Nasruddin's three pots, and one tiny additional one.

"What's that?" asked Nasrudddin.

"Oh, that's the offspring of the pots. They reproduced during the time they were with me. "

Nasruddin shrugged and accepted them, and the miser left happy that he had established a principle of interest. A month later Nasruddin was throwing a party, and he went over to borrow a dozen pieces of his neighbor's much more luxurious crockery. The miser complied. Then he waited a day. And then another ...

On the third day, the miser came by and asked what had happened to his pots.

"Oh, them?" Nasruddin said sadly. "It was a terrible tragedy. They died."

cited in Debt: The First 5000 Years by David Graeber

European and Western folk tales, literary works and pop culture

Some Nasreddin tales also appear in collections of Aesop's fables. The miller, his son and the donkey is one example. Others are The Ass with a Burden of Salt (Perry Index 180) and The Satyr and the Traveller.

In some Bulgarian folk tales that originated during the Ottoman period, the name appears as an antagonist to a local wise man, named Sly Peter. In Sicily the same tales involve a man named Giufà. In Sephardi Jewish culture, spread throughout the Ottoman Empire, there is a character that appears in many folk tales named Djohá

While Nasreddin is mostly known as a character from short tales, whole novels and stories have later been written and an animated feature film was almost made. In Russia Nasreddin is known mostly because of the novel "Tale of Hodja Nasreddin" written by Leonid Solovyov (English translations: "The Beggar in the Harem: Impudent Adventures in Old Bukhara," 1956, and "The Tale of Hodja Nasreddin: Disturber of the Peace," 2009 ). The composer Shostakovich celebrated Nasreddin, among other figures, in the second movement (Yumor, 'Humor') of his Symphony No. 13. The text, by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, portrays humor as a weapon against dictatorship and tyranny. Shostakovich's music shares many of the 'foolish yet profound' qualities of Nasreddin's sayings listed above.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Nasreddin" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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