Nasreddin Hodja

Tales of the Turkish Trickster
retold by
D. L. Ashliman
© 2001-2002
1. About Nasreddin Hodja
2. Eeryone !s "i#ht
3. $alnuts and %um&'ins
4. (aith )oes )ountains
5. *he +mell o, (ood and the +ound o, )oney
6. *he Debt
7. *he +la&
8. *he -ur.a
9. *he $i,e/s Name
10. *he 0lder $i,e
11. *he (aorite $i,e
12. *he Contrary )other-in-La1
13. Eat2 )y Coat2 Eat
14. A Close Call
15. *he "obe
16. "estorin# the )oon
17. (lour on the Clothesline
18. *he +.uea'y +hoe
19. *he Lost +hoe
20. Allah/s House
21. *he Cauldron *hat Died
22. *he "e3i&e
23. *he Last Lau#h
"eturn to D. L. Ashliman/s folktexts2 a
library o, ,ol'tales2 ,ol'lore2 ,airy tales2 and
About Nasreddin Hodja
Nasreddin Hodja is *ur'ey/s 4and &erha&s
all o, !slam/s5 best-'no1n tri3'ster. His
le#endary 1it and droll tri3'ery 1ere
&ossibly based on the e6&loits and 1ords
o, a histori3al imam. Nasreddin re&utedly
1as born in 1207 in the illa#e o, Horto
near +irihisar. !n 1289 he moed to
A'sehir2 1here he died in the !slami3 year
:78 4127; or 127<5. As many as 8<0
ane3dotes hae been attributed to the
Hodja2 as he most o,ten is 3alled. Hodja is
a title meanin# tea3her or s3holar. He
,re.uently is 3om&ared 1ith the northern
Euro&ean tri3'ster *ill Eulens&ie#el.
*he many s&ellin# ariations ,or Nasreddin
in3lude= Nasreddin2 Nasrettin2 Nasrudin2
Nasr-id-deen2 Nasr-eddin2 Nasirud-din2
Nasr-ud-Din2 Nasr-Eddin2 and Nasr-Ed-
*he many s&ellin# ariations ,or Hodja
in3lude= Hodja2 Hods3ha2 Ho3a2 Chot>a2
?hodja2 and ?hoja.
)y sour3es ,or the ,ollo1in# retold
ane3dotes in3lude The Tales of Nasrettin
Hoca2 told by A>i> Nesin2 retold in En#lish
by *alat Halman 4!stanbul= Dost @ayinlari2
1A775B Allan "amsay and (ran3is
)3Culla#h2 Tales from Turkey 4London=
+im&'in2 )arshall2 Hamilton2 and ?ent2
1A1;5B +omnath Dhar2 Folk Tales of Turkey
4Ne1 Delhi= +terlin# %ublishers2 1A7A5B
and Herbert )el>i#2 Nasreddin Hodscha,
Wer den Duft des Essens verkauft:
SchwÃnke und !nekdoten des
tÃ"rkischen Eulens#ie$el 4"einbe' bei
Hambur#= "oh1olt2 1A775.
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
Eeryone !s "i#ht
0n3e 1hen Nasreddin Hodja 1as
serin# as .adi2 one o, his nei#hbors
3ame to him 1ith a 3om&laint a#ainst
a ,ello1 nei#hbor.
*he Hodja listened to the 3har#es 3are,ully2
then 3on3luded2 C@es2 dear nei#hbor2 you
are .uite ri#ht.C
*hen the other nei#hbor 3ame to him. *he
Hodja listened to his de,ense 3are,ully2
then 3on3luded2 C@es2 dear nei#hbor2 you
are .uite ri#ht.C
*he Hodja/s 1i,e2 hain# listened in on the
entire &ro3eedin#2 said to him2 CHusband2
both men 3annot be ri#ht.C
*he Hodja ans1ered2 C@es2 dear 1i,e2 you
are .uite ri#ht.C
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
$alnuts and %um&'ins
Nasreddin Hodja 1as lyin# in the shade o,
an an3ient 1alnut tree. His body 1as at
rest2 but2 be,ittin# his 3allin# as an imam2
his mind did not rela6. Loo'in# u& into the
mi#hty tree he 3onsidered the #reatness
and 1isdom o, Allah.
CAllah is #reat and Allah is #ood2C said the
Hodja2 Cbut 1as it indeed 1ise that su3h a
#reat tree as this be 3reated to bear only
tiny 1alnuts as ,ruitD -ehold the stout
stem and stron# limbs. *hey 3ould easily
3arry the &um&'ins that #ro1 ,rom s&indly
ines in yonder ,ield2 ines that 3annot
be#in to bear the 1ei#ht o, their o1n ,ruit.
+hould not 1alnuts #ro1 on 1ea'ly ines
and &um&'ins on sturdy treesDC
+o thin'in#2 the Hodja dosed o,,2 only to
be a1a'ened by a 1alnut that ,ell ,rom the
tree2 stri'in# him on his ,orehead.
CAllah be &raisedEC he e63laimed2 seein#
1hat had ha&&ened. C!, the 1orld had
been 3reated a33ordin# to my mea#er
1isdom2 it 1ould hae been a &um&'in
that ,ell ,rom the tree and hit me on the
head. !t 1ould hae 'illed me ,or sureE
Allah is #reatE Allah is #oodE Allah is 1iseEC
Neer a#ain did Nasreddin Hodja .uestion
the 1isdom o, Allah.
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
(aith )oes )ountains
*he Hodja 1as boastin# about the &o1er o,
his ,aith.
C!, your ,aith is so stron#2 then &ray ,or
that mountain to 3ome to you2C said a
s'e&ti32 &ointin# to a mountain in the
*he Hodja &rayed ,erently2 but the
mountain did not moe. He &rayed more2
but the mountain remained unmoed.
(inally the Hodja #ot u& ,rom his 'nees
and be#an 1al'in# to1ard the mountain. C!
am a humble man2C he said2 Cand the ,aith
o, !slam is a &ra3ti3al one. !, the mountain
1ill not 3ome to the Hodja2 then the Hodja
1ill #o to the mountain.C
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
*he +mell o, +ou& and the
+ound o, )oney
A be##ar 1as #ien a &ie3e o, bread2 but
nothin# to &ut on it. Ho&in# to #et
somethin# to #o 1ith his bread2 he 1ent to
a nearby inn and as'ed ,or a handout. *he
inn'ee&er turned him a1ay 1ith nothin#2
but the be##ar snea'ed into the 'it3hen
1here he sa1 a lar#e &ot o, sou& 3oo'in#
oer the ,ire. He held his &ie3e o, bread
oer the steamin# &ot2 ho&in# to thus
3a&ture a bit o, ,laor ,rom the #ood-
smellin# a&or.
+uddenly the inn'ee&er sei>ed him by the
arm and a33used him o, stealin# sou&.
C! too' no sou&2C said the be##ar. C! 1as
only smellin# the a&or.C
C*hen you must &ay ,or the smell2C
ans1ered the inn'ee&er.
*he &oor be##ar had no money2 so the
an#ry inn'ee&er dra##ed him be,ore the
No1 Nasreddin Hodja 1as at that time
serin# as .adi2 and he heard the
inn'ee&er/s 3om&laint and the be##ar/s
C+o you demand &ayment ,or the smell o,
your sou&DC summari>ed the Hodja a,ter
the hearin#.
C@esEC insisted the inn'ee&er.
C*hen ! mysel, 1ill &ay you2C said the
Hodja2 Cand ! 1ill &ay ,or the smell o, your
sou& 1ith the sound o, money.C
*hus sayin#2 the Hodja dre1 t1o 3oins
,rom his &o3'et2 ran# them to#ether
loudly2 &ut them ba3' into his &o3'et2 and
sent the be##ar and the inn'ee&er ea3h on
his o1n 1ay.
Aarne-*hom&son ty&e 170;-.
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
*he Debt
Nasreddin 1as strollin# throu#h the
mar'et&la3e 1hen a sho&'ee&er a33osted
him2 beratin# the Hodja loudly ,or his
,ailure to &ay a debt.
C)y dear ,riend2C ans1ered the Hodja2
Cjust ho1 mu3h do ! o1e youDC
C+eenty-,ie &iasters2C shouted the an#ry
CNo12 no12C re&lied the Hodja. C@ou must
'no1 that ! intend to &ay you thirty-,ie
&iasters tomorro12 and ne6t month
another thirty-,ie. *hat means that ! o1e
you only ,ie &iasters. Are you not
ashamed o, yoursel, ,or a33ostin# me so
loudly in &ubli3 ,or a debt o, only ,ie
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
*he +la&
Nasreddin Hodja 1as standin# in the
mar'et&la3e 1hen a stran#er ste&&ed u&
to him and sla&&ed him in the ,a3e2 but
then said2 C! be# your &ardon. ! thou#ht
that you 1ere someone else.C
*his e6&lanation did not satis,y the Hodja2
so he brou#ht the stran#er be,ore the .adi
and demanded 3om&ensation.
*he Hodja soon &er3eied that the .adi
and the de,endant 1ere ,riends. *he latter
admitted his #uilt2 and the jud#e
&ronoun3ed the senten3e= C*he settlement
,or this o,,ense is one &iaster2 to be &aid to
the &lainti,,. !, you do not hae a &iaster
1ith you2 then you may brin# it here to the
&lainti,, at your 3onenien3e.C
Hearin# this senten3e2 the de,endant 1ent
on his 1ay. *he Hodja 1aited ,or him to
return 1ith the &iaster. And he 1aited. And
he 1aited.
+ome time later the Hodja said to the .adi2
CDo ! understand 3orre3tly that one &iaster
is su,,i3ient &ayment ,or a sla&DC
C@es2C ans1ered the .adi.
Hearin# this ans1er2 the Hodja sla&&ed the
jud#e in the ,a3e and said2 C@ou may 'ee&
my &iaster 1hen the de,endant returns
1ith it2C then 1al'ed a1ay.
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
*he -ur.a
Nasreddin Hodja/s ,irst marria#e 1as an
arran#ed marria#e2 and in 'ee&in# 1ith the
3ustom o, the time2 he did not see his
uneiled bride until the 1eddin# 3eremony.
Fn,ortunately2 she did not hae an
attra3tie ,a3e.
*he ne6t day 1hen the bride 1as ma'in#
&re&arations to #o to mar'et2 she as'ed
her husband2 as 1as the 3ustom2 C+hall !
1ear my bur.aD ! do not 1ish to sho1 my
,a3e to anyone a#ainst your 1ishes.C
Nasreddin ans1ered2 C$ear your bur.a or
leae it at home. !t is all the same to me
to 1hom you sho1 your ,a3e in &ubli3. All !
as' is that you 'ee& your ,a3e 3oered
1hen you are at home 1ith me.C
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
*he $i,e/s Name
Nasreddin Hodja and a ,riend 1ere
dis3ussin# their 1ies2 1hen it o33urred to
the ,riend that Nasreddin had neer
mentioned his 1i,e/s name.
C$hat is your 1i,e/s nameDC he as'ed.
C! do not 'no1 her name2C admitted the
C$hatDC as'ed the ,riend in disbelie,. CHo1
lon# hae you been marriedDC
C*1enty years2C ans1ered the Hodja2 then
added2 CAt ,irst ! did not thin' that the
marria#e 1ould last2 so ! did not ta'e the
e,,ort to learn my bride/s name.C
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
*he 0lder $i,e
Nasreddin Hodja had t1o 1ies2 one mu3h
older than the other.
C$hi3h o, us do you loe the mostDC as'ed
the older 1i,e one day.
C! loe you both the same2C ans1ered
Nasreddin2 1isely.
Not satis,ied 1ith this ans1er2 the older
1i,e 3ontinued2 C!, the t1o o, us 1ies ,ell
out o, a boat2 1hi3h one o, us 1ould you
res3ue ,irstDC
C$ell2C re&lied Nasreddin2 Cyou 3an s1im a
little2 3an/t youDC
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
*he (aorite $i,e
Nasreddin Hodja/s t1o 1ies 1ere
3onstantly as'in# him 1hi3h one o, them
1as his ,aorite.
C! loe you both the same2C 1as al1ays his
ans1er2 but they did not a33e&t this
ans1er2 and as'ed him re&eatedly2 C$hi3h
one o, us do you loe the mostDC
(inally he se3retly #ae ea3h o, them a
blue bead2 &riately instru3tin# ea3h
1oman that she should tell no one o, the
A,ter that 1heneer either o, the 1ies
1ould as' him2 C$hi3h one o, us is your
,aorite 1i,eDC he 1ould ans1er2 C! loe
best the one to 1hom ! #ae the blue
bead2C and ea3h 1as satis,ied.
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
*he Contrary )other-in-La1
A nei#hbor 3ame runnin# to Nasreddin/s
house 1ith the ne1s that the Hodja/s
mother-in-la1 had been 1ashin# her
laundry in the rier 1hen she ,ell into the
1ater and dro1ned. CAnd 1e 3annot ,ind
her body2C he 3ontinued. C$e sear3hed
eery1here do1nstream ,or her2 but all to
no aail.C
C@ou should hae sear3hed u&stream2C
re&lied the Hodja. C)y mother-in-la1 is so
3ontrary that she 1ould neer #o 1ith the
Aarne-*hom&son ty&e 18:<A.
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
Eat2 )y Coat2 Eat
*he Hodja 1as inited to a ban.uet. Not
1antin# to be &retentious2 he 1ore his
eeryday 3lothes2 only to dis3oer that
eeryone i#nored him2 in3ludin# the host.
+o he 1ent ba3' home and &ut on his
,an3iest 3oat2 and then returned to the
ban.uet. No1 he 1as #reeted 3ordially by
eeryone and inited to sit do1n and eat
and drin'.
$hen the sou& 1as sered to him he
dun'ed the sleee o, his 3oat into the bo1l
and said2 CEat2 my 3oat2 eatEC
*he startled host as'ed the Hodja to
e6&lain his stran#e behaior.
C$hen ! arried here 1earin# my other
3lothes2C e6&lained the Hodja2 Cno one
o,,ered me anythin# to eat or drin'. -ut
1hen ! returned 1earin# this ,ine 3oat2 !
1as immediately o,,ered the best o,
eerythin#2 so ! 3an only assume that it
1as the 3oat and not mysel, 1ho 1as
inited to your ban.uet.C
Aarne-*hom&son ty&e 1<<7.
Lin' to additional ,ol'tales o, ty&e
1<<7= Clothes )a'e the )an.
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
A Close Call
0ne ni#ht Nasreddin a1o'e2 thin'in# he
had heard a stran#e noise outside his
1indo1. Loo'in# out2 he sa1 a sus&i3ious
1hite ,i#ure.
C$ho #oes thereDC shouted the Hodja.
Hearin# no re&ly2 Nasreddin rea3hed ,or his
bo12 set an arro1 to the strin#2 too' aim2
and shot in the dire3tion o, the mysterious
,i#ure. +atis,ied that the intruder no1
1ould do him no harm2 Nasreddin returned
to bed and sle&t until da1n.
-y mornin#/s li#ht he e6amined the s3ene
outside his 1indo12 only to dis3oer his
o1n 1hite shirt han#in# on the 3lothesline
and &ier3ed by the arro1 that he had shot
durin# the ni#ht.
C*hat 1as a 3lose 3all2C murmured the
Hodja. C)y o1n shirt2 shot throu#h by an
arro1E $hat i, ! had been 1earin# it at the
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
*he "obe
*he Hodja2 bruised and lim&in#2 3ame
u&on a nei#hbor at the mar'et&la3e.
C)y dear ,riend2 1hat ha&&ened to youDC
as'ed the nei#hbor.
*he Hodja ans1ered2 CLast ni#ht my 1i,e
#re1 an#ry and 'i3'ed my robe do1n the
C-ut ho1 3ould that hae 3aused your
injuriesDC 3ontinued the nei#hbor.
C! 1as 1earin# the robe 1hen she 'i3'ed it
do1n the stairs2C e6&lained the Hodja.
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
"estorin# the )oon
0ne ni#ht the Hodja loo'ed into his 1ell
and sa1 there the re,le3tion o, the ,ull
C0h noEC he e63laimed. C*he moon has
,allen ,rom the s'y and into my 1ellEC
He ran into his house and returned 1ith a
hoo' atta3hed to a ro&e. He then thre1 the
hoo' into the 1ater and 3ommen3ed to
&ull it u& a#ain2 but it be3ame stu3' on the
side o, the 1ell. (ranti3ally the Hodja
tu##ed and &ulled 1ith all his mi#ht. *he
hoo' suddenly 3ame loose2 and the Hodja
,ell oer ba3'1ards2 landin# ,lat on his
ba3'. +3ar3ely able to moe2 he loo'ed u&
into the s'y and sa1 the ,ull moon aboe
C! may hae injured mysel, in doin# so2C he
said 1ith satis,a3tion2 Cbut at least ! #ot
the moon ba3' into the s'y 1here it
Aarne-*hom&son ty&e 188<A.
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
(lour on the Clothesline
A nei#hbor 3ame to the Hodja/s door and
as'ed to borro1 a 3lothesline.
CLet me as' my 1i,e2C re&lied the Hodja2
disa&&earin# inside.
He returned a short time later 1ith the
ans1er2 C! am sorry2 dear ,riend2 but 1e
3annot lend you our 3lothesline2 ,or 1e
hae s&rin'led ,lour on it.C
C$hen 1ould a &erson eer s&rin'le ,lour
on a 3lotheslineDC as'ed the nei#hbor in
C$hen someone else 1anted to borro1 it2C
1as the Hodja/s ans1er.
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
*he +.uea'y +hoe
A #uest o, the Hodja/s bro'e 1ind2 but he
hid its sound by rubbin# his shoe a3ross
the ,loor at the same time.
C@ou did 1ell by 3oerin# u& that sound
1ith your s.uea'y shoe2C said Nasreddin.
C-ut un,ortunately you did not hide the
Lin' to related ,ol'tales= -rea'in#
$ind= Le#endary (arts.
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
*he Lost +hoe
!n &re&aration ,or &rayers the Hodja
&er,ormed his ablution in a s1i,tly runnin#
broo'. Gust as he 1as ,inishin# the
3eremonial 1ashin#2 the stream 3arried
a1ay one o, his shoes that had been on
the ban' near the 1ater.
An#ry at the loss o, his shoe2 the Hodja
bro'e 1ind oer the 1ater2 sayin#2 C-roo'2
you 3an hae ba3' your ablutionE No1 #ie
me ba3' my shoeEC
Note= A33ordin# to !slami3 tradition2
brea'in# 1ind inalidates a 3eremonial
Lin' to related ,ol'tales= -rea'in#
$ind= Le#endary (arts.
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
Allah/s House
A be##ar 'no3'ed on the Hodja/s door and
said2 CAllah has dire3ted me to this house
,or a #ood meal.C
C! am sorry2 but you hae the 1ron#
house2C re&lied the Hodja. *hen &ointin# to
a nearby mos.ue2 he 3ontinued2 CAllah
lies oer there.C
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
*he Cauldron *hat Died
Nasreddin Hodja2 hain# need ,or a lar#e
3oo'in# 3ontainer2 borro1ed his nei#hbor/s
3o&&er 3auldron2 then returned it in a
timely manner.
C$hat is thisDC as'ed his nei#hbor u&on
e6aminin# the returned 3auldron. C*here is
a small &ot inside my 3auldron.C
C0h2C res&onded the Hodja. C$hile it 1as
in my 3are your 3auldron #ae birth to a
little one. -e3ause you are the o1ner o,
the mother 3auldron2 it is only ri#ht that
you should 'ee& its baby. And in any
eent2 it 1ould not be ri#ht to se&arate the
3hild ,rom its mother at su3h a youn# a#e.C
*he nei#hbor2 thin'in# that the Hodja had
#one .uite mad2 did not ar#ue. $hateer
had 3aused the 3ra>y man to 3ome u& 1ith
this e6&lanation2 the nei#hbor had a ni3e
little &ot2 and it had 3ost him nothin#.
+ome time later the Hodja as'ed to borro1
the 3auldron a#ain.
C$hy notDC thou#ht the nei#hbor to
himsel,. C%erha&s there 1ill be another
little &ot inside 1hen he returns it.C
-ut this time the Hodja did not return the
3auldron. A,ter many days had &assed2 the
nei#hbor 1ent to the Hodja and as'ed ,or
the return o, the borro1ed 3auldron.
C)y dear ,riend2C re&lied the Hodja. C! hae
bad ne1s. @our 3auldron has died2 and is
no1 in her #rae.C
C$hat are you sayin#DC shouted the
nei#hbor. A 3auldron does not lie2 and it
3annot die. "eturn it to me at on3eEC
C0ne momentEC ans1ered the Hodja. C*his
is the same 3auldron that but a short time
a#o #ae birth to a 3hild2 a 3hild that is still
in your &ossession. !, a 3auldron 3an #ie
birth to a 3hild2 then it also 3an die.C
And the nei#hbor neer a#ain sa1 his
Aarne-*hom&son ty&e 1<A2-.
Lin' to additional tales o, ty&e 1<A2-=
*he %ot *hat Died.
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
*he "e3i&e
*he Hodja &ur3hased a &ie3e o, meat at
the mar'et2 and on his 1ay home he met a
+eein# the Hodja/s &ur3hase2 the ,riend
told him an e63ellent re3i&e ,or ste1.
C!/ll ,or#et it ,or sure2C said the Hodja.
C$rite it on a &ie3e o, &a&er ,or me.C
*he ,riend obli#ed him2 and the Hodja
3ontinued on his 1ay2 the &ie3e o, meat in
one hand and the re3i&e in the other. He
had not 1al'ed ,ar 1hen suddenly a lar#e
ha1' s1oo&ed do1n ,rom the s'y2
snat3hed the meat2 and ,le1 a1ay 1ith it.
C!t 1ill do you no #oodEC shouted the Hodja
a,ter the disa&&earin# ha1'. C! still hae
the re3i&eEC
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
*he Last Lau#h
Nasreddin Hodja had #ro1n old and 1as
near death. His t1o #riein# 1ies2
'no1in# that his end 1as near2 1ere
dressed in mournin# robes and eils.
C$hat is thisDC he said2 seein# their
sorro1,ul a&&earan3e. C%ut aside your
eils. $ash your ,a3es. Comb your hair.
)a'e yourseles beauti,ul. %ut on your
most ,estie a&&arel.C
CHo1 3ould 1e do thatDC as'ed the older o,
his 1ies2 C1ith our dear husband on his
$ith a 1ry smile he re&lied2 s&ea'in# more
to himsel, than to them2 C%erha&s 1hen
the An#el o, Death ma'es his entry he 1ill
see the t1o o, you2 all de3'ed out li'e
youn# brides2 and 1ill ta'e one o, you
instead o, me.C
$ith these ,inal 1ords he lau#hed .uietly
to himsel,2 ha&&ily 3losed his eyes2 and
"eturn to the table o, 3ontents.
"eturn to D. L. Ashliman/s folktexts2 a
library o, ,ol'tales2 ,ol'lore2 ,airy tales2 and
"eised Ganuary 282 2002.

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