From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
A depiction of Nasreddin

Nasreddin (Turkish "Nasrettin Hoca", Persian ملا نصرالدین, Arabic: حجا transl.: ḥujā ,نصرالدين meaning "Victory of the Faith", transl.: Malai Mash-hoor, Albanian "Nastradin Hoxha" or just "Nastradini", Azeri"Molla Nəsrəddin" Bosnian "Nasrudin hodža", Uzbek "Nasriddin Afandi" or just "Afandi", Kazakh: Қожанасыр "Khozhanasir", Uyghur "Näsirdin Äfänti" [1][2][3] ) is a legendary satirical Sufi figure who lived during the Middle Ages (around 13th century), in Akşehir, and later in Konya, under the Seljuq rule.[4] Many nations of the Near, Middle East and Central Asia claim the Nasreddin as their own (i.e. Afghans,[5] Iranians,[4] Turks,[6][7][5][4] and Uzbeks[8]). His name is spelled differently in various cultures and is often preceded or followed by titles "Hodja", "Mullah", or "Effendi" (see section "Name variants"). Nasreddin was a populist philosopher and wise man, remembered for his funny stories and anecdotes.

Much of Nasreddin's actions can be described as illogical yet logical, rational yet irrational, bizarre yet normal, foolish yet sharp, and simple yet profound. What adds even further to his uniqueness is the way he gets across his messages in unconventional yet very effective methods in a profound simplicity.

1996–1997 was declared International Nasreddin Year by UNESCO.


[edit] Nasreddin's origin & legacy

The ever-smiling Hodja riding on his bronze donkey in Bukhara.
Backwards, no less...

Nasreddin lived in Anatolia; he was born in Hortu Village in Sivrihisar, Eskişehir in the 13th century, then settled in Akşehir, and later in Konya, where he died (probably born in 1209 CE and died 1275/6 or 1285/6 CE).[8][9]

As generations went by, new stories were added, others were modified, and the character and his tales spread to other regions. The themes in the tales have become part of the folklore of a number of nations and express the national imaginations of a variety of cultures. Although most of them depict Nasreddin in an early small-village setting, the tales (like Aesop's fables) deal with concepts that have a certain timelessness. They purvey a pithy folk wisdom that triumphs over all trials and tribulations. The oldest manuscript of Nasreddin was found in 1571.

Today, Nasreddin stories are told in a wide variety of regions, and have been translated into many languages. Some regions independently developed a character similar to Nasreddin, and the stories have become part of a larger whole. In many regions, Nasreddin is a major part of the culture, and is quoted or alluded to frequently in daily life. Since there are thousands of different Nasreddin stories, one can be found to fit almost any occasion.[10] Nasreddin often appears as a whimsical character of a large Albanian, Arab, Armenian, Azeri, Bengali, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Pashto, Persian, Romanian, Serbian, Turkish and Urdu folk tradition of vignettes, not entirely different from zen koans. He is also very popular in Greece for his wisdom and his judgement;[citation needed] he is also known in Bulgaria, although in a different role, see below. He has been very popular in China for many years, and still appears in variety of movies, cartoons, and novels.

The "International Nasreddin Hodja Festival" is held annually in Akşehir between July 5–10.[11]

[edit] Nasreddin's tales

Hodja-park in Akşehir

The Nasreddin stories are known throughout the Middle East and have touched cultures around the world. Superficially, most of the Nasreddin stories may be told as jokes or humorous anecdotes. They are told and retold endlessly in the teahouses and caravanserais of Asia and can be heard in homes and on the radio. But it is inherent in a Nasreddin story that it may be understood at many levels. There is the joke, followed by a moral — and usually the little extra which brings the consciousness of the potential mystic a little further on the way to realization.[12]

[edit] General characteristics of the anecdotes

The anecdotes attributed to him reveal a satirical personality with a biting tongue that he was not afraid to use even against the most tyrannical rulers of his time. He is the symbol of Middle-Eastern satirical comedy and the rebellious feelings of people against the dynasties that once ruled this part of the world.

Some mystic traditions use jokes, stories and poetry to express certain ideas, allowing the bypassing of the normal discriminative thought patterns. The rationality that confines and objectifies the thinking process is the opposite to the intuitive, gestalt mentality that the mystic is attempting to engage, enter and retain.

By developing a series of impacts that reinforce certain key ideas, the rational mind is occupied with a surface meaning whilst other concepts are introduced. Thus paradox, unexpectedness, and alternatives to convention are all expressed. Although there are several books that attempt to put together the many jokes attributed to him, most people encounter his jokes in the context of their daily lives. Often, a Nasreddin joke is told by one party when the other party makes the kind of mistake that Nasreddin had parodied.

Some tales of Nasreddin are also adapted and used as teaching stories by followers of Sufism. This is such a common practice that, given the nature of many of Nasreddin's jokes, multiple interpretations (or several 'layers' of meaning) are to be expected. Idries Shah, a well-known Sufi and writer, published a number of collections of Nasreddin stories (see list below), and suggested that the stories' various layers of meaning have a teaching-effect.

[edit] European folk tales and literary works

In some Bulgarian and Macedonian 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.[citation needed]

While Nasreddin is mostly known as a character from anecdotes, 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 translation "The Beggar in the Harem: Impudent Adventures in Old Bukhara"). Composer Shostakovich celebrates 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.

[edit] Uzbek Nasriddin Afandi

For Uzbek people Nasriddin is one of their own. In gatherings, family meetings, parties they tell each other stories about him that are called "latifa" of "afandi".

There are at least two collections of stories related to Nasriddin Afandi.

Books on him:

  • "Afandining qirq bir passhasi" - (Forty-one flies of Afandi) - Zohir A'lam, Tashkent
  • "Afandining besh xotini" - (Five wives of Afandi)

Even a film was produced by Uzbekistan SSR called "Nasriddin Buxoroda" ("Nasriddin in Bukhara")

[edit] Examples

[edit] Delivering a Khutba

Once, Nasreddin was invited to deliver a khutba. When he got on the minbar (pulpit), he asked, "Do you know what I am going to say?" The audience replied "NO", so he announced, "I have no desire to speak to people who don't even know what I will be talking about!" and he left.
The people felt embarrassed and called him back again the next day. This time, when he asked the same question, the people replied "YES". So Nasreddin said, "Well, since you already know what I am going to say, I won't waste any more of your time!" and he left.
Now the people were really perplexed. They decided to try one more time and once again invited the Mullah to speak the following week. Once again he asked the same question - "Do you know what I am going to say?" Now the people were prepared and so half of them answered "YES" while the other half replied "NO". So Nasreddin said "The half who know what I am going to say, tell it to the other half," and he left.

[edit] Two sides of a river

Nasreddin sat on a river bank when someone shouted to him from the opposite side:
- "Hey! how do I get to the other side?"
- "You are on the other side!" Nasreddin shouted back.

[edit] Whom do you trust

A neighbour comes to the gate of Mulla Nasreddin's yard. The Mulla goes out to meet him outside.
"Would you mind, Mulla," the neighbour asks, "lending me your donkey today? I have some goods to transport to the next town."
The Mulla 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, Mulla!" the neighbour exclaims. "There it is behind that wall!"
"What do you mean?" the Mulla replies indignantly. "Whom would you rather believe, a donkey or your Mulla?"

[edit] Taste the same

Children saw Hodja coming from the vineyard with 2 basketfuls of grapes on his donkey, gathered around him and asked him to give them some.
Hodja picked up a bunch of grapes, cut it up into pieces and gave each child a piece.
"You have so much, but you gave us so little," the children complained.
"There is no difference whether you have a basketful or a small piece. They all taste the same," Hodja remarked.[13]

[edit] Collections

  • 600 Mulla Nasreddin Tales, collected by Mohammad Ramazani (Popular Persian Text Series: 1) (in Persian).
  • The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin, by Idries Shah
  • The Subtleties of the Inimitable Mulla Nasrudin, by Idries Shah
  • The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mullah Nasrudin, by Idries Shah
  • Mullah Nasiruddiner Galpo (Tales of Mullah Nasreddin) collected and retold by Satyajit Ray, in Bengali
  • The Wisdom of Mulla Nasruddin, by Shahrukh Husain

Nasreddin's name is also commonly spelled Nasrudeen, Nasrudin, Nasr ud-Din, Nasredin, Naseeruddin, Nasruddin, Nasr Eddin, Nastradhin, Nasreddine, Nastratin, Nusrettin, Nasrettin, Nostradin and Nastradin (lit.: Victory of the Deen).

His name is sometime preceded or followed by a title of wisdom used in the corresponding cultures: "Hoxha", "Khwaje", "Hodja", "Hojja","Hodscha", "Hodža", "Hoca", "Hogea", "Hodza".

In Arabic-speaking countries this character is known as "Juha", "Djoha", "Djuha", "Dschuha", "Giufà", "Chotzas", "Goha", "Mullah", "Mulla", "Molla", "Maulana", "Efendi", "Ependi", "Hajji. In several cultures his name is just the title.

In the Swahili culture many of his stories are being told under the name of "Abunuwasi", though this confuses Nasreddin with an entirely different man - the poet Abu Nuwas, known for homoerotic verse.

In China, where stories of him are well known, he is known by the various transliterations from his Uyghur name, 阿凡提 and 阿方提, both A fang ti. Shanghai Animation Film Studio produced a 13-episode Nasreddin related Animation called 'The Story of Afanti'/阿凡提 (电影) in 1979, which became one of the most influential animations in China's history.

In Central Asia, he is commonly known as "Afandi".

[edit] New Findings on Nasreddin

In his Research Article published in March 2009, Dr Saadat Noury wrote that: 1. Mullah was originally from Persia. 2. Mullah lived during the end rule of Khwarezmian dynasty (1077-1231) and the early rule of Ilkhanate (1256-1335). At the time of Mongolian invasion to Persia in February 1220, Mullah was about 11 years old. 3. Mullah was contemporary to well-known Muslim poet Mowlana Jalaledin Mohammad Mowlavi Rumi (1207-1273) and famous Persian scientist and scholar Khajeh Nasir Tusi (1201-1274). 4. Most of the anecdotes told by the Mullah really have a point. 5. The name of Mullah Nasreddin will remain in the History of Persian Culture as a populist philosopher, a philosopher representing or connected with the ideas and opinions of ordinary people.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ "Afanti de gu shi" (A collection of the Uighur people's folktales as well as information about their customs and life styles) ISBN 9576910048
  2. ^ J.C. Yang, Xenophobes Guide to the Chinese, Oval Books, ISBN 1-902825-22-5
  3. ^ "The Effendi And The Pregnant Pot - Uygur Tales from China"; New World Press; Beijing, China
  4. ^ a b c The outrageous Wisdom of Nasruddin, Mullah Nasruddin; accessed February 19, 2007.
  5. ^ a b Mulla Nasruddin Stories, accessed February 20, 2007.
  6. ^ "NASRETTİN HOCA". Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Retrieved on 2006-12-28. 
  8. ^ a b Fiorentini, Gianpaolo (2004). "Nasreddin, una biografia possibile". Storie di Nasreddin. Torino: Libreria Editrice Psiche. ISBN 8885142710. Retrieved on 2006-12-28. 
  9. ^ "NASRETTİN HOCA". Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Retrieved on 2006-12-28. 
  10. ^ Ohebsion, Rodney (2004) A Collection of Wisdom, Immediex Publishing, ISBN 1932968199.
  11. ^ Akşehir's International Nasreddin Hoca Festival and Aviation Festival - Turkish Daily News Jun 27, 2005
  12. ^ Idris Shah (1964), The Sufis, London: W. H. Allen ISBN 0-385-07966-4
  13. ^ A szőlőskertek meséiből

[edit] External links

Personal tools