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Nasr Eddin Hodja

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Nasr Eddin Hodja or Jouha became a legendary character in the oral tradition and the satirical literature of a vast area going from the Central Asia to the Caucasus and Iran and to the Maghreb while passing naturally by Turkey where he was born around 1208 ( in Hortu, a small village near to the city of Akshehir. His father was the imam of Hortu. Nasr Eddin became qadi assistant, i.e. civil and religious judge and took up the function of teacher in the schools of Konya and Akshehir. He settled in this city in 1237 to study the lessons of Mahmud Hayrani and Haci Ibrahim before becoming himself professor. It is possible that his freedom of language, his impertinence, his drolery but also his wisdom fed from many stories of which he is the hero. Playing the false idiot, sometimes crafty beggar and egoist, sometimes facetious and impertinent, even obcene and taking some freedoms with the religion, Jouha does not cease making laugh all while inviting us to the reflexion. Often accompanied by his inseparable donkey, Jouha was integrated, under various names (Nasredine, Nasdine Hodja, Djeha...) in the folklore of many people and the various versions of his adventures amount per thousands. Here, in own way of illustration, four briefs tales: Jouha at the mosque, Jouha and its donkey, Much and little and The six fingers.






Jouha at the mosque

One day, Jouha went to the mosque and, upright in the medium of faithful, he asked them :
Do you know what I will speak to you ?
They said: No, we don't !
Jouha answered them: It's preferable that you don't know it. Then he left them.
A few days later, he returned to the mosque and asked people :
Do you know what I will say to you ?
They answered: Yes! We know it
He said : It's good that you know it ! Then he moved away.
A few days after he returned towards them and asked : Did you know what I will say to you today ?
Half of them answered : Yes, we do ! and the other half of people answered that they were unaware of it. Jouha laughed and declared:
Those which know will teach it to those which are unaware of it; then he left them.





Jouha and its donkey

The donkey of Jouha had been mislaid and Jouha sought it everywhere while repeating: God is blessed !
People were astonished that he thanks God and asked him: Why do you say God is blessed although you lost your donkey ?
Jouha answered: I thanks God because if I had been on my donkey I would have lost myself with it.



Much and little

One day, somebody asked Jouha:
Can you count insane people in this country ?
Jouha answered him: The number of insane people is incalculable but if you want to count intelligent people, then they are very few !



The six fingers

Jouha was accustomed to eating with its five fingers and somebody asked him:
Why do you eat with your five fingers ?
Jouha answered him: Because, unfortunately, I do not have six fingers!


Translation Alain Mourgue


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