A Turkish folk hero from the past who is still making people think and laugh today.

 

Nasreddin Hoja was a Seljuk sufi who is believed to have lived and died in Akşehir, near Konya in the 13th century.

 

The international Nasreddin Hoja Festival takes place 5 – 10 July in his hometown every year.

However, despite Turkey’s claims to Nasreddin as a folk hero, other countries also claim he belongs to them. Specifically Iran, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan and Uzbekhistan.

There are thousands of ‘hoja’ stories, a bit like Aesop’s fables in that they have a moral.

Although it has to be said that the Hoja is also very funny.

We’ll feature occasional Hoja stories from now on. Here’s one of my favourites:

The Hoja borrowed a large copper cauldron from his neighbour.

About a month later he went round and gave the neighbour a small copper cauldron and said “Here you are, your cauldron had a baby.” the neighbour was very pleased with the gift.

Time went by and eventually the neighbour asked the Hoja for the return of his cauldron.

“Oh I am sorry” said the Hoja “your cauldron died last week”.

“What do you mean” said the neighbour “cauldrons can’t die”.

“Well you never argued when it had a baby” replied the Hoja.

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