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Statue of the Hodja - Akshehir, Turkey
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Nasreddin Hodja is Turkey's (and perhaps all of Islam's) best-known trickster. His legendary wit and droll trickery were possibly based on the exploits and words of a historical imam. Some of the stories have a moral, some do not. Some have to be read twice. Some are hilarious. All will serve to remind us of our time in Turkey.

Nasreddin reputedly was born in 1208 in the village of Horto near Sivrihisar. In 1237 he moved to Akshehir, where he died in the Islamic year 683 (1284 or 1285). As many as 350 anecdotes have been attributed to the Hodja, as he most often is called. Hodja is a title meaning teacher or scholar. He is frequently compared with the northern European trickster Till Eulenspiegel.

The many spelling variations for Nasreddin include: Nasreddin, Nasrettin, Nasrudin, Nasr-id-deen, Nasr-eddin, Nasirud-din, Nasr-ud-Din, Nasr-Eddin, and Nasr-Ed-Dine. The many spelling variations for Hodja include: Hodja, Hodscha, Hoca, Chotza, Khodja, and Khoja.

Use the "previous" and "next" navigation at the bottom of the story to read another tale.

NB: Most of the stories are suitable for children; I have given a few I thought some may deem offensive red titles in case you wish to skip past those with your kids/grandkids. As always, it's more fun for kids with a parent or grandparent as chaperone and helper on the hard words <g>.

Ankara alumni thank John Stuck '68 for sharing his copy of One Day the Hodja by Murat Hikmet with us, with illustrations by Muammer Bakir, as part of our source material.

More Hodja Stories! I planned to put more Hodja stories I'd found up here, but on second thought the way they are already done is pretty nice, so following are links to lots more stories!

Many more Hodja stories are available here. Nasreddin Hodja is a collection of Hodja stories compiled by Alpay Kabacali, beautifully illustrated by Fatih M. Durmus, and published by NET. It also contains a historical introduction to the stories (well, to the extent that anything historical can be written about the Hodja), and a bibliography. The rendition is a simple one, but the essence of Hodja humor is nicely captured, especially by the illustrations.

And more are here

... and here

and a beautiful treatment including lots of background are here.



Tamerlane, the Turkic Tartar conqueror, the most influential Central Asian conqueror of the Middle Ages, restored the Mongol empire of Genghis Khan. Widely known for his vicious treatment of enemies, he is often placed somewhere between Hitler and Saddam Hussein for his ruthlessness.

It appears that although Nasreddin Hodja and Tamerlane were not exact contemporaries and it is unlikely that he personally knew or served him as some of the Hodja stories suggest, yet many of the Hodja stories developed during a time when the Turks were under the heavy hand of that emperor, so it is natural that Tamerlane should make his appearance in these stories. It is true that he was fended off near Ankara from attacking Istanbul, so it is quite possible that he was master of the area around Akshehir some years after Nasreddin Hodja's time.

You may notice that the headdress in the illustrations included in the Hodja tales display a strong similarity to the headdress depicted of Tamerlane and his men in the graphic above, and also to the shape of the Amir Timur Museum in Tashkent in the photo at right.


(Click to view image full size)

Go directly to a favorite Hodja tale (opens in a new window) ...

Stories from One Day the Hodja
(Second Enlarged Edition), 1962

by Murat Hikmet
Illustrated by Muammer Bakir

Simple arithmetic
Some people never learn
Man in distress
Candle power
An expensive letter
The learned donkey
The curse of Allah be on me
I can sell it where I please
Token of love
A Turkish bath on the minaret
Hodja's knowledge of Arabic
A pious customer
To be on the safe side
The missing leg
If you have any sense
How to spread flour on a rope
If this be the liver
The blanket gone, the quarrel is over
The all-knowing Hodja
You can have the five bits
What do you take me for?
Malicious gossip
How to make books digestible
Priceless and worthless
You wait and see
Hodja the rain-maker
Tell that father of yours
Just imagine the calamity
The sex of the dove
A matter of size
Hodja the sharpshooter
A complicated case
Is it heredity?
The donkey's attitude
Just for sympathy
The bewitched Hodja
Once in a blue moon
The deceased must be headed this way
Cheapest way out
Destination unknown
The pot that gave birth
Hodja the inventor
Last hope
An interesting experiment
Help yourself, my fur coat
Nine months journey in seven days
Let me die a little
A puzzle
The Hodja's special calendar
Now you can afford to laugh
You don't know how to count
A dependable standard
The wrong way round but the right way
A challenge to all the sieves
An eye for an eye
Spring weather
Three questions
So long as there is light
Those who know and those who don't
When the end of the world comes
Leaner than the leanest hound
Pulling a fast one
When you are in the nether world
I invite you to my imminent funeral
Perpetual hare soup
My word or the word of my donkey
What has it got to do with you?
A man of his word
An expensive joke
Take my hand, imam effendi!
The cloak that clattered down the stairs
The ox that knew its fault
A very hasty letter
A house with two doors
The nine donkeys of the Hodja
The magic pair of tongs
The hodja acts as middleman
With your prayer and my brains
Cutting off the branch you are riding on
I was getting off anyway ...
The ways of God
Don't be silly!
The defaced gold coin

Following are a few links so that you can learn more about Tamerlane:

The Amir Timur Museum in Uzbekistan

Tamerlane's military prowess

The Wikipedia entry

The poem "Tamerlane" by Edgar Allen Poe

The Infoplease article

The Hyperhistory article

Amir Timur Museum in Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Map of Mongol dominions
(Click to view image full size)


Shiela, '67

Shiela Weaver '67


Üsküdara Gideriken