Comenius 2008-2010 Multilateral Project

This site is an outcome of the Comenius 2008-2010 multilateral project "European Journey Through Legends".


"Becoming more European does not mean forgetting our national cultural heritage, but sharing it with other European nation".

Nasreddin Hodja

Nasreddin Hodja (Hoca) is a 13th century Turkish personage who is believed to have lived in Aksehir in south-central Turkiye. About 400 handwritten manuscripts that narrate anecdotes demonstrating his quick wit and wisdom have survived. Hodja was clearly a beloved character whose advise and opinion were solicited and respected by the town people. They also loved to test his wit by playing mischievous games on him or by asking him absurd questions. Hodja was often victim to the practical jokes of children and adults, who wanted to see how he would get himself out of trouble. But Nasreddin Hodja, to the delight of his fellow villagers, was never stumped to deliver a witty one-liner.

Nasreddin Hodja

Hodja, so-called for his wisdom (in Turkish "hoca" means both teacher and religious leader, both of whom are supposed to be knowing men), was sometimes an imam, leading prayers and other religious ceremonies, and sometimes a kadi, resolving local disputes. But he was, first and foremost, a small farmer who had a few live stock and a small land to cultivate. He is hard- working and honest, however, he is not immune to little cheatings every now and then. He is often poor. He and his family live very modestly, and from time to time they even suffer from abject poverty where there is no food or fire to keep them warm. Nasreddin Hodja is willing to do any job to support his family. Though times make him sarcastic, but he maintains his sense of humour and optimism.



General characteristics of Nasreddin Hodja’s personality

From his anecdotes and the information of the resources,it is possible to evaluate his character like this:

a)Hodja has a wise character.He is aware of all the religious and exact sciences of his time.He educates himself by taking courses from the famous wise men.

b)At the same time,he is a social man.He not  only  takes  and  gives  courses  in  the madrasahs but also he takes place in several aspects of life and events. He continues his educating job without taking  class distinctions into consideration.That’s why it’s always possible to see Hodja in mosques, in madrasahs,in cafes,with statesmen,in the fields or gardens.

c)Hodja is in an observing mood of the social structure even if he is not the hero of the events.

d)Thinking is one of his most important characteristics. He also goes on his thinking on the subjects of metaphysics such as life,death,fate etc.

e)He has a significant prestige over public and the administrators.He is so valued and respected that everybody consults him in any kind of situation. Therefore,he is in the position of either a teacher or a consultant.

e)The reason why he is so much accepted by his society and the following centuries is that he displays his wise with a smiling face,his soft speech and also his intelligence.This manner is both related with his personality and religious beliefs.

f)His most important characteristics are his waggery and ready replies.However,it is not true to see him as a funny man because in order to make one laugh,you must thin and make others think!While reading or listening to his anecdotes , our first reaction is smiling but after that, there comes a thinking time



Tales from Nasreddin Hodja






The Smell of Soup and the Sound of Money

A beggar was given a piece of bread, but nothing to put on it. Hoping to get something to go with his bread, he went to a nearby inn and asked for a handout. The innkeeper turned him away with nothing, but the beggar sneaked into the kitchen where he saw a large pot of soup cooking over the fire. He held his piece of bread  over the steaming pot, hoping to thus capture a bit of flavor from the good-smelling vapor. Suddenly the innkeeper seized him by the arm and accused him of stealing soup.

"I took no soup," said the beggar. "I was only smelling the vapor."
"Then you must pay for the smell," answered the innkeeper.
The poor beggar had no money, so the angry innkeeper dragged him before the qadi. Now Nasreddin Hodja was at that time serving as qadi, and he heard the innkeeper's complaint and the beggar's explanation.

"So you demand payment for the smell of your soup?" summarized the Hodja after the hearing.
"Yes!" insisted the innkeeper.
"Then I myself will pay you," said the Hodja, "and I will pay for the smell of your soup with the sound of money."

Thus saying, the Hodja drew two coins from his pocket, rang them together loudly, put them back into his pocket, and sent the beggar and the innkeeper each on his own way.






The Older Wife

Nasreddin Hodja’s wife was gettin older and uglier, so he decided to get married again and have a second wife. He married a young and beautiful lady. Of course the ladies were so jealous of each other that they fought very often. One day they decided to find out which one Hodja loved the best and asked him

"Which of us do you love the most?" asked the older wife one day.

"I love you both the same," answered Nasreddin, wisely.

Not satisfied with this answer, the older wife continued:

"If the two of us fell out of a boat, which one of us would you rescue first?"

"Well," replied Nasreddin, "you can swim a little, can't you?"


The Robe


One night the neighbours heard a frightful noise from the Hodja's house. They asked in the morning:

"What was that noise?"

The Hodja answered:

"Last night my wife grew angry and kicked my robe down the stairs."
"But Hodja, can a robe make such a noise?" continued the neighbors.

"As chance would have it I was wearing the robe when she kicked it down the stairs," explained the Hodja.


The Cauldron That Died


Nasreddin Hodja, having need for a large cooking container, borrowed his neighbor's copper cauldron, then returned it in a timely manner.

"What is this?" asked his neighbor upon examining the returned cauldron.

"There is a small pot inside my cauldron."

"Oh," responded the Hodja.

"While it was in my care your cauldron gave birth to a little one. Because you are the owner of the mother cauldron, it is only right that you should keep its baby. And in any event, it would not be right to separate the child from its mother at such a young age."

The neighbor, thinking that the Hodja had gone quite mad, did not argue. Whatever had caused the crazy man to come up with this explanation, the neighbor had a nice little pot, and it had cost him nothing.

Some time later the Hodja asked to borrow the cauldron again.

"Why not?" thought the neighbor to himself. "Perhaps there will be another little pot inside when he returns it."

But this time the Hodja did not return the cauldron. After many days had passed, the neighbor went to the Hodja and asked for the return of the borrowed cauldron.

"My dear friend," replied the Hodja. "I have bad news. Your cauldron has died, and is now in her grave."

"What are you saying?" shouted the neighbor. A cauldron does not live, and it cannot die. Return it to me at once!"

"One moment!" answered the Hodja. "This is the same cauldron that but a short time ago gave birth to a child, a child that is still in your possession. If a cauldron can give birth to a child, then it also can die."

And the neighbor never again saw his cauldron.





A forty year old wine

One day, a neighbor said to the Hodja:

– Have you some wine that is forty years old?
- Yes I have”, replied the Hodja.
- Can you give me a little?
- If I gave a little to everybody asking for it, it would not be forty years old!

Cat and the liver


After the Hodja got the recipe for liver from his friend, he bought again some liver and because he liked it very much, he wanted to eat it often. But everytime when he brought livers he couldn't eat it, because his wife said that the cat took the liver and fled away. One day the Hodja became angry and said:

“Woman, I brought liver! Where is it?”
“Oh”, said his wife.
“The silly cat took it and fled away.”

At the same time the cat was in the room. The Hodja caught it, brought a steelyard and weighted the cat. Then he said:

“That is exactly two kilos. And the liver which I brought was also two kilos. Now tell me: If that is the liver where is my cat, if that is the cat, then I want my liver.” 







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