Nasreddin Hoca

An intriguing figure caught my eye when I was browsing in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. He was riding a donkey and was sitting on it facing backwards. 

Later on I found out that his name was Nasreddin Hoca/ sometimes spelt Nasruddin Hodja. 

 I "googled" him when I came home and according to different sources, Nasruddin Hoca was a philosopher, a wise, witty man with a good satirical sense of humour. 

 Children learn his stories as soon as they can read. In Turkey he is always depicted as wearing a huge turban, with a long white beard. His image appears in books, cartoons, as statues, and he is an integral part of Turkish culture.

‘Hoca‘ means ‘wise man‘ or ‘teacher‘ and is a respectful term still used to this day.
Nasrettin Hoca, (or Nasreddin Hodja) is widely believed to have been a real person, who lived in the 13th century in Akşehir in central southern Turkey.

There's plenty of stories told about him. He lived in a village with his wife, and their livestock, and many of the stories are about everyday life; usually amusing, often using sarcasm or word play, but almost always have a moral.

Statue of Nasreddin in his home town of Aksehir, Turkey Source

Often he is depicted as an imam, a religious leader, highly respected by his neighbours and called upon to solve disputes and pronounce judgement. At other times he is the butt of neighbours’ jokes.

Apart from Turkey, Hoca appears in many other cultures, for example in Albania, Uzbekistan, Arabia, Greece, Iran, Turkmenistan, Russia, along the Silk Road to China and India and even Africa.The name may be spelled differently, but the same stories appear again and again. Below is a statue of Nasreddin Hoca from Moscow with different headgear.

 The year 1996 was even proclaimed "Nasreddin Hoca Year" by UNESCO.
and Turkey holds an annual “International Nasreddin Hodja Festival in July every year.  

and more here.
Statue of Nasredin Hoca in Brussels Source

I found this delightful video by a librarian in Newport who tells three short stories of Nasruddin.

and the figure that caught my eye in Istanbul is right here in my kitchen in Cornwall !

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