Products of verbal accounts dating back to the days before the formation of a national Turkish written culture dealing with important aspects of earlier national beliefs concerning the creation of the universe and life and the wars that societies leaders waged on behalf of their people.
THE EPIC OF ALPER TONGA
When the Turkish king Peşeng had word of the death of the Persian king ‘Minuçehr’ he gathered the Turkish nations together to wage war against Persia : ‘You know what the Persianms did to us. It is time for the Turk to be revenged,’ he said. His son Alp Er Tonga was seething with feelings of revenge. He told his father: ‘I am a man who can fight with lions. I must have my revenge on Persia .’ He was tall of stature, with the breast and arms of a lion. He was as strong as an elephant. His tongue was like a sharp sword.
As the preparations for war began, the king’s other son, Alp Ariz, came to the palace and told his father: ‘Father! You are the greatest of the Turks. Minuçer is dead, but the Persian army has great heroes in it. Let us not rise up. If we do, our nation will be destroyed.’ Peï¿½?eng replied to his son: ‘Alp Er Tonga is a lion on the hunt, a battle elephant in war. He is a hero, a crocodile. He must be revenged for his forefathers. You must be with him. When the grass turns green on the plains, march our armies to Amul. Let your horses graze on Persia . Paint their waters with blood.
In spring, the Turkish army led by Alp Er Tonga marched on Persia . It came to Dehistan. The two armies met. Barman, one of the Turkish heroes, approached the Persians and issued a challenge to single combat. The Persian general looked at his men. Nobody stirred. Only the general’s brother, Kubad, stepped forward. But he was old. His brother said to him: ‘Barman is a young man with the heart of a lion. He is tall of stature. You are old. Our men will be frightened if your white hair is dyed with blood.’ But Kubad did not listen. ‘Man is a hunter, and death hunts him,’ he replied, and went off to fight. Barman said to him: ‘You are giving me your head. You should have waited a little. I intend to take your life.’ Kubad replied, ‘I have already had my fair share of this world,’ as he spurred his horse to the attack. They fought from morning till evening. Finally, Barman toppled Kubad with his lance, and returned victorious to Alp Er Tonga . Seeing this, the Persian army moved forward. The two armies met. Never had there been such a battle. Alp Er Tonga prevailed. The Persians fled. The Iranian king sent his two sons home, and his womenfolk to Mount Zave.
The Turkish and Persian armies rested for two days, and on the third day Alp Er Tonga attacked again. The battlefield was full of slain and wounded Persian lords. At night the Persians crept away. Seeing this, the king and his general sought refuge in the castle of Dehistan. Alp Er Tonga laid siege to it. When the Persian king fled, Alp Er Tonga followed and took him prisoner.
The heroic king Zal of the country of Kabil, an ally of Persia , came to the Persians assistance. After great battles he defeated the Turks. Alp Er Tonga was enraged at this, and killed the captive king with his sword. The other prisoners were also to have been killed, but his brother Alp Ariz made him abandon that idea. He had the captives sent to Sari and imprisoned there. He came to Rey in Dehistan and assumed the Persian crown. He became the king of Persia . But he killed his brother Alp Ariz because he allowed the captives in Sari to escape.
When Zev ascended the Persian throne the two armies again met, and fought for five months. There was a famine. They then established peace so that mankind would not die out. The countries in the north of Persia became part of Turan.
When Zev died, however, Alp Er Tonga attacked Persia again. His father was angry with him because he had killed Alp Ariz. But when the new Persian king died and the throne became empty again Peşeng sent word to his son Alp Er Tonga , and told him to take the Persian throne. The Persians feared the arrival of the Turkish army and sent word to Zal. Zal said that he had now grown old, but sent his son Rustem. In the battle between the vanguards of the two armies, Rustem defeated the Turks and took the Persian crown. In the battle between the armies themselves, Rustem came face to face with Alp Er Tonga . Just as he was about to overcome Alp Er Tonga , his heroes rescued him. Rustem killed 1160 Turkish heroes with a single blow and defeated the Turks. They moved on to Ceyhun. Alp Er Tonga returned to his father’s side. They convinced his father to make peace, and peace was established.
After Keykavus assumed the throne of Persia the Arabs rose up. Yet Keykavus was made drunk at a feats to celebrate his victory and captured by them. This news alarmed Persia . Alp Er Tonga attacked the Arabs with a great army and defeated them. The Turkish army entered Persia and began to take everyone captive. The Persians again sought help from Zal. Zal rescued Keykavus from the Arabs and made their armies part of his own and turned on the Turks. Half were killed in a bloody battle, and Alp Er Tonga was defeated and fled.
One day, seven famous heroes from Persia came to Rustem and suggested they go hunting in Alp Er Tonga ’s hunting ground. They spent seven days in the hunting ground, near Sirahs. When he heard of this, Alp Er Tonga came there with his army. The Turkish heroes were defeated by the Persian heroes in individual contests, and then Rustem entered the fray with his heroes, routing the Turkish army. Alp Er Tonga was very nearly taken prisoner.
While Keykavus was busy with love affairs and entertainments in Persia , Alp Er Tonga approached with his cavalry. Keykavus had news of this. He sent his son Siyavus and Rustem against the Turks. They defeated the Turkish vanguard and captured the castle of Belh. At this point, Alp Er Tonga had a bad dream, and made peace with the Persians as his lords suggested. He gave them hostages. He abandoned the cities of Buhara, Samarkand and Chach, and withdrew to the city of Gang. Yet Keykavus did not want that peace, and was angry with Rustem and Siyavus. Rustem withdrew to his own country because of the way he was treated. Siyavus sought refuge with Alp Er Tonga . He was treated with great respect right up to the city of Gang. He made everyone love him. In fact he even married the daughter of the Turkish hero Piran, and a little while later the beautiful Ferengis, Alp Er Tonga ’s eldest daughter. He had a son by Piran’s daughter, whom they named Keyhusrev.
A while later, those who did not like Siyavus spoke against him to Alp Er Tonga and caused a rift between them. Siyavus was killed. Rustem then appeared again. In the first battle, they killed Alp Er Tonga ’s son, Sarka. Alp Er Tonga marched out personally to revenge his son. Yet when the Persians won the war, they chased him as far as the China Sea. Rustem killed them wherever he could find them, and returned to his country six years later.
When Alp Er Tonga saw that Turan, his country, had been burned and the Turks killed he wept. He swore to be revenged. He gathered an army and invaded Persia . He burnt the harvest. He occupied Persia . He engineered a famine, and the Persians starved for seven years. Keykhusrev was left the throne. He swore to be revenged on Alp Er Tonga , and raised an army. Yet that army fell apart before it even faced Alp Er Tonga . Keykhusrev sent new armies. One of the Turks named Bazur cast a spell and caused snow to fall on the mountains. The Persians’ hands froze so they were unable to hold their weapons. In that way they cut up the Persian army. The Persians again sent to Rustem. After terrible battles, Rustem again defeated the Turks, and took captive the Chinese ruler, who was with the Turkish army.
Alp Er Tonga was very unhappy when he heard this. He called together his great men and sought their advice. They said: ‘So what? The Chinese and Saklap armies were routed, but nothing happened to our army. Our mothers bore us so that we might die.’ Alp Er Tonga began his preparations. His son, Side, raised his spirits. A Chinese lord called Puladvend, who lived in the mountains of China , joined forces with the Turan army. In the end Rustem was defeated. The Turan and Persian armies clashed. The Persians won. Alp Er Tonga fled. After that, Keykhusrev ruled two-thirds of the world. Drinking wine in his palace one day, Persians from near the border with Turan came and said that the people of Turan were bothering them. Keykhusrev sent the Persian hero Bijen to resolve the matter. On the border, Bijen saw the lovely maiden Menijy playing with her maidens in a wood. Menije was the daughter of Alp Er Tonga . They fell in love. Menije took him to the palace in Turan. Alp Er Tonga was furious when he heard. He imprisoned Bijen in a well. He chased his daughter away. When the Persian king saw his young hero had not returned he sent Rustem again. Rustem dressed as a merchant and went to the Turkish capital. He rescued Bijen, attacked Alp Er Tonga in his castle and made him run away, and sent Menije to Persia . Alp Er Tonga raised another army.
The mountain ‘Bisutun’ was behind the Persian army. The Persians again won the battle thanks to Rustem. Alp Er Tonga fled as far as Karluk. He told his lords: ‘I used to rule the world. Not even in the time of Minuchehr was Persia as great as Turan. But now the Persians even threaten my life in my castle. I am planning a great revenge. Let us march with an army of a thousand thousand Turks and Chinese.’ They began to gather their forces. Yet the Persians won the first battles, from which Alp Er Tonga was absent. He again gathered his armies and moved forwards. He gathered two-thirds of his army of a thousand thousand. He stayed in the city of Beykend. There were tents of leopardskin in his headquarters. He sat on a thrown of gold and jewels. The banners of many heroes flew in front of his tent. He was staggered when the armies he sent on ahead were defeated. He swore not to return without being avenged. He gave half his army to his son, Kara Khan, and sent him to Bukhara. His sons Side (whose real name was Pesheng), Cehen, Afrasiyab, Girdegir and Guheyla, the son of his son Ila, were with the army. He mustered the troops of the Chigil, Taraz, Oguz, Karluks and the Turkmen.
When the two armies met, Keykhusrev, the king of Persia , and Alp Er Tonga ’s son Side met in single combat. The latter died. When Alp Er Tonga heard he was distraught. The next day, the armies fought until evening and then separated. The next day they fought again. Alp Er Tonga attacked like a man possessed. He killed many of the greatest Persian heroes. Keykhusrev and Alp Er Tonga came face to face. But the heroes of Turan did not wish him to fight with the Persian king, and took hold of his horse’s reins to lead him away. That night, Alp er Tonga took his army over the Ceyhun.
Kara Khan met up with his army and came to Bukhara. They rested a little. Then they moved to the capital Gang. That city was like a paradise. The soil was fragrant and the bricks made of gold. He called armies from all parts. Spies then announced that Keykhusrev had crossed the Ceyhun. He first came to Sugd. He stayed a month and made it obey him. He moved on. The Turks would not give the Persians water, and killed Persians if they found them on their own behind the army. Keykhusrev destroyed palaces and castles, and killed both men and women. The two armies met at the Gulzariyun river. Keykhusrev was afraid of the army of Alp Er Tonga . He retreated to the rear of the army and prayed to God. A storm arose at once, and the sands moved towards the army of Turan. The Turks fell back. But Alp Er Tonga halted his army by killing those who wanted to retreat. They returned and fought well. The two armies separated at nightfall. Alp Er Tonga was going to fight the next day, too. But a messenger told him that of all Kara Khan’s army, only Kara Khan was still alive. He then moved into the desert with his army, without even gathering up their stores. He wanted to attack Rustem. Keykhusrev warned Rustem and followed on behind. Alp Er Tonga came to Gand and wanted to attack Rustem, but the letter moved away. He entered the city. The tower in that crowded city was so high that not even an eagle could fly over it. It was full of food. It had springs and pools. The pools were an arrow flight across. It was a paradise with lovely gardens. Alp Er Tonga and his army moved into Gang. He wrote a letter to the Chinese ruler, asking for assistance. Keykhusrev arrived with his army and joined forces with Rustem.
Obstacles were dug in front of the tower. The piled up wood and set light to it. Walls were pulled down. They attacked the city. They killed everyone. Alp Er Tonga and 200 of his lords escaped by fleeing down a secret passage under the palace. He went to the king of China . The Chinese king had prepared a large army. When they heard that, Turks from all over flocked to Alp Er Tonga ’s banner. Keykhusrev left a commander in Gang and went after Alp Er Tonga . They met. Alp Er Tonga sent him a letter suggesting they meet in a quiet sport and engage in single combat. Keykhusrev did not accept. That day the two armies fought until nightfall. At night, Keykhusrev had his men build build pits. He sent part of his trrops behind the Turkish army. The Turks staged a night attack and fell into them. Only part of the Turkish forces returned, and they were ambushed by the troops behind them. They defeated the Turkish army. Alp Er Tonga retreated to the desert with what remained of his forces. Keykhusrev returned to Gang. The king of China came to fear Keykhusrev and sent ambassadors to him.
Keykhusrev made peace with the king on condition he never again supported Alp Er Tonga . When Alp Er Tonga heard this he was very distressed, and fell back into the desert. He then came to the sea. A very wide sea. There was a boatman there. ‘Oh King! This sea is very deep and you cannot cross it. I am 78, and I have never seen a ship cross it,’ he said. Alp Er Tonga answered, ‘It is better to die than be a captive.’ He took a ship and they set sail, reaching the city of Gangidiz. Alp Er Tonga said: ‘Let us not think of the past. Our luck will turn here,’ and went to sleep. Keykhusrev learned that he had crossed the water. He made preparations, conquered a number of nations, and reached the shore of that sea. They crossed it in seven months. He captured Gangidiz. They killed all those they found, but Alp Er Tonga secretly escaped. Keykhisrev came to Gang, and asked after Alp Er Tonga . Nobody knew. In fact, he was then wandering hungry and thirsty. He made his home in a cave on a steep mountain. There was one called Hum living in a cave, far from other people. One day he heard a noise in the cave. Alp Er Tonga was lamenting his fate. Hearing that his words were not Turkish, Hum took him prisoner. Yet he again escaped and jumped into the water. Keykhusrev heard about it. They tricked Alp Er Tonga into coming out of the water and killed him.
Legends are one product of popular literature, and allow a cultural heritage to be handed on from the past to the present day, as well as making a contribution to the understanding of people and the cultural structure they comprise. They are one of the specific types of lliterature to concern themselves with real and imaginary beings and the mythical features of places and events. Together with a belief in the veracity of what is recounted, they point to individual and social life. They may be classified as follows, according to subject matter:
Legends regarding historical places, people and events
Legends about mythical beings
Legends about animals
Legends to do with religious matters
Legends about plants and trees
Legends about the natural environment
EXAMPLES OF LEGENDS
The Dragon of Mount Albat
A dragon emerged from the Ortanca Fountain on the slopes of Mount Albat. It refused to allow anyone near the fountain, and people went thirsty.
Seeing the people’s despair, the lord of the city took two sharp-bladed swords and went to slay the dragon. The lord held the swords out in his two hands. The dragon breathed flames from its nose, and breathing in deeply, it swallowed the lord. The lord then slew the dragon with the two swords he held, cutting it in two from its mouth to its tail.
When the lord returned home, he had the pool in his garden filled with milk, undressed and jumped in. The milk immediately curdled because of the dragon’s poison. The lord kept having milk baths until it no longer curdled, and thus freed himself of the poison.
Suzan (Suzi) and the Mountain of the Forty Saints
To the southwest of Diyarbakır, on the banks of the River Tigris (Dicle), stands the Mountain of the Forty Saints. Behind the mountain is the Place of Pilgrimage of the Forty Saints. Those who are without child come here to make a wish.
One wealthy Syriac family had no children. The woman came to make a wish and vowed to make an offering. She had a daughter. They called her Suzan (Suzi). Every year on her birthday, her mother would dress her up and take her to that spot, where she would sacrifice an animal. Suzan grew up to be very beautiful. She fell in love with one Adil, the son of her Muslim neighbour, and he with her. On another birthday, her mother sent Suzan with her servants to the place of pilgrimage to sacrifice an animal. Adil followed secretly behind. Taking advantage of the servants’ excitement at the sacrifice, Suzi and Adil wandered behind the mountain and there made love. The Place of Pilgrimage of the Forty saints did not forgive Suzi. She fell into the Tigris at the Bridge of the ten Eyes, and there drowned. After her death, Adil went mad.
The Folk Song of Suzi
The face of the Mountain of the Forty Saints
Covered the plain with darkness
Suzi, Suzi, the place struck us down.
It is pitch black under the bridge
Mother, come and find me.
My hair is full of sand.
Bring a comb and comb it.
The water rushed
Through the central arch of the bridge.
Suzi, Suzi, the Tigris separated us.
A form of lengthy accounts based on real life, accompanied by a saz, in which words and gestures are employed. They can be classified in two forms, according to dimension:
1. Shorter stories with a simple structure based on legend, fable or real life. They last for at most two hours, together with their accompanying folk songs.
2. Longer stories dealing with more individuals, unexpected situations arising one after the other and the conflicts arising from them. These can last from 1-7 nights.
EXAMPLES OF FOLK TALES
The lion, the wolf and the fox
Once upon a time, a lion, a wolf and a fox became friends. They went hunting because they were hungry. By the end, they had caught an ox, a sheep and a rabbit. Bringing all the catch together, the lion turned to the wolf, saying, ‘Divide them up, so we can each have our share.’
The wolf replied: ‘The ox is yours, the sheep mine, and the fox can have the rabbit.’
The lion then grew very angry, hit the wolf with his paw and knocked him over a cliff. He then turned to the fox, and asked him to divide up the spoils. The cunning fox answered: ‘The ox is your evening meal. The sheep is your lunch and the rabbit your breakfast.’ The lion laughed, and asked where the fox had got the idea from.
‘From our friend who just went over the cliff,’ he responded.
These are works of the imagination, not intended to convince the listener of their veracity, and which take place at an unspecified time. Repetitions are made at the beginning and end of, and sometimes even during the story, in order to ensure the concentration of the audience.
EXAMPLES OF FABLES
The Idle Girl
Once upon a time, when fleas were barbers and camels worked in public baths and I rocked my mother’s cradle, there were a man and wife.
They had a daughter. The girl was very spoiled, and grew up knowing no work. So they called her Idle Girl.
She was so lazy that she refused even to get up. Her parents gave her a poker, and she worked with that from where she was sitting.
It came time for her to marry. Her parents married her to a huntsman.
The man went off hunting and killed a duck. He came home, plucked its feathers and put it on the fire. He then got ready to go out hunting again, and told his wife he had put the duck on the fire and not to let it burn. The Idle Girl said she would not, but still did not even get up. A long time passes. A beggar came to the house, and asked the lady for a piece of bread for sake of God. The Idle Girl told her to go into the kitchen and get it.
The beggar entered the kitchen, and saw the duck cooking on the stove. He took it, put it in his bag, and put his dirty socks in the pot. He then returned to the Idle Girl. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I have taken the bread. May God bless you. Let me now sing you a song and be on my way.’ He began:
‘Your duck is in my bag,
My socks are in your soup,
You just lie on your comfy bed
While I eat my duck in the forest.’
The beggar sang his song and left. After a while, the hunter returned. He asked his wife if the duck was cooked yet. His wife told him what had happened, and that the beggar had sung her a song. The huntsman then understood what had happened and grew very angry with his wife. After that, the Idle Girl stopped being lazy. They were happy, so let us now go to bed.
The Valuable Salt
Once upon a time, when fleas were barbers and camels worked in public baths and I rocked my mother’s cradle, this is how the story goes.
Once upon a time there was a king who had three daughters. One day he called his daughters to him and asked how much they loved him. The eldest daughter said as much as the world, the middle one as much as an embrace, and the youngest as much as salt.
The king was angry at his youngest daughter’s answer, and handed her over to the executioner. The executioner took her off to the mountain to behead her. The girl begged him not to kill her, reminding him that he too was a father.
The executioner was unable to resist, and killed an animal in her place, smeared its blood over the girl’s blouse and took it to the king.
The young girl wandered away, far away, and eventually came to a village. She was taken in by one of the wealthy inhabitants of the village, grew up, and became a beautiful maiden. The fame of her beauty spread far and wide, and destiny decreed that she married a king’s son.
A while passed. She told her husband her true story, and suggested they invite her father for dinner. Her husband agreed. The preparations were made and her father, the king, invited to the feast.
The girl’s father came to the feast on the appointed day with his retinue. When he and his companions had sat down, the different courses began to appear. However, the girl had instructed the cook not to out any salt in any of them. Whichever course the king tried he left untouched.
A t that moment, the girl leapt to the king’s feet, and told him that she had heard that he had had his youngest daughter killed for only loving him as much as salt. The king agreed. She then announced her true identity, and explained that she had had the food cooked without salt in order for him to understand what a valuable thing salt was.
The king was ashamed of his deeds, and embraced his daughter. A new period then opened. They were all happy, so let us now go to bed.
Short satirical, witty or barbed tales describing events from daily life in a lively manner and intended to draw a conclusion from what has been related.
EXAMPLES OF ANECDOTES
A man came to Nasreddin Hoca when he was serving as governor.
‘I want to ask you something,’ he said.
‘Go ahead,’ Nasreddin Hoca replied.
‘The other day, a cow that your neighbours said belonged to you kiled one of my cows. What should I do?’
Nasreddin Hoca pulled at his beard and thought for a bit. ‘You’re not going to bring charges against the animal, are you? And it’s not his owner’s fault. There is no way he could have known what was going to happen.
The man smiled, and replied. ‘Excuse me, I made a mistake. It was not my cow that died, but yours.’
Nasreddin Hoca jumped up. ‘That’s different,’ he said. ‘In that case, hand me down that legal book and let’s have a look!’
The Chief of Police’s Donkey
The chief of police’s donkey was lost, and he was furious.
‘You had better find my animal quickly!’ he shouted. Everyone was in a terrible panic. The people of Akşehir went in all directions to find the missing donkey. Some of them met Nasreddin Hoca on the way.
‘Please help us,’ they begged. ‘If you see a stray donkey anywhere, grab it.’
‘Whose is the donkey?’
‘The chief of police’s’ they replied.
Nasreddin Hoca said he would keep an eye out, and went on his way singing.
A villager asked him why he was singing, and he replied that he was looking for the chief of police’s donkey.
‘How does singing help you to find a donkey?’ the villager enquired.
‘Of course you need to keep your spirits up if you are sent to look for a donkey,’ he answered. ‘especially if it belongs to the chief of police!’
Why He Sat On The Donkey Backwards
One day, Nasreddin Hoca was riding home from the mosque on his donkey, and there was a large crowd behind him. Suddenly, he got off, and got on again backwards, facing the animal’s tail. The people naturally asked him what he was doing.
He replied: ‘I thought about it, and decided to ride my donkey like this, because I have no time for disrespect. If you move ahead of me, then you will be turning your back on me. That would be terrible disrespect. If I go on ahead, I will be turning my back on you, and that is also quite unacceptable. This way, I can go on ahead of you and you can follow behind, and we can still keep looking at each other!’
I Found The Pitch
Nasreddin Hoca was given a saz, a kind of stringed instrument, to keep him busy at a family gathering.
‘Play us a pretty tune!’ they told him.
Nasreddin Hoca began to run his fingers over the strings at random, making an odd noise.
‘Hoca!’ they said, ‘is that any way to play the saz? You need to find the pitch and play properly.’
Nasreddin Hoca kept making a terrible noise, and replied: ‘My hands can’t find the pitch, but they are looking for it. Now I have found one, so there is no need to go on looking.’
Life of Nasrettin Hoca
Life of Nasreddin Hoca
NASREDDİN HOCA (1208-1284)
A popular scholar. Popularly considered the foremost protagonist of comical tales with an emotional content or other message.
He was born in the district of Hortu, in Sivrihisar, and died in Akï¿½?ehir. His father was the village imam in Hortu, Abdullah Efendi, and his mother Sıdıka from the same village. He was first educated at the religious school in Sivrihisar, and on his father’s death returned to Hortu to take up the post of imam. In 1237, he moved to Akï¿½?ehir, and attended lessons given by Seyyid Mahmud Hayrani and Seyyid Haci Ibrahim, continuing his study of Islam. According to one account, he gave lessons in the school, and served as a judge. That is how he came to be given the name Nasuriddin Hace, which then turned into the more familiar Nasreddin Hoca. Definite facts about his life have become mixed up with fictitious anecdotes because of the peoples’ great affection for him, and he has even been ascribed extraordinary powers. Among these claims is one that he met the Seljuk sultans, was close to Mevlana Celaleddin, spoke to Tamburlaine who lived at least 70 years after him, and was even seen in several places at the same time.
Nasreddin Hoca’s importance lies not in the incidents recounted themselves, but in the meaning behind his amusing words, either his own or those popularly quoted, and their satirical or amusing elements. Study of the words that are believed to be his shows that he expressed the lifestyle, sense of humour and slightly satirical manner of the people of Anatolia, and that his words are not to be seen as confined to one particular period or time. The anecdotes about him focus particularly on love, satire, praise and gentle mockery. He preferred to oppose the stricter elements of Islamic law with laughter, even self-mockery, and a desire to avoid using harsh words. His words are a contradictory combination of the wise, ignorant, cunning, harmonious, insensitive, bashful, surprised, timorous and dashing.
One particular feature of anecdotes concerning him is his delight in perplexing others. These reflect the attitude of the people of Anatolia to particular situations, and are actually the products of their thoughts. Nasreddin Hoca therefore emerges as a focus of humorous stories that reflect the feelings of the people. The true voices of the speakers appear, and Nasreddin Hoca appears before us with his own.
In all his humorous stories, Nasreddin Hoca emerges not as a concrete being, but rather as a link between a link to an event. Approval or disapproval of an incident are expressed in a humorous manner. The incidents he witnessed tend to take place among the people. He seldom or never has anything to do with the aristocracy or palace circles. There are no humorous tales regarding his alleged meetings with the Seljuk sultans. The one about Tamburlaine is a much later product, since he lived at a much later time. The idea oh him appearing before such a great man, who spread terror everywhere, in the baths, is merely a form of satire of those in their palaces who see themselves as superior to the ordinary people.
Another important element in Nasreddin Hoca stories is the donkey, a reflection of the feelings of the people. It is impossible to imagine Nasreddin Hoca without his donkey, which is itself a vehicle of satire. The horse has pretty much no place in those humorous tales invented by the people of Anatolia. The donkey, with its suffering and pain, the blows that are inflicted on it, is the most widespread symbol. No donkeys are to be found in humorous tales from the palaces. Such people ride on horses. Another contradiction is to be seen in this context, the humorous and the more mocking element of such tales. One instance of this appears in the story of the villager who asks to borrow nasreddin Hoca’s donkey. He says the donkey is not at home, only to be interrupted by the donkey braying from the stable. When the villages says that the donkey must be in the stable, Nasreddin Hoca demands to know whether the villager prefers to believe him or a donkey.
Beliefs about the hereafter also have an important place in these tales, some of which, such as ‘I always came this way when I was healthy,’ are explicatory of feelings in the face of strict religious dogma.
Nasreddin Hoca’s influence spread to all sections of society. He also led to the birth of other humorous tales reflecting the mindsets of very different areas. One such, ‘Bektashi,’ reflects the popular distaste for strict shariah law.
Source: Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism