I am in the process of turning a too-long picture book (thanks to the editor who helped me expand the story then unexpectedly and without explanation left the publisher who thereafter dropped my project) into a chapter book. I wanted to be finished tomorrow. I am not going to be. Sigh.
Anyway, the story is narrated by a student accompanying the famous Nasreddin Hoja from their village to the palace of a Prince who has invited the Teacher to a special feast.
So in honor of this endeavor here are ten tidbits about Nasreddin:
- It is believed believed he lived and died during the 13th century in Akşehir, near Konya, a capital of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum, in today’s Turkey.
- Having lived in numerous cities in vast area and being steadfastly against the Mongol invasion, and gifted with his witty character, cultures from Turkey to Arabia, and from Russia to China, (most of which suffered Mongol invasions) embraced him.
- His name is spelt in a wide variety of ways: Nasrudeen, Nasrudin, Nasruddin, Nasr ud-Din, Nasredin being just a few examples. It is sometime preceded or followed by a title or honorific used in the corresponding cultures: “Hodja”, “Hoja”, “Hojja”, “Hoca”, “Mullah”, etc. In several cultures he is named by the title alone.
- He appears in thousands of stories, sometimes witty, sometimes wise, but often, too, the butt of a joke.
- It is inherent in a Nasreddin story that it may be understood on many levels. There is the joke, followed by a moral and usually the little extra.
- As generations have gone by, new stories have been added to the Nasreddin collection, others have been altered, and he and his tales have spread to many regions.
- Themes in the tales have become part of the folklore of a number of nations and express the national imagination of a variety of cultures.
- Most stories show Nasreddin in an early small-village setting. Yet his stories deal with concepts that are timeless. His folk wisdom triumphs over all trials and tribulations.
- The oldest manuscript of Nasreddin dates to 1571.
- The International Nasreddin Hodja festival is celebrated every year in his hometown between July 5th and 10th.