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Telling tradition of Molla Nasreddin anecdotes

Molla Nasreddin (Azerbaijani-Arab. ملانصرالدین‎) or Khoja Nasreddin (Osm. 1284-1200, لدین خواجه, Akshehir, Konya) was a legendary person who lived in the vicinity of Khorto and Akshehir during the Sultanate of Rum.

Khoja Nasreddin is beloved by people in many countries. Evidently for this reason, everyone attributed him to their own nation. However, European and Russian researchers have confirmed his Turkish origin. 

Many sources say that he was born in 1208, and some sources say he was born in 1308. The exact date is unknown. Although he was born in the city of Khorto in Sivrihisar, he lived in Akshehir, which was considered the governorate of the Sultanate of Konya. He received his first education from his father, who was a village teacher. He excelled at wit in the Madrasah of Konya where he studied.

Molla Nasreddin's father Abdulla Efendi was an imam. His father died when Nasreddin was studying in madrasa. After his father's death it was difficult for him to stay in the village.

In 1237, Khoja Nasreddin came to Akshehir and started working as a regional theologian. While working in this position, he was addressed as "Nasreddin Khoja". He went down in history under this name. 

His anecdotes and the words he used are memorized in languages ranging from Anatolia to the Turks living in the territories of China. He is very popular in our country as well, and his parables are used even today.

Anecdotes about Molla Nasreddin were first found in written form in the work "Saltukname" about the life of Sarı Saltuk. During the reign of Sultan Jem, the son of Fateh Sultan Mehmet, an instruction was given to write down anecdotes about Molla Nasreddin and work them into the book. The work was entrusted to the famous scholar of that time, Abulkheyir Rumi. For many years (7 years), anecdotes about Molla Nasreddin were collected among the people, and those anecdotes were published in the form of a book in 1480. One of the works related to him is called "Heze Targemei Nasraddin Efendi Rahme". This work is currently kept in the London Museum.  

Molla Nasreddin married a lady from Akshehir, with two daughters. Their names were Fatma Khatun and Durri Melek. Molla Nasreddin died in 1284 (in some sources 1384) in Akshehir, where he lived. A mausoleum with a magnificent dome on 6 pillars was built over his grave.        

Nasreddin Khoja is a world-renowned folk philosopher with his name, wit and anecdotes. The fact that the intelligence of a mentor, who caricatures man in life, nature and society, with his witty views and clever statements, has a value that will satisfy not only one nation, but all mankind, this Turkish intelligence is known and loved among other nations. Turkish national identity found its own humor in these jokes, loved, spread, integrated and reproduced them. So much so that even though Nasreddin Khojan was a century old, even 116 years after his death, folk tradition compared him to Tamerlane, who came to Anatolia. Many Azerbaijani writers and poets, such as Jalil Mammadguluzade, Mirza Alakbar Sabir, who is known as "Molla Nasreddinchi" in the Turkish world, spoke and wrote their heartfelt words with anecdotes. 
Many Turkic peoples published humorous magazines and newspapers under his name. "Molla Nasreddin" (1906-1920), "Khoja Nasreddin" (1908), "Nasreddin Hoja" (1914-1920, 1929), "Yeni Nasreddin Hoja" (1936), "Yeni Hoja Nasreddin" (1940) published by the outstanding Azerbaijani theater writer Jalil Mammadguluzade magazines are among them.   

In many countries, from Europe to African countries, from America to Japan, serious studies have been conducted about Nasreddin Hoja and his anecdotes, especially the Turkish states and societies. Among them are Pierre Millen's novel "Nasreddin et oglu Epouse" (Paris-1918) and Jean-Paul Garnier's novel "Nasreddin Hoja et ses Histoires Turġues" (Paris-1958) are exemplary studies.  

Molla Nasreddin was well-known in different Turkish countries under different names. In Turkey, since ancient times, they called him "Hoja" as a sign of respect for the man of high education or social standing. This tradition remains today. Since 1935, all titles and degrees - bey, effendi, pasha, hoja, agha, etc. have been abolished. The words "bay" for men and "bayan" for women were defined. However, the word "samad" is still widely used among teachers and scientists in Azerbaijan as a sign of respect. 

Today, in ancient Turkestan, which is called Central Asia, and Azerbaijan, Turkey, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Khakassia, Crimea, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, Balkan countries, in short, wherever you ask for an anecdote, the first anecdote told by that person will be about Molla Nasreddin.     

The astonishing brevity and logic of Molla Nasreddin's anecdotes have yet to be fully explored. It is difficult to find a second person in the world like Molla Nasreddin, who makes you laugh and at the same time think, whose scientific and philosophical logic amazes even the most famous scientist. In his anecdotes there is a way out of the most difficult situation. Molla Nasreddin's greatness lies in this.   

At the 17th session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee held in Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco between November 28 and December 3, 2022, the nomination "Telling tradition of Molla Nasreddin anecdotes" jointly presented by Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkiye, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan was included in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.    

The multinational nomination file was submitted in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Azerbaijan to UNESCO and the Azerbaijan National Commission for UNESCO, as well as the relevant organs of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Türkiye, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.