62. Djuha’s Face (IFA 12548)
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62 Djuha’s Face T O L D B Y R I V K A H C O H E N - A R I E L T O TA M A R A L E X A N D E R In the days when there were kings of the Turks, of Iraq, of Baghdad, and of Persia, they always had a Djuha nearby, since he was the royal jester. Even if the king was in a bad mood and didn’t want anyone talking to him, Djuha was there with him. Once Djuha came in and saw that the king was in a rage. “What’s the matter, Your Majesty?” he asked. “By my life, Djuha, get away from here. I don’t want to see your face!” “All right, he doesn’t want my face. All right.” Djuha went into the corridor. The king was still inside, but he would have to pass through the corridor when he left. Djuha took off his pants, his underpants, everything. Then he laid his hands on the floor and stuck his bottom up in the air. When the king passed by, he saw this bottom floating there and began to scream. “What are you doing, showing me your backside?” “You said you didn’t want to see my face, so look at my fanny.” The king laughed, his good mood restored. 560 COMMENTARY FOR TALE 62 (IFA 12548) Told by Rivkah Cohen-Ariel to Tamar Alexander in Jerusalem in 1980. Cultural, Historical, and Literary Background The narrator refers to Djuha as a court clown for the kings of Turkey, Iraq, Baghdad, and Iran in a somewhat vague and general manner. However, according to Turkish tradition it was Nasreddin Hoca who was the jester in the court of the Mongol conquerer Timur (Timur i leng, “The Lame Timur”), known as Tamerlane (1336–1405).1 Despite their alleged historicity, the reports about Nasreddin Hoca in Timur’s court are relatively late. There is, however, earlier evidence of similar characters. According to Marzolph,2 sixteenth-century sources note that the poet Ahmadi Kirmani (d. 1413) was the hero of a popular Timur court anecdote. The seventeenth-century travel accounts of Ewliya Celebi (1611–1684) mention the same stories, but with Nasreddin Hoca as the central character. Celebi, who visited the town of Aksehir where Timur defeated the Ottoman sultan Bayazid in 1403 and where Nasreddin Hoca is supposedly buried, drew on local oral traditions. A recent study of Timur is available.3 Other tales about Djuha in Timur’s court have been published.4 A comparative study of court jesters is available.5 Similarities to Other IFA Tales There are no parallels to the present tale in the IFA, although another JudeoSpanish text has been published.6 Folklore Motifs • J822 “Man plays fool to protect himself in dealing with king.” • J1124 “Clever court jester.” • J1675 “Clever dealing with a king.” • J2460 “Literal obedience.” __________ Notes __________ 1. Marzolph, “Nasr al Din Khodja”; and Marzolph, “Timur’s Humorous Antagonist.” 2. Op. cit. 3. Nagel, Timur der Eroberer und die islamische Welt des späten Mittlealters. 4. Wesselski, Der Hodscha Nasreddin, nos. 234, 327, 328, 329, 330, 338; Marzolph, Nasreddin Hodscha, 96 no. 211, 110 no. 257; Rejwan, Juha 11–22; and Barnham, The Khoja, 10–12, 16–20, 129–131, 151–152, 157–158, 165–167, 220–221. 5. Otto, Fools Are Everywhere; Welsford, The Fool; Willeford, The Fool and His Scepter; and Williams, The Fool and the Trickster. 6. Koen-Sarano, Djoha ke dize?, 112–113. 62 / Djuha’s Face  561  ...


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