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66 Djuha Counts the Donkeys 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 Once there was a certain Djuha. This Djuha had ten little donkeys. Every time he counted them he got to ten. Once, when he was riding one of the donkeys, he counted them again. This time there were only nine donkeys! “How can this be?” wondered Djuha. “In the past, whenever I counted, I had ten donkeys. Why do I only have nine now?” He climbed off the donkey and counted again: There were ten of them. Then he mounted the donkey again and counted them: nine! And so it went, as he kept counting—now there were ten donkeys, and then only nine. Finally a man passed by. “Djuha, why are you so lost in thought?” he asked. “I can’t figure out what kind of damn donkeys I’ve got. When I’m riding , there are nine, but when I get down there are always ten of them.” “One donkey is riding another!” quipped the man. “All told there are eleven donkeys, not ten. Why aren’t you counting the ass beneath yours?” “You know,” answered Djuha, “it never occurred to me that there’s another donkey underneath me!” 575 COMMENTARY FOR TALE 66 (IFA 12552) Told by Rivkah Cohen-Ariel, a second-generation immigrant from Monastir, Yugoslavia, to Tamar Alexander in 1980 in Jerusalem.1 Cultural, Historical, and Literary Background This story is one of the most popular numskull tales, known widely in European, Middle Eastern, and Central Asian oral traditions. There is literary evidence of this tale from the eleventh century. Al-Abi (d. 1030) included a version in his work Nathr al Durar.2 The tale occurs in the earliest Djuha manuscripts, such as the one in the University Library of Groningen.3 References to European versions of the tale are available,4 and there is an Arab version from Palestine.5 The tales also appears in the early collections of Sephardic folklore.6 A version from Saloniki involves camels rather than donkeys.7 A Sephardic storyteller from Italy (whose parents were from Turkey) told a variation of this tale.8 Another version, told by an Israeli, has been published,9 as has a variation from an Islamic country.10 Similarities to Other IFA Tales There are five more versions of this tale in the IFA. • IFA 8513: The Merchant and His Forty Donkeys (Bukhara). • IFA 8864: Mula Nasr al-Din Counts His Seven Donkeys (Iran). • IFA 11738: Mula Nasr al-Din and the Ten Donkeys (Iran). • IFA 13982: The Owner of His Ten Donkeys (Islamic country). • IFA 14301: The Eleventh Donkey (Morocco). Folktale Types • 1288A “Numskull Cannot Find Ass He Is Sitting On.” • 1288A “Numskull Cannot Find the Donkey He Is Sitting On” (new ed). • 1288A (El-Shamy) “Numskull Cannot Find Ass He Is Sitting On.” • 1288A (Haboucha) “Numskull Cannot Find Ass He Is Sitting On.” • 1288A (Marzolph) “Der Dumme Kann den Esel Nicht Finden, auf dem er Sitzt” (The Fool Cannot Find Ass He Is Sitting On). • 977 (Marzolph) “Der Dumme Zählt den Esel, auf dem er Stizt, Nicht Mit” (The Fool Does Not Count the Donkey on Which He Sits). • 261 (Wesselski). Folklore Motifs • J1700 “Fools.” • J2022 “Numskull cannot find ass he is sitting on.”  576  Folktales of the Jews: Volume 1 66 / Djuha Counts the Donkeys  577  __________ Notes __________ 1. First printed in Alexander and Noy, The Treasure of Our Fathers, 109 no. 19. 2. Owen, “Arabian Wit and Wisdom from Abu Sa’id al Abi’s Kitab Nathr alDurar ,” JAOS 54 (1934): 240–275. 3. Burrill, “The Nasreddin Hoca Stories: An Early Ottoman Manuscript,” 47, 64–65 no. 71. 4. Bolte and Polivka, Anmerkungen zu den Kinder-u, 3:143, 150–151 n. 2. Cf. Lixfeld, “Beinverschränkung.” 5. Hanauer, Folk-Lore of the Holy Land. 6. Grunwald, Tales, Songs and Folkways of Sephardic Jews, 86, 110–111 no. 69. 7. Crews, Recherchés sur le Judeo-Espagnol, 66. 8. Koen-Sarano, Kuentos del folklor de la famiya Djudeo-Espanyola, 148–149. 9. Koen-Sarano, Djoha ke dize?, 76–77, 188–189; and Koen-Sarano, Folktales of Joha, 71–72. 10. Rejwan, Juha, 110; and Marzolph, Nasreddin Hodscha, 89 no. 194, 256–257 no. 591. ...


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