Tag Archives: golden rule

Turkish Comedic Tales

Background Information: 

The informant is an older person who grew up in Central Turkey in the 40s and 50s. They have now been living in the US for the last 30 years. They are describing things from their childhood. 

Main Content:

ME: Can you tell me a little bit about the Nasrettin Hoca story? 

NA: Yeah, so he (Nasrettin Hoca), goes to his neighbor and asks “Can I borrow your pan”, cooking pan you know? Then he says “Ok” and gives him the pan. And then he uses it and then puts a little pan, his own, in it, and returns the pan the nest day. Then the neighbor says, “Hoca, what is this?”. He says,” Well, your pan has given birth”. (We both laugh). “So this is yours too”. And then okay, two days later, Hoca goes back and asks for that pan, the one that he borrowed originally, and then he takes it and never gives it back. Neighbor waits for few days and then goes to Hoca and says,” Hoca, I need my pan would you give it back to me?”. Hoca responded,” I don’t have it, it died”. The neighbor asks, “Hoca, how is that possible, how can a pie die?”. Hoca responded,” Well, you believed in the birth, how come you don’t believe in death?”. 

ME: That’s really funny (laughing)


This conversation happened over a FaceTime call. 


This legend is a part of a larger collection of folk legends about this one man, Nasrettin Hoca. These tales are very popular in the Turkish oral storytelling tradition. These stories are often told to little kids to teach them life lessons, while also providing some comedic relief. The man, Nasrettin, is clearly an idiot, but his story can actually serve as a valuable life lesson to children and even people. The neighbor had no issues accepting the extra pan when Hoca told him that it had “given birth”, but was upset when Hoca took the pan and claimed that it had “died”. This oral story clearly is trying to convey the lesson of “The Golden Rule”, or treating others how you want to be treated. The neighbor could have not accepted the extra pan, in which case Hoca would not have stolen his pan. Conveying this through a comedic and fun medium is also much more entertaining and compelling to small children. For a written version of this tale, see this book: Nasrettin Hoca Hikayeleri. Hürriyet, 2015.