“The Gold Shitting Donkey”


This might be a little long but it’s highly entertaining. A lot of the time around dinner we’d request to hear them again and my dad or someone would tell the story in Farsi and they’re all about this fictional character named mullah nasradin. (Mullah is the respectful title for a religious leader) and he’s this buffoonish character who does stupid shit. One of the stories was mullah nasradin is trying to sell a donkey in the market that no one wants and comes up with this idea to shove a gold coin up the donkeys ass, feed it a sugar cube, and wait for the donkey to fart and then try to sell the donkey as a donkey that shits gold coins. So he does this and ends up seeking the donkey to an Iranian prince who locks the donkey in a room full of sugar cubes for a week hoping to come back to a room full of gold coins. The punch line essentially is that he opens the door and there’s a rotting donkey corpse and a bunch of poop in the room a week later. It’s really not that well conceived of a plot in English but somehow it’s a hilarious twist in Farsi. I’m sorry I don’t know how to tell it in Farsi, I can understand the language but not speak it well at all.

Background: Like I said I heard most of these stories from my dad at dinner or at holidays. To me it’s just a funny story – I guess I never thought about it as having so much meaning to it but just as a cute fairytale. I like it because it’s a part of my childhood.

Context: This isn’t exactly a party story, it’s more something that’s told on holidays around closer family and friends. There are these like extended jokes that are told usually to children and they’re just funny stories. My family wasn’t super traditional Persian, so mostly we’d hear these things on Christmas or whatever. But I always remembered them as being a pretty distinctly cultural thing that my other friends didn’t know.

My Thoughts:

I think it’s really interesting that my informant mentioned that her non-Persian friends didn’t know the stories because it creates a separation of cultures and also a similarity that Persians can bond over knowing. I think the piece itself has a meaning of ingenuity – it seems to place blame on the buyer for not adequately researching his purchase beforehand. In this way, it seems to be a cautionary tale for preventing “buyer’s remorse.”