ADVENTURES IN BUKHARA — Tales of Khoja Nasreddin by Leonid Solovyev (Part1)

Book I

“They also relate that a simpleton was walking along holding on to the bridle of his ass which followed behind.”

(Scheherazade’s three hundred and eighty-second night.)

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Adventures in Bukhara are tales told with irreverent wit and earthy wisdom. Tyranny is its villain; liberty its hero. Like Robin Hood, Khoja Nasreddin is the champion of the poor and downtrodden who cannot champion themselves. There is no danger he will not brave, no disaster he cannot avert, no villain he cannot bring to ridicule or destruction.

These zestful tales are set in ancient Bukhara, then a great centre of Islamic power. Nasreddin, masquerading as a beggar, returns taxes to the oppressed, rescues a lovely maiden from the Emir’s harem, and with ingenuity confounds usurers, hypocrites and all tyrants. He outwits his enemies even at his own scheduled execution.

The Nasreddin stories are known throughout the Middle East and have touched cultures around the world. Superficially, most of the Nasreddin stories may be told as jokes or humorous anecdotes. They are told and retold endlessly in the teahouses and caravanserais of Asia and can be heard in homes and on the radio. But it is inherent in a Nasreddin story that it may be understood at many levels. There is the joke, followed by a moral – and usually the little extra which brings the consciousness of the potential mystic a little further on the way to realization.

The anecdotes attributed to him reveal a satirical personality with a biting tongue that he was not afraid to use even against the most tyrannical rulers of his time. He is the symbol of Middle-Eastern satirical comedy and the rebellious feelings of people against the dynasties that once ruled this part of the world.


Bukhara2KHOJA NASREDDIN’S thirty-fifth birthday found him on the road.

He had spent over ten years in exile, wandering from town to town, from country to country, crossing seas and deserts, and sleeping where night overtook him: on the bare earth by a shepherd’s meagre camp-fire, in a crowded caravanserai, where all night long, in the dusty gloom, camels sigh and scratch themselves with a hollow tinkling of bells, or in a smoky, sooty tea-house among sprawling water-carriers, beggars, drivers and other poor folk, who at the break of dawn fill the bazaars and the narrow streets of the town with their shrill cries.

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