Turkish Folktales

We have collected and put Turkish Folktales. Enjoy reading these insights and feel free to share this page on your social media to inspire others.

The tradition of folklorefolktales, jokes, legends, and the like—in the Turkish language is very rich, and is incorporated into everyday life and events. Folk tales composed of poetry and prose, have succeeded to come until today by various narrators. These stories which especially contain heroism and love stories carry the accumulation of the Turkish society such as belief, experience, art and law. Many societies, including European countries are concerned about the growth of generations that are disconnected to their own traditions and cultures.

Turkish Folktales, as a step between epic and novels, are the fruit of oral tradition and even today there are still some folk tales which have not been written down, yet. Historically, Turkish Folk Tales appear following the heroic epic tradition as one of the early fruit of settled life after the nomadic life style. They take their roots from legends and fairy tales as well as carrying some characteristics of epics as a genre. Although the genres that constitute the oral Turkish literature differ in form and theme, Turkish folk tales embody texts and characteristics of such various genres. However, there are still some basic characteristics that differ the Folk Tales from other oral literary genres.

See also: Turkish Folklore

Legendary Kiz kulesi

Legendary Kiz kulesi

Nasreddin Hodja Stories

The Criticism Of Men

Hodja and his son went on a journey once. Hodja preferred that his son ride the donkey and that he himself go on foot. On the way they met some  people who said:

-Look at that healthy young boy! That is today’s youth for you. They have no  respect for elders. He rides on the donkey and makes his poor father walk!

When they had passed by these people the boy felt very ashamed  and insisted that he walk and his father ride the donkey. So Hodja mounted the donkey and the boy walked at his side. A little later they met some other people  who said:

-Well, look at that! That poor little boy has to walk while his  father rides the donkey.

After they had passed by these people, Hodja told his son:

-The best thing to do is for both of us to walk. Then no one can complain.

So they continued on their journey, both of them walking. A  little ways down the road they met some others who said:

-Just take a look at those fools. Both of them are walking under this hot sun and neither of them are riding the donkey!

Hodja turned to his son and said:

-That just goes to show how hard it is to escape the opinions  of men.

Everyone Who Sees The Light

Hodja’s wife was pregnant. One night, her labor pains started  and Hodja called the neighbours and the midwife. Soon they called out from his  wife’s room and said, “Hodja! You have a son!”

He was very happy. A few minutes later the midwife called out  again,

“Hodja! You also have a girl.”

After a little while, she called out again,

“Hodja! You have another girl!”

Hodja, who had been waiting in front of his wife’s room, rushed  into the room and bleww off the candle.

“What are you doing?” asked the surprised women.

“Well! Everyone who sees the light wants to come out. What else  can I do?” he answered.

Forty Year Old Vinegar

His neighbour asked Hodja,

“Do you have some forty-year old vinegar?”

“I have,” answered Hodja.

“Would you give me some? I need it to prepare a medication”, said the man.

“No, I won’t,” replied Hodja. “If I had given some to everybody who asked for it, would I have it for forty years!”.

Mortal’s Way

One day four boys approached Hodja and gave him a bagful of  walnuts.

“Hodja, we can’t divide these walnuts among us evenly. So would you help us, please?”

Hodja asked, “Do you want God’s way of distribution or mortal’s  way?”

“God’s way” the children answered.

Hodja opened the bag and gave two handfuls of walnuts to one child, one handful to the other, only two walnuts to the third child and none to  the fourth.

“What kind of distribution is this?” the children asked  baffled.

“Well, this is God’s way,” he answered. “He gives some people a  lot, some people a little and nothing to others. If you had asked for mortal’s way I would have given the same amount to everybody.”

How A Donkey Reads

During a conversation with Tamerlane, Hodja started bragging about his donkey.

“It is so smart that I can teach it even how to read, “he said.

“Then go ahead and teach it reading. I give you 3 months.,”  Tamerlane ordered.

Hodja went home and began to train his donkey. He put its feed between the pages of a big book and taught it to turn the pages by its tongue to find its feed. Three days before the three month period was over, he stopped  feeding it.

When he took his donkey to Tamerlane, he asked for a big book  and put it in front of the donkey. The hungry animal turned the pages of the book one by one with its tongue and when it couldn’t find any feed between the pages it started braying.

Tamerlane watched the donkey closely and then said,

“This is sure a strange way of reading!”

Hodja remarked,

“But this is how a donkey reads.”

Strange Job of God

The Hodja collected over many years 1000 coins and one day a thief came and stole the money. The Hodja was very sorry and prayed every night.
After many days, a man came and gave 1000 coins to the Hodja. The Hodja asked:
What is this?
The man explained:

I am a sailor and the ship I was on was in perie. The waves lashed the ship and we were all very frightened. So I said: ‘If I return safely on land, I will give 1000 coins to the Hodja’ and here they are.
When the Hodja heard this he said:
Dear God? what a strange job you have. Where did my money go and from where does it return! What is the use of this?

Hodja And The Backward Seat

One day, a delegation invited Nasreddin Hodja to come to their village and become their new imam. Hodja was eager to accept the job and hurried out to the stable to mount his donkey. Unfortunately, Hodja’s thoughts had already rushed ahead to his new position, leaving his feet to fend for themselves. He suddenly looked down and realized that he had mounted his donkey backward!

The villagers looked at one another skeptically. Could this be the famous hodja they had come to hire? How could he lead the Friday prayers if he could not even mount his own donkey?

Hodja read the doubt in their eyes and so drew up his dignity and spoke swiftly to dispel their concerns.

“You may be wondering,” Hodja said, “why I have chosen to sit backward on my donkey. Be assured that I have good reason. If I were to seat myself forward on my donkey and ride ahead of you, my back would be turned toward you and that would be discourteous.

On the other hand, if I were to sit forward on the donkey and ride behind you, that would be shameful, for I am a hodja and your spiritual leader. But seated this way I can ride ahead of you AND face toward you.”

The men from the village had never considered the matter in such a way and marveled at Hodja’s penetrating insight. They agreed together then and there that they had found a worthy imam for their village.

The Wicked Girl

Told by Aaron Shepard

There was once a merchant who set out with his wife on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Their daughter, though, they left at home, with an Arab slave girl to keep her company.

One evening quite late, the merchant’s daughter and the Arab girl were singing and laughing and dancing about in the upstairs apartment. By accident, the Arab girl knocked over the oil lamp, leaving the young ladies in darkness.

“What should we do?” said the merchant’s daughter. “It’s too late to rouse the servants.”

“I’ll go out and find a light,” said the Arab girl.

“But we’re locked in!” said the merchant’s daughter.

“The window’s open,” said the Arab girl.

So they knotted some bed sheets together and lowered them from the window. Then the Arab girl took a basket and climbed down.

She walked down the street till she came to a restaurant still open. The customers had all gone, but a handsome young man was in the kitchen, cleaning up and preparing for the next day. On the table were dishes piled high with kebabs, dolma, pilaf, and baklava.

“May I come in?” said the Arab girl prettily.

The young man, who owned the restaurant, cast an eye on the lovely young lady. “Please sit down!” he said.

As the two of them chatted, the young man moved closer and closer to the Arab girl. She was almost in reach when she asked him, “What’s in those huge crocks?”

“One has olive oil, one has clarified butter, and one has honey.”

“Honey?” she said. “What’s that?”

“Surely you’ve had honey before!”

“Never! Please give me a taste.”

So the young man took off the lid and leaned into the crock to spoon some out. The Arab girl came up behind and lifted his feet, so he slid head first into the honey. Then she quickly loaded her basket with dishes of food, grabbed an oil lamp, and ran off.

The young man came out of the honey dripping and sputtering. “Ooh, that Arab girl! If I ever catch her, I’ll drink her blood!”

The next night, the Arab girl was again dancing about with the merchant’s daughter, but she was wondering about the restaurant owner. So she knocked over the lamp a second time.

“I’ll have to go out again,” she said.

They lowered the bed sheets, and the Arab girl climbed down with her basket. When she reached the restaurant, she again found the young man alone.

“How dare you come back!” he demanded. “Do you know what I’ll do to you now?”

“Kiss me?” she asked.

“Well, well!” said the young man, with a smile. “What a fine idea!” He came close to embrace her.

“Not yet,” she said. “First we must eat and drink.”

So they ate and drank, and the Arab girl kept pouring him more and more wine, and he kept drinking it, till his head dropped down and rested on the table. She found some rope, tied him up, and gagged him. Then she took more dishes of food and a lamp and ran off.

His customers found him the next morning and set him free. “Ooh, that Arab girl! If I ever catch her, I’ll drink her blood!”

Later that same day, the young man disguised himself as an old flower peddler, with ragged clothes and a long white beard. Then he walked up and down the streets, calling, “Roses for sale! Roses for sale!”

When he came by the merchant’s house, he spotted the Arab girl looking out the upstairs window. “I have her now!” he muttered.

Meanwhile, the Arab girl was telling the merchant’s daughter, “There’s that handsome restaurant owner. I wonder what he’s up to.” She called down to him, “We would like some roses.”

“Then please come to the door,” said the young man, in an old man’s voice.

“We’re locked in,” she said. “But you can climb to the window.”

She lowered the bed sheets, and the young man started up. He was just a few feet away when the Arab girl took a knife and sliced through the top sheet. Roses flew everywhere as the young man tumbled to the ground.

While a crowd gathered around him, the young man painfully struggled to his feet. “Ooh, that Arab girl! If I ever catch her, I’ll drink her blood!”

Not long after that, the merchant returned with his wife from their pilgrimage. To thank the Arab slave girl for keeping his daughter good company, he asked, “What would you like as a gift?”

“A doll made of rubber,” she told him. “It should be just my height and look just like me and wear clothes just like mine. And when you shake it, it should say, ‘Yes, yes.’” So the merchant had the doll made and gave it to her.

A few days later, the merchant spoke again to the Arab girl. “I’ve received a note from a man who does not name himself. He wishes to buy you for an incredibly high price. But if you object, I’ll refuse him.”

“I don’t mind,” she said, smiling.

The next morning, a messenger came with a carriage and drove the Arab girl to a house a few streets away. She and her belongings were left alone in a room upstairs.

The Arab girl took her doll and stood it in the middle of the room. She poured red sherbet into its hollow center, filling it with the sweet fruit drink. Then she hid in a closet.

Before long, the door flew open. There stood the young restaurant owner, a dagger in his hand. He glared at the doll. “You wicked girl! I’ve caught you at last!”

Gripping it by the shoulder, he demanded, “Do you remember how you pushed me into the honey?” He shook it back and forth.

“Yes, yes,” said the doll.

“And do you remember how you tied me up and gagged me?”

“Yes, yes.”

“And do you remember how you made me fall to the street?”

“Yes, yes.”

“You admit everything! Then prepare to die, for now I will drink your blood!”

He plunged the dagger into the doll, and red liquid spurted out. As the doll fell over, he caught a few drops in his cupped hand, and raised them greedily to his lips.

“But what’s this? Her blood is so sweet! And if her blood is this sweet, how much sweeter must be the rest of her! What have I done? I have killed the sweetest woman in the world! Oh, if only I could bring her back to life, I would free her and marry her! But it’s too late. All I can do now is end my own life!” He raised the dagger above his chest.

“Hey, dummy! I’m right here!”

The young man stared at the Arab girl.

“Darling!” he cried.

“Dearest!” she answered.

And they lived happily ever after.

The Ghost Of The Spring And The Shrew

From Turkish Fairy Tales And Folk Tales
By Ignacz Kunos, R. Nisbet Bain

Once upon a time which was no time if it was a time, in the days when my mother was my mother and I was my mother’s daughter, when my mother was my daughter and I was my mother’s mother, in those days, I say, it happened that we once went along the road, and we went on and on and on. We went for a little way and we went for a long way, we went over mountains and over valleys, we went for a month continually, and when we looked behind us we hadn’t gone a step. So we set out again, and we went on and on and on till we came to the garden of the Chin-i-Machin Pasha (Emperor of China). We went in, and there was a miller grinding grain, and a cat was by his side. And the cat had woe in its eye, and the cat had woe on its nose, and the cat had woe in its mouth, and the cat had woe in its fore paw, and the cat had woe in its hind paw, and the cat had woe in its throat, and the cat had woe in its ear, and the cat had woe in its face, and the cat had woe in its fur, and the cat had woe in its tail.

Hard by this realm lived a poor wood-cutter, who had nothing in the world but his poverty and a horrid shrew of a wife. What little money the poor man made his wife always took away, so that he had not a single para (Farthing) left. If his supper was over-salted – and so it was many a time – and her lord chanced to say to her: “Mother, thou hast put too much salt in the food,” so venomous was she that next day she would cook the supper without one single grain of salt, so that there was no savour in it. But if he dared to say: “There is no savour in the food, mother!” she would put so much salt in it next day that her husband could not eat thereof at all.

Now what was it that befell this poor man one day? This is what befell. He put by a couple of pence from his earnings to buy a rope to hang himself withal. But his wife found them in her husband’s pocket: “Ho, ho!” she cried, “so thou dost hide thy money in corners to give it to thy comrades, eh?” In vain the poor man swore by his head that it was not so, his wife would not believe him. “My dear,” said her husband, “I wanted to buy me a rope with the money.”

“To hang thyself with, eh?” inquired his affectionate spouse.

“Well, thou knowest what a hideous racket thou dost make sometimes,” replied her husband, meaning to pacify her.

“What I have done hitherto is little enough for a blockhead like thee,” she replied, and with that she gave her husband such a blow that it seemed to him as if the red dawn was flashing before him.

The next morning the wood-cutter rose early, saddled his ass, and went towards the mountains. All that he said to his wife before starting was to beg her not to follow him into the forest. This was quite enough for the wife. Immediately he was gone she saddled her ass, and after her husband she went without more ado. “Who knows,” murmured she to herself, “what he may not be up to in the mountains, if I am not there to look after him!”

The man saw that his wife was coming after him, but he made as if he did not see, never spoke a word, and as soon as he got to the foot of the mountain he set about wood-cutting. His wife, however, for she was a restless soul, went up and down and all about the mountain, poked her nose into everything, till at last her attention was fixed by a deserted well, and she made straight for it.

Then her husband cried to her: “Take care, there’s a well right before thee! ”

The only effect this warning had upon the wife was to make her draw still nearer. Again he cried to her: “Dost thou not hear me speak to thee? Go not further on, for there’s a well in front of thee.”

“What do I care what he says’?” thought she. Then she took another step forward, but before she could take another the earth gave way beneath her, and into the well she plumped. As for the husband, he was thinking of something else, for he always minded his own business, so, his work over, he took his ass and never stopped till he got home.

The next day, at dawn, he again arose, saddled the ass, and went to the mountains, when the thought of his wife suddenly came into his mind. “I’ll see what has become of the poor woman!” said he. So he went to the opening of the well and looked into it, but nothing was to be seen or heard of his wife. His heart was sore, for anyhow was she not his wife? and he began to think whether he could get her out of the well. So he took a rope, let it down into the well, and cried into the great depth thereof: “Catch hold of the rope, mother, and I’ll draw thee up!”

Presently the man felt that the rope had become very heavy. He pulled away at it with all his might, he tugged and tugged – what creature of Allah’s could it be that he was pulling out of the well? And lo! it was none other than a hideous ghost! The poor wood-cutter was sore afraid.

“Rise up, poor man, and fear not,” said the ghost. “The mighty Allah rather bless thee for thy deed. Thou hast saved me from so great a danger, that to the very day of judgment I will not forget thy good deed.”

Then the poor man began to wonder what this great danger might be.

“How many many years I lived peaceably in this well I know not,” continued the ghost, “but up to this very day I knew no trouble. But yesterday – whence she came I know not – an old woman suddenly plumped down on my shoulders, and caught me so tightly by both my ears, that I could not get loose from her for a moment. By a thousand good fortunes thou didst come to the spot, let down thy rope, and call to her to seize hold of it. For in trying to get hold of it she let me go, and I at once seized the rope myself, and, the merciful Allah be praised for it, here I am on dry land again. Good awaits thee for thy good deed; list now to what I say to thee!”

With that the ghost drew forth three wooden tablets, gave them to the wood-cutter, and said to him: “I now go to take possession of the daughter of the Sultan. Up to this day the princess has been hale and well, but now she will have leeches and wise men without number, but all in vain, not one of them will be able to cure her. Thou also wilt hear of the matter, thou wilt hasten to the Padishah, moisten these three wooden tablets with water, lay them on the face of the damsel, and I will come out of her, and a rich reward will be thine.”

With that the wood-cutter took the three tablets, put them in his pocket, and the ghost went to the right and he went to the left, and neither of them thought any more of the old woman in the well. But let us first follow the ghost.

Scarcely had this son of a devil quitted the woodcutter than he stood in the Serai of the Padishah, and entered into the poor daughter of the Sultan. The poor girl immediately fell to the ground in great pain. “O my head! O my head!” she cried continually. They sent word to the Padishah, and he, hastening thither, found his daughter lying on the ground and groaning. Straightway he sent for leeches, wise men, drugs, and incense, but none of them assuaged her pain. They sent for them a second time, they sent for them a third time, but all their labour was in vain. At last they had ten doctors and ten wise men trying what they could do, and all the time the poor girl kept moaning: “My head, my head!”

“O my sweet child,” groaned the Padishah, “if thy head aches, believe me my head, and my heart also, ache a thousand times as much to hear thee. What shall I do for thee? I know what I will do. I will go call the astrologers, perchance they will know more than I do.” And with that he called together all the most famous astrologers in his kingdom. One of them had one plan, another had another, but not one of them could cure the complaint of the poor damsel.

But now let us see what became of the poor wood-cutter.

He lived on in the world without his wife, and gradually he forgot all about her, and about the ghost and the three wooden tablets, and the ghost’s advice and promise. But one day, when he had no thought at all of these things, a herald from the city of the Padishah came to where he was with a firman(An Imperial rescript) in his hand, and read this out of it in a loud voice: “The damsel, the Sultan’s daughter, is very sick. The leeches, the wise men, the astrologers, all have seen her, and not one of them can cure her complaint. Whoever is a master of myseries, let him come forward and doctor her. If he be a Mussulman, and cure her, the Sultan’s daughter now and my realm after my death shall be his reward; and if he be a Giaour(An unbeliever) and cure her, all the treasures in my realm shall be his.”

The wood-cutter needed no more to remind him of the ghost, the three tablets, and his wife. He arose and went up to the herald. “By the mercy of Allah I will cure the Sultan’s daughter, if she be still alive,” said he. At these words the servant of the Padishah caught hold of the wood-cutter, and led him into the Serai.

Word was sent at once of his arrival to the Padishah, and in an instant everything was made ready for him to enter the sick chamber. There before him lay the poor damsel, and all she did was to cry continually: “My head, my head! “The wood-cutter brought forth the wooden tablets, moistened them, and scarcely had he spread them on the Sultan’s daughter than immediately she became as well again as if she had never been ill. At this there was great joy and gladness in the Serai, and they gave the daughter of the Sultan to the wood-cutter; so the poor man became the son-in-law of the Padishah.

Now this Padishah had a brother who was also a Padishah, and his kingdom was the neighbouring kingdom. He also had a daughter, and it occurred to the ghost of the well to possess her likewise.

So she also began to be tormented in the same way, and nobody could find a cure for her complaint. They searched and searched for assistance high and low, till at last they heard how the daughter of the neighbouring Padishah had been cured of a like sickness. So that other Padishah sent many men into the neighbouring kingdom, and begged the first Padishah, for the love of Allah, to send thither his son-in-law to cure the other damsel also. If he cured her he was to have the damsel for his second wife.

So the Padishah sent his son-in-law that he might cure the damsel – ‘twould be nothing to such a master of mysteries as he, they said. All that he could say was in vain, the poor fellow had to set out, and as soon as he arrived they led him at once into the sick-chamber. But now the ghost of the well had a word to say in the matter.

For that evil spirit was furious with his poor comrade. “Thou didst a good deed to me, it is true,” began the ghost, “but thou canst not say that I remained thy debtor. I left for thy sake the beautiful daughter of the Sultan, and I chose out another for myself, and thou wouldst now take her from me also? Well, wait a while, and thou shalt see that for this deed of thine I will take them both away from thee.”

At this the poor man was sore troubled.

“I did not come hither for the damsel,” said he, “she is thy property, and, if such be thy desire, thou mayest take mine away also.”

“Then what’s thy errand here? ” roared the ghost.

“Alas! ’tis my wife, the old woman of the well,” sighed the former wood-cutter, “and I only left her in the well that I might be rid of her.”

On hearing this the ghost was terribly frightened, and it was with a small voice that he now inquired whether by chance she had come to light again.

“Yes, indeed, she’s outside,” sighed the man, “wherever I may go I am saddled with her. I haven’t the heart to free myself from her. Hark! she’s at the door now, she’ll be in the room in a moment.”

The ghost needed no more. Forthwith he left the daughter of the Sultan, and the Serai, and the whole city, and the whole kingdom, so that not even the rumour of him remained. And not a child of man has ever seen him since.

But the daughter of the Sultan recovered instantly, and they gave her to the former wood-cutter, and he took her home as his second wife.

Stone-Patience And Knife-Patience

From Turkish Fairy Tales And Folk Tales
By Ignacz Kunos, R. Nisbet Bain

There was once a poor woman who had one daughter, and this poor woman used to go out and wash linen, while her daughter remained at home at her working-table. One day she was sitting by the window as was her wont, when a little bird flew on to the sewing-table and said to the damsel: “Oh, little damsel, poor little damsel! death is thy Kismet! (fate)” whereupon it flew away again. From that hour the damsel’s peace of mind was gone, and in the evening she told her mother what the bird had said to her. “Close the door and the window,” said her mother, “and sit at thy work as usual.”

So the next morning she closed the door and the window and sat her down at her work. But all at once there came a “Whirr-r-r-r!” and there was the little bird again on the work-table. “Oh, little damsel, poor little damsel! death is thy Kismet,” and with that it flew away again. The damsel was more and more terrified than ever at these words, but her mother comforted her again: “To-morrow,” said she, “close fast the door and the window, and get into the cupboard. There light a candle, and go on with thy work!”

Scarcely had her mother departed with the dawn than the girl closed up everything, lit a candle, and locked herself in the cupboard with her work-table. But scarcely had she stitched two stitches when the bird stood before her again, and said: “Oh, little damsel, poor little damsel! death is thy Kismet!” and whirr-r-r-r! it flew away again. The damsel was in such distress that she scarce knew where she was. She threw her work aside, and began tormenting herself as to what this saying might mean. Her mother, too, could not get to the bottom of the matter, so she remained at home the next day, that she also might see the bird, but the bird did not come again.

So their sorrow was perpetual, and all the joy of their life was gone. They never stirred from the house but watched and waited continually, if perchance the bird might come again. One day the damsels of their neighbour came to them and asked the woman to let her daughter go with them. “If she went for a little outing,” said they, “she might forget her trouble.” The woman did not like to let her go, but they promised to take great care of her and not to lose sight of her, so at last she let her go.

So the damsels went into the fields and danced and diverted themselves till the day was on the decline. On the way home they sat down by a well and began to drink out of it. The poor woman’s daughter also went to drink of the water, when lo! a wall rose up between her and the other damsels, but such a wall as never the eye of man yet beheld. A voice could not get beyond it, it was so high, and a man could not get through it, it was so hard. Oh, how terrified was the poor woman’s daughter, and what weeping and wailing and despair there was among her comrades. What would become of the poor girl, and what would become of her poor mother!

“I will not tell,” said one of them, “for she will not believe us! ” – “But what shall we say to her mother,” cried another, “now that she has disappeared from before our eyes? ” – “It is thy fault, it is thy fault!” “Twas thou that asked her!” “No, ’twas thou.” So they fell to blaming each other, looking all the time at the great wall.

Meanwhile the mother was awaiting her daughter. She stood at the door of the house and watched the damsels coming. The damsels came weeping sore, and scarce dared to tell the poor woman what had befallen her daughter. The woman rushed to the great wall, her daughter was inside it and she herself was outside, and so they wept and wailed so long as either of them had a tear to flow.

In the midst of this great weeping the damsel fell asleep, and when she woke up next morning she saw a great door beside the wall. “Happen to me what may, if I am to perish, let me perish, but open this door I will!” – so she opened it. Beyond the door was a beautiful palace, the like of which is not to be seen even in dreams. This palace had a vast hall, and on the wall of this hall hung forty keys. The damsel took the keys and began opening the doors of all the rooms around her, and the first set of rooms was full of silver, and the second set full of gold, and the third set full of diamonds, and the fourth set full of emeralds – in a word, each set of rooms was full of stones more precious than the precious things of the rooms before it, so that the eyes of the damsel were almost blinded by their splendour.

She entered the fortieth room, and there, extended on the floor, was a beautiful Bey, with a fan of pearls beside him, and on his breast a piece of paper with these words written on it: “Whoever fans me for forty days and prays all that time by my side will find her Kismet!” Then the damsel thought of the little bird. So it was by the side of this sleeper that she was to meet her fate! So she made her ablutions, and, taking the fan in her hand, she sat down beside the Bey. Day and night she kept on fanning him, praying continually till the fortieth day was at hand. And on the morning of the last day she peeped out of the window and beheld a negro girl in front of the palace. Then she thought she would call this girl for a moment and ask her to pray beside the Bey, while she herself made her ablutions and took a little repose. So she called the negro girl and set her beside the Bey, that she might pray beside him and fan his face. But the damsel hastened away and made her ablutions and adorned herself, so that the Bey, when he awoke, might see his life’s Kismet at her best and rejoice at the sight.

Meanwhile the black girl read the piece of paper, and while the white damsel tarried the youth awoke. He looked about him, and scarcely did he see the black girl than he embraced her and called her his wife. The poor white damsel could scarce believe her own eyes when she entered the room; but the black girl, who was jealous of her, said to the Bey: “I, a Sultan’s daughter, am not ashamed to go about just as I am, and this chit of a serving-maid dares to appear before me arrayed so finely!” Then she chased her out of the room, and sent her to the kitchen to finish her work and boil and fry. The Bey was surprised, but he would not say a word, for the negro girl was his bride, while the other damsel was only a kitchen-wench.

Now the Feast of Bairam fell about this time, and as is the custom at such times, the Bey would fain have given gifts to them of his household. So he went to the negress and asked her what she would like on the Feast of Bairam. And the negress asked for a garment that never a needle had sewn and never scissors had cut. Then he went down into the kitchen and asked the damsel what she would like. “The stone-of-patience has a yellow colour, and the knife-of-patience has a brown handle, bring them both to me,” said the damsel. So the Bey went on his way, and got the negress her garment, but the stone-of-patience and the knife-of-patience he could find nowhere. What was he to do? – he could not return home without the gifts. So he got on board his ship.

The ship had only got half-way when suddenly it stopped short, and could neither go backwards nor forwards. The captain was terrified, and told his passengers that there was some one on board who had not kept his word, and that was why they could not get on. Then the Bey came forward, and said that he it was who had not kept his word. So they put the Bey ashore, that he might keep his promise and then return back to the ship. Then the Bey walked along the sea-shore, and from the sea-shore he came to a great valley, and he went wandering on and on till he stood beside a large spring. And he had scarce trodden on the stones around it when suddenly a huge negro stood before him and asked him what he wanted.

“The stone-of-patience is of a yellow colour and the knife-of-patience has a brown sheath, bring them both to me!” said the Bey to the negro. And the next moment both the stone and the knife were in his hand, and he came back to the ship, went on board, and returned home. He gave the garment to his wife, but the stone and the knife he put in the kitchen. But the Bey was curious to know what the damsel would do with them, so one evening he crept down into the kitchen and watched her.

When night approached she took the knife in her hand and placed the stone in front of her and began telling them her story. She told them what the little bird had thrice told her, and in what great terror both her mother and herself had fallen.

And while she was looking at the stone it suddenly began to swell, and its yellow hue hissed and bubbled as if there were life in it.

Then the damsel went on to say how she had wandered into the palace of the Bey, how she had prayed forty days beside him, and how she had entrusted the negress with the praying while she went to wash and dress herself.

And the yellow stone swelled again, and hissed and foamed as if it were about to burst.

Then the damsel told how the negress had deceived her, how instead of her the Bey had taken the negress to wife.

And all this time the yellow stone went on swelling and hissing and foaming as if there were a real living heart inside it, till suddenly it burst and turned to ashes.

Then the damsel took the little knife by the handle and said: “Oh, thou yellow patience-stone, thou wert but a stone, and yet thou couldst not endure that I, a tender little damsel, a poor little damsel, should thus be thrust out.” And with that she would have buried the knife in her breast, but the Bey rushed forward and snatched away the knife.

“Thou art my real true Kismet,” cried the youth, as he took her into the upper chamber in the place of the negress. But the treacherous negress they slew, and they sent for the damsel’s mother and all lived together with great joy.

And the little bird came sometimes and perched in the window of the palace, and sang his joyful lay. And this is what he sang: “Oh, little damsel, happy little damsel, that hast found thy Kismet!”

The Padishah Of The Forty Peris

From Turkish Fairy Tales And Folk Tales
By Ignacz Kunos, R. Nisbet Bain

In the old, old time, in the age of fairy tales, there was once the daughter of a Padishah who was as fair as the full moon, as slim as a cypress-tree, with eyes like coals, and hair like the night, and her eyebrows were like bows, and her eyeballs like the darts of archers. In the palace of the Padishah was a garden, and in the midst of the garden a fountain of water, and there the maid sat the livelong day sewing and stitching.

One day she put her ring upon her sewing-table, but scarcely had she laid it down when there came a little dove and took up the ring and flew away with it. Now the little dove was so lovely that the damsel at once fell in love with it. The next day the damsel took off her bracelet, and immediately the dove was there and flew off with that too. Then the damsel was so consumed with love that she neither ate nor drank, and could scarce tarry till the next day for the dove to come forth again. And on the third day she brought her sewing-table, put upon it her lace handkerchief, and placed herself close beside it. She waited for the dove, and waited and waited, and lo! all at once there he was right before her, and he caught up the handkerchief and away he flew. Then the damsel had scarce strength enough to rise up; weeping bitterly she went into the palace, and there she threw herself on the ground in a passion of grief.

Her old waiting-woman came running towards her: “O Sultana!” cried she, “wherefore dost thou weep so sorely? – what ails thee?”

“I am sick, my heart is sick!” replied the daughter of the Sultan, and with that she fell a-weeping and a-wailing worse than ever.

The old waiting-woman feared to tell of this new thing, for the damsel was the only daughter of the Padishah, but when she perceived how pale the damsel was growing, and how she wept and sobbed, the waiting-woman took her courage in both hands, went to the Padishah, and told him of his daughter’s woe. Then the Padishah was afraid, and went to see his daughter, and after him came many wise men and many cunning leeches, but not one of them could cure her sickness.

But on the next day the Padishah’s Vizier said to him: “The wise men and the leeches cannot help the damsel, the only medicine that can cure her lies hidden elsewhere.” Then he advised the Padishah to make a great bath, the water whereof should cure all sick people, but whoever bathed therein was to be made to tell the story of his life. So the Padishah caused the bath to be made, and proclaimed throughout the city that the water of this bath would give back his hair to the bald, and his hearing to the deaf, and his sight to the blind, and the use of his legs to the lame. Then all the people flocked in crowds to have a bath for nothing, and each one of them had to tell the story of his life and his ailment before he returned home again.

Now in that same city dwelt the bald-headed son of a bed-ridden mother, and the fame of the wonderworking bath reached their ears also. “Let us go too,” said the son; “perchance the pair of us shall be cured.”

“How can I go when I can’t stand on my legs?” groaned the old woman. – “Oh, we shall be able to manage that,” replied bald-pate, and taking his mother on his shoulders he set out for the bath.

They went on and on and on, through the level plains by the flowing river, till at last the son was tired and put his mother down upon the ground.

At that same instant a cock lighted down beside them with a big pitcher of water on its back, and hastened off with it. Then the young man became very curious to know why and whither this cock was carrying water; so after the bird he went. The cock went on till it came to a great castle, and at the foot of this castle was a little hole through which water was gurgling. Still the youth followed the cock, squeezed himself with the utmost difficulty through the hole, and no sooner had he begun to look about him than he saw before him a palace so magnificent that his eyes and mouth stood wide open with astonishment. No other human being had ever stood in the path that led up to this palace. All over it he went, through all the rooms, from vestibule to attic, admiring their splendour without ceasing, till weariness overcame him. “If only I could find a living being here!” said he to himself, and with that he hid himself in a large armoury, from whence he could easily pounce out upon any one who came.

He had not waited very long when three doves flew on to the window-sill, and after shivering there a little while turned into three damsels, all so beautiful that the young man did not know which to look at first.

“Alas, alas!” cried the three damsels, “we are late, we are late! Our Padishah will be here presently, and nothing is ready! “Then one seized a broom and brushed everything clean, the second spread the table, and the third fetched all manner of meats. Then they all three began to shiver once more, and three doves flew out of the window.

Meanwhile the bald-pate had grown very hungry, and he thought to himself: “Nobody sees me, why should I not take a morsel or two from that table?” So he stretched his hand out from his hiding-place, and was just about to touch the food with it when he got such a blow on the fingers that the place swelled up. He stretched out the other hand, and got a still greater blow on that. The youth was very frightened at this, and he had scarcely drawn back his hand when a white dove flew into the room. It fell a-shivering and immediately turned into a beautiful youth.

And now he went to a cupboard, opened it, and took out a ring, a bracelet, and a lace handkerchief. “Oh, lucky ring that thou art!” cried he, “to be allowed to sit on a beautiful finger; and oh, lucky bracelet, to be allowed to lie on a beautiful arm.” Then the beautiful youth fell a-sobbing, and dried his tears one by one on the lace handkerchief. Then he put them into the cupboard again, tasted one or two of the dishes, and laid him down to sleep.

Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales

by Ignácz Kúnos
Illustrations by Willy Pogany, [1913]

This book draws on the rich folklore of Turkey. Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales is long out of print, for reasons which will become clear below. For one thing, this edition had lavish production standards: it is in an oversize quarto format, with gold deckling, about ten inches in height. It has two-color printing on every page, and 16 tipped (i.e., hand-glued) four-color plates. On the used market, mint copies of this book normally run in the high three figures. We obtained a well-loved (and nicely rebound) copytext for this online edition through interlibrary loan from Northwestern University Library.

Title Page
The Creation
The Brother and Sister
The Three Orange Peris
The Rose-Beauty
The Silent Princess
Kara Mustafa the Hero
The Wizard-Dervish
The Fish-Peri
The Horse-Dew and the Witch
The Simpleton
The Magic Turban, the Magic Whip and the Magic Carpet
Mahomet, the Bald-head
The Storm Fiend
The Laughing Apple and the Weeping Apple
The Crow-Peri
The Forty Princes and the Seven-headed Dragon
Kamer-taj, the Moon-horse
The Bird of Sorrow
The Enchanted Pomegranate Branch and the Beauty
The Magic Hair-Pins
Patience-Stone and Patience-Knife
The Dragon-Prince and the Step-Mother
The Magic Mirror
The Imp of the Well
The Soothsayer
The Daughter of the Padishah of Kandahar
Shah Meram and Sultan Sade
The Wizard and his Pupil
The Padishah of the Thirty Peris
The Deceiver and the Thief
The Snake-Peri and the Magic Mirror
Little Hyacinth’s Kiosk
Prince Ahmed
The Liver
The Fortune Teller
Sister and Brother
Shah Jussuf
The Black Dragon and the Red Dragon
The Forlorn Princess
The Beautiful Helwa Maiden
Meaning of Turkish words used in the text

Some of the stories are borrowed from Turkish fairy tales and folk tales by Kúnos, Levetus, and Bain. Please purchase this book from https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/64807

Leave a Reply