Hoca Nasreddin


The pose chosen for Nasreddin – he is seated on a low stool with legs crossed – immediately points towards the character’s Oriental or Asian origin. This characteristic is reinforced with a plain wrap gown, high boots with their tips curved upward, and headgear made of a piece of cloth, while the temperamental gesture of his raised arms with palms turned outward and fingers set apart from each other signals Nasreddin’s buoyancy and hints at ironic undertones. The cheerful, smiling face with Oriental features is impersonal, as the face of a generalized folklore character should be. Due to the figure’s appearance, the statue can be easily transplanted into different ages and spaces, and fitted into “eternal” narratives. The sensation of a lively entertaining dialogue is born not only from specific visual details (facial and body gestures) but also from the nuances of the figure’s composition – the nervously-raised arms, the slightly-inclined torso, a slight asymmetry of the flexed knees, a scarcely-noticeable turn of the head, and the look directed at an unknown listener. The image is paradoxically teetering on the fine line between the mundane and symbolic, between idiocy and grandeur, naivety and philosophical wisdom, flippancy and harsh criticism. Here irony is inseparable from self-irony, and this impression is reinforced with such details as the little bird pecking at the head, contrasting colours, and the stylized base faintly resembling a minbar (a stepped pulpit for delivering sermons) in a Friday mosque.

 

 

Brief annotations to the image

HOCA NASREDDIN is a folklore character, a sage and jokester featured in many anecdotes with satirical elements and fairy tales in the countries of the Near and Middle East and Central Asia. The popular lore places this champion of justice, trouble-maker and wise cracker in different historical contexts and eras.