folktales of Aarne-Thompson type 1558
selected and edited by
D. L. Ashliman
There was once a Brahman who had two wives. Like many Brahmans he lived by begging and was very clever at wheedling money out of people. One day the fancy took him to go to the marketplace dressed only in a small loincloth such as the poorest laborers wear and see how people treated him. So he set out, but on the road and in the marketplace and in the village no one salaamed to him or made way for him, and when he begged no one gave him alms.
He soon got tired of this and hastened home and, putting on his best pagri [turban] and coat and dhoti [waistcloth], went back to the marketplace. This time everyone who met him on the road salaamed low to him and made way for him, and every shopkeeper to whom he went gave him alms; and the people in the village who had refused before gladly made offerings to him.
The Brahman went home smiling to himself and took off his clothes and put them in a heap and prostrated himself before them three or four times, saying each time, "O source of wealth! O source of wealth! It is clothes that are honored in this world and nothing else."
No sooner did he enter the door than the master advanced to meet him, and saying, "Welcome, Nasreddin Hodja," with all imaginable honor and reverence placed him at the head of the table, and said, "Please to eat, Lord Hodja."
Forthwith the Hodja taking hold of one of the furs of his pelisse, said, "Welcome, my pelisse, please to eat, my lord."
The master, looking at the Hodja with great suprise, said, "What are you about?"
Whereupon the Hodja replied, "It is quite evident that all the honor paid is paid to my pelisse, so let it have some food too."
As Giufà was half a simpleton no one showed him any kindness, such as to invite him to his house or give him anything to eat. Once Giufà went to a farmhouse for something, and the farmers, when they saw him looking so ragged and poor, came near setting the dogs on him, and made him leave in a hurry.
When his mother heard it she procured for him a fine coat, a pair of breeches, and a velvet vest.
Giufà dressed up like an overseer, went to the same farmhouse, and then you should see what great ceremonies they made! They invited him to dine with them. While at the table all were very attentive to him. Giufà, on the one hand, filled his stomach, and on the other, put into the pockets, coat, and hat whatever was left over, saying: "Eat, my clothes, for you were invited!"
My garments once I gave in the field
to two land-marks made as men;
heroes they seemed when once they were clothed;
'tis the naked who suffer shame!
For a literary treatment (in the German language) of the folklore motif featured above, see the novella Kleider machen Leute by the Swiss novelist and poet Gottfried Keller (1819-90).
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Revised August 14, 2013.