Khoja Nasreddin with a Buddhist begging bowl: Mongolian versions of the Turkic folk trickster
(63rd Annual Meeting Ulaanbaatar, 2021)
A sage named Khoja Nasreddin is famous throughout Eurasia. The Europeans got to know this character thanks to the Ottoman Empire. At the same time, stories about Nasreddin (known by various names) are significantly popular among ethnic groups living in the XUAR of the PRC, especially among the Uyghurs. Neighbors of the Uyghurs – The Oirats of Xinjiang also have their own version of Khoja Nasreddin, called Argachi. Many stories about Argachi are direct parallels to international stories about Nasreddin. In all stories, the antagonism between the commoner Argachi and representatives of the upper strata of society is emphasized.
We make an assumption on the genesis of this character during the period of the Dzungar Khanate existence (mid-17th – mid-18th centuries), when the rulers of the state, in order to weaken the influence of the aristocracy, practiced attracting commoners to resolve administrative disputes. In Khalkha and other regions of Mongolia there is a folk character close to Argachi – the Badarchi – wandering Buddhist monk, who holds a badir-a (begging bowl). The image of Badarchi is much more blurred than the image of Arghachi.
In my report I will try to consider how the folklore image changes with increasing distance from the point of direct contact between the Turkic and Mongolian peoples.