Breaking Wind: Legendary Farts

folktales about flatulance
selected and edited by

D. L. Ashliman

© 2000-2014

Contents

  1. The Historic Fart (1001 Nights).

  2. The Hodja as Envoy to the Kurds (Turkey).

  3. How Till Eulenspiegel Became a Furrier's Apprentice (Germany).

  4. Till Eulenspiegel and the Innkeeper at Cologne (Germany).

  5. Deceiving the Devil (Germany).

  6. Timmermann's Fart (Germany).


Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

The Historic Fart

1001 Nights

They recount that in the city of Kaukaban in Yemen there was a man named Abu Hasan of the Fadhli tribe who left the Bedouin life and became a townsman and the wealthiest of merchants. His wife died while both were young, and his friends pressed him to marry again.

Weary of their pressure, Abu Hasan entered into negotiations with the old women who procure matches, and married a woman as beautiful as the moon shining over the sea. To the wedding banquet he invited kith and kin, ulema and fakirs, friends and foes, and all of his acquaintances.

The whole house was thrown open to feasting: There were five different colors of rice, and sherbets of as many more; kid goats stuffed with walnuts, almonds, and pistachios; and a young camel roasted whole. So they ate and drank and made merry.

The bride was displayed in her seven dresses -- and one more -- to the women, who could not take their eyes off her. At last the bridegroom was summoned to the chamber where she sat enthroned. He rose slowly and with dignity from his divan; but in do doing, for he was over full of meat and drink, he let fly a great and terrible fart.

In fear for their lives, all the guests immediately turned to their neighbors and talked aloud, pretending to have heard nothing.

Mortified, Abu Hasan turned away from the bridal chamber and as if to answer a call of nature. He went down to the courtyard, saddled his mare, and rode off, weeping bitterly through the night.

In time he reached Lahej where he found a ship ready to sail for India; so he boarded, arriving ultimately at Calicut on the Malabar coast. Here he met with many Arabs, especially from Hadramaut, who recommended him to the King. This King (who was a Kafir) trusted him and advanced him to the captaincy of his bodyguard. He remained there ten years, in peace and happiness, but finally was overcome with homesickness. His longing to behold his native land was like that of a lover pining for his beloved; and it nearly cost him his life.

Finally he sneaked away without taking leave and made his way to Makalla in Hadramaut. Here he donned the rags of a dervish. Keeping his name and circumstances a secret, he set forth on foot for Kaukaban. He endured a thousand hardships of hunger, thirst, and fatigue; and braved a thousand dangers from lions, snakes, and ghouls.

Drawing near to his old home, he looked down upon it from the hills with brimming eyes, and said to himself, "They might recognize me, so I will wander about the outskirts and listen to what people are saying. May Allah grant that they do not remember what happened."

He listened carefully for seven nights and seven days, until it happened that, as he was sitting at the door of a hut, he heard the voice of a young girl saying, "Mother, tell me what day was I born on, for one of my companions wants to tell my fortune."

The mother answered, "My daughter, you were born on the very night when Abu Hasan farted."

No sooner had the listener heard these words than he rose up from the bench and fled, saying to himself, "Verily my fart has become a date! It will be remembered for ever and ever.

He continued on his way, returning finally to India, where he remained in self exile until he died. May the mercy of Allah be upon him!




The Hodja as Envoy to the Kurds

Turkey

The Hodja was sent to the Kurds as an envoy. Immediately upon his arrival he was invited to a banquet. He put on his fur coat and went. In the middle of the conversation he suddenly let a fart.

They said to him, "It is scandalous to fart like that."

"What?" he replied. "How was I to know that the Kurds would understand when I farted in Turkish?"




How Till Eulenspiegel Became a Furrier's Apprentice

Germany

It was mid winter when Till Eulenspiegel arrived at Ascherleben. Times were hard, but finally he found a furrier who was willing to take on an apprentice, and he was put to work sewing pelts. Not being accustomed to the smell of the curing hides, he said, "Pew! Pew! You are as white as chalk, but stink like dung!"

The furrier said, "If you don't like the smell, then why are you a furrier's apprentice? It's a natural smell. It's only wool."

Eulenspiegel said nothing, but thought, "One bad thing can drive another bad thing away." Then he let such a sour fart that the furrier and his wife had to stop working.

The furrier said, "If you have to fart like that, then go out into the courtyard. There you can fart as much as you like."

Eulenspiegel answered, "A fart is more natural and healthier than the stench of your sheep pelts."

The furrier said, "Healthy or not, if you want to fart, then go outside."

Eulenspiegel said, "Master, it would do no good, because farts don't like the cold. They are used to being in a warm place. That's why if you let a fart it always rushes for your nose. It goes from one warm place to another."

The furrier said nothing, for he could see that Eulenspiegel knew nothing of the furrier trade and was a rogue at that. And he sent him on his way.




Till Eulenspiegel and the Innkeeper at Cologne

Germany

Eulenspiegel journeyed to Cologne, where he stayed at an inn for two or three days without letting anyone know who he was. During this time he noticed that the innkeeper was a rogue, and he thought, "The guests will not be well off where the innkeeper is a rogue. You should find another place to stay."

That evening he told the innkeeper that he would be looking for another place to stay. The latter showed the other guests to their beds, but not Eulenspiegel, who then said, "Sir, I paid just as much for my lodging as the others did, but you showed them to their beds. Am I supposed to sleep here on this bench?"

The innkeeper said, "Look! Here is a pair of sheets!" and he let a fart. Then he let another one and said, "Look! This is your pillow!" Then for a third time he let one, until it stank, and he said, "Look! Now you have an entire bed! Use them until morning, and then lay them in a pile for me, so I can find everything together!"

Eulenspiegel said nothing, but thought, "Look! Take note that one rogue deserves another rogue." And that night he slept on the bench.

Now the innkeeper had a nice folding table. Eulenspiegel opened up the leaves, shit a large pile on the table, and then closed it up again. He got up early in the morning, went to the innkeeper's room and said, "Sir, I thank you for the night's lodging." Then letting a large fart, he said, "Those are the feathers from your bed. I laid the pillow, the sheets, and the covers all together in a pile."

The innkeeper said, "Sir, that is good. I will look after them as soon as I get up."

Eulenspiegel said, "Do that! Just look around. You'll find them all right!" And with that he left the inn.

The innkeeper expected many guests for the noon meal, and he said that they should eat at the nice folding table. When he opened up the table, an evil stink flew up his nose. Seeing the dung, he said, "He gives what was earned. He paid for a fart with shit."

Then the innkeeper sent for Eulenspiegel, because he wanted to get to know him better. Eulenspiegel did indeed come back, and he and the innkeeper appreciated one another's tricks so much, that from this time forth Eulenspiegel got a good bed.




Deceiving the Devil

Germany

There were once three happy-go-lucky fellows who made a pact with the devil, promising their souls to him on a certain date if he would make them rich. A further condition was that he would have to grant them one last wish when he came to get them. The devil agreed to this.

The first man hauled gigantic stone blocks down from a mountain from morning until evening, and when his time was up and the devil came to get him, he told the devil to replace all the stones back on the mountain within one day. But the devil did not need a day; he finished the task in five minutes and took him away.

Then the devil came for the second fellow, who following the pact had gone immediately to a tavern where he joyfully spent every day eating and drinking to his heart's content, for he had all the money he could use. When he saw the devil coming he was full of good cheer and made no sign of getting ready to leave. The latter told him to make haste, for his time was up.

The fellow said, "Now, now, I still have some time. My hour hasn't come yet."

Walking back and forth in his room he finally broke wind mightily and then said to the devil, "Bring that back to me!"

The devil was not able to do this, and he left in an sour mood.

I cannot tell you what the third fellow did to defeat the devil. If you want to know, you'll have to ask the old tavern keeper at Steina. By now it will have come back to him.

Oral tradition from Steina.




Timmermann's Fart

Germany

Once a carpenter made a pact with the devil, and when his time was up, the devil came to him and wanted to take him away. However, the carpenter told him that he had to fulfill one last request for him, and the devil agreed to this. With that the carpenter broke wind mightily and then told the devil to bring it back to him. But the devil was not able to do this, however much he tried. A whirlwind is just the devil flying along behind the carpenter's fart. For this reason a whirlwind is called simply "Timmerman's Fart." [Timmermann is Low German for carpenter.]

Oral tradition from Werlte.




Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

Revised March 18, 2013.