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Monument of Itar Pejo in old town of Prilep, North Macedonia.
Monument of Hitar Petar in front of the House of Humour and Satire in Gabrovo, Bulgaria.

Hitar Petar or Itar Pejo (Itar Petar) (Bulgarian: Хитър Петър, Macedonian: Итар Пејо or Итар Петар,[1][2][3] meaning "Sly Peter"[4]) is a character of Bulgarian and Macedonian folklore.[5]

He is a poor village farmhand, but possesses remarkable slyness, wit and wile. He is often presented as the "typical Bulgarian" in Bulgaria and the "typical Macedonian" in North Macedonia.[6] He is the perpetual antagonist of either the rich nobles, clerics and money lenders or the "typical Ottoman" — Nasreddin, whom he always manages to outwit. He is therefore regarded as a strictly positive figure and a hero of the common folk. According to a different folklore narratives he is either from Rousse area, according to another from Haskovo area, according to a third from Gabrovo area, according to a fourth from Prilep area, and so on, but in general, he is simply an imagined folk hero.[7]

As a character, Hitar Petar first appeared in the 16th–17th century, when most of the Balkans were still under Ottoman rule. Tales on his deeds are present in the folklore of many regions. His name appeared for the first time in written records in the late 1850s. Petko Slaveikov wrote in 1858 about Hitar Petar. In 1862 Kuzman Shapkarev recorded from Metodi Kusev a long tale about Itar Petar.[8] In 1869 Dobri Voynikov used his name as own nickname, and between 1870 and 1874 Dimitar Panichkov published the newspaper "Hitar Petar". Marko Cepenkov sent in 1870 to Petko Slaveykov a lot of proverbs about Itar Pejo. In 1873 Iliya Blaskov published in Rousse a small booklet with the anecdotes about Hitar Petar. Slaveykov, Vasil Cholakov and Dimitar Manchov also recorded folk tales about Hitar Peter at that time.[9] His feats were adapted to an opera in 1967 and two comedy films, Nastradin Hodzha i Hitar Petar of 1939 and Hitar Petar of 1960.

There are many prose and poetry in which Itar Pejo appears as the main hero, and it was a common theme for Macedonian humor and cartoonists. In 1977, MRT recorded a TV series, according to the script by Mile Nedelkovski. There are over thirty stories about Itar Pejo, which firstly collected the writer Stale Popov in the collection "Itar Pejo". In 1966, Slavko Janevski published the poetry collection "The Gospel of Itar Pejo", which contains the songs "Itar Pejo for One Another" and "Svetovrazha".[10]

Hitar Petar is similar to other characters of European and Oriental folklore, most notably Nasreddin of Islamic folklore, the German Till Eulenspiegel,[11] the Flemish Thyl Ulenspiegel, the Hungarian Csalóka Péter and the Jewish Hershele Ostropoler.

In North Macedonia, it is thought that Itar Pejo is a native of the region of Mariovo, and a monument to the character was built in Prilep.[12]

Hitar Petar Nunatak on Trinity Peninsula in Antarctica is named after the folklore character.[13]


  1. ^ Сборник от български народни умотворения, Том 2: Приказки и предания, Съставител: Кузман Шапкарев, 148. Приказки и предания. Итар Петар. Под редакцията на Тодор Моллов. Варна: LiterNet, 2008.
  2. ^ Александар Спасов, Георги Сталев, Tradition in Macedonian Literature, Macedonian Pen, 1974, p. 16.
  3. ^ Tomé Sazdov, Macedonian Folk Literature,Macedonian Heritage Collection, translated by Synthia Keesan, Macedonian Review Editions, 1987, p. 167.
  4. ^ Marcel Cornis-Pope, John Neubauer as ed., History of the Literary Cultures of East-Central Europe: Junctures and disjunctures in the 19th and 20th centuries, Volume 2, John Benjamins Publishing, 2006, ISBN 9027293406, p. 238.
  5. ^ Evguenia Davidova as ed., Wealth in the Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Balkans: A Socio-Economic History, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016, ISBN 0857726056, p. 237.
  6. ^ "Until the late 19th century both outside observers and those Bulgaro-Macedonians who had an ethnic consciousness believed that their group, which is now two separate nationalities, comprised a single people, the Bulgarians." "The Early Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Sixth to the Late Twelfth Century," For more see: John Van Antwerp Fine, University of Michigan Press, 1991, ISBN 0472081497, pp. 36–37
  7. ^ Величко Вълчев, „Хитър Петър и Настрадин Ходжа. Из историята на българския народен анекдот“, Българска академия на науките. София, 1975, стр. 350.
  8. ^ Стефанов, Петър (2015) Дом, основан върху камък, Хитър Петър и българската смехова култура; стр. 157; сп. Любословие, 2015, кн. 15, ШУ „Епископ Константин Преславски; с. 154-161.
  9. ^ Татяна Цанкова, Хитър Петър – македонец или българин? Анекдоти за Хитър Петър в репертоара на съвременни разказвачи на фолклорен хумор, в Народна култура на балканджиите, том 8, Ангел Гоев - съставител, Фабер, 2010 ISBN 9789544002947, стр. 224-230.
  10. ^ "Some stories about Itar Pejo". Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  11. ^ "Seven Folktales From Central Europe". University of Calgary. Retrieved 2008-09-29.
  12. ^ "Прилеп ќе гради споменик на Итар Пејо" (in Macedonian). Дневник. Retrieved 2008-09-29.
  13. ^ SCAR Composite Gazetteer of Antarctica

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