Last updated on November 19th, 2023 at 10:15 pm
Most people have experienced a time in their lives when showering might not have been the top priority. It could be because of a lack of time, forgetfulness, or just a lack of access to bathing facilities.
A few days between bathing isn’t odd at all. It’s when you get up to a week or more in time that things start to get a little worrisome…and smelly.
But what about if you didn’t bathe for a year? Or even 67 entire years?
This was the way of life for an Iranian man known as Amou Haji, also known as the “World’s Dirtiest Man”.
For over half a century, Amou Haji lived as a hermit that did not bathe, feasted on roadkill, and smoked animal dung from a pipe. He may sound like some sort of urban legend, but Amou Haji was very real.
Amou Haji, the World’s Dirtiest Man
Amou Haji (August 20, 1928-October 23, 2022) lived all of his life in the village of Dez Gah in Iran. His real name isn’t known, and his moniker, Amou Haji, is actually a nickname that translates to “old timer”.
Not much is known about the early life of Amou Haji, but he proclaimed that he began his life of being a hermit after suffering a heartbreak. Haji lived in a cinder block shack on the edge of town, but he was still well known by the local population, who didn’t seem to mind his presence.
His reason for not bathing was a fear that washing with soap and water could possibly cause disease. This belief was so strong that he didn’t bathe for over 60 years, leaving his skin caked in dirt, dust, and even pus.
Haji was more of a curiosity than anything–dirty, but well-meaning. Once a group of younger men attempted to force him to bathe, but Haji successfully escaped without a drop of water touching him.
Amou Haji was a very recognizable figure around the village. After decades upon decades of not washing, his skin was an almost uniform gray-brown, and his hair was a similar shade. To take care of his grooming, he was known to burn off his head and beard hair with fire.
Haji lived to be an incredible 94 years old, and after his death, it was proclaimed that he was in good health despite his lifestyle.
What Did Amou Haji Eat and Drink?
His fear of bathing wasn’t the only thing that set Amou Haji apart from the rest of society. His diet and hobbies were also odd–and disgusting–enough to garner attention.
Haji might have been afraid of water when it came to washing or bathing, but that wasn’t the case for drinking. He often drank 5 liters of water a day out of an unwashed, filthy tin can to stay hydrated.
As far as food, his eating habits may have been even worse than his bathing habits. Amou Haji would refuse handouts of fresh food and water but instead preferred to find his own.
Haji’s found food often took the form of roadkill, and it didn’t matter how rotten the meat was. He would always eat it raw, and it’s said that his favorite meal of choice was porcupine.
Haji also loved to smoke. He had an old pipe that he favored, but it wasn’t tobacco that he packed it with. Instead, Amou Haji would put animal dung into his pipe to smoke. He liked cigarettes, too, and had been pictured smoking multiple of them at a time.
Amazingly, all the dirty water and rotten meat didn’t make Amou Haji sick. He was healthy up until his death.
What might have actually made him ill was his first bath in ages. It was only a few months after this bath that he passed away.
Did Bathing Kill Amou Haji?
After the first attempt at forcing Amou Haji to bathe, the villagers mostly left him alone about his washing habits. But at the age of 94, some villagers used a kinder approach and were able to escort Amou Haji to a proper bathroom where he could have his first bath in 67 years.
This offer was well-meaning, and there was no ill will involved. In fact, the people of the village had done many small things over the years to help improve Haji’s life, including building him his small cinder block shack.
After his bath, little changed for Haji. He still lived in his shack, ate roadkill, and drank dirty water. But soon he became ill, and his health began to decline.
There’s no way to know for sure if the bath killed Amou Haji, or if it was just bad timing. Either way, a few months went by, and Amou Haji passed away in his home. At the time of his death, Haji was 94 years old.
Before his death, tests had been carried out on Haji by professor of parasitology Dr. Gholamreza Molavi at Tehran University of Medical Sciences School of Public Health to discover the key to his longevity and good health despite his rough lifestyle.
The doctor concluded that Amou Haji could have developed a very strong immune system after living in such unsanitary conditions for so many years. This strong immune system kept him healthy even in the most unbelievable of circumstances.
Amou Haji did have one ailment, though. At some point in his life, Haji had acquired trichinosis, a parasitic food-borne disease that is usually found in uncooked meat.
Considering Haji’s predilection towards eating roadkill, it wasn’t the least bit surprising to discover that he had trichinosis, even if it appeared to have not affected Haji’s life in any meaningful way.
All in all, Amou Haji was just a harmless man that had no interest in ever bathing. We aren’t sure if his first and final bath in 67 years is what killed him, but what we do know is that he lived a very long and interesting life.
“‘World’s dirtiest man’ Amou Haji dies after first shower in 67 years”
“World’s dirtiest man’ dies in Iran at 94 a few months after first wash”