Incredible story of a man’ who lived to 94 after going 60 YEARS without washing, then died after people convinced him to have a shower

Before his death, ‘Amou Haji’ was known as the ‘world’s dirtiest man’ – and with good reason.

At 94 years of age, the dirt-covered Iranian – from Dejgah village, in Fars province – had gone more than 65 years without a shower.

He lived in an open brick shack, survived off a diet of rotting porcupine, and developed a habit of smoking animal dung and drinking water from a rusty oil can.

He explained his eccentric way of life as the result of undisclosed ’emotional setbacks in youth’, claiming to have become averse to washing, fresh food and drink, fearing it would make him sick or bring him bad luck.

The tragic irony is that, in the end, it was only after concerned locals ‘took him to a bathroom to wash’ that he ‘fell ill and finally… gave up his life’, the IRNA news agency reported upon his death on October 23, 2022.

Before his death, 'Amou Haji' was known as the 'world's dirtiest man' - and with good reason. At 94 years of age, the dirt-covered Iranian (pictured in a series of photos taken from 2018) - from Dejgah village, in Fars province - had gone more than 65 years without a shower

Before his death, ‘Amou Haji’ was known as the ‘world’s dirtiest man’ – and with good reason. At 94 years of age, the dirt-covered Iranian (pictured in a series of photos taken from 2018) – from Dejgah village, in Fars province – had gone more than 65 years without a shower
Amou Haji lived in an open brick shack, survived off a diet of rotting porcupine, and developed a habit of smoking animal dung and drinking water from a rusty oil can

Amou Haji lived in an open brick shack, survived off a diet of rotting porcupine, and developed a habit of smoking animal dung and drinking water from a rusty oil can
Amou Haji smokes four cigarettes at once as he sits on the ground on the outskirts of the village of Dezhgah in southwestern Iran in 2018

Amou Haji smokes four cigarettes at once as he sits on the ground on the outskirts of the village of Dezhgah in southwestern Iran in 2018

‘Amou Haji’ – an affectionate name given to elderly people – lived an extraordinary, and certainly unique, life on his own.

The specifics of his younger life are less well known, but in older age it was clear he had become venerated by his peers.

Amou Haji (meaning Uncle Haji, with Haji being an honorific for people who have completed the annual Hajj pilgrimage to the holy site of Mecca) was believed to have gone as long as 67 years without washing with soap or water before his death.

It was locals who claimed he had undergone ’emotional setbacks’ in his youth, causing his revulsion towards hygiene.

When the world took interest in his unique manner of living, reports speculated as to whether he had been disappointed in love or feared illness.

In any case, Amou Haji defied the odds to live more than nine decades on his unusual and stomach-turning diet of roadkill.

His favourite food was rotten porcupine, and he would choose to drink five litres of water a day from a rusty oil can which he collected from nearby puddles.

Rare insight into his hermit lifestyle showed how Amou lived and would sleep in a hole in the ground, until concerned neighbours built him a brick shack.

The rudimentary shack kept in touch with Amou’s simple aesthetic, left open and surrounded by mounds of stones and dirt that had built up over the years.

Perhaps in a gesture of goodwill to those who built it for him, he continued to spend his time between his hole and the brick shack, as reported by the BBC.

In Iran’s cool winter months, he was known to wear an old, decaying war helmet to keep his head warm.

Feeling like they needed to help him in some way, locals built Mr Haji an open brick shack to sleep in, where he is pictured in front of in 2018

Feeling like they needed to help him in some way, friends built Mr Haji an open brick shack to sleep in, where he is pictured in front of in 2018
Haji sits at the entrance of an open brick shack that the villagers constructed for him

Haji sits at the entrance of an open brick shack that the villagers constructed for him
He explained his eccentric way of life as the result of undisclosed 'emotional setbacks in youth', claiming to have become averse to washing, fresh food and drink, fearing it would make him sick or bring him bad luck

He explained his eccentric way of life as the result of undisclosed ’emotional setbacks in youth’, claiming to have become averse to washing, fresh food and drink, fearing it would make him sick or bring him bad luck

To keep his hair under control, Amou was claimed to occasionally singe the ends with fire, unswayed by conventional hairdressing.

His skin was covered in soot and pus on account of his refusal to bathe.

Amou passed his time smoking – a lot.

Video showed how the unusual character would alternate between smoking four cigarettes at a time and smoking animal faeces from an old pipe.

Photos from 2018 show the Iranian spoking multiple cigarettes at once.

Speaking to the Tehran Times in a rare 2014 interview, he revealed how his favourite meal was porcupine – but that he was quite happy to subsist on roadkill.

Mr Haji had spent most of his life in Dejgah village in the province of Fars in southern Iran where he had no wife and apparently no family.

Despite his aversion to not washing, eating rotten meat and drinking dirty water, his health remained robust until shortly before his death in 2022.

Earlier that year, a team of doctors – led by Dr Gholamreza Molavi professor at the Tehran School of Public Health – reportedly ran a series of tests on Haji, including tests for infections such as HIV and hepatitis.

Dr Molavi was astonished to find that Haji had not suffered from any bacteria or parasites apart from Trichinosis, a parasite that comes from eating raw meat and causes a common infection.

But for Haji, he did not suffer from any symptoms.

Dr Molova concluded that Haji was able to remain healthy for so many years because he had developed a strong immune system after decades of living in extremely harsh conditions.

Mr Haji had spent most of his life in Dejgah village in the province of Fars in southern Iran where he had no wife and apparently no family

Mr Haji had spent most of his life in Dejgah village in the province of Fars in southern Iran where he had no wife and apparently no family
Amou Haji liked to smoke animal faeces out of an old pipe, rather than tobacco. Pictured: Haji smoking from his waterpipe near his home in 2018

Amou Haji liked to smoke animal faeces out of an old pipe, rather than tobacco. Pictured: Haji smoking from his waterpipe near his home in 2018

There was much fascination around Amou Haji.

Having travelled to his shack, author and BBC journalist Claudia Hammond described him as having a face and beard caked in ‘mustard-brown earth’.

As a result, she said, he ‘blends in’ to the ‘barren landscape of southern Iran’ and when he sits still, he ‘resembles a rock’.

He was photographed a number of times, and a short documentary film titled ‘The Strange Life of Amou Haji’ was made about his life in 2013.

And while the unwashed man is what draws the eye in the photographs of Amou Haji, looking past him, you can’t help but notice the stunning landscape in which he liveed: bright blue skies, open fields and mountains along the horizon.

‘For all I know he is luckier than many of us,’ the journalist behind the Tehran Times report wrote after meeting Amou Haji in 2014.

‘His roof is the starred sky, his little shack is paid in full without worrying about monthly mortgages, his pillow and quilt is the soft cushion of the earth.

‘He goes through days without worrying about overdue gas and electricity bills for his breaths will do the job to warm up his shelter during cold nights.

‘Instead of having a patio for his house, he has the entire horizon set before him.’

They added: ‘Amou Haji jan, thank you for showing us how poor we live. The earth belongs to you, so live freely and enjoy!’

Although many were concerned for the man, he once said that attempts to care for him made him sad. In one instance, a group of young men attempted to forcibly give him a shower, but he was able to escape.

Despite his reluctance, the locals were finally able to convinced him to bathe following reports that he was lonely and that not washing made it difficult for him to make friends and find a female companion.

'For all I know he is luckier than many of us,' the journalist behind the Tehran Times report wrote after meeting Amou Haji in 2014

‘For all I know he is luckier than many of us,’ the journalist behind the Tehran Times report wrote after meeting Amou Haji in 2014

A few months later, he passed away at the age of 94.

It’s disputed as to who holds the world record for the longest time without showering. Several people put their names forward for the unwanted title.

One of the previous record holders for the longest time between washing was Kailash Singh, a 67-year-old from India.

Mr Singh claimed to have not showered in 39 years. But at over 60 years without bathing, if Mr Haji’s claim is true, he easily takes the record.

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