A Village Remembered: The Armenians of Habousi - The Compatriotic Union of Habousi

Chapter 12:

Interesting Remedies

The climate in Habousi was healthy. The village was known for the healthiness and longevity of its dwellers, who commonly worked until eighty years old.

There were no licensed physicians in Habousi. In case of serious sickness an elderly person, who was considered a healer, especially of colds and pneumonia, was called. He put his hand on the patient’s forehead or belly to see if the patient was feverish. As a cure the healer soaked a piece of cloth in vinegar and tied it on the patient’s forehead. When a patient experienced so much pain he could not open his mouth to talk, the healer would strip him of all clothing and cover him with boiled cloths dipped in vinegar. These cloths were changed daily. After two weeks the patient would be able to speak.

There were also specialists of animal diseases. When an ox or a cow ate a poisonous grass, it would swell up and fall down. The specialist would then cut the back of the animal to let the blood out.

People of Kharpert had many sores. A sore called daroug (boil) was intolerable. Old women were usually the preparers of the medicine for that sore. Experienced old women would collect grasses, leaves, and flowers from the fields, mix them together, and crush them. They would then mix the mixture with the marrow of a sheep bone and keep it in a container. This mixture would cure sores on faces.

Another medicine was prepared by putting young mice in a container, pouring olive oil on them, covering the container, and setting it aside for months. The mice totally dissolved in the liquid, and the mixture would cure almost any cut.

One day a Turk, unable to talk, came asking for a cure for his swollen throat. An old women found dog’s dirt, crushed it into dust, filled it in a straw, and blew it down the throat of the patient who was not at all aware of what went down his throat. Two days later the Turk came to thank the woman, for he was cured.

Villagers took patients to Gatnaghpur (milk) Spring to bathe them if they had a fever. If the fever continued, they would take a large piece of cloth, wet it in vinegar, add some chopped onions to it, and place it on the foreheads of the patients. A spoonful of cotton oil was the cure for constipation. If the constipation continued, a barber would be invited to take some blood from the arm of the afflicted person and to rub ashes of burned cloth on the cut.

Habousetzies also used leeches as a blood treatment.

The blind and crippled were reared by the village. Small pox was the main cause of blindness.

When the condition of a patient seemed hopeless, villagers called the priest. The priest read from the Bible and prayed over the dying person. The sexton washed the corpse. If the deceased was a female, women did the bathing, then shrouded the body to the shoulders. The body was then placed in a coffin that belonged to the church, and the funeral rites were performed on the day following the church services. The coffin was then carried to the cemetery where the funeral services concluded. The shrouded body was taken out of the coffin, placed in the grave, and covered with soil.

On All Souls’ Day (memorial) all family members went to the cemetery where the priest performed a mass.

The priest did not receive a salary. He was compensated at Christmas and Easter, and on other occasions.