MY FATHER WAS WIDELY KNOWN, during the final decades of the last century and the beginning of this one, as an ashokh, that is, a poet and narrator, under the nickname of ‘Adash’; and although he was a professional ashokh but only an amateur, he was in his day very popular among the inhabitants of many countries of Transcaucasia and Asia Minor.
Ashokh was the name given everywhere in Asia and in the Balkan peninsula to the local bards, who composed, recited or sang poems, songs, legends, folk-tales, and all sorts of stories.
In spite of he fact that these people of the past who devoted themselves to such a career were in most cases illiterate, having not even been to an elementary school in their childhood, they possessed such a memory and such alertness of mind as would now be considered remarkable and even phenomenal.
They not only by knew by heart innumerable and often very lengthy narratives and poems, and sang from memory all their various melodies, but when improvising in their own, so to say, subjective way, they hit upon the appropriate rhymes and changes of rhythm for their verses with astounding rapidity.
At the present time men with such abilities are no longer to be found anywhere.
Even when was very young, it was being said that they were becoming scarcer and scarcer.
I personally saw a number of these ashokhs who were considered famous in those days, and their faces were strongly impressed on my memory.