Tear Bottle History

Tear Bottle History
Roman Lachrymatory 100AD

The tear bottle tradition has endured for more than 3,000 years. Tear bottles, or lachrymatory, were common in ancient middle Eastern societies. Even today they are still produced in that region. Tear bottles were prevalent in ancient Roman times, when mourners filled small glass vials or cups with tears and placed them in burial tombs as symbols of love and respect. Sometimes women were even paid to cry into "cups", as they walked along the mourning procession. Those crying the loudest and producing the most tears received the most compensation, or so the legend goes. The more anguish and tears produced, the more important and valued the deceased person was perceived to be.

Gold Banded Roma Style
In the Old Testament of the Bible, a reference to collecting tears in a bottle appears in Psalm 56:8 when David prays to God, "Thou tellest my wanderings, put thou my tears in Thy bottle; are they not in Thy Book?" David is refering to the belief that God keeps a record of human pain and suffering and always remembers our sorrows.

Tear bottles reappeared during the Victorian period of the 19th century, when those mourning the loss of loved ones would collect their tears in bottles ornately decorated with silver and pewter. Special stoppers allowed the tears to evaporate. When the tears were gone, the mourning period would end.

In some American Civil War stories, women were said to have cried into tear bottles and saved them until their husbands returned. Their collected tears would show the men how much they were loved and missed.

In current music and literature, tear bottles have once again been romanticized. References to the power of the tear bottle tradition occur in contemporary music videos, novels, and poetry. You can learn more about the history of lachrymatory tear bottles at www.lachrymatory.com.

"Truth and tears clear the way to a deep and lasting friendship."
- Mariede Svign


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