This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2012) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
A tear catcher or tear bottle is a bottle to catch tears, made from colored blown glass. The tear catcher has allegedly been used in funerary ceremonies, processions, relationship contexts, and others, though there is no evidence that either Egyptian, Greeks, Romans or Victorians used them to catch tears.
The myth of the ancient origins of the tear catcher was inspired by the biblical book of Psalms where David says of God "You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle." Psalm 56:8 These were widely used in Ancient Persia during funeral processions as they believed the dead should not be mourned and have progressed to the next stage of life. Thus a tear shed by those that remain would appear as obstacles on the souls passage from the material world to the next. While small bottles have been found in Greek and Roman tombs, chemical analysis show they contained oils and essences, not tears. Small bottles from Victorian era "were for scented vinegars, smelling salts, perfumes and toilet waters to scent handkerchiefs, many of the little bottles were suspended from chatelaines which hung at the waist." People in mourning during the Victorian era wore cameos and lockets designed to hold hair from the deceased; however, no mention is made of tear catchers or lachrymatory bottles.
Supposedly, in Ancient Rome, analysis points to mourners filling glass bottles with tears, and then placing them in tombs as a symbol of their respect for the deceased. What significance they held is disputed between in a number of meanings and usages including remorse, guilt, love and grief. The more tears collected in tear bottles meant the deceased was more important.
The bottles used during the Roman era were lavishly decorated and measured up to four inches in height. However, chemical analysis of the contents of many bottles believed to be lachrymatories proved them to instead contain nothing more than perfume or unguents.
"Lachrymatory bottles" are sold in shops today as small perfume and ornamental bottles.
- "Bible Gateway passage: Psalm 56:8 - New Revised Standard Version". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2018-03-22.
- Example of a tear catcher.
- Debunking the Myth of 19th-Century/ ‘Tear Catchers’