Art of Sorrow: Tear Catchers

velvet lacrimosa

Tear Catchers or Lachrymatory are bottles that are designed for catching tears (hence the name). They are can be worn like a necklace, maybe to ensure that to tears are lost or just a plain bottle. It’s a tradition that began about 3,000 years. During the Roman era mourners would fill up their vials or bottles with tears and, as a mark of devotion and respect were placed in the tombs. Women were even paid to fill these vials and generally play the part of a grief stricken mourner as they walked along a funeral procession.  They were especially popular during the Victorian times, where mourning became an art form and suitably melodramatic. Once all the tears had evaporated, then the mourning process was over.

There is a romantic quality to the idea that you have cried so much for your beloved that you could fill a vial with your tears. Maybe it is a bit narcissistic to ask someone to show such evidence of their loss. Still I find them to be beautiful and when I do die, hope that those left behind fill up plenty of tear catchers!


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