Picture
Phoeniciean tear bottles from texan.dk website









Tear Bottles hold the tears of grief

A Reminder God keeps count of every tear,

holding them and us in loving care.

                                        Thou hast kept count of my tossings;
                                        Put thou my tears in your bottle.
                                                                          Psalm 56:8  


Tear Bottles are also known as tear jars, tear vases or lachrymatories.
They were common in Bible lands and also in Egypt, Persia, Rome, and Phoenicia.

One of the oldest references is in Psalm 56:8  Thou hast kept count of my tossings; Put thou my tears in your bottle.

They were used in times of mourning in various ways through the centuries.
Often they were given as a sign of sympathy, a sign that tears of grief were shared.  The mourner might keep it as a memento, fill it with tears (at which time some said that one's mourning period was over).  Some were put in tombs with the departed.  Others said that in a land where water was scarce, that the tears were a sacrifice in honor and respect .  In ancient Persia a warrior might return home and check the tear jars to see who had wept most.

In the Civil War times, a tear jar might be given to a returning soldier as a sign of joy, relief and how much he had been missed.

One custom was to have unpainted bottles or to give them. The grieving one then decorated the jar with intricate designs.

 The little terra cotta bottles could be as small as one's little finger, but in Victorian times the bottles or jarsmight be as high as 4 inches.  These were popular among the wealthy and made of silver or pewter and often worn around the neck.

Today these little bottles are given as a sympathy gift to one who is feeling great sorrow.  They are also given as a sign of tears of joy at a time of marriage or birth of a child.  One writer reports that one can be given by a mother to her teenage daughter when their tears of strife have turned to joy.

In Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives is a beautiful little Franciscan church called Dominus Flevit, (the cry of the Lord or the Lord wept) . It marks the time when Jesus approached Jerusalem and wept over it. Luke 19:41. The church was designed by anton Barluzzin, Italian architect. It was built in 1954 and is in the shape of a tear drop.  Tear jars decorate the corners of the structure.

Picture
My tear bottles
 


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How old are they?

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    Author Information

    The Rev. Dr. Judy Mitchell Rich lives outside of Athens, Alabama, in the country where she enjoys the stream behind her house and the wooded area which houses wild turkeys, deer, and many birds.
     
    She is a graduate of Fairborn High School in Ohio; Muskingum College;  McCormick Seminary. If you're into letters after names, hers would be
    : B.A., M.A., M.Div. and D.Min.

    She is an ordained Presbyterian USA pastor and has served as an Associate Pastor, Interim Pastor and Solo Pastor
    for  churches in Michigan, Kansas and Ohio, and on the staff of the Presbytery of Northern Kansas.
    University Presbyterian, Rochester Hills,Michigan
    Kipp Presbyterian, Kipp, Kansas
    Gypsum United Methodist, Gypsum,Kansas
    Presbytery of Northern Kansas
    Westminster Presbyterian, Emporia, Kansas
    St. Andrews Presbyterian, Topeka, Kansas
    Westminster Presbyterian, Piqua, Ohio
    Honorably Retired 2008

    Favorite activities include writing, reading mysteries, Pilates classes,   playing with clay and laughing with her friends and two sons, four sisters, one brother and their families.

    She published Like Sheep in September of 2012 and the second in the series Like A Fox in March of 2014. Like a Fig Tree was published September, 2015.

    Picture
    Easter, 2006. Westminster Presbyterian Church. Piqua, Ohio. Photo by Sue Dougherty.

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