Chamber pots

In the museum you will see almost 1,800 chamber pots from the ordinary to ones that look more like decorated, fancy soup bowls and saucers.

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The unique collection consists of solitary exhibits, each describing its origin and history. Some of the most interesting are the hotel and ship chamber pots, which were contracted in small batches, women's Bourdaloue chamber pots, men's and women's urinals, boy’s potties, French wedding chamber pots, which were only used for the preparation of sweet wedding food, chamber pots with portraits of hated rulers and jocular gifts with funny pictures, inscriptions and even music boxes.

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Chamber pots are mostly of circular and sometimes polygonal shape, with or without a lid, usually with one handle, but there are some with more and with a variety of decors - embossed, painted and, in later periods, screen printed decals applied before or after glazing. Expensive ones had a box for storage or transport, and were otherwise stored under the bed. If they were to be hidden, they would be in a nightstand or in a specially made commodes and chairs.

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Chamber pots were made of various materials: wood, baked clay, porcelain, metals - tin, silver, gold, copper and later aluminum and in the 20th century of enameled sheet metal, which turned out to be unsuitable because it was easily chipped and the damaged places then harbored bacteria. Today, chamber pots and urinals are made of stainless steel, glass or plastic for hygiene.

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Chamber pots are currently used in hospitals, by the infirm and by children for potty training. Until the mid-20th century, they were commonly found in homes, where they were replaced by flush toilets. They are still used by people in rural areas of some countries, such as China.

1. Bourdaloue

Bourdaloue is a women's chamber pot, usually oval or elliptical in shape, sometimes with a lip on one side and a simple handle. It resembles saucers, from which the shape apparently originated.

Named for a French Jesuit, Father Louis Bourdaloue (Bourges 20/8/1632 - Paris 13/ 5/1704), who became famous for his resonant voice and captivating oration. From 1670 Bourdaloue often preached at the court of Louis XIV. His sermons were so long that his admirers had to take toilet breaks. Therefore, the ladies began to wear saucers under their skirts and later pots similar in shape to chamber pots, which they could use either sitting or standing. Maids then discreetly emptied the containers. Materials were varied - porcelain, pottery, silver, tin, rarely also treated leather or enameled sheet. The containers were pure white or beautifully embossed with flowers and birds (Dresden porcelain), some had a mirror at the bottom... They were stored in special carrying cases and in nightstands and were worn under skirts in the baroque period.

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2. Urine containers

While Bourdaloue is an international name, most urine containers use national names. In the Czech Republic it is "pheasant" (bažant), in Italy "parrot" (pappagallo) and in Russia "duck" (utka), the French call this bottle "Pistolet". Perhaps the name was derived from the words "la pistole" (weapon) or "le pistolet" (small weapon) from the name of the Tuscan city of Pistoia, which was famous for its gunsmiths. More likely, however, the term derives from the German word "pistole", which in turn was taken from the name of the Czech small arms "píšťala" used by Hussites in the 15th century.

The urine container for the ladies, which is used while standing or lying down, is bottle-shaped, with an extended neck. It follows the anatomical shape of the body part to which it has to adhere and prevent urine leakage out of the container. There are various shapes, because unlike men’s urinals, there are differences in the anatomy of women (vulva and hair) and the neck shape was therefore not always perfect.

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The urine container for men shares the same bottleneck shape, but urinating is easier for men. The neck edge is therefore usually circular, but Asian urinals may have an angular neck. Men can just shove the penis in and thus prevent the leakage of urine out of the container.

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3. Bed pans
The ancient Romans used these containers the most; they mostly knew them as Pisspötte or Matelle.
They are still in use today for bedridden patients, retaining almost the same shape.

They often have a raised flat edge shaped this way to prevent accidental spillage and at the same time to prevent pressure sores and bruises when used. Some containers can not be completely emptied because of the shape, so they are equipped with a side outlet, which also serves as a handle when inserting the container under the recumbent patient. This bowl is often called a "record player" in the Czech Republic and a "bed pan" abroad.

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