Mourning, an outward manifestation of grief, particularly on occasions of death. Every nation has some conventional form of mourning. The ancient Hebrews tore their garments, dishevelled their hair, threw dust or ashes on the head, and abstained from washing. During the time of mourning they sat on the ground, and went bareheaded and barefooted. The usual period of mourning was seven days, but for Moses and Aaron they mourned a month. On public occasions professional mourning women were employed. The modern Jews preserve to some extent the customs of their forefathers, such as sitting on the ground, and making an incision in some part of their clothing to symbolize the old tearing of garments. In Jerusalem a weekly lamentation and wailing is still observed near the site of the temple. The rending of clothes was observed by the Egyptians, who also sprinkled their heads with dust and ashes, struck their breasts, allowed their hair to grow and their dress to hang neglected, went unwashed, and abstained from wine and other delicacies. The women ran crying through the streets with disordered hair and exposed bosoms. The Lycians regarded grief as unmanly, and had a law compelling men when they went into mourning to put on female garments.
The Syrians wept for their dead several days in solitary places. The Persians rent their garments with wailing, and cut off their hair. The last was customary also among the Scythians. - The Greeks withdrew into retirement, cut off their hair, put on black, or in some states, as Argos, white garments, rolled themselves in the dust or mire, threw ashes on their heads, tore their clothes, never appeared in public without a veil, lacerated their faces, and frequently uttered the exclamation e, e, e. When a popular general died, the whole army cut off their hair and the manes of their horses. In Athens the duration of mourning was about 30 days; in Sparta it was 11 days. - The Roman forms of mourning did not differ greatly from the Grecian. In the time of the republic the color of the mourning dress was black for both sexes, and it always continued so for men; but during the reign of Augustus a white veil was worn by women, and subsequently a complete costume of white became their conventional token of sorrow. Ornaments for the person were laid aside, and the men let their hair and beards grow long.
The extreme duration of mourning by men was ten months, by women a year, but this period was abridged by the occurrence of any auspicious event, such as the birth of a child, the happening of any piece of good fortune to the family, certain religious feasts, or the consecration of a temple. The period of public mourning for the death of a great person or for a public disaster was fixed by special decree. At such times the forum, baths, shops, temples, schools of exercise, and other places of concourse were closed, the senators put aside the lati-clave, the consuls sat on a lower scat than usual, and the magistrates appeared without their badges of office. On private occasions the mourning was done almost wholly by the women; the men wore black only for a few days, and tho domestic ceremonies in honor of the deceased terminated on the ninth day after the funeral with a sacrifice called noven-diale. A widow who married again during her time of mourning for a husband (ten months or a year) was accounted infamous and debarred from inheriting of her late spouse. Persons in mourning kept within doors, and the custom of tearing the garments was sometimes practised.
Hired mourning women were employed at funerals by both Romans and Greeks. In the old tombs which have been opened in Palestine, Greece, and Italy are found lachrymatories or tear bottles, in which it was customary for mourners to preserve their tears. - Among the modern Syrians mourning women play a very important part at funerals. It is not unusual for families in moderate circumstances to be ruined by the expensive feasts and other commemorations which are held for weeks after the funeral. - In Arabia the men wear no mourning, and are silent in grief, but the women scream, tear their hair, and throw earth on their heads. The latter also stain their hands and feet with indigo, which they suffer to remain for eight days, and during this time they abstain from milk on the ground that its white color ill accords with the gloom of their minds. The hired mourning women of Medina dance before the house of the deceased, tearing their arms, faces, and hair. - The Chinese mourn in white, and on the death of a near relative every article of dress must be of that color. Less intense affliction is indicated simply by caps and girdles of white linen, and a very moderate degree of grief by shoes and queue cords of blue.
Mourning on occasion of the death of a parent or husband is enforced by the penalties of 60 blows and a year's banishment. The duration of mourning is fixed by law. For a father or mother it is three years, but in the case of government officers it has been reduced to 27 months. During this period of mourning a Chinese cannot perform the duties of any public office. For 30 days after the demise the nearest kindred must not shave their heads nor change their dress. "When the emperor dies all his subjects let their hair grow for 100 days. At funerals the relatives of the deceased furnish all who take part in the procession with mourning dresses, just as gloves and scarfs are given at the present day in Europe and America. They employ mourning women, whose faculty of shedding tears is extraordinary. - The Japanese mourning color is also white, but relatives in the ascending line and seniors neither mourn for their junior kindred nor go to their funerals. Persons in mourning stay at home for 50 days, abstain from animal food and from the intoxicating liquor saki, and neither shave their heads nor pare their nails.
This period of 50 days, called the imi, is succeeded by the buku, or 13 months of a sort of " second mourning," during which it is not allowed to wear bright colors or enter a Shinto temple. These long periods are observed only on the death of parents; for other relatives the imi and buku vary from 30 days and 13 months for a husband to 3 days and 7 days for cousins and their children. - In the Feejee islands, after the death of a chief, a general fast until evening is observed for 10 or 20 days, the women burn their bodies, and 50 or 100 fingers are amputated to be hung above the dead man's tomb. The ceremonies of domestic mourning consist of abstinence from delicate dishes, and from the use of oil on the person; the mourners sleep on the bare ground, and use only leaves for dress. These customs are optional; among those exacted by fashion are the "jumping of maggots," or a meeting of friends on the fourth day after the funeral to picture to themselves the corruption of the corpse, and the " causing to laugh " on the next night, when comic games are held. About the tenth day the women scourge all the men except the highest chiefs. Among the natives of New Caledonia there is a custom for women to burn parts of their bodies in time of mourning.
The Ilawaiians denote grief by painting the lower part of their faces black and knocking out their fore teeth. The North American Indians howl and wail, make speeches to the dead, and pierce the flesh with arrows and sharp stones. - Among all civilized modern nations there is a great similarity in mourning customs, and black is universallv considered the proper color to be worn, although modern refinement has gone so far as to symbolize the gradual change from the depth of affliction to a state of cheerfulness by a gradual return from black to gay colors through the intermediate hues of purple and violet, which are recognized as " second mourning." The material of a mourning dress is also prescribed by fashion, being for ladies generally crape. The time varies, according to the degree of relationship of the deceased, from a week to a year, the latter being the period fixed by custom for a widow. Hired mourners are retained by the English as attendants at funerals, but their office is one of mere show, and they are commonly called mutes. In some parts of Ireland, however, the teeners or professional mourners, generally old women, are famous for their extravagant lamentations. It was anciently the custom in England to give mourning rings and suits at funerals.
In Spain and France, of old, the color of grief was white. Certain forms of private as well as public mourning were prescribed by Napoleon I., but went out of use at the restoration. Court mourning in Europe for members of the reigning family, even in remote degrees, is prescribed by ceremonials which give the minutest directions as to dress. The sovereign wears violet, except in England, where the color is black; but violet was formerly used there also. The courtiers appear in black. Court mourning seldom lasts more than six months. Public mourning is not yet banished from the civilized world. It was witnessed in the United States on the death of Franklin, Washington, Lafayette, and Lincoln. Members of legislative, civic, military, and other associations usually wear a piece of crape on the left arm on public occasions for 30 days after the death of a comrade.