A chamber pot is a portable container used as a toilet in the bedroom. The chamber pot was generally made of metal or ceramic and placed in a piece of furniture such as a bench or stool with a lid for covering the chamber pot. The chamber maids were entrusted with the work of emptying and cleaning the chamber pots. Today the sick and disabled persons no longer use the chamber pots as they have largely being replaced by the commodes.
The word jerry is used informally in British English to refer to a chamber pot. The chamber pot is also known as a po, a Jordan or a gazunder, a potty or a piss pot. The Greek equivalent of the chamber pot is “lasana” or “lasanon”, perhaps the name of the popular Italian dish, Lasagne may have originated. The word chamber pot may have been derived from the French “pot de chambre”. The chamber pot is in the shape of a bowl and has a lid and handle. It is usually kept under the bed or a bedside cabinet.
A specially designed chamber pot called the Bourdaloue was specifically meant for females. The shape of the container was oblong, oval or rectangular with the front part slightly raised and higher. The shape made it convenient to be used by the women while squatting or standing, hidden under the large skirts of the ladies who used them. The name “Bourdaloue” is attributed to the name of the French priest, Louis Bourdaloue (1632-1704). The catholic priest was known to deliver long sermons which made the Ladies bring in their maids carrying such chamber pots under their dresses so that they could use them discreetly without leaving the place. But in the 19th century, with the advent of the water closets, the use of chamber pots reduced drastically.
In the western countries chamber pots are used in the form of “potty” to train children. The “potties” are usually made of plastic and designed for the safe use of children with a backrest and non-slip bottom. They general come with a handle for easy grip while emptying and cleaning it. The potties are usually available in bright colors and attractive designs. The potties are useful during toilet training and help the children to gradually start using the normal commodes. The size of the potty is quite handy and makes it convenient to pack and carry it out during trips with children.
Nowadays commodes have replaced the chamber pots and are equally helpful for the sick and disabled persons. However, chamber pots are used in countries such as rural Korea and China, which lack indoor plumbing facilities and to escape the cold winds during winter. The chamber pot is used in the form of a bedpan in hospitals and homes for very ill patients. The most popular form of the chamber pot is the potties used for children during toilet training.