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Folk Art Pottery: Ugly Face Jugs

Folk Art Pottery: Ugly Face Jugs. History of the Face Jug

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Folk Art Pottery: Ugly Face Jugs

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  1. Folk Art Pottery: Ugly Face Jugs

  2. History of the Face Jug The tradition is that because slaves weren’t allowed to have grave markers, the family would place personal items and an ugly face jug on the grave. This was a way to show reverence and also was supposed to scare evil spirits away from the area.

  3. The jugs were made by African potters who were first taken to the Caribbean islands, and then brought to the American south. There is no written history of the origin or use of ugly face jugs. The stories have been handed down from generation to generation. Jugs created by Clayton Bail.

  4. One modern maker of face jugs is Jim McDowell. Mr. McDowellhas been making face jugs for more than 15 years. A coal-miner-turned- artist, he makes the jugs as a tribute to black history and his own family heritage. His great-great-great-aunt Evangeline was a slave potter in Jamaica.

  5. McDowell adds stained glass to some of the jugs, so that when it melts it looks like tears.

  6. Here’s another face jug. The teeth are often made from pieces of broken plates.

  7. Some jugs have gouges in the cheeks or pockmarks, which McDowell says alludes to some African tribal practices in which the face is scarred to denote status and is considered a sign of beauty.

  8. Mr. McDowell adds short sayings to his jugs. On the left side, he writes an anti-slavery sentiment, and the other side something relevant to today. For example, on one jug It reads, “Follow the North Star” on the left. On the right side it says “9-11, Don’t Forget.” This jug says, “Don’t judge the color of my skin, judge me by the content of my character.”

  9. Here is a striped jug, and a tall blue one. These were made by artists other than Jim McDowell.

  10. This whistling jug has bluebirds on it.

  11. Here are two more face jugs. The one on the right is a birdhouse.

  12. These whistling jugs were created by Brian Wilson.

  13. There are many other artists who create face jugs. To find out about them, do an internet search for “ugly face jugs”. Photos used in this presentation were from the following sites:www.blackpotter.comwww.clayplace.com/review

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