My friends think I’m crazy but I’ve fallen in love with face jugs, earthenware pots decorated with whimsical faces. I find their history intriguing and there is a defiance to their expressions that I find endearing. There are some days I feel on the inside exactly like what these individuals are portraying on the outside! I guess it makes me feel better to look over and see that I’m not the only one in the room with an attitude.
These pots were originally created by artisan slaves in the early to mid 1800s, particularly those living in Edgefield, South Carolina where there was a large pottery manufacturer. The characters depicted on the jugs are ugly enough to scare even the devil away, which is possibly why they were created in the first place. Another theory is the jugs were used to hold corn liquor. The scary faces were meant to deter children. Some of the jugs have funny faces and are thought to have been containers for medicine to make it more appealing or for holding kid friendly drinks.
You can purchase antique face jugs, but it’s also a folk tradition that is still practiced by modern day potters. While the antiques can be pricy, I’ve found the contemporary pieces quite reasonable. In addition to jugs, these designs are used on cups and crocks.