Face Vessel


The tradition of shaping human likenesses on ceramic vessels is thousands of years old. Face vessels held different meanings in different cultures around the world. Some were probably used in burial rituals, others satirized the person whose features were captured in clay, and still others were made just for fun.

The earliest face vessels known to have been produced by white southern potters were probably not made until the end of the 1800s. White potters working in the Edgefield area in the mid-1800s may have seen vessels made by African American potters who were enslaved, and taken the idea with them as they moved out of South Carolina.

Like many southern pottery families, the Brown family encompasses a line of potters generations long. The Browns began making pottery in west-central Georgia by the mid-1800s before migrating east to the Atlanta area after the Civil War. The family spread from there to North and South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas. This face vessel, on the right, was made by one of many Brown family potters working in Georgia in the 1960s.

Date Made: 1960sDate Made: Mid-20th century

Maker: Brown Pottery

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: Georgia, Fulton countyUnited States: North Carolina, Arden

See more items in: Home and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass, Face Vessels, Cultures & Communities, Domestic Furnishings


Exhibition Location:

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: CE.74.22Accession Number: 313386Catalog Number: 74.0022

Object Name: vessel, face

Physical Description: ceramic, stoneware (overall material)ceramic, stoneware, coarse (overall material)Measurements: overall: 8 1/2 in x 5 7/16 in; 21.59 cm x 13.81125 cm

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746ac-2d9f-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_1329696

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