Face Vessel

Face Vessel

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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 similar vessels made by African American potters who were enslaved, and taken the idea with them as they moved out of South Carolina.
The piece on the left was made by Georgia potter Cheever Meaders (1887-1967) who produced a small number of face vessels. Although they were popular, Meaders felt that they were too much trouble to make. Meaders used pieces of broken, glazed plates for the eyes and teeth on this piece.
Currently not on view
Object Name
vessel, face
date made
Meaders, Cheever
place made
United States: Georgia, White county
Physical Description
ceramic, stoneware, coarse (overall material)
overall: 8 1/2 in x 4 1/2 in; 21.59 cm x 11.43 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Mrs. C. Malcolm Watkins
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass
Cultures & Communities
Domestic Furnishings
Face Vessels
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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