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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Folk Art: Folk Ceramics: Memory Jug with Finial
Memory Jug with Finial

Memory Jug with Finial
20th century
Unidentified artist
mixed media on ceramic
11 3/4 x 7 1/2 x 7 1/4 in. (29.8 x 19.1 x 18.4 cm.)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson

Hear staff member Bridget talk about Memory Vessels 1.0MB

Some memory jars may have come from African American traditions of decorating graves with objects owned by the deceased. The objects embedded in the surface of these bottles and jars provide clues about when they were made or who made them. For example, Jug with Finial includes a campaign button for William Jennings Bryan, a Democratic presidential candidate between 1896 and 1908, while High-Buttoned Shoe shows a macabre row of teeth that may have belonged to the maker.

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