Folk Art

Serpent Face Jug by Ron Cooper
  • I fell in love with a few face jugs and purchased them even though they do not meet the definition of “antique” because they are not at least 100 years old. Some, like this one, barely make it to “vintage.” This cool jug was made by living artist J.R. (“Ron”) Cooper at his pottery in Canton, Georgia. Cooper shows such creativity in following a form that has been part of American pottery since slaves in Edgefield, South Carolina started making face jugs as early as 1862.

    Cooper has created a scary-faced serpent jug, following researcher’s conjecture that the pottery slaves in Edgefield, South Carolina made these vessels as nkisis in which evil spirits were held to keep a house or gravesite safe. But, unlike the early Edgefield jugs, Mr. Serpent, does not seem to have a alkaline glaze (but remember that pottery is not my specialty) although he does have eyes and jagged teeth made of kaolin. This double-handled jug is 11” tall x ~6” at the widest. The bottom is signed and dated: "JR Cooper 2004." I love his jagged teeth, his flared nostrils and his yellow eyes.

    #6601    $250

    Reference: Mooney, Claudia, Face Jugs: Art and Ritual, Milwaukee Art Museum blog; https://blog.mam.org/2012/05/02/face-jugs-art-and-ritual/ (In 1893, South Carolina plantation and pottery owner, Thomas Davies told author Edwin Atlee Barber that he remembered his slaves making face jugs during their free time in 1862.)