Mental Floss

Ugly Jugs

Miss Cellania
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Last week at the Presurfer I saw a video of Alabama potter Jerry Brown making a jug. It was interesting enough that I went to YouTube to grab the video, and found a whole series of videos of the same guy, each more fascinating than the one before. Especially this one:

I was afraid of what would come up when I Googled "ugly jugs", but with safe search, I found just what I was looking for. Jugs with faces date back to antiquity, but became an American folk art tradition. The time and place this tradition began depends on your source, and the jugs had several purported purposes which could all be valid.

More ugly faces, after the jump.

Jerry Brown heard that slaves made ugly jugs to distinguish the different liquids inside. Jugs with faces were for the ones you couldn't drink, such as kerosene.

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Potters provided jugs for bootleggers during the 1920s, but made them with ugly faces to show their support for Prohibition.

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Here is the original video I saw of pottery artist Jerry Brown of Hamilton, Alabama, throwing a jug.

He also tells of his experiences in other short video clips, recorded to promote The Year of Alabama Artists.

Now I want an ugly jug. If they can scare away children and the devil, maybe they can ward off mosquitos and telemarketers!

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