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Colonoware Jar

Place Made:
Berkeley County South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
HOA: 5 3/4″ ; DIA: 6 1/2″
Accession Number:
This black clay jar is an example of colonoware, a kind of utilitarian, low-fired, and unrefined, earthenware. The globular shape of this particular jar reveals a very strong African influence.

According to archaeologist Leland Ferguson, “from the 1670’s through reconstruction, slaves and former slaves on South Carolina’s rice plantaions used traditionally-styled, handbuilt, earthenware jars and bowls–pottery termed Colono Ware by archaeologists…Archaeologists have shown that while some of this pottery was brought to plantations from free Indian villages, most was made on plantations. Slaves apparently used these vessels for cooking and serving food and traditional West African medicines. Some bowls, especially those marked with crosses on the bottom, were likely used in the manufacture of Bakongo-style charms or ‘minkisi’…Colono Ware provides a unique source of information about the every day lives of early African-Americans, and it is most informative when sherds and vessels are excavated in context by professionally trained archaeologists.”

This colonoware jar was discovered in the waters of the Cooper River outside of Charleston. It was subsequently acquired by Carroll Greene for the Acacia Collection of African-American artifacts and formerly exhibited at the Owens-Thomas House in Savannah, Georgia. In 2018, it was acquired for the William C. and Susan S. Mariner Collection of southern ceramics at MESDA.
Credit Line:
The William C. and Susan S. Mariner Collection