The art of making jugs and other vessels with facial images goes back to early antiquity. The purpose was often religious in nature.
American face jugs are jug pottery which depict a face. That face could be comical, humanoid, spiritual, or downright devilish.
There is some controversy as to when the first face jugs were made as decoration and art in America. Some art historians place the creation of these jugs as recently as the 1940s. There is strong evidence, however, to suggest that the practice goes back at least 100 to 200 years earlier.
No matter what the history, the most famous American face jugs come from the rural Southeast. North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia are renowned for their jugs and for the popularity of the art pieces.
Nonetheless, there is also a strong tradition of making the jugs in the states where people from the Atlantic Southern states migrated in the 18th and 19th Century -- Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. These people share many cultural and family roots so the early spread and popularity of producing face jugs in these states is rational.
In addition to “jugs,” face jugs also come in the form of other vessels such as pitches, mugs, etc.