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Memory Jar

Decorative Arts and Design

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Memory Jar

Artwork Details


Unidentified American Maker, Rome, Georgia


early twentieth century


Hand-built clay with encrusted ceramic shards and found objects

Accession #



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On View - Stent Family Wing, Skyway, Gallery 404


This embellished memory jug relates to ritual grave decoration practices that originated in the Kongo region of Africa. Memory jugs are similar to Kongo funerary objects in their use of select personal items and materials such as seashells, mirrors, glass, white ceramics, and children’s toys. In Kongo belief, the selection of white, reflective, or shiny materials represented the watery realm between this life and the next. Some of these objects, therefore, served not only as grave decorations but as guides for spirits moving into the afterlife.


Purchase with funds from the Decorative Arts Acquisition Trust

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