HIDDEN HISTORY: Slaves Brought To Local Area Leave An Imprint On The World

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We are learning more about Africans who entered America on one of the last two slave ships.  

Even though they are long gone, the slaves have had an impact on the world of art. 

Now calm and serene, the Savannah River was once a bustling, active route for importing and exporting goods in the River Region.

But, it’s proud past includes a perilous period that changed lives and later influenced a segment of art culture. 

“The slave trade had been abolished in 1807 and really took effect in 1808. But, this was 50 years later in December 1858,” explained Edgefield County Historian Tonya Guy. 

About 400 slaves were brought to Georgia on a schooner called “The Wanderer.”

Small boats were hired to take slaves up the Savannah River. 

200 were taken through the dark, murky water of Horseshoe Creek and into Edgefield County, South Carolina. 

“There are newspaper accounts talking about how intelligent they were, how quickly they learned when they came here and started working on different plantations. They were skilled laborers,” said Guy. 

Although ripped from their country with an uncertain future, the slaves would not let go of a piece of their past through the art of face jugs. 

Guy said, “they’re very rudimentary. They’re very crude. They’re very small. It’s believed that they practiced the voodoo religion. So, they believed that they could talk to ancestors through the face vessels.”

The jugs are small in stature, typically three to eight inches tall, but they were large in meaning and symbolism of home.

Since the ending of slavery, potters have recreated face jugs crafted after old ones that are scarcely found around the country. 

While no one can put a true price on the service of slaves, collectors are paying high dollar to get a piece of their work. 

“They do fetch a large price. At auction, they could go for anywhere 12 to 25-thousand dollars,” recalled Guy.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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