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Bottle Trees Forever

Monday, January 31, 2011

Bottle Tree Table
(one of our bottle trees)

Last week, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran an article about bottle trees, and my friend Stephanie Dwyer (who makes *the* most wonderful forms) was quoted.  Bottle trees have been around forever, and most of us have learned that the custom came from west Africa, but Felder Rushing -- who I also love -- mentions:

Since hollow-glass vessels began appearing in Egypt and Mesopotamia around 1600 B.C., he says, most ancient cultures have believed that bad spirits - imps and genies, for example - could be captured in bottles placed around entryways, where they would be destroyed by morning's light.

One place that Stephanie has her bottle trees is at the Shack Up Inn -- these are a couple of the pics I've taken there before:
At the Shack Up Inn, Clarksdale MS

Old Police Car, Shack Up Inn, Clarksdale MS

Bill Talbot, who is one of the owners, says of his "B&B or beer and breakfast," that:

...bottle trees "have been here all my life, part of the African American superstitions.
"We had so many haints on the compound, we had to try and control them," he says.
Haints are lost souls, angry ancestral spirits, and it's conceivable there are more than a few around Talbot's inn, which is on an old plantation. He rents out rooms and refurbished sharecroppers' shacks to visitors.
Dwyer's trees feature what he describes as "green, blue, red, clear, purple ones, whiskey bottles, Coke, Mountain Dew, medicine bottles, all kinds of weird bottles."
"The haints get up in those bottles and don't get out," Talbot says.

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