Back during the late 1970’s while I was president of the county arts council I was driving around the hill country of northeastern Itawamba County with a representative of the Mississippi Arts Commission looking for old quilts to photograph and document. After driving up a high ridge we came upon an old house place and the huge old bottle tree pictured to the left came into view by the dusty ditch standing as a sentry over the home place.
Bottle trees have a long history in the Deep South. During the olden times, it was said that the colorful bottles on a bottle tree would catch evil spirits before those spirits could enter the home. It has been said the origins of this unique folk art can be traced back to Africa and the practice of constructing bottle trees was brought to the South by slaves..
Bottle trees have a very interesting and long history in Mississippi. During the 1930’s, Eudora Welty photographed some bottle trees by an old home in Simpson County. The photograph can be viewed at the Mississippi Writers Page.
Today bottle trees are wildly gaining popularity simply as colorful lawn and garden ornaments. Many are made of wrought iron and adorned with an eclectic collection of colorful bottles.
Bottle Tree Photograph by Bob Franks