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Bottle Tree Expressions Ancient Hoodoo Traditions see International Resurgence!

Black Coral Inc Spotlights Artists like Pamella Goncalves, Gail Bos, Ruth Rosner, Cornell Coley and Others Create an International Phenomena of Art, Nature and Historical Truth!

Pam Goncalves Bottle Tree at a restored slave house

Bottle trees are a type of garden art that originated in Africa and have a rich cultural history. They are thought to have originated in the Congo area in the 9th century A.D., and enslaved Africans brought the tradition to the Americas most notably to the Southern Appalachian mountains where African tradition informed the medicine and belief systems of Hoodoo based on Yoruban Earth based traditions of nature stewardship and harmony. The practices grew during the transatlantic slave trade, where it became especially prominent in the Southern United States and adopted along with the foods and language syntax of the African by the mountain folk called hillbillies.


In the Southern United States, the captivating sight of bottle trees adorning gardens has become an iconic part of the region's folklore. These whimsical structures hold a fascinating history and cultural significance. Artists of the non profit organization Black Coral Inc led by President Pam Goncalves known as The Bottle Tree Lady brought the tradition of bottle tress to International attention with an installation that brought forward the true history of the tradition to the national conversation in a documentary called The Forgotten Souls of Tory Row.


According to legend, glass bottles had the power to attract and capture evil spirits at night. Spirits would become mesmerized by the bottles' vivid colors and reflections, trapping them until the morning sunlight destroyed them. Bottle trees were placed near homes and gardens for protection and good luck. Pam used the theme as a way to collect the names of the forgotten slaves of Cambridge and then allow their spirits closure with the reading of those names at a public ceremony of pouring of libations, prayer, poetry (By L'Merchie Frasier and Inspirational speeches from notable scholars and prominent Cambridge MA. citizenry. The event was one meant to be cathartic and begin the process of accepting historical truths rather than rhetoric and mythology that apologizes without admission or acknowledgement for ancestral acts of historic brutality and cover ups of misdeeds.


Made from brightly colored bottles placed over the branches of a tree (or in more recent years a metal frame), these garden sculptures catch attention in any space, such as the one pictured below in the Gibson Garden in Dallas, Texas. Although they are not a particularly common sight, they have a long history as an element of spiritual, cultural, and aesthetic significance in African American history and garden design. Blue bottles held particular significance in the Southern bottle tree tradition. The color blue was believed to possess mystical qualities, deterring evil spirits more effectively. Spirits were believed to mistake blue bottles for water, compelling them to become trapped or found within the bottle tree.


Bottle trees displayed a variety of designs and arrangements. Some featured single trunks, while others boasted intricate branches mimicking real trees. Clear, green, and blue bottles were commonly used, adding a unique touch to each tree and reflecting the owner's creativity. Though bottle trees declined in popularity during the 20th century due to modernization, they experienced a recent resurgence. As artists like Pam Goncalves, Gail Bos, Ruth Rosner, Michael Thierry,Hakim Rquib and gardeners like Sabrina Pilet Jones. Hank Ebanks, J.Lynda Blake, now embrace bottle trees as a form of self-expression and cultural preservation.


Many Historical sites have requested that the forces behind this movement most notably Social Activist Humanitarian Pamella Gancalves and Decordeva Museum celebrated artist Gail Bos create installations at their locales.


Artists Pam Goncalves and Gail Bos Pour Libations

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