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MsWest
MsWest, Senior Research Associate
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 86
Experience:  Experience in research, genealogy, writing, real estate law, business, finance, health.
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Im looking for the answer to part of a riddle. The

Customer Question

I'm looking for the answer to part of a riddle. The riddle goes: "Black upon black, black upon brown, three legs up, six legs down, what am I?" I have already figured out that the black upon black and upon brown is a black man sitting on a brown horse, but I don't know what the three legs up part means. From what I'm told, the item was quite common in the United States in the mid-1800's, but today would seem out of place.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: General
Expert:  Viki replied 8 years ago.

Hi-

Well, I've heard it told as a three-legged stool, like this one: http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworking/Gallery/GalleryImage.aspx?id=22866

This riddle originated in the Appalachian mountains (North Carolina) but is now considered fairly racist. Riddles like these with sexual overtones, but with a pretty innocuous answer were popular back then.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
It's not a stool, it's something else with three legs. But keeping in mind that it's a riddle, I'm more inclined to think that the legs are meant in a non-literal manner. Any idea of something fairly common in the mid-1800's with three "legs"?
Expert:  Viki replied 8 years ago.

Hi-

I found this on a site that catalogued an archeological dig in North Carolina:

"Another method of cooking was to set a pot or pan on a three-legged stand over hot coals."

http://www.ncdot.org/doh/preconstruct/pe/ohe/archaeology/edenhouse/print/fulltext.html

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I'm so sorry... I know that this is very frustrating, but that too is wrong. I've been racking my brain for days over this same riddle... can you think of anything else that would have been carried by someone on horseback through the mid-west in the mid-1800's?
Expert:  Viki replied 8 years ago.
Sorry, I'll opt out and maybe someone else can come up with the answer.
Expert:  MsWest replied 8 years ago.

"Black upon black, black upon brown, three legs up, six legs down, what am I?"

I heard this many years ago from my grandpa, and the answer was a black man with an old cooking pot on his head (legs of the pot upward, wearing it like a hat), and riding a brown horse.

There used to be black cast iron cooking pots that had three legs and a handle. They were often hung over the fire by their handle. This is the black upon black - the pot on the black man's head. The pots looked like those here: http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&rls=WZPA,WZPA:2005-35,WZPA:en&q=black+cast+iron+cooking+pot+3+legs&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi (the third one, top row is the most like the one in the riddle)

The black man on a brown horse is the black on brown. (Another version says, "black upon black and brown upon brown..." and this was supposed to be a black man in brown breeches (pants), so brown upon brown.

The numbers come from the horse = 4 legs and the man = 2 is 6 legs down. Then the
old cooking pot = 3 legs up

This was, and I imagine still is, considered a racist riddle.

I hope this answers your question, and thanks for trusting Just Answer!

MsWest, Senior Research Associate
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 86
Experience: Experience in research, genealogy, writing, real estate law, business, finance, health.
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