A Brief History of Ginger Jars

Back to our regularly scheduled programming! It feels like forever since I have had regular content at The Love List, and while the Home Tour was fun (can't wait for next year!), I think it's high time we re-focused, don't yall? Why don't we begin today with a little history lesson...

Blue Ginger Jars are scattered through the home of designer Anna Spiro's mother - on the table behind the sofa, one can be seen holding a beautiful Frangipani flower arrangement.

Ginger Jars, a perennial favorite among decorators, are steeped in centuries of Chinese culture and history. Different colors, sizes and styles denoted separate occasions and uses, including the evolution of the popular "fishtail" jars we often see and use today. Some jars were used for basic provisions such as salt, oil, and yes, ginger - while others were designated as gifts for the Emperor (a yellow 'pearl' jar was appropriate for this use) and were even suitable as urns.

More beautiful blue and white ginger jars can be spied in the home of Cote De Texas' Joni. Photo courtesy Pigtown Design, via Better Homes and Gardens.

The use of the Chinese character for "double happiness", which appears on many blue and white ginger jars, suggests that they were often given on special occasions (such as weddings) and were intended to last a lifetime.

Nick Olsen, Daily Dose design blogger and uber-stylish assistant to Miles Redd, has a beautiful white ginger jar in his apartment. Photo from Domino. By Paul Costello, November 2006.

Covered jars, similar to the ones we often see, were popular through the Quin Dynasty. True antique jars will often show signs of wear, as they were used then as we use canisters now to store our flours and sugars. It is very difficult to find jars with their original, matching covers.

Popular incarnations today vary as much in price range as in use. This Christopher Spitzmiller Lamp retails for a cool 2110.00, while these lovely blue and white jars from WS Home range in price from only 125.00 - 375.00 . Ebay is also a valuable resource.

Ginger jars barely scrape the surface of the vast history of oriental porcelain, which was actually invented in China. For further reading, please have a look at this useful guide to different symbols found in porcelain patterns, porcelain grades, and more facts about it's origins.


Barefoot in the Park said...

i love ginger jars! i have an old one my grandpa brought back from the ww2 thats been turned into a lamp! i'll have to snap a photo for you sometime :)

Cote de Texas said...

Aw, thank you for the shout-out!!! I love blue and white as you can tell!!

thanks again!

Pigtown-Design said...

Amazing that the one time I went to a grocery store in September, I found Joni in a magazine!

Little House on Green said...

I love all the zebra print, so cool!

Jessica @ The Love List said...

bitp - that would be great!

joni - your room is gorgoues, I had to use it :)

pigtown - ironic!

Visual Vamp said...

Funny how ginger jars were really just canisters in their day. Can you imagine any modern day flour or sugar or tea or coffee canister being so beloved for hundreds of years into the future as a major decor icon?

loren levin said...

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Lysa Miller said...

I was just researching Ginger Jars as my company has designed embroidered ginger jar linens and I was curious about them!! will share your post for sure!


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