The Story Behind The Classic Beauty Of Ginger Jars

Ginger jars are very appreciated by porcelain collectors who cherish them for their beautiful and intricate designs. But ginger jars weren’t always this popular, especially in Europe, and they weren’t always called ginger jars. They originated in China in the Qin Dynasty and they began being exported to Europe in the 19th century. That’s also when they started being used as decorative objects.

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Ceramic ginger jars are usually hand-painted and can feature a variety of themes and designs

Originally, ginger jars were used for storing and transporting spices in Ancient China. They were used as containers for salt, oil but also rarer spices such as ginger, hence the name they got when they began entering the Western world. Their utilitarian purpose was replaced in time by a decorative one. Jars such as the one available on Pier1 are meant to be displayed on mantels or shelves.

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Blue and white is the most popular combination of colors although others exist as well

Ginger jars are mostly identified by their blue and white designs but the fact is that this isn’t the only combination that they come in. The blue and white look became popular in Europe and started a whole trend but these jars are actually produced in lots of other colors. The more colorful versions are less popular and, because of that, more special and hard to find.

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Ginger jars are used as accent pieces and decorations for interiors that are luxurious and classic

Usually hand-painted, the true antique ginger jars are made of porcelain. The demand for these ornaments in Europe created opportunities for those that started to mass produce the jars. Those versions, however, are not nearly as valuable and the antique ones that the collectors seek.

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The utilitarian purpose of the original spice jars was replaced by a decorative one in the modern world

These jars are no longer used for their intended purpose, at least not in Europe or other parts of the globe. They have become decorative objects, sometimes repurposed as vases or displayed as centerpieces or on fireplace mantels or on shelves.

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A variety of different motifs are used when painting the jars and each piece is unique

Some of the most common decorative motifs used on ginger jars include dragons, landscapes, floral designs and Chinese carps. The large jar displayed here as a vase features a village scene. You can find the same jar on Ethanallen.

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Ginger jars come in a variety of dimensions but usually maintain the same form and design

It’s easy to identify a ginger jar not only by its white and blue decorative motif but also by its form. The jars have high shoulders, rounded shapes, small mouths, domed lids and they have no handles. You can see two variations of the design displayed on Lemonstripes.

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Ginger jars are usually displayed in groups although a solitary one can also look exquisite

Because it’s usually difficult to stop at just one, ginger jars are usually displayed in groups of two, three or more. They’re clustered on tables or on shelves and before you know it you become a collector and you need a bigger space for all your jars. Maybe you could find some inspiration on Isuwannee.

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Along with ginger jars, other Chinese porcelain pieces became part of the European trend

You may not be very familiar with ginger jars and their history but you surely know someone or have seen somewhere other similar ornamental pieces. Decorative Chinese plates and bowls are still popular among collectors or anyone who appreciates the look.

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The lids are usually the ones that go missing or get broken so a lot of ginger jars no longer have them

If you can find a ginger jar that still has the lid it would be a shame to turn it into a vase and to not take advantage of the complete look. It’s pretty rare to find an antique jar that still has the lid on.

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Display your jars in groups on shelves or tables and combine them with other ornaments

There’s no right or wrong way to display a set of ginger jars. You can simply put them all in the same place or you can spread them around the room. You can also display them together with other decorations such as small sculptures, vases or books.

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Not all ginger jars are decorated with intricate motifs. Simpler designs are also available

Some jars have whole scenes painted on them while others can feature repetitive patterns or simpler designs. You can find a variety of beautiful models on Williams-sonoma. They all feature a combination of white and cobalt blue.

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The jars are nowadays used for decorative purposes only and have completely lost their utilitarian purpose

The common way to repurpose these beautiful jars is into vases. In fact, some vases have been specifically designed to replicate ginger jars in design but without copying their signature form.

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These Mediterranean vases look pretty similar to ginger jars, featuring the same combination of colors

The white and blue combo is very common in Mediterranean decors. You could say that these vases are mimicking the look of ginger jars. They have the same type of charm. {found on classiccasualhome}.

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There are no restrictions when it comes to using ginger jars as decorations in a particular decor

The versatility of these decorative items allows them to look exquisite in a variety of settings. Their classical charm can complement rustic and traditional interiors but can also look great in a modern outdoor settings such as this one that features elegant Millbrook chairs around a classy wooden table.

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For a more dramatic visual impact, cluster all the jars in one place

It’s up to you to find the best way to display your ginger jar collection. Here, for example, they were all clustered on a side table and they serve as a focal point for the room’s decor.

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Ginger jars can be the detail that makes a hallway look less austere and boring

Use ginger jars to add some color, pattern and style to a hallway. Display them on a console table and let them contrast with other decor elements such as the wall behind them, the area rug on the table on which they stand.

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The kitchen can also be a good place to display these jars. You can mix them up with some other China pieces

You can add a classical touch to your kitchen decor by displaying ginger jars on top of the wall-mounted cabinets or on an open shelf. If you have some other decorative pieces that match their style, put those up there as well.

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Display the jars inside glass door cabinets to keep the dust away

If you want to keep your precious antique jars behind closed doors but still out in plain view for everyone to see, consider cabinets with glass fronts The glass keeps the dust away but doesn’t obstruct your collection from being admired.