If you look at a handful of “traditional with a twist” rooms, you’re likely going to spot a ginger jar or two. They’re basically the grandmillennial equivalent of shiplap. Personally, I am a huge fan of them and own a rapidly expanding collection. As an ode to my love of ginger jars, I’m sharing a brief overview of their history, inspiration pics, and some sources to buy them.
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What are ginger jars?
At their core, ginger jars are decorative storage vessels with lids. They are shaped kind of like a bulb with relatively flat lids. They originated in China during the Qin Dynasty—about 2200 years ago. The early ancestors of the jars we know today were utilitarian and used for transporting ginger and spices. Over time, the jars became more and more elaborate. Today, they are used primarily as decorative objects.
They come in many patterns and colors, but blue and white is the most traditional. In fact, blue and white jars date all the way back to the 9th century. It might also be safe to say that blue and white ginger jars sparked the blue and white porcelain phenomenon we still see today.
By the Ming Dynasty (early 15th century), blue and white porcelain had developed into its own industry, with European audiences clamoring to copy the style as soon as they could master it. This meant that the export market for blue and white ginger jars from China was a lucrative one, and thus the style became standard.Invaluable.com
Another jar style frequently referred to as a ginger jar is a temple jar. Temple jars are kind of hourglass shaped, with a bulbous top, and a decorative lid. For my purposes, I’m going to share examples of both jar styles.
How pretty is this living room by Mark D. Sikes? I love the use of a small jar on the mantel. It looks like there are also a few tucked into the bookcase.
In this living room, by James Farmer, a large celadon temple jar sots in front of the fireplace.
Aside from dressing up fireplaces, ginger and temple jars can be used to create a pretty centerpiece. One beautiful example is in the design by Maggie Griffin.
Another use for them is to add an accent to an entryway. The incomparable Cathy Kincaid included a large temple jar and other blue and white pottery pieces in this gorgeous vignette.
Get the Look
So, when it comes to looking for your own jars, there are, of course, several options. If I’m looking for vintage pieces, I always check out Etsy, Chairish, and my local antique shops.
For new pieces, I’ve had good luck at Home Goods. Amazon also has a pretty large selection of blue and white jars. Some of my favorites are below.
Are you a ginger or temple jar lover? Let me know in the comments!
I never knew that there were 2 types, and thought that the term ‘ginger jar’ only referred to the ones with pointy tops. Now I realize that I actually like the flat top, so prefer the original ginger jar!