What are Ginger Jars?
I love ginger jars! What isn’t there to like? Useful, beautiful and versatile jars that have been around for centuries.
According to the dictionary, a Ginger Jar is:-
A Chinese Jar having a wide mouth, globular body and a dome shaped cover.
Which makes it sound very boring and mundane, something a ginger jar certainly isn’t!
Originating in China, they were used by the early Chinese traders as receptacles for transporting spices, in particular, ginger, along the Asian and Middle Eastern Spice Roads. Their design allowed for (relatively) easy transport. Having a heavy squat base and cover, with a low centre of gravity, so that the precious spices arrived upright and in pristine condition in their European markets in the Middle Ages.
However, the (mainly blue and white decorated jars) were so highly prized in Europe that from the 1600s the jars were sought almost as much as the spices they contained! This led to the creation of the iconic blue and white delftware in Europe.
Decorative Home Décor
The European love of these distinctive jars led to a plethora of patterns and designs, which reached a height in the 19th Century to mid-20th Century where the humble ginger jar became a highly regarded piece of decorative artwork and not just a receptacle for spices!
They may have gone out of fashion in the new millennium but they still remain beautiful and useful pieces of home décor. Every home should have at least one! I use them for storing small soaps and cotton wool in the bathroom; pins and needles for emergency button sewing when you don’t want to dig out the sewing basket; spice and flour storage in the kitchen, and as decorative objects in the living room.
Some of the more innovative and creative types convert the jars into other useful household objects, including lamp bases and indoor planters. I wouldn’t dream of doing this to an antique ginger jar but there are many vintage jars around without lids which would be ideal for this purpose!
So there you have it; a ginger jar isn’t just a vessel for storing ginger but a versatile piece of art for the beautiful home!