The Timeless Charm of Ginger Jars

luxury home furnishings with ginger jars as decor

If you’re a fan of traditional design, you likely will have seen a great many examples of ginger jars in your lifetime. These charming collectibles were originally used to store spices, but today they are primarily decorative objects that bring a touch of sophistication to any home. Often hand painted with a blue and white pattern depicting rural Chinese scenes, flora, and fauna, including fish and dragons, they are instantly recognizable around the world.

Here’s what you’ve always wondered about these iconic jars.

interior design services placed ginger jars on a side table

What Are Ginger Jars?  

Ginger jars are a type of porcelain container with a lid that were first used during the Qin Dynasty in China. While beautifully decorated, their purpose was originally more functional as they were used to store herbs and spices. Characteristically, these jars come in multiple sizes and have a curved shape with a wide middle section and a smaller opening and base. They typically feature a matching domed lid.

vintage style home decor with ginger jar

Ginger Jars’ Journey West 

During the 19th century, the jars, which were just called “guan” or jar in China, made their way to Europe. While they carried different kinds of spices, Europeans started calling them ginger jars. While they were very useful in the home, they eventually became more of a decorative piece, which is how they remain today.

home decor furniture

How to Decorate with Ginger Jars

Bringing a touch of chinoiserie to your home, ginger jars can be placed in any part of the house, from the living room to the kitchen. They can be grouped together for a stronger impact, or stand alone as a statement piece. We often see one used at either end of an entry table or bookshelf as anchors. As can be seen on this dining table, they work really well as centerpieces filled with flowers.

interior design

Classic Blue & White

The most common type of ginger jar features a blue and white pattern, which dates to the 15th century Ming Dynasty. Blue and white ginger jars are not only beautiful, but they coordinate with almost any color decor. You can keep their lid on or fill them with bright red roses, yellow tulips, purple irises, or pale green eucalyptus. Or, add them to a room filled with blue hues to create an eye-catching and serene effect.

furniture stores charleston

Other Popular Patterns

There are numerous other styles of ginger jars that share the same general shape, but feature a different pattern and history. These include Imari jars, which originated in Japan in the 17th century and feature bright, multi-hued red and blue scenes of dragons, florals, and villages. There are also Famille Verte and Famille Rose ginger jars, where the former is made with a bright clear enamel and the latter features a soft opaque enamel.


Bring Home a Contemporary Ginger Jar from GDC

With their aesthetic appeal and lasting functionality, ginger jars are worth adding to your collection of statement home decor items. They have become so ingrained in Western culture that you don’t need to travel to pick up a stunning version for your home. Add these beauties to your living or dining room, or gift them to a friend filled with their favorite flowers.


Shop the Look


Ming Temple Jar

This museum quality piece is hand-thrown and hand-painted with the same pigment that was being used 200 years ago. The heavy porcelain is so white it has a bluish quality.

View Product

Ming Lidded Jar

The body of the Ming Lidded Jar is hand-built with raw porcelain panels and hand-painted with the same pigment that was being used 200 years ago. The white porcelain is so white it has a bluish quality

View Product

Ming Planter

The body of the Ming Planter is hand-thrown and hand-painted with the same pigment that was being used 200 years ago. The white porcelain is so white it has a bluish quality.

View Product

Jalousie Tea Canisters, Set of 2

The Jalousie Tea Canister Set is a pair of hand-painted stoneware canisters in a mix of pale ivory and blue reactive colors in a wave pattern.

View Product

You May Also Like…

Claire Candleholders, Set of 2

Crystal block candleholders with brass finished legs.

Shop Now

Peconic Rope Basket

Versatile leather and rope basket.

Shop Now

Cable Chain Tray

100% cast iron frame finished with a mirrored bottom.

Shop Now

#GDCHOME

Explore more of our latest styles and keep up-to-date with design trends by following GDC Home on our social platforms below. View our gallery and use the hashtag to find your next design inspiration!

View All