a beautifully set table using Blanc de Chine jars
photo, Better Homes & Gardens
Like many decorators, I love to incorporate wares from around the globe into my interiors. I specifically like to mix in Chinese porcelain and accessories with my other decorative arts, and one of my very favorites are Ginger Jars. Originally used centuries ago in China as canisters to store household items, such as spices, salt, sugar, these beauties were first ceramic and then made in porcelain during the Han Dynasty during the years 220 AD. Today they make gorgeous decorative items throughout the home and in vignettes and even when re-purposed as lamps. My favorites are the typical blue and white ones which were glazed first back in the Tang Dynasty during the years 600-900. They work well in both modern and traditional design as lamps, decorative objects, cache pots and vases. The shape is usually with a wider mouth, a top lid and a bulbous shape on the bottom.
examples of my own Ginger Jar lamps picked up over the years
photo I took of a variety of jar lamps while shopping
at Beall & Bell Antiques in Greenport, Long Island
It is considered bad luck to give away a Ginger Jar that was given as a gift, so hold onto yours if you can. It has been said that different colors hold special meaning...
It was considered a special, noble gift to give yellow Ginger Jars and they were often bestowed upon the Emporer embodying his special color.
Was often given as wedding gifts, and hand painted with personal inscriptions wishing the owner health and longevity.
Blanc de Chine are white cut jars which symbolize happiness, prosperity & fertility. They were designed with a Dragon and Phoenix inscribed: Dragon represents the groom, Phoenix the bride.
red jars bring happiness and prosperity
My favorite are the blue and white jars which espouse to bring double happiness and are gifted on special occasions with the intention to last a lifetime.
Typical blue and white jars source 1st Dibs.
When setting a table, I like to use the blue and white jars in varying heights can make a big impactin love with these blue and white jars photo--photo via
The Ginger Jar was mass produced during the 19th Century and exported around the world. Today, you can pick up an original antique or many reproductions in the manner of the Chinoiserie style.
All the images in this post credited on my Ginger Jar board
I like to vary the heights and use them mixed with plants and accessories on a hall table or set on a dining room centerpiece, and even sometimes on my outdoor table when entertaining under the pergola.