Porcelain ginger jars, a longstanding favorite amongst interior designers, are rich in centuries of Chinese history and culture, dating as far back as the Qin Dynasty (221 BC—207 BC). The hand-painted jars were long used for storing rare spices such as salt, herbs, and ginger (hence the name). In the 17th century, the British began exporting these porcelain wares and called them “china.” Showcasing these pieces in one’s home during this time came to symbolize wealth, sophistication, and travel. Today, designers are often creating an elevated high/low approach with these beautiful blue-and-white pieces.
The key is to not be too precious with them. Make them functional. Convert them into lamps or flower pots. Here, I store my croquet set in a large 20” jar but your umbrellas could be just as fitting. My friend Mariah, the equine lover behind Quite Continental, displays polo mallets in hers. The floral patterns and bulbous hand-painted body introduce a subtle femininity to a room. Larger antique Chinese porcelain ginger jars can still be found for upwards of $600; however, they will typically show heavy signs of wear and tear and are often very fragile. New reproductions, ideal for decorating and re-purposing, can be had for a fraction of the cost at shops like Etsy and Pearl River. It’s about the mix—Chinese ginger jars with Persian rugs with mid-century modern Bertoia chairs.