Ginger jars are identified by their high-shoulders, rounded shapes, small mouths, and domed lids that often continue the piece’s exterior decoration all the way up to the finial. Though ginger jars were initially used to store and transport spices, hence their name, the containers (which usually lack handles) have been used chiefly as decorative objects since the 19th century, when demand in the West for Chinese antiques spurred the export of these pieces to Europe, as well as the manufacture of copycat jars in pottery centers such as Staffordshire.

Some of the decorative treatments on ginger jars have included dragons, carp, landscapes, and florals, either glazed in a rainbow of colors or limited to the blues and whites of flow blue. Because of their wide shape, ginger jars lent themselves to a “rose medallion” treatment, in which florid designs around the jar framed smaller scenes, almost like a graphic novel in porcelain. Today, because the jars are squat, giving them a low center of gravity, they are sometimes converted into table lamps.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Asian Art Museum

Asian Art Museum

You can get happily lost searching through the 10,000 or so objects on the Asian Art Museum's website. For example,… [read review or visit site]

Jan-Erik Nilsson's extensive reference on antique Chinese porcelain. Jam-packed with information (e.g. on porcelain… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

Chinese Ming Dynasty Blue Glazed Guan Jar, 16th C., Jiajing PeriodStunning Pair Of Antique Chinese Porcelain Blue And White Ginger Jars W/ Dragons19 Th Century Chinese Ginger Jar Monochrome Blue Ground Mark To Base Kangxi Bohemian Art Glass Vase Loetz Slag Glass Marbled Persian Ginger Jars PairAntique Chinese Asian 18c Kangxi Period Blue White Silver Covered Jar Tea CaddyHuge Antique Chinese Ginger Jar 34.5cmAntique Chinese Asian 18c Kangxi Period Blue White Silver Covered Jar PerfumeFine Antique Chinese Kangxi 1662-1721 Blue & White Porcelain Ovoid Jar & Cover Chinese Antique Ginger Jar 19th C Guangxu, Famille Rose Enamels Red Seal MarkAntique Chinese Famille Rose Jar A Rare/beautiful Chinese 18c Blue&white "sea Beast" Jar - KangxiLot 7 Antique Chinese Carved Wood Stands Vase Jade Bowl Ginger Jar Lid Top Antique Chinese Asian 18c Kangxi Period Blue White Silver Ewer JarAntique Oriental Japanese Chinese Cloisonne Jar With LidChinese Pewter & Enamel Tobacco Jar Box Agate Penguin Finial Yamanaka JapanVtg Chinese Export Porcelain Blue White H/p Prunis Floral Ginger Jar Vase Nr Bkp19c Chinese Export Blue & White Canton Porcelain Ginger Jar No ReserveUnusual Chinese Blue And White Ginger JarChinese Sancai Glazed Green Vase & Dragon Ginger Jar Signed Porcelain LotChinese Antique Blue And White Ginger Jar - Kangxi 4 Character MarkDollhouse Miniature Artisan Signed 3 Pc Ginger Jar Set 1:1219th C. Antique Chinese Porcelain Famille Verte Ginger JarOld Antique Japanese Satsuma Porcelain Signed Ginger Jar W Cover 6 ScenesChinese Antique Famille Verte Ginger Jar - Kangxi 6 Character Mark _ Guangxu ?Vintage Chinese Blue & White Ginger Jar Vase Dragon Painted Signed 7.5 X 3" Mached Pair Antique 19th Century Chinese Prunus Blossom Ginger Jars Kangxi (2) Rare 19th C Fine Antique Old Chinese Porcelain Pair Temple Jars Chinese Porcelain Spice Jar & Cover : Prunus Pattern (marked)Pair Of Chinese Export Kangxi Style Prunus Blue White Porcelain Ginger Jar Bkp Fine Chinese Porcelain Monochrome Green Crackle Glaze Ginger Jar Chinese Blue And White Ginger Jar Marked On BaseAntique Signed Chinese Republic Period Handled Bronze Censor Covered Jar No ResChinese Porcelain Spice Jar & Cover : Prunus Pattern Antique Chinese Stoneware Ginger Jar/pot, 19thc.Antique Qing Chinese Cloisonné Covered Jar Compote Foo Dog Finial Enamel A Pair Of Chinese Enamel On Brass Lidded Ginger JarsAntique Carved Chinese Tobacco Jar Or Tea CaddyChinese Antique Large Size Prunus Ginger Jar 19th Century - Kangxi Ring MarkChinese Antique Famille Rose Jar 8 Boys & Fish Bowl Decoration Guangxu /republicStunning 19th Century Chinese Carved Bamboo Tea CanisterChinese Cloisonne Covered Jar With Scholar Implements/100 Antiquities MotifAntique Chinese Asian Blue & White Ceramic Lidded Bowl / Jar DragonPair Of China Ginger Jars Marked With China Mark- Famille Rose With Flowers PinkOld Antique Chinese Blue & White Porcelain Ginger Jar Dragons With Lid19th C. Chinese Porcelain Cantonese Famille Rose With Blue Ground Tea Jar CaddyMuseum Quality Northern Song Dynasty Ding Melon Lobed Small JarE7066:chinese Tin Flower Bird Poetry Sculpture Tea Caddy Chaire Container,autoAntique 15thc Ming Dynasty Blue & White Ginger Jar / Tea Jar Large Chinese Porcelain Temple Jar Ginger Happiness & Good Luck Symbols 25 CmAntique Ming / Qing Dynasty Kitchen Pottery Ginger Jar Vase SignedEarly Large Chinese Cloisonne Ginger Jar With LidE7327:chinese Wooden Karaki Container For Article Accessories Case Box Vintage Oriental Blue And White Ginger Jar Ceramic Flow Blue - Free Post UkSigned Vintage Asian Chinese Blue White Hand Painted Porcelain Ginger Jar LidC.19th - Antique Vintage Chinese China Blue And White Stoneware Ginger Pot JarChinese Pottery And Porcelain Jar Of Pure HandmadeVintage Cloisonne Ginger Jars Blue Green Floral Pattern Marked ChinaSigned Chinese Porcelain Jingdezhen Turquoise Dragon Ginger Jar Tea Caddy VaseSet Of 2 Flower Ceramic Urn Ginger Jar Vase With LidVintage Chinese Blue & White Flowers & Leaves Design Ginger Jar/pot 10 Cms Tall