More than just decorative ceramics, ginger jars were originally a functional tool used to transport valuable spices. These pretty items are a little piece of Asian history and a timeless classic of home décor that can be styled in myriad ways. KAVITA MATHUR, owner of online store Red Velvet, has been designing and importing the jars for years – they form part of a treasure trove of homewares in her portfolio. We asked Kavita for some advice on styling them in our own homes.
What can ginger jars be used for?
Originally, they were used for storing and transporting spices in Ancient China. This included rarer spices such as ginger – hence the name. Their utilitarian purpose was replaced in time by a decorative one, most popularly as flower vases, but today a lot of them are also converted to vases and lamps.
Where should they placed?
They’re meant to be displayed on mantels, as centrepieces or on shelves. My favourite spot is when they are placed on the gorgeous windows of any Hong Kong home.
Are they better alone or in a cluster?
Ginger jars are usually displayed in groups of two, three or more. If you do use one as a vase, you can display it alone. Or, try a similar lamp of the same design.
Can I mix and match patterns?
Most definitely mix and match! Ginger jars are mostly identified by their blue and white designs but the more colourful versions are less popular – and, because of that, more special and hard to find. In my opinion, a mix of different sizes put with a variety of shapes and patterns provides the perfect display. Also, displaying a jar, a lamp and a vase of the same pattern looks nice.
How do I know if a classic pattern or something more modern will suit my apartment?
There’s no right or wrong way to display a set of ginger jars. These beauties go well in any setting; they are classic. So, whether you have a traditional home or a modern one, the jars will bring any space to life.
Also in store
A lacquer jewellery box by itself is a work of art, and it also makes a fantastic display box. You can use them on corner tables in your living room to add colour, and you can remove the inside trays and use the box to store remotes or any other messy looking bits and bobs.
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This article first appeared in the October/November 2019 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.