While we often use the blanket term “ginger jars” to refer to all Chinese-style lidded ceramic pots, there are some subtle differences. Ginger jars typically have a bulbous body with a slightly rounded, yet otherwise flat top.
Whereas a temple jar is known for its fishtail shape and, perhaps most important, a protrusion on the top of the lid.
In China they are often referred to as “general jars,” perhaps in regard to the shape of the lid, which looks similar to that of the hat of some military personnel from long ago.
Some say these vessels were originally made to hold the ashes of the deceased, but they were used for more everyday functions for so long that it’s tough to say with certainty what their initial purpose really was — other than it was to hold something, of course.
We do know that these ceramic vessels were long used to carry all manner of goods, including salt, spices, rice and, yes, ginger, to name a few. Today, they are mainly used for purely decorative purposes.
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