From a spice storage container to a precious collectible
Drinking tea has made its way to Thailand for a period of time. It became a fashionable drink in early Rattanakosin period leading tea and tea caddies to become top imported goods. Moreover, tea caddies have been popular among porcelain collectors as well.
Known as ‘tea caddy’ in Thailand, it was recognized internationally as ‘ginger jar’. The term ‘ginger jar’ is a Western invention. In China, the shape is simply called ‘Guàn 罐’ or jar. This kind of jar originated in Qin Dynasty (221 BCE-207 BCE) as a storage receptacle for spices such as salt and ginger. When ginger became a chief export to the Western world, the vessels in which it was stored and transported became known as ‘ginger jars’.
Originally intended as a utilitarian object, the ginger jar often came with the rich colors and vibrant patterns according to the characteristic of Chinese ceramics. As time progressed, the jars became increasingly celebrated as decorative objects especially in the 18th and 19th centuries when they were highly fashionable in Europe as luxurious export goods. Therefore, a spice storage container has transformed into a precious and luxurious item.
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