Pottery is one of the world's most ancient art forms. Common among many ancient cultures, the art of pottery can be found in the histories of various countries all around the world. The products of potters were originally created as useful objects, objects necessary to everyday life. It was for these necessities that antique jars were crafted. Today, antique ceramic stoneware and jars and antique vases teach us about who our ancestors were and their ways of living.
Old jars had many uses. One of their first uses was for storing and carrying liquid. Water-jars were created to help fill the cooking and cleaning needs of a household. Later on, wine jars were also created. Ancient Greece has record of magnificent feasts in which wine was stored in large jars into which jugs known as oinchoe were dipped in order to retrieve the drink. The oinchoes were carried around the room and the wine was poured out for the guests' enjoyment.
Later in Europe's history, jars were used to store food. In fact, they were so vital to food storage that laws were passed with regard to their manufacturing. England's 1661 Parliament passed a law regarding the coarse pottery jars used to hold butter. The law stated that each jar must be able to hold fourteen pounds of butter. It also stipulated that empty jars could not exceed the weight of six pounds.
Journeys to and from the “New World” brought about another use for old jars. They stored the tobacco that sailors brought back. As the growing and smoking of tobacco spread throughout continental Europe, Africa, and Asia, specific or specialized ceramic jars were made. These ceramic tobacco jars came in many sizes, and some were even decorative pieces that were shaped like animals and people.
Europe was not the only place which used jars, though. In Asia, traders used jars to ship their goods to other Asian islands. Ceramic pots were also made for cooking and other household activities. While in other parts of South East Asia, large jars were used to bury the dead.
Today, antique jars are used as decorative pieces. They are collected all over the world by both museums and private collectors, and they cost quite a bit of money. Cost varies and is dependent on the age of the jar, the region from which it came, its original use, and how many jars of similar style and nature are left.
Different countries had different uses for their jars. Some are simple and rustic, while others are ornate and shiny. The characteristics change depending on the region and the time of creation, making each jar a piece of history, a part of a long story of lives lived and changing civilizations. It's in this potted history that the allure of antique jars lie.