Chinoiserie accessories have a long history in interior design and continue to be a popular accessory choice to add a sense of wonder to your home. I am a strong proponent of mixing old and new pieces in a room and Chinese inspired elements make fantastic additions since each piece inherently tells a story. Here are a few of the most popular chinoiserie accessories and a brief explanation of their vibrant history:
Foo Dogs are actually a male-female pair of Lions that protect your home. Originally, foo dogs were massive protective statues placed outside grand palaces and temples. The female statue, or yin, oversees the people inside of the dwelling while the male, the yang, protects the physical structure. According to Feng Shui principles, the female (often identified with her paw over a cub) should be placed on the left and the male (with his paw over a ball) on the right.
Ginger jars were used to carry and store several items, most popular of which being ginger, henceforth the name. Over time, ginger jars became popular gifts to share well wishes with its recipient. The color of the jar carries significance. Yellow was a gift from the emperor to wish a life of longevity and were often used as urns. White ginger jars were a popular wedding gift with symbols of love, health and prosperity. They often were etched with a dragon and phoenix to represent the male and female respectively. Blue or red painted jars had similar well wishes and were often presented during a special occasion to bestow happiness and prosperity. We have several ginger jars available at the shop that you can view online here.
Calligraphy brushes were used as a writing instrument to draw China’s symbolic language and were constructed out of a variety of materials such as jade or ivory for the base and horse or rabbit hair for the brush. Some were ornate pieces of art with animals and symbols carved into the base. We have a couple beautiful vintage calligraphy brushes in the shop with jade handles. Stop by to see them!
I hope you enjoyed this brief overview of the origin of popular Chinoiserie accessories and love their stories as much as I do!