Written by Jessica Graybill
Several years ago in a small town in the heel of Italy’s boot, we happened upon a man selling giare from his truck. Having seen many of these beautiful urns over the years on the old farms throughout the area, we thought they’d be a great addition to our collection back home. We love the history of these incredible pieces and love to share the knowledge with our customers!
Each of these giare are entirely handmade (originally by the coil method and later on a potter’s wheel, in segments) at least a hundred years ago in Puglia, in Southern Italy. After being left to dry as bisqueware in the sunshine, they were fired in a large wood-burning kiln – sometimes a small cave with the entrance bricked shut, or sometimes a large, deep hole with bricked sides and a removable top. Both of these types of kilns can still be seen in Southern Italy and some are still in use by “boutique” potters.
Historically, the giara would be used to store the household’s wine and would have a plate cemented on the top so the wine did not sour. Just before mealtime, the youngest child in the family would be sent down to the cellar with a pitcher to fill for the family’s supper. Once all the wine had been drained from the spigot at the bottom, the plate would be broken off (Opa! Oh wait, that’s Greek), refilled, and reused, over and over again. Decades would pass, years would take their toll, and the giara would be patched and repaired until finally it could no longer hold liquid, at which point they’d be relocated to the garden for decoration – though they were at one point so common, many of them ended up at the bottom of the Mediterranean sea, for lack of a better idea! Anyone up for a scuba dive?
Giare make a spectacular statement at the entrance of your home, in your garden, or in the corner of a room that needs some flair. Nest a small plastic pot in the top and plant hanging flowers to spill over the side, or let them stand on their own – they don’t really need a whole lot, they are so gorgeous as-is! They look especially fabulous in pairs or trios, and we are always happy to help envision your space and offer suggestions. We’ve shipped them all over the world (yes, the world!) and are happy to offer them to you with free shipping within the continental United States.
We have a beautiful selection of antique giare, each at least a century old. Some are dated, some are engraved, but each has been in daily use in a family for generations and each has its own history, as told by its chips, its repairs, and the imagination of its new owner.
And here’s just a few more photos because I couldn’t resist…