RESERVED GT Exceptioinal 18th century Biot jar - 10 Maltese Cross stamps & IHS stamp 31½"

SKU: 18536



This beautiful and rare Biot jar dates to at least the eighteenth century, possibly even the seventeenth century. Note the upright olive shape which is representative of older jars and the row of ten Maltese cross (La Croix de Malte) stamps running along the rim. There is also one Christogram with the monogram "IHS" stamped underneath the others. Minor losses and wear as seen in photos.

The "IHS" monogram, often seen as "IHC," "JHS," or "JHC," represents the first three letters of Jesus' name in Greek—iota, eta, and sigma, translating imperfectly to "JES" in Latin script. Originating as an abbreviation of "Iesus Hominum Salvator" (Jesus Savior of Humanity), it has evolved in meaning over the centuries. Introduced in Latin texts in the 7th century, it was popularized by Saint Bernardino of Siena in the 15th century to replace secular and factional symbols. The monogram later became emblematic of the Jesuits, symbolizing their dedication to Christ, following its adoption by Ignatius of Loyola in 1541.

The Maltese Cross, also known as the Croix de Malte, is characterized by its eight-pointed design. Each of the four arms is triangular, expanding towards the end and splitting into two points. This configuration is believed to represent the eight beatitudes listed in the Sermon on the Mount, and the cross’s eight points symbolize courage, loyalty, piety, generosity, bravery, glory and honor, contempt of death, and helpfulness towards the poor and sick. The origin of the Maltese Cross dates back to the Knights Hospitaller (also known as the Knights of Malta) during the Crusades in the 12th century. The Knights Hospitaller, a Christian military order founded in Jerusalem in 1099, initially provided care for poor, sick, or injured pilgrims.

After the Christian conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 during the First Crusade, it became a military religious order under its own charter, responsible for the defense of the Holy Land. After the Holy Land was lost, the order moved to Rhodes and later to Malta under the aegis of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. The cross became associated with Malta, and the Knights were known as the Knights of Malta. During their rule, the Maltese Cross became the symbol that identified the Knights in battle and adorned their flags and uniforms. Today, the Maltese Cross is widely recognized as a symbol of heroism and bravery, particularly among firefighters worldwide. It has been adopted by various fire services to signify the risks associated with firefighting and the dedication of firefighters to save lives, mirroring the original knightly virtues of selflessness and sacrifice.

These jars, originating from the Mediterranean, served multiple purposes such as storing liquids, preserving perishables, transporting goods by sea, and holding agricultural products. Made to be resistant and airtight, they were designed to protect their contents from pests and were typically sealed with wooden or terracotta lids. Some featured engraved markings or special designs for easier handling, though such innovations were not widely adopted. The village of Biot, located in an area with rich clay soils and abundant resources, became a prominent center for pottery due to the settlement of potter families around 1470. By the 16th century, Biot potters were already exporting their wares.

In 1725, following severe famines and harsh weather, Biot's villagers massively scaled up their pottery production, making large jars and pots in significant numbers; by the peak of this industry, 35 factories produced up to 588,000 jars annually. These jars were essential in storing and preserving various goods and were sold across Provence and beyond, reaching markets as far as the Americas and French colonies. However, the late 19th century brought a decline in this traditional industry due to advances in manufacturing materials like metal and plastic, as well as improved transportation methods. By 1910, only a few potteries remained. Post-World War I, there was a shift towards making decorative garden vases, and after 1945, Biot saw a revival in its pottery craft, transitioning from utilitarian to decorative objects, supported by skilled artisans and renowned artists, leading to a resurgence in its popularity and innovative designs.

See photos of stamps and Biot jars being loaded at the Port of Antibes from Amoric, Henri, Biot Jarres, terrailles et fontaines, XVIeme-XXeme siecles, 2006.

Condition and wear consistent with age and use.
Approx. overall 31½" high x 21¼" diameter externally, 10¾" diameter internally
Approx. overall 80cm high x 54cm diameter externally, 27cm diameter internally

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