The History of Ceramic Cremation Urns

by Taylor Evans March 04, 2022 8 min read

Ceramic urns for ashes came a long time after the first ceramic was made. However, people still choose handmade ceramic urns to keep their loved one’s ashes in today. If you’ve ever wondered about the history of ceramic urns, we’re going to cover it in great detail in this article.

With that said, we first want to start with the history of ceramics and move our way into urns.

The History of Ceramics 

Ceramics date back thousands of years. In fact, the ceramic trade is one of the earliest industries in the modern world. Archeologists have records of ceramic going back to 28,000 BC.

Imagine this: over 30,000 years ago, humans were making ceramics in some form.

However, the first recorded piece is a statue of a woman and is unlikely to be the first time that this individual worked on ceramics. The statue is the famous Venus of Dolni Vestonice and was found in the Czech Republic.

The site was filled with an abundance of finds, including clay figurines that depicted animals.

While this is the first example of ceramics that we’ve found, it doesn’t mean that other pieces haven’t been destroyed or lost to time that go back even further.

The History of Ceramic Urns

Over the centuries, artists who worked on ceramics started to create ornate designs and master the art. The evolution eventually led to handmade ceramic urns that are beautiful, durable and date back thousands of years.


Historical Note on Ash Collection

We have a lot of historical records showing that people’s remains were put on pyres and burned. However, the collection of ashes wasn’t seen until about 7000 BC in China. Pottery from this time was used to make urns for:

  • Children
  • Randomly for adults

For some reason, the earliest urns seemed to contain the ashes of children, but there are random examples of these pottery urns being used for adults, too.

Pottery urns at the time were not ornate, but this may be due to a lack of tools and materials.

Just like in today’s world, the ashes were believed to be stored in an urn as a way to show respect for the deceased and remember them.

It's also important to note that the growth of ceramics started to really occur in 9000 BC in the Neolithic period. One of the main differences at the time is that there were no kilns that could fire to the same level as today.

Instead, the ceramics were hardened in one of two ways:

  1. Left in the sun to dry and harden
  2. Placed in fires that reach 1,000°F or less

This is the same method that would be used to make the first ceramic urns. At the time, the urns likely would have been a simple geometric shape until they eventually reach the artisans in Europe, whom were known for their advanced art skills.

Ceramic Urns Appear in Europe

Ancient Romans were known for creating ceramic pottery vessels (which weren’t exactly urns but close) to keep their loved one’s ashes in. The ceramics of the time were more ornate than in previous examples and were known for their:

  • Durability
  • Beauty
  • Depictions

Romans loved to have a story or personal expression on the vessels because it was a way to honor and remember their loved ones.

While ceramic urns were very popular, the Romans also had very ornate urns that were made with numerous materials, such as marble. The Romans were known for having very highly decorated urns. However, the level of detail varied for the urns based on the person’s and family’s status.

The truly ornate urns were often found in the homes of the richest citizens.

Urns found for the normal person were less ornate. For hundreds of years, the world at this time viewed urns as a hygienic form of a funeral. You might even find the urns partly or completely buried in the ground in a columbarium.

It wasn’t until early Christianity that urns started to fall out of favor, primarily due to the practice being considered pagan.

Transitioning to Modern Cremation

Over the centuries, cremation has continued to thrive as less people want to bury their dead. However, the modern techniques and cremation that we know today can be traced back to Italy in the late 1800s.

Demand for cremation urns rose in North America in 1913 and has continued to grow ever since.

Of course, the vessel that holds the ashes has also evolved, but we see a lot of ceramic urns for ashes still being used today. Additional materials used in urns include wood, brass, stainless steel, glass and bronze.

Marble is another top choice for urns, although the urns are often much heavier.

Why Ceramic is a Popular Material for Urns

Most materials can be used for cremation urns, but ceramic remains a popular choice even thousands of years after the first ceramic urn had ashes placed in it.

Why do people keep going back to ceramic?

  1. Ceramic urns can come in a wide range of colors and textures.
  2. The material is easy to clean and won’t stain easily.
  3. Clay is easy to mold and can be shaped into virtually any shape.
  4. Chemical resistance makes ceramic a great choice for longevity.
  5. Unlike metal or marble urns, ceramic urns are lightweight.

The beauty and ability to decorate ceramic urns has led to the Harmony collection of urns that we’ve created to honor the deceased.

Introducing Our Harmony Urns Collection

Our Harmony collection is filled with handmade ceramic urns that beautifully honor the deceased and bring a elegant piece of art into any home. The complete collection can be found right on our site here.

We suggest viewing the entire collection to see all of the Harmony Urns offered.

A few of our most popular urns in the collection are:

Adult Harmony Wings Cremation Urns

Beautiful, decorative and elegant are all words that can be used to describe the Wings urn. This urn has a total holding capacity of 190 cu. inches and is made out of ceramic. The urn is designed to look like wings.

For the deceased who was religious, wings can symbolize the wings of an angel.

Handmade by artisans, this high-quality urn has a top lid to secure the ashes and comes with a velvet bag, too. 

Click here to view this urn.
Also available in Black Matte and Craquelure 

Adult Harmony Passage Cremation Urn

The Passage urn is another exquisite example of how ceramic can be molded to make the most unique shapes. The urn shows a passage or gateway to the other side. The adult urn can hold up to 195 cu. inches of material and has dimensions of 11.6” x 8.6” x 5.7.”

The urn is filled from the bottom, and it also includes a beautiful candle that sits in the middle that can be illuminated.

Click here to view this urn.
Also available in Craquelure

Adult Harmony Guardian Cremation Urn

A Guardian Angel is something we all want to have. They serve as protectors and guides in this life and the next. Our Guardian urn is a beautiful option that depicts an angel with wings. Many people choose this urn to hold their guardian angel’s remains inside.

The urn is filled from the bottom, holds 195 cubic inches of material and comes with a care card, too.

High-quality ceramic is used, and the design is made by an artisan. 

Click here to view this urn.

Adult Harmony Light Cremation Urn

The Light cremation urn is larger than many of the urns on our list and has a massive capacity that allows you to fill the urn with 237 cubic inches of material from the bottom. The urn is difficult to put into words, but it has a center that mimics a light beaming from the middle of the urn.

A candle is included with every order, and the urn’s dimensions are:

  • 2” x 7.6” x 9”

Click here to view this urn.
Also available in metallic cobalt blue

Adult Harmony Holy Mother Cremation Urn

Religious and beautiful, this is truly an urn that someone of faith will appreciate. The urn depicts the Holy Mother with fantastic detail. Ashes are placed in the urn from the bottom, and the entirety of the urn depicts the head of the Holy Mother.

You'll receive a care card with the urn, which has a holding capacity of 310 cubic inches.

Click here to view this urn.


Adult Harmony The Christ Cremation Urn

Along with the Holy Mother urn, we have the Christ urn, which features a similar style but depicts the head of Christ. The urn fills from the bottom and has a 311 cubic inch capacity. The urn fits perfectly on a mantle or table, and it has dimensions of 10.6” x 9.8” x 8.4.”

Like many of our other pieces, a care card is included.


Click here to view this urn.

Adult Harmony Eternity Cremation Urn

The Eternity is simple yet beautiful. This urn has a candle in the middle that you can swap out and illuminate whenever you wish. You can use any tealight candle in the space. Material capacity is 250 cubic inches, with the ability to fill the urn from the bottom.

Total dimensions for the Eternity cremation urn are 14.3” x 8.6” x 5.9.”

Click here to view this urn.

Adult Harmony Abstract Cremation Urn

Abstract is a very popular style in modern art, and this urn works to mimic the beauty of this style. While this piece is red, we offer many color options for this urn, which is made out of a square and has a flat, corner bottom that holds the urn up on an angle.

The top of the urn is a triangle shape that brings attention to the piece and makes it a true piece of art.

For the artist who passes, this urn is an excellent choice. You can fit 225 cubic inches of material in the urn, which is filled from the bottom and spans 9.8” x 10.6” x 10.6.” 

Click here to view this urn.
Also available in red.

Keepsake Harmony Wings Cremation Urn

The Keepsake Harmony Wings is the last item on our list of ceramic urns. It’s a beautiful piece and the perfect way to honor someone who is no longer with us. This urn has a small capacity of just 13 cubic inches, so it's designed to hold just a portion of your loved one’s ashes. This cremation urn is most appropriate for sharing the ashes.

Many people choose to place a small amount of ashes in this urn and scatter the remains somewhere else.

Additionally, you can add ashes to this urn and give them to other friends and family who may want to keep a piece of the dearly departed with them. The urn comes with a care card and can be filled from the bottom.

Dimensions for the Wings urn are 7.4” x 2.1” x 3.7.”

Click here to view this urn.
Also available in Oily Green 

Ceramic urns are here to stay, even thousands of years after they were first used to hold ashes. The beauty, durability and resistant properties of the material makes it one of the most popular materials for urns today.

Click here to view the complete Harmony Collection.


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