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What Is the Difference Between a Ewer and a Pitcher?

Annelies de Groot

A ewer is a vase-shaped, ornate pitcher, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. They both hold liquid and have a handle and a spout, but your decoration style, needs and habits will dictate whether you use one or the other.


A pitcher is a container to hold and pour liquids.

A ewer is a decorative item that can be used as a show piece, a vase and even as a pitcher to lend social occasions or meals an extra level of glamor. Usually ewers are made with expensive and ornate materials that make regular use difficult due to the types of cleaning necessary to maintain value. Pitchers, on the other hand, are usually made of dishwasher-safe materials and are used often and regularly to hold and pour liquids.


Pitchers can vary in shape, but are all alike due to their spout for pouring, handle for carrying and tall column shaped for holding the liquid. Ewers are vase-shaped, however, and are elaborately decorated with designs, extra materials or molding. Ewers also have handles and spouts.


Pitchers and ewers are among the potsherds found at some of the oldest excavated civilizations. Umm el Qa-ab dates to 3,500 BCE in Egypt, and tombs of buried rulers are full of decorated ewers to hold drink for the deceased in the afterlife. A 4,000-year-old Armenian winery has evidence of pitchers used in holding wine.


Pitchers are often made from plastics, ceramics and glass, while ewers are formed out of stone, silver and porcelain. Ewers can be painted, inlaid with precious gems, glazed or molded with detail. Pitchers are often painted or dyed in the manufacturing process and rarely have ornate designs on their exterior due to their common uses.