Lady head vases are made of ceramic. They have holes in the top of their heads and were originally sold at florists' shops as vases to hold flowers.
Most of the vases were imported from Japan in the early 1950s to 1970s. At that time they were very inexpensive and were sold at many five-and-dime stores across the country (source: ladiesofthehouse.com)
The most sought-after head vases with collectors today are ones that have embellishments, such as earrings and necklaces. See images (front and back) of a head vase of a lady wearing a black dress and red ribbon on her hair. She has a red heart applied necklace and pearl style earrings. (Image courtesy of antiqueheadvases.com)
DID YOU KNOW that several head vases were made to resemble movie and TV stars and other famous women, such as Jackie Kennedy, Lucille Ball, and Bette Davis, to name a few. See this example called "Donna Reed," the TV actress of the late 50s to mid 60s sitcom The Donna Reed Show. (Image courtesy of antiqueheadvases.com)