The Kraak Porcelain Pattern

Kraak porcelain was made in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and is one of the earliest blue and white porcelain styles made for the European market.
It was first brought to Europe by the Portuguese and the Spanish. Later the Dutch East India Company (V.O.C.) shipped huge quantities to Europe after they captured a Portuguese ship transporting a cargo of this type of porcelain, which was very welcome on the Dutch market.

Left:
Kraak plate, late Ming dynasty

The name Kraak itself is a Dutch transcription of the Portuguese word 'Carraca', or 'Carrack' in English, a type of ship the Portuguese used at the time. The word 'Kraak' appears to have been first used in the seventeenth century by the Dutch and it is now the accepted name for this pattern.

Kraak is predominantly known for its blue and white plates, dishes and bowls. Although there do exist other items in lesser numbers, like vases. Kraak tyoe porcelain was made in Jingdezhen and in Zhangzhou (Zhangpu) and is basically an early type of export porcelain. There also exists a rare green and red version of the Kraak wares, the color tone of which is similar to the green and red Ming wares exported from Jingdezhen and Zhangzhou (Zhangpu) to Japan. Kraak wares made in Jingdezhen are generally of higher quality.

Basically, this pattern consists of a central medallion decoration, while the rim is divided into a number of sections with their own individual decorative content. A decoration is also present on the underside of the plate, although often somewhat simplified.

Above:
Kraak plate made in Jingdezhen

While the Kraak pattern was made mainly during the Ming dynasty, it continued to be manufactured into the early Qing dynasty. The latter is recognizable from its better quality of the glaze. Usually, it also has less kiln sand adhering to the bottom. With Ming Kraak it is also normal that there are spots along the rim edge where the clay is exposed by the white glaze. See Kraak wares displayed by a museum collective in the Netherlands.
Chinese export wares with the Kraak design were mainly made from the Ming dynasty (Wanli reign) until Qing dynasty. Exports ceased in the 18th century, possibly due to newer porcelain designs and techniques.
Care must be used when identifying Kraak style porcelain; these wares were extensively copied and reproduced in Japan until more recent times.


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