Pater Gratia Oriental Art

Chinese Porcelain


Kraak Porcelain wares 1570-1645



Dutch merchants arrived in Asia towards the end of the 16th century. The VOC, (Dutch East India Company, 1602–1799), founded in 1602, competed fiercely with the Portuguese as traders. Porcelain from captured Portuguese vessels (caraccas) was called kraak porcelain, a Dutch corruption of the Portuguese word. It was made especially for export in Jingdezhen, the porcelain centre in Jiangxi Province. The VOC shipped it in huge quantities and soon it was a commonplace item in Dutch interiors.


Kraak porcelain was primarily bought for practical use but pieces also had decorative functions. The paintings, done in underglaze blue only, show landscapes and animals, rarely human figures, making this porcelain suitable for Islamic markets, too. Buddhist and Daoist good luck symbols make up the paneled border decorations. Plates and dishes were moulded. They are thin, usually rather quickly finished and often have kiln grit adhering to the underside. The glaze on the edge is often retracted. Apart from large dishes, the bases of other objects are glazed, and the V-shaped footring is slightly undercut. Initially, the panels on kraak porcelain were raised, but this feature disappeared at the end of this period.


Following Rinaldi in her book 'Kraak Porcelain. A moment in the History of Trade.' Kraak porcelain wares have, if available, been classified into four groups:

  • Dishes
  • Klapmutsen
  • Bowls
  • Closed Forms

In turn these groups have been subdivided according to specific characteristics

There are certain general characteristics which can help in the recognition of Kraak Bowls.


The rim is always foliated with the exception of one type (Shape II), all Kraak bowls have an everted rim which may at times also be upturned. (Shape IV). Footrings are thin, usually straight and high. Bases, with very few exceptions, are always glazed, often convex and with chatter marks. Unlike dishes and klapmutsen, Kraak bowls do not have the common denominator of border styles. Bowls have been categorized according to their often very distinctive shapes. There are six such shapes, each bearing one or more typical decorative motifs, which determine a subdivision.  


Shape I (c.1570-1610) with everted rim

  • Shape I.1 with deer motif (c.1575-1610)
  • Shape I.2 with flying horse motif (c.1585-1610)
  • Shape I.3 with crowcup features (c.1590-1610)
  • Shape I.4 with flower sprays (c.1585-1600)


Shape II (c.1580-1645) with straight rim

  • Shape II.1 with cakra motifs (c.1580-1645)
  • Shape II.2 with flying horse motifs (c.1575-1600)

Shape III (c.1575-1605) with lobed sides


Shape IV (c.1595-1645) crowcups

  • Shape IV.1 typical crowcups (c.1585-1645)
  • Shape IV.2 crowcups without panels (c.1595-1620)

Shape V (c.1620-1635) bell cups


Shape VI (c.1590-1650) large size bowls

  • Shape VI.1 early large bowls (c.1590-1630)
  • Shape VI.2 Hatcher cargo bowls (c.1635-1645)
  • Shape VI.3 bowls with Transitional features (c.1635-1650)

(source: Rinaldi 1989, pp.138-165)

Currently there are no bowls for sale.