Pater Gratia Oriental Art

Chinese Porcelain


Kraak Porcelain wares 1570-1645


Closed Forms

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

Many of the closed forms, perhaps even the majority, lack one of the principal Kraak characteristics: thinness. Consequently most of these pieces are much heavier than their open counterparts. Yet it has become customary to include these forms among Kraak wares, although strictly speaking it would be more correct to refer to them as porcelain decorated in Kraak style. (Rinaldi 1989, p.166)


Closed Forms are classified by their shapes. These are divided into two major groups pouring vesses and boxes.


Shape I (c.1575-1610) pouring vessels

  • Shape I.1 (c.1570-1610) pear-shaped bottles
  • Shape I.2 (c.1585-1610) double-gourd bottles
  • Shape I.3 (c.1575-1645) kendis
  • Shape I.3a (c.1590-1645) kendis with bulbous or flanged spouts
  • Shape I.3b (c.1575-1610) kendis with long spouts
  • Shape I.3C (c.1590-1645) zoomorphic kendis
  • Shape I.4 (c.1590-1625) wine pots

Shape II (c.1590-1650) boxes

  • Shape II.1 (c.1590-1650) covered cups
  • Shape II.2 (c.1605-1650) betel boxes 

(source: Rinaldi 1989, pp.166-191)

Currently there are no closed forms for sale.