Kraack porcelain was made predominantly between the mid 16th and the mid 17th centuries. It is thought to derive its name from carracks, the types of ships used by the Portuguese to first bring this ware to Europe; but it could also come from the Dutch word kracken, which means easily breakable.
Kraackware is China’s first porcelain mass-produced for export to Europe. It was considered too coarse for the upper class Chinese and too fragile for everyday use by the poor class. The Portuguese dominated the kraackware trade to Europe until the end of the 16th century when the Low Countries interrupted this trade and forced the Dutch to obtain the ware at its source.
Fabric: Thin and light, varying in quality from fine to coarse. There are many impurities in the clay which produce pitting and small imperfections.
Glaze: There is a bluish tinge to the glaze which has a tendency to flake off of rims and give it a moth-eaten appearance. Bases are glazed and pitted. Foot rings are unglazed and it is very common to find grit adhering to them as ware was fired on a bed of sand. The glaze has a greenish hue. Decorated in underglaze cobalt blue which varies from an inky dark blue to a silvery color. The design is usually outlined in dark blue and then filled with a light wash. Common designs are of flowers, insects, and symbols painted in panels or scalloped medallions.
Form: Dishes are the most commonly produced form. Foliated rims appear frequently. Also typical to this ware are chatter-marks from the potter’s cutting tool. Kraackware also occurs as bowls, covered boxes, saucers, and bottles.