Made predominantly during the late Ming dynasty in kilns located in Jingdezhen in southern China, Kraack ware is the first porcelain that was mass produced for export to Europe. Generally, objects classified as Kraack porcelain include hand-painted cobalt blue symbols in panels or scalloped medallions. However, the ware has been broadened by some porcelain scholars to include all vessels produced for export during the late Ming period in the Jingdezhen kilns.
Portuguese merchants dominated the Kraack porcelain trade to Europe until the end of the 16th century. Portuguese trade was interrupted by war in the Low Countries, which forced the Dutch to obtain the ware at its source. The name Kraack is believed to derive from the Portuguese trading ships, known as carracks. However, it may have come from the Dutch word kracken, which means easily breakable.
Fabric: The dense, white clay fabric contains minute, evently distributed impurities. Vessels are thinly potted and light. Impurities in the clay causepitting and small imperfections.
Glaze: The glassy feldspathic glaze with a pale bluish tinge has a tendency to flake off or pull away from rims. Exterior bases are usually, but not always, glazed. The edges and bases of footrings are unglazed, and sometimes the grit from the sand they were fired on adheres. Decorated under the glaze, designs are 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 common are chatter-marks from the potter’s cutting tool. Kraack ware forms found at James Fort include wine cups, cups, bowls, and dishes in a variety of sizes.