The history of Kraak porcelain is closely connected to the history of trade. These blue-and-white ceramics were produced almost exclusively for export purposes, and were taken to Europe by the Portuguese and Dutch. In their bitter struggle for hegemony in the East Indies, the Portuguese and Dutch often sank or captured each other?s ships. In 1602, two Portuguese ships full of blue-and-white porcelain were captured and taken to Holland. This was the first time northern Europe saw such a large quantity of this type of porcelain, and it was therefore called ?kraak?, after the Portuguese ?carracks? that transported it.
Some of the characteristics of Kraak ware are first seen in the first half of the 16th century. However, once the Chinese realised that the Europeans were particularly interested in ceramics as an article of trade, they quickly began to mass produce a less refined and cheaper ware with similar decorative motifs. This is the true Kraak ware and is to be dated several years after the Portuguese settled in Macao in 1557. The production of Kraak ware came to a halt around 1650, due to social unrests in the area where they were produced.
The most common shapes of Kraak ware are dishes, bowls, klapmutsen (a very un-Chinese type of shallow bowl) and a certain number of closed forms. Concerning the decoration, the most remarkable aspect is the division of the surface into panels. Popular motifs are deer in a landscape and ducks in a pond.