A blue and white Kraak dish

Wanli-Tianqi, c. 1600-1625

The dish has rounded sides moulded in relief with two rows of overlapping petal-shaped panels. The centre is encircled by a double-line border and painted in underglaze blue with a bird perched on a rock beside bamboo and a lingzhi, below two large peony blooms growing from leafy stems. A large flying insect and three small insects are hovering on the left side of the composition. The recessed base is inscribed in underglaze blue with a six-character Chenghua mark within a double circle.

20 cm diameter


Formerly in a Dutch private collection


Jörg, C.J.A., Oosterse Keramiek uit Groninger Kollekties, Groningen, 1982, pl. 54

Rinaldi, M., Kraak Porcelain – A Moment in the History of Trade, London, 1989, pls. 49 and pl. 38 bottom

The central decoration on this dish is painted in a very vibrant blue pigment, creating a strong contrast with the white cavetto. The border, moulded with a double row of radiating panels, is possibly inspired from Yuan-dynasty (1279-1368) carved celadon bowls, or from early Ming blue and white bowls. Although Kraak ware was mainly exported to the West, it has been suggested that dishes with this type of border were also made for the domestic market and for export to Japan.

It is rare to find apocryphal Chenghua (1465-1487) reign marks on Kraak porcelain. Only one other Chenghua marked dish of this type and size, decorated with a cricket, appears to be published. A few larger Kraak dishes with Chenghua marks decorated with dragons are known in the Netherlands.

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