Comics meet porcelain in the Je Kraak collection, telling stories with different themes, by comic book illustrators. Turning porcelain – with its curved and boundless surface – into an unprecedented comic book format proves that comic books do not have to be constrained to the flat limits of a paper or electronic book.
The Portuguese were the first to bring porcelain from China by sea, in the 16th century. Vista Alegre celebrates this moment of contact between the East and the West with Talha Mare Clausum, of the collection Je Kraak. Fernão Peres heard stories from faraway China, where skilled craftsmen carved milky white pieces from shells. They were said to have magical properties – if poison was poured into a bowl, it would break, exposing the murderer. Little Fernão dreamed of this mysterious Chinese crockery, which they called porcelain. In 1598, on board of the Santa Iria carrack, Fernão Peres saw an armada of the Dutch East India Company, which coveted the porcelain and opposed the monopoly of the Portuguese Mare Clausum (kraak, the Dutch name given to this porcelain, comes from the Portuguese carrack ships, hence the name of this collection – Je Kraak). Fernão was forced to hand over their precious cargo in exchange for the crew’s life. However, when they opened the trunks in Amsterdam, the Dutch found they had nothing but shells: Fernão had hidden the porcelain under dry fish provisions, knowing they wouldn’t look for it there. Thanks to this strategy, the porcelain arrived in Lisbon.