This item is representative of a line of porcelain wares collectively called "Dai Nga Chia" which was the insignia used by the Dowager Queen Chi Hei on her personal wares. Her life spanned the Periods of Tongzhi and Quangxu (1862-1908 AD).
The patterns often consist of magpies and peony drawn with the technique of 'ink painting' and washed into different shades. Presented in different perspectives, the flowers and leaves look three dimensional. With the background glazed in different soft colors, the patterns are beautiful and outstanding. The magpies and the peony symbolize happiness and prosperity, the wish of the owner of Dai Nga Chia. On each ware there are the three red characters of 'Dai Nga Chia', and two red oval stamps which read "Happiness to the World" and "Happiness Forever".
Nowadays, antique porcelain wares are becoming scarce. Therefore, soft-colored porcelain wares made in Qing Dynasty are sold at surprisingly high prices in world-wide auctions. For example, in November 1989, a famille rose vase (16 ½" tall) with mark and period of Yongzhen was auctioned at the Sotheby's, Hong Kong, and was sold for US $1,560,00.00 (auction Lot No. 302).
Pottery was invented by the Chinese as early as 5000 BC. However, porcelain was not successfully made until the 10th century. It was even later in the 17th century that soft colored porcelain wares first appeared. The pigment for soft colors was obtained from the oxides of various metals with low melting points. It is an over-glaze. Soft-colored porcelain wares come in many designs, including the Indian lotus, human characters, flowers, fruit, dragons, phoenixes, birds, animals, aquatic plants and other patterns. The various emperors of Qing Dynasty (1662-1911 AD) loved the soft colored porcelain wares. Official kilns were set up to produce these items for use in the Royal Palace, and as gifts awarded to the relatives of the royal family and the accredited government officials. Soft colored porcelain wares were also very popular in Europe. From 17th century, European merchants and the Dutch East India Company ordered from China soft colored porcelain wares which were made to conform with the Western culture and styles. These porcelain wares were sold in Europe and America for high prices.