This lot belongs to a series of dishes with highly auspicious decorations. In the present example, the border is intricately painted inside the rim with 'one hundred bats'. Although the incised decoration is often obscured by the enamel design, the inscription is important for the attribution of the dish where the incised characters hong fu qi tian represents an imperial birthday greeting. A number of dishes with similar inscriptions are known and they are all believed to have been made for the sixtieth birthday of the Kangxi emperor in 1713, and are often referred to as the 'Birthday Service.' According to R. E. Scott in For the Imperial Court: Qing Porcelain from the Percival David Foundation, 1997, p. 48, it seems unlikely that these porcelain items were actually used by the guests at the imperial birthday celebrations but were probably presented to each guest to be kept as family heirlooms. A similar dish from the David Foundation, depicting a bird perched on a fruiting apricot tree is illustrated ibid, p. 49, pl. I.
Most of these 'birthday' dishes are decorated with birds on fruiting or flowering branches, such as the example from the Jingguangtang and Barbara Hutton Collections sold in these Rooms, 3 November 1996, lot 586, with an eagle perched on the branch of a fruiting ginko tree inscribed with wanshou wujiang on the rim. Other variations of the design include ducks in a lotus pond, birds in flight, and more unusually, Daoist fairies.