The magpie is a symbol of good luck and happiness, and is considered to be a carrier of good news. It is also associated with success in the civil service examinations. Due to its significance in the legend of the founding of the Manchu dynasty, the magpie was frequently represented in painting and decorative arts throughout the Qing period.
Compare the current lot to a pair of cloisonné enamel magpies with similarly-wired and enamelled feather details illustrated in Die Ware aus dem Teufelsland: Chinesische und Japanische Cloionné- und Champlevé-Arbeiten von 1400 bis 1900, Hannover, 1981, p. 179, no. 100.