Mandarin (“bureaucrat”) squares, also known as rank badges, are large tapestry or embroidered badges with colorful animal or bird insignia that indicate rank. These were sewn onto the coats of officials in Imperial China. This Ming Dynasty badge is a silk tapestry weave (known as k’o-ssu or “cut silk” in Chinese) and represents two peacocks in stylized clouds, the insignia of a civilian officer, third rank.
Leigh Ashton and Basil Gray, Chinese Art (London, 1935) p. 294, no 116a and pl.
"Seldom Seen," Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C., April 21, 2014.