The birds on the sides of the chest and back represent the nine species that represent mandarin rank. Based on embroidered stoles worn by women of the Ming Court, the void areas would have carried the insignia of the wearer's husband. The red color is very unusual and may indicate that it was made for a wedding celebration.
Compare the embroidered red satin xiapei of Qianlong date, where the rank badges are embroidered onto the front and back of the vest, included in the exhibition, Heavens' Embroidered Cloths, One Thousand Years of Chinese Textiles, The Urban Council, Hong Kong, 23 June - 17 September 1995, pp. 228-9.