Cloud shoulder, named after the cloud-shaped decorative pattern it usually adopted, is a shoulder ornament that enjoyed huge popularity during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368 AD). Most cloud shoulders employed geometric frameworks, a common one of the which is four ruyi-shaped cloud patterns in cruciform symmetry. With the decorating integrating elements from the Han, Mongolian and Islamic cultures, cloud shoulders show varied theme preferences on different parts, for instance, the inner circle of which are more often themed on flowering branches, pomegranates, dragons playing with pearl, lingzhi-shaped clouds, phoenix flying through peony blossoms, three-foot bird on the Sun, Moon Rabbit on the Moon, curly dragons, etc., while the outer section usually features flowers on branch, looking-around deer, lions and lotus blossoms in a purple pond.
Probably part of the left section of a cloud shoulder, this fragment was made of kesi, a silk tapestry literally meaning “cut silk”, named for the cut-like edges of patterns on the foundation weave. The section encircled by the curly-leaf motifs is filled with peony branches with leaves and blossoms, while the medallion above features the Moon Rabbit, or Jade Rabbit, a character in household Chinese myth, grinding herbal medicine under a sweet olive tree. Further above lies a row of lingzhi-shaped cloud motifs that were commonly-seen in the Yuan dynasty, as well as the remaining half-dragon with the other elements of the “dragon playing with pearl” pattern missing.