Place of Origin: CHINA
Date: 18th Century
Overall Height: 180mm (7 ⅛ Inches)
These stirrups are remarkable in part on account of their sheer size and weight (2.34kg or 5.15lbs), though perhaps their most eye-catching feature are the shoulders, which have been expertly formed to depict the heads of mighty dragons. They face outwards at either side of the rectangular apertures originally used to hold the stirrup leathers. Their manes are engraved with fine lines and stream out behind them in the imagined breeze, and the scales of their crests are picked out in close detail. Plumes of smoke or clouds appear to billow out from their fanged visages and move down the sloping side-bars to the stirrups’ oval treads, which have been engraved at their edges with a recurrent spiral pattern.
Comparanda for the present example are to be found in various museum collections. The Royal Armouries has a similar pair (Object Number XXVIH.12 and recently published in the new volume Chinese Arms and Armour), though its dragon-heads are cut with thicker lines and exhibit less detail. The Beijing Palace Museum also includes in its collection a number of saddles, many equipped with stirrups of similar design to our own.
The Eliane and Guy de la Boisselière collection, Belgium
 Natasha Bennett, Chinese Arms and Armour, Trustees of the Royal Armouries, Leeds, 2018, p. 117.
 Beijing Palace Museum (author), The Complete Collection of Treasures of the [Beijing] Palace Museum: Armaments and Military Provisions, The Beijing Palace Museum, 2008, pp. 73-83, see especially Cat. Nos. 70-73.