Place of Origin: SURAKARTA (JAVA), INDONESIA
Date: 16th Century
Overall Height: 130mm (5 ⅛ Inches)
These stirrups, originating from the historic royal capital of Surakarta, Indonesia, are exceptionally rare, beautifully formed, and – given their age – in excellent condition.
The vast majority of the iron stirrups’ surface retains the original gold leaf that has been applied throughout, except at the top-apertures through which a leather strap would have originally been threaded to secure the stirrups to a saddle. At either side of the apertures, the heads of regal naga – mythical sea serpents thought to have entered the Javanese visual tradition from the 10th century A.D. – face outwards, their mouths open to reveal rows of formidable teeth. Their eyes are inset with rubies, as are their crowns, which indicate the naga’s dominion over the underworld.
The sidebars have been carved and engraved in close detail on their outer faces to depict the serpents’ crescent scales and ridged crests. The treads then are pierced with a symmetrical openwork trellis pattern, the undersides applied with silver instead of gold.
As is indicated in the text cited below, the only known pair which is comparable to this example is preserved in the Court of Holland – these stirrups are, very nearly, one of a kind.
Eliane & Guy de la Boisselière, Éperonnerie et parure du cheval, Racine Publishing, 2005, p. 60, fig. 85.
The Eliane and Guy de la Boisselière collection, Belgium
 Ann R. Kinney, Worshipping Siva and Buddha: The Temple Art of East Java, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 2003, pp. 51-52; 201.