Pair of Stirrups (Abumi)

Date: late 16th–early 17th century

Culture: Japanese

Medium: Iron, lacquer, mother-of-pearl

Dimensions: L. of each 11 3/4 in (29.8 cm); H. of each 10 3/8 in. (26.5 cm); W. of each 4 7/8 in. (12.5 cm)

Classification: Equestrian Equipment-Stirrups

Credit Line: Purchase, Tom and Lore Firman Gift, in honor of George and Ruth Kosaka, 2008

Accession Number: 2008.120.1, .2


Stirrups decorated with mother-of-pearl are rare, and this pair is perhaps the finest surviving example. Prominently placed on the front of each stirrup is a mon (heraldic emblem) consisting of three hollyhock leaves in a circle signifying the ownership of the Tokugawa family, which held the office of shogun (supreme military commander of Japan) from 1603 to 1868. At the time these stirrups were made, luxurious objects displaying the Tokugawa mon so prominently would have been appropriate only for Ieyasu Tokugawa, his son Hidetada Tokugawa (the first and second shoguns, respectively), or one of their closest relatives.