Spanish Colonial cruciform stirrups

Masterworks of 18th century craftsmanship

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Estribos de cruz stirrups were preferred by rancheros in Texas in the 18th century. These cruciform stirrups showcase the craftsmanship of master ironworkers in Colonial New Spain, richly ornamented with trellis designs, birds, and eagles. Unique and easily identifiable by its forged wrought iron cross shape, the foot hole is at the junction of the cross bars.

A French visitor to Texas in 1769 described it as a stirrup of "at least fifty pounds in weight, composed of four massy bars of iron arranged in the form of a cross to keep the horseman steady in his seat." The 50 pound weight was an exaggeration, though most cruciform stirrups still weigh in at a hefty 11 to 15 pounds. 

Regulations enacted in the 1770s banned the use of cruciform stirrups; their size and weight made them dangerous while their cross shape made them sacrilegious. All existing stirrups were to be confiscated and destroyed. This law was difficult to enforce in the remote regions of northern New Spain, and their continued use persisted into the 1800s.

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Spanish Colonial cruciform stirrups Artifact from Austin
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