Fillis and Polo Stirrup Irons
The stirrup was invented relatively late in history, considering that horses were used for bareback riding and to pull carts or war chariots since the fourth millennium BC. They are mentioned in early Chinese literature and examples which must be earlier than the 7th century A.D. have been found in Japan; the true stirrup was apparently invented in northern China by the nomadic Turkic tribes in the first few centuries AD, although a simple loop through which the rider placed his big toe was already to be seen in India either by 4th century BC (Desmond Morris, Horse Watching 1998), or the 2nd century BC.
Used first as a single mounting stirrup used only in mounting the saddle; the first known representation of a rider with paired stirrups is in a Jin tomb of about 322 AD. The stirrup was spread throughout Eurasia by the great horsemen of the central Asian steppes. It is uncertain when it was first adopted by the nomads. The first attested use is by the Alans. The Greeks and Romans did not use them but mounted by vaulting or from a mounting block. Some historians believe the Huns must have used them to enable their conquests, but there is no evidence for this.
Stirrups reached Sweden in the 6th century, leading to the establishment of mounted Thegns during the Swedish Vendel Age. Stirrups have been found in rich graves of mounted elite warriors from this period. The importance of the horse during this time is reflected in the later Norse sagas, where the 6th century Swedish king Adils is said to have been a great lover of horses and to have had the best horses of his days.
Stirrups were first indirectly documented in Central Europe during the reign of Charles Martel in the 8th century, when verbs scandere and descendere among the Franks replace verbs denoting "leaping" upon a horse. A pair of stirrups have been found in an 8th century burial in Holiare, Slovakia. The stirrup of the early Middle Ages seems to have been light and semicircular or triangular in shape. By the 14th century the footplate became broader and the sides heavier and ornamented. By the 16th century this ornamentation increases and open metal-work is used to produce stirrup.