Early Chinese Scholar’s Sun Glasses
19th or early 20th centuries
width: 14.2 cm, diameter of each lens: 5.3cm
These spectacles, fashioned from smoky glass in brass mounts and with brass arms that terminate with horn discs, were worn by scholars in China. They appear to be to lessen the effects of bright light only; they do not have any magnification. Two Chinese ‘cash’ motifs are incorporated into the bridge of the frame.
The earliest excavated crystal glasses in China date to the East Han Dynasty (25-220 AD). Marco Polo observed elderly Chinese using spectacles during his travels in China in the thirteenth century.
A similar pair is illustrated in Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, Mightier than the Sword: Arabic Script – Beauty and Meaning, IAMM Publications, 2004, p. 178.
Inventory no.: 520