Jump to content

- - - - -

Ancient Chinese sunglasses?

  • Please log in to reply
4 replies to this topic

#1 Celestialnaut


    Commissioner (Shi Chijie 使持节)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 52 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 08 December 2006 - 06:34 PM

It may shock you to learn that sunglasses weren’t always used to protect people’s eyes from the sun. The history of sunglasses dates back to ancient China and Rome. It has been reported that the Roman emperor Nero enjoyed watching gladiator fights through polished gems. In China, sunglasses were used in the twelfth century or even earlier. Sunglasses were first made out of lenses that were flat panes of smoky quartz. These types of sunglasses could not correct vision, or protect from harmful UV rays, but did reduce glare. Chinese judges used the smoky quartz glasses to hide their facial expressions when they interrogated witnesses.

History of Sunglasses.

Has anyone heard of this before? Has anyone seen any pictures depicting the ancient Chinese sunglasses? I kind of doubt it, but it would be cool to find a picture of an ancient legal court with the Judge all decked out in specs. Doubly cool if it was Judge Di or Bao.

#2 Yoda Su

Yoda Su

    Prefect (Taishou 太守)

  • CHF Rookie Member
  • 26 posts

Posted 08 December 2006 - 07:52 PM

sunglass was ivented by chinese in 12th century/ possibly earlier. judges and lawyer used them to cover up their eye expression.

#3 General_Zhaoyun


    Grand Valiant General of Imperial Han Army

  • Owner
  • 12,287 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Singapore (Taiwanese/Singapore Permanent Resident)
  • Interests:Chinese History, Chinese Philosophy and Religion, Chinese languages, Minnan/Taiwanese language, Classical Chinese, General Chinese Culture
  • Languages spoken:Mandarin, Taiwanese (Hokkien), English, German, Singlish
  • Ethnic Groups or Race:Han Chinese (Taiwanese Hoklo)
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    General Chinese Culture
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Chinese Language, History and Culture

Posted 09 April 2009 - 12:01 AM

I think the "mentioning of ancient Chinese sunglasses dating back to 12th or 13th century" is most likely originated from Marco Polo's account of seeing Chinese officials wearing glasses in the 13th century.

There are some info from http://www.ideafinde.../sunglasses.htm

Early sunglasses served a special purpose and it wasn't to block the rays of the sun. Smoke tinting was the first means of darkening eyeglasses, and the technology was developed in China prior to 1430. These darkened lenses were not vision-corrected, nor were they initially intended to reduce solar glare. For centuries, Chinese judges had routinely worn smoke-colored quartz lenses to conceal their eye expressions in court. A judge’s evaluation of evidence as credible or mendacious was to remain secret until a trial’s conclusion.

Smoke-tinted lenses came to serve also as sunglasses, but that was never their primary function. And around 1430, when vision-correcting eyeglasses were introduced into China from Italy, they, too, were darkened, though mainly for judicial use.

Posted ImagePosted Image

"夫君子之行:靜以修身,儉以養德;非淡泊無以明志,非寧靜無以致遠。" - 諸葛亮

One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the morals. If you are not simple and frugal, your ambition will not sparkle. If you are not calm and cool, you will not reach far. - Zhugeliang

#4 Tibet Libre

Tibet Libre

    Grand Marshal (Da Sima/Taiwei 大司马/太尉)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 1,428 posts
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese History

Posted 08 February 2010 - 12:51 PM

The Chinese claim is bogus as, AFAIK, the stones were meant to protect the judges from the evil eye of the accused. That is they were actually not some rational method of dealing with sunrays, but an expression of the very opposite, a deep rooted superstition which may have, by coincidence, have a similar, but unintended effect as modern sunglasses. Glasses as such were only invented in early Renaissance Italy.

The Roman claim is btw similarly questionable, and anyway an isolated incidence.

#5 Freddy1


    Grand Mentor (Taishi 太师)

  • CHF Rookie Member
  • 457 posts
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese Religion
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Cultural Anthropology

Posted 26 June 2010 - 11:01 PM

i have never heard of Chinese sunglasses. I Have heard of Eskimos/Inuit & other native peoples (people of the far North in U.S. state of Alaska or northern Canada). Made sunglasses made by "birch bark wood" (maybe animal hide as well). Basically a thin slit was made in the bark to allow some light in but wide enough to see and worn to protect from "snow blindness" during the winter.

2 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users

    Google (1)