In Uncategorized on July 16, 2012 at 8:14 pm

In historic-time-ambiented mangas often people wear sunglasses!! Outraged by this (possibly) complete nonsense, I was looking up the thing in wikipedia, convinced as I was that sunglasses were invented recently. It isn’t like that actually (…which doesn’t change the fact that samurais were not using sunglasses at that time, grrr!) as I describe below:

Roman Emperor Nero  is said to like watching the gladiator fights through polished light emerald green gems held up to his eyes, functioning as mirrors. It’s not even sure that the effect of those was more influencing the light’s color, or rather multiplying the copies of the gladiators’ images like in a kaleidoscope.

The invention of (true) sunglasses was somewhere between 1268 and 1289 in Europe, perhaps earlier in China.

A visual historical recording of early sunglasses is a painting done by Tommaso da Modena in 1352 (internet says). This was the first painting of a subject in sunglasses and many more were to follow as it became a fashionable symbol of distinction or honor.

(here is a picture by Tommaso di Modena, but those are actually just normal glasses: why else would the monk use them for writing down notes?.. If you find a true-sunglasses-T.d.M.-picture please let me know.)

Around the twelfth century, sunglasses were worn by Judges in the Courts of China. Those smoky quartz, flat-glassed panes were not used as protection from the sun, but rather to conceal any expression in their eyes to keep from giving away the outcome of their decisions.

(Here some smoky quartz)

(..and a Chinese judge. I have no idea if old-Chinese-judge-sunglasses looked like that or if it’s a reconstruction [or a fake!])

Prescription sunglasses were introduced in Italy in the 1430s. By the 1600’s people began to realize the benefits of prescription glasses as helping the elderly to see better and the motto “A Blessing to the Aged” came into being in 1629. It was the motto of an English eyeglasses manufacturer, Spectacle Makers Company. In the mid 18th Century, James Ayscough developed blue and green corrective lenses which began the use of sunglasses for correcting optical impairments.

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