This week is Islamic Sales Week in London, with wonderful curiosities being auctioned at Sotheby’s, Bonhams and Christie’s. Lots 213 and 214 in the Sotheby’s Arts of the Islamic World & India on October 27 were created for a truly enchanted world. It was an age when two Turkish-speaking dynasties, the Ottomans and the Mughals, were the superpowers of the age.
These two pairs of Mughal spectacles are fitted respectively with diamond and emerald lenses, cut from unimaginably large precious stones in the 17th century, and fitted into diamond-encrusted, probably 19th-century frames. They each have a low estimate of £1,500,000.
The historian William Dalrymple tells their story here: