Saturday, December 22, 2012

Voynich Manuscript: the Dirty Sleeve

Somebody handling the Voynich Manuscript through the centuries had a very dirty sleeve. Strip of fabric decorating the end of the sleeve of mysterious person's garments left marks on folio 11v. So if you are expert in textile technologies and history of fashion give us your insights!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Voynich Manuscript: the Golden Horde

The official White House photo showing Vice President Biden being entertained in Mongolia is another nice illustration for my geopolitical theory about the 'zodiac' section of the Voynich Manuscript (see here). The archer seem to carry a bow typical for the time of the Golden Horde. The note underneath appear to be in some kind of Oriental script that is otherwise absent from the rest of the Voynich Manuscript.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Voynich Manuscript: the Lemon Juice Arsonist

The remarks written on the last page of the Voynich manuscript (fol 116v) puzzle the researchers for a century now.

 Part of the mystery is about to be lifted today. The second word appear to spell "limon (the first letter is the Greek Lambda -uppercase Λ, lowercase λ  ). It looks like the author of the remark is listing the positions (the third word spells something like pociicii) of the lemon juice written text in the manuscript. That explains why there are so many burn marks in the book that is otherwise so well preserved. 

The arsonist burning the pages to the point of unrepairable damage probably didn't have much success in discovering invisible ink, but did not give up easily, causing holes mostly over the plant illustrations.

In case you wonder, the lemon juice invisible ink trick does work on parchment even better than on paper, because the animal skin is not wrinkled as easily by the liquid "ink".

I personally belive there is no lemon ink in the Voynich manuscript, however, somebody had the opportunity to search for it and unfortunately destroyed parts of the manuscript.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Voynich Manuscript: Peter of Candia, Pope Alexander V

So far in my quest for creating new Voynich theory, based on my own biases, I transformed the 'zodiac pages' pages into map of Europe representing the situation in the Old World between 1400 and 1410 (time when Elizabeth of Nuremberg held the title of Roman Queen as portrait on the Teutonic Order chart) . It appears that the VMS is product of social mingling during increased diplomatic activities in Europe dealing with the Great Schism and the rise of the Ottomans.

I assigned all the ‘zodiac’ symbols to countries from England all the way to the Golden Horde, but what about all the Suns and Moons that appear in the illustrations?

The answer is found on the coats of arms of the Popes (and anti-Popes) that ruled during that time period between 1400 and 1410.

As you can see, we don’t have to go to astrology to find celestial symbols in this time frame.
It is the Sun Pope, Alexander V, who caught my attention.  His name was Petrus Philargos (also  Pietro Filargo and few dozen other spellings). He was known also as Peter of Candia (or Peter from Crete). His life story is truly unique and his missionary and diplomatic activities sent him all over the map of Europe. Born on Crete, he was found as a child with no family, begging from door to door, by Franciscan friar who educated him in the Venetian part of the island before taking him to Italy.
Pietro’s education continued at Oxford and Paris. His missionary work included Russia, Poland and Lithuania. Pietro was sponsored by Giangaleazzo Visconti. Peter and his friend and secretary Decembrio supported   Chrysoloras, ambassador sent by Byzantine Emperor Manuel II to spread the Greek culture in the West. 

 Philargo was able to secure the title of Duke for his Milan supporter after mission to Bohemia. Soon after the death of Visconti, who made Pietro Archbishop of Milan, the future Sun Pope was created into cardinal (with Sun on his coat of arms) and in 1409 was elected Pope as Alexander V during the Counsel of Pisa. That worsened the Great Schism because the Moon Pope and the Rome Pope refused to resign. 

I was able to observe manuscript of Pietro di Candia from his lecture in Wien in 1393, held in Bayerische Staatsbibliothek.  Couple of pages was enough to extract symbols very similar to the Voynich European Alphabet (EVA). On top is Pietro’s manuscript; on the bottom is the EVA.

Below is the sample page where the symbols come from. The manuscript appears to be written by more than one scribe. Some pages are neatly done (I would guess by Pietro’s secretary), some are messy, but rich and diverse in symbols (I would guess, the lecturer himself).  

 More comparison based on the VMS 'zodiac' sign writings:

Petros Philargos died eleven months after being elected Pope during visit to Bologna, where his tomb (decorated in the style of Visconti Tarot cards) is located.

While browsing through the Cary-Yale Visconti tarot set I realized the game at the time was closer to the modern Monopoly than to exotic future-readers in smoky rooms with crystal ball and black cats. The cards at the time included money (coins) and weapons, only the goal was to conquer kingdoms instead of corporations. 

Peter of Candia may not be the author of the VMS.  He, however, had the personality and the life experience to weave a web of intrigue from England all the way to Asia. Philarg also had many friends in the humanistic circles of Italy. They may have been influenced by him. His secretary, for example, Uberto Decembrio named his son, the famous Pietro (Pier) Candiddo Decembrio after his employer Pietro di Candia. Little Candido grew up to write 127 works, among them a book about animals, including imaginary, non-existent ones…

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Voynich Manuscript: the Visconti Tarot Cards

The Voynich Manuscript and the Visconti di Modrone Tarot Set rest today in the same library at the Yale University. This is not the only thing they have in common. The carbon dating of the VMS velum and the production of the Filippo Maria Visconti cards are believed to be close in time – somewhere in the first half of the 15th century. It is not surprising then to find similar art patterns in those two – including series of ‘vases’ or ‘cups’( or whatever the real name of the objects is) – they look very similar.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Voynich Manuscript: the Animals of Jean, Duc de Berry

The most famous result of the two year visit of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II to Paris (beside his inability to get help for Constantinople) is the cultural influence that the princes of the East inflicted upon the artists that witnessed their stay. The Limbourg Brothers used the coiffure and dress of the Greek Emperor in The Meeting of the Magi, Folio 51v of Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. On the same picture, among the exotic wise men, we find few animals that carry resemblance with the group of three creatures sketched on Folio 79v of the Voynich Manuscript.
The forth creature from Voynich 79v can be found on Folio 113v, Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. Welcome to Purgatory!
Jean Colombe illustrated this one seventy years after the Limbourgs left the manuscript unfinished. The question is: did Colombe followed sketches from the original design or came up with the purgatory creatures on his own? May be he was inspired by looking at the Voynich 79v. Notice the women on 113v of Les Très Riches , who are done with their penance and on their way out of purgatory.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Voynich Manuscript: the Coconuts of Jean, Duc de Berry

While reading by the pool under the Carolina sun, I discovered coconut recipe in the Voynich Manuscript. Experts in the field already think: must be the 100 degree heat!

The recipe is encoded in some Slavic language in every other letter on Fol 88v, first page, starts like this:

edlvoi os ceesriaice vlazen coco dv okoe likier oka ed voda ….
Edible .. fourteen moist coco two oka likeur one oka water….

If you care for details – let me know. The good folks at the Cipher Mysteries blog challenged me to prove that coconuts fit my story line so far. In short: the VMS is product of social mingling among royal and noble women between 1400 and 1410 during increased diplomatic activities in Europe dealing with the Great Schism and the rise of the Ottomans. The court of Jean, Duc de Berry was diplomatic and cultural center at the time.

The coconut was not common site at the beginning of the 15 century. So people of knowledge are skeptical that anybody around the Duke even knew what that is. The record, however, is clear. Duc de Berry was in possession of coconuts.

Donald Frederick Lach writes in his book ‘Asia in the Making of Europe: A century of wonder’:
That brought me to the actual inventory of Duc de Berry in which two items caught my attention (besides few mentions of Noix d'Inde). Number 167, which is something white with inscription in Greek letters. The next item, number 168, is 14 shells of nuts.

14 nut shells? The number is right but the nut is unidentified. Bummer! Still, coconuts being so scarce, what are the odds of Duc de Berry actually producing something eatable or drinkable out of them?
Umberto Eco and Hugh Bredin in The Aesthetics of Thomas Aquinas have this to say about the coconuts of Duc de Berry:

Unicorn horn? Talking about nuts… What did they do with the unicorn horns? According to Mark Kurlansky in ‘Salt: A World History’ they ate it:

If Duke de Berry was turning into spice something as precious as ‘unicorn horn’ he probably didn’t hesitate to crack few nuts open.
Ironically, if I had discovered unicorn recipe, instead of 14 coco, in the Voynich manuscript, it would have been easier to convince skeptics.
Anyway, coconut drink demands umbrella and I sure found one in the Voynich manuscript.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Voynich Manuscript: Under the Big Tent

The summer vacation took us all the way to the politics of the middle ages. Such a trip is worth the time. The collection of countries represented in the Voynich Manuscript covers what is today the European Union - minus Greece and Spain + plus Russia and China. There is eerie resemblance with the economic and political news in the last couple of years. Among most popular illustrations in the Voynich book is fol.86v . Let me introduce you to the circle of tents that may be represented in the VMS nine rosette medallion.
This illumination is held in Bibliothèque nationale de France. It is made by the same master that worked on Christine de Pizan’s City of the Ladies manuscript. It depicts the “Princes of the East” during the visit of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II to Paris where he stayed at the Louvre from 1400 to 1402. The guest from Constantinople took a short visit to England, but stayed mostly in France where he dealt with the Dukes of Berry and Burgundy while the King of France was mentally unstable.

 This circle of tents may have inspired the Voynich ‘medallion’. Imagine looking at those structures from above. Notice how the rectangular ones kind of ‘bridge’ with the round tents to form a canopy fortress inside which the participating Kings would discuss the matters of the world.
Probably the most exotic tent on the Voynich 9 rosette medallion is the one in the bottom right corner of Fol.86v. The way it walls are opened reminds of 14th century illustration, held in Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, depicting Mongolian tent-mosque.
I wonder what were the Queens doing while the Kings were holding meetings?