Friday, November 29, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Boat Root

MS Palatino 586 in Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale is 14th-15th century manuscript written in Provencal ( visit here ). Few details caught my eye. Some very 'Voynichese' berries are seen here.

Palatino 586 has the first example I've seen of herbal depicting a boat-root. So the plant on fol. 43r of the VMs is not 'sailing' alone anymore.

The plant drawing under the 'boat root' one in Palatino 586 has similarities with the drawing on fol. 45r of the VMs. The root in Palatino 586 may represent gamekeeper - which I've seen as a variation of a common name for cow-wheat (quail-wheat in German),  Melampyrum. I used for illustration Melampyrum arvense.

Distant possibility of 'elephant root' here

Some female creatures here and there

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: the Nymphs of Elihu Vedder

Elihu Vedder is an American artist who spent his late years living in Rome. His painting The Pleiades is inscribed: Rome, 1885. The nymphs being pulled towards the stars remind of the women in the Voynich Manuscript, which in 1885 was reportedly just few miles away from Vedder - in Frascati.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Charms

The last page of the Voynich manuscript (fol. 116v) contains text of what appears to be a prayer with words separated by crosses.

So I am starting this post with intent to pile up examples of medical charms and prayers written in a similar way as I stumble upon them in different manuscripts.

The Hunterian Psalter, 12th/13th century, Glasgow Univers. Libr., Sp Coll MS Hunter U.3.2 ( here ) has interesting marginalia on the last page. It is instruction in Latin and charm (incomprehensible) to help with epilepsy.

Harley MS 4346, The British Library ( here ) is 12th century compilation of medical texts including recipes and charms like this one. The manuscript is in Latin.

 VMs researcher Tomas Sauvaget ( visit here ) discovered one in Zurich, Zentral Bibliothek, MS C 101 ( here ) on fol. 91r. Wandering monk Gall Kemli copies various medical recipes, including charms in 15th century. The manuscript is in Latin and German.

Collection of medical charms by Wily L. Braekman - visit here

BNF Italien 939 visit here, Medicina de falconi et remedii de cavalli, 1460-1480

Let me know if you are aware of more examples so I can add it in the post.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Rolandus Scriptoris

Diane O'Donovan discovered another 15th century image where rows of naked bodies are used to illustrate astrology ( to read her article click here ). It comes from Lisbon, MS 52-XIII-18 ( visit the National Library of Portugal copy here ). It is a work by Rolandus Scriptoris (Roland of Lisbon), who received his Master of Medicine in Paris and worked for John, Duke of Bedford, participated in the trial of Johanna D'Arc. The manuscript is dated between 1401-1450.

Couple of weeks ago I posted similar image from La Cité de Dieu, The Hague, MMW, 10 A 11 (visit here); French manuscript, illuminated in Paris between  1475-1480. Fol. 435v of the Hague, MMW 10 A 11 shows discussion over astrology between Porphyry and Plotinus with two 'zodiac' curves on the background full with nude souls.

Here I would like to note that some of the VMS 'nymphs' may be male. It is hard to tell, since both females and males (the archer for example) in the Voynich manuscript have their cheeks and lips painted red, giving them appearance of make-up and their outfits are girly by today's standards. I picked up few figures from the VMs 'zodiac' for which I see some possibility that they may represent males (click to enlarge).

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Decoration Pattern

Cheryl Lynn Helm discovered decoration pattern in 15th century French manuscript, BnF Français 1745 ( visit here ) that matches one found all over the Voynich manuscript.

Quick search gave me couple more examples. The first one is from BnF Français 5361 dated 15th-16th century ( visit here ).

The second is from Aix-en-Provence library MS 0015, late 13th, early 14th century ( visit here ) where we see the pattern decorating the corners of the picture 'frame'.

Cheryl Lynn Helm found example from c1240, Oxford, The British Library Add MS 49999 ( visit here ).

1486-1506 Book of Hours of Joanna I of Castile, the British Library, Add MS 18852 ( visit here )

1284-1316 The Alphonso Psalter, British Library, Add MS 24686 ( visit here )

Cheryl found two more. The British Library Royal 20 A II, c 1307-c 1327 ( visit here ).

Wiki image of Einhard the Scribe ( we need the manuscript id for this one ).

c 1395-1400 , N. Netherlands, the British Library, Kings MS 5 (  visit here )

1332-1350 the British Library, Royal MS 16 G VI ( visit here )

1420, Netherlands, Bodleian MS Douce D 19

1410, Reims Bibl. Mun. MS 0829

1416, Paris, Reims, Bibl. Mun. MS 0093

1328, Reims, Bibl. Mun. MS 0807

Steve D added the example from Christine de Pizan, City of the Ladies manuscript.

Cheryl Lynn Helm found example from Spain (Aragon) - Paul Getty Museum, MS Ludwig XIV 6 from around 1290-1310 visit here.

and from Northern France, Codex St Peter Perg 92, Badische Landesbibliothek, from around 1321

Finally, I found one from Germany - Den Haag has it is Western Germany with question mark(?) , 13th century, The Hague, KB, 135 L 20 ( visit here ).

Jan Yperman, Cyrurgie manuscript,15th century

If anybody stumbles on more examples from Germany and Central Europe or anywhere else, please give us ideas!

It would be interesting to get opinion from experts about the history of this decoration pattern.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Decebre

BnF Français 19994 is 15th century French manuscript about medicine ( visit here ) which caught my attention with the way the names of the months in the calendar are spelled. The scribe used the 'open E' letter similar to the one used by the person who added the months in the Voynich Manuscript (that person most likely was not the author of the VMs).

The months of December, November, May and March give nice matches.

The rest of the months don't match as well.

The calendar in BnF Français 19994 is made for use in Toulouse, Southern France. This may not be related to the scribe, but to the text, which is based on work of the 14th century surgeon Guy de Chauliac (native of Toulouse). Chauliac is famous for his book Chirurgia Magna. Among other tools he used crossbow as surgical instrument.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Hunting Tapestries

The Devonshire Hunting Tapestries are Flemish artworks from the mid-fifteen century. Some costumes of the participants in the hunting event look very similar to the outfit of the archer from the Voynich Manuscript.

There is no way to tell if the VMs artist meant the archer's headgear to be white or simply didn't care to color it.

White chaperon was used as political statement in the late 14th - early 15th century when it was adopted as symbol of the Flemish revolt of 1380. The white head cover was used as symbol also during political bickering in Paris, 1413. Albrecht Classen explains it in his book Urban Space in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age.

Even if the VMs author had in mind white chaperon - it doesn't necessary mean it was meant to be a political statement.

Another example of similar costume from Flemish tapestry c1450.

Chaperons with blue dress can be found also in the illustrations of French copy of Decameron -15th century (not earlier than 1414 when the text was translated), BnF Francais 239 ( visit here ).

15th century French manuscript about the life of Alexander the Great exhibits similar fashion - BnF Francais 9342.

VMs researchers found similar Voynichese dress from Germany and Northern Italy, so the archer (like everything VMs ) doesn't help to narrow down the search area. The outfit seems appropriate for 15th century North Western Europe.

15th century  Württemberg, University of Tübingen, MD 2 visit here

BNF Italien 63, visit here

BNF Latin 17294, visit here

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Anatomy

Here is my attempt to organize my thoughts on possible human anatomy drawings in the Voynich Manuscript.

The pictures on fol. 77r of the VMs may represent the aorta, the heart and the four humors of the Hippocratic medicine - the black bile (earth), the yellow bile (fire), the phlegm (water) and the blood (air).

Fol. 77v of the Voynich Manuscript may represent the anatomy of the intestines and the appendix. Various researchers note that the drawing on the top of the page may represent the Fallopian tubes and ovaries.

The drawing in the top part of fol. 75v  may represent the air passages. The details on of the tube are similar to the trachea. The function of inhaling/exhaling may be the meaning of the fountain-like drawing. The ripples on the edges of the 'lungs' may be representing the alveoli.

The two pools on fol. 78r of the Voynich Manuscript may be meant to represent the kidneys.

Scott Curry came up with the idea on the VMs list that the nymphs going down the 'waterfall' on fol. 75r are representing letters of the alphabet. I like the 'cheerleaders' idea, because it give us a whole new level to make up stuff based on our own theories/biases. For example, I believe the drawing on fol. 75r represents the anatomy of the stomach, so when reading the 'body language' of the nymphs I came up 'surprisingly' with 'word' supporting my theory: plcero - which resembles Italian pulsero - to pulsate - explaining the ripples the VMs author drew on the walls of esophagus and the stomach.

The senses - ear, eyes and nose may be represented in the drawings of fol. 83r and 83v.

Anatomy drawing may be part of some of the plants illustrations in the Voynich Manuscript. For example, the eyeball-like root of the possible cornflower on fol. 10r.

The possible wild tarragon (used to induce menstruation in the old times) on fol. 17r has roots resembling the anatomy of the female reproductive organs.

David Suter suggested that the root of the banana plant (id by E. Sherwood) on fol. 13r looks like heart.

At the end - really funny coincidence is the violet with letters on its petals on fol. 9v that reminds of Leonardo da Vinci's drawing of the muscles of the anus.

All these associations are just subjective speculations and any resemblance of the drawings in the VMs with the human anatomy may be just coincidental. For the record, I don't believe Leonardo da Vinci is the author of the Voynich manuscript. I just used his drawings as late 15th century examples.