Friday, March 29, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Pincushion Flower

The famous Voynich manuscript (Beinecke 408) Sunflower on f33v may be instead a Pincushion flower (Scabiosa). This would explain the mysterious roots of the drawing.

UDATE: Scabiosa was first proposed by Ethel Voynich and Theodore Petersen in 1930s here


  1. Hey, Ellie!

    What a find! Do you find the "pincushion" part of the plant to be even more interesting after the petals have dropped? How and where did you locate and match so identically? Beautiful! I shall do a transcription of the folio in a little while. Every display such as you show on your pages here adds to my " Voynichese " translation.

  2. Hi BD,
    It takes a girl to pin this one :) Just kidding.

    I saw a picture of the flower before the petals come out - also impressive. The name makes a nice story - you know I like tall tales :)

    1. Oh, Ellie!

      I did a real quick search of John Tiltman's attempt to solve the Vms "codiology":

      The very first illustration which appears on his DOCID: 631091 (he was unable to decode) was what I have found to have several nomenclatural terms:

      No wonder neither Mr. Tiltman nor anyone else been able to identify/decode the name of this "pincushion plant"!

      The very first word which appears near the side of the left-leaning flower translates to "cor-oll-as-aes-am". Upon searching through my various botanical references, I found Scabiosus Corrolasis. So, there you have it! Poor Mr. Tiltman!

      Keep in mind something I mentioned months ago: that double-loop character represents the syllable/sound of the first three letters of your name "Ell-ie". But that same loopy ell, when at the very beginning of a phrase, can have several other implied syllables added to the front of it. (The word "syll-a-bl is another examp-ll. So, I will be doing a full transcription for you -- unless you indicate otherwise! Whew! Am I making any sense atall to you?

  3. I'll attempt the full URL for Mr. Tilman's file:|846|s

    Since this was a NSA document, the link itself may not download. I don't recall this particular Vms folio being discussed in Mary D'Imperio's booklet. Anyway, I can see why he got derailed: The archaic "shorthand" which appears throughout the Vms has many "implied syllables" used by the medieval scribes. I'm just now beginning research those scribal notations.

    Gotta eat. More later, if you show any interest at all!

  4. Well, I "pinned-down" the first two lines of the Pincushion folio:

    I'm not going to rattle-off the three-step process of translating, but will say that the very first words are ""curalium/cure" "sanatio"/ointment". The last word on the first line is very hard to read (somewhat illegible) but I pretty sure the scribes were having even more difficulty with writing the medical term "Scabioseum".

    I stopped at the first word of the second line of script when I confirmed my hunch by doing a quick dictionary search, and found "telecaeseus": of the soil/earth/dirt. Another term for scabies is, infection of the skin, and sometimes was called "mange" when discussing furred pets and livestock.

    Does this latest discussion make your skin crawl?