Monday, April 29, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: The Same... but What?

The 'Edelweiss' is not the only similarity between  the Voynich Manuscript and The Hague, MMW, 10D7. Look at this pair with fol. 65r of the VMs.  The author in the French Herbal wrote Strignos, which is the Strychnine tree. Others guessed in the marginalia - Solanium vulgare (the Nightshade) and Stramonium (Datura).
None of these names matches plants in the real life that look like the drawing.

In Ashmole 1432 here Strignos is somewhat similar, but in Ashmole 1462 here  the stars and the fruits were separated into two plants - Strignos (Nightshade) and Celidonia (Tetterwort)...

Anyway, it seems that on this one (as for the rest of them) we have to wait until the VMs author's intentions are somehow made known.

Until then, my favorite for VMs fol 65r is still the Marsh Cinquefoil (Comarum Palustre).

The Voynich Manuscript: Costmary

Costmary (Tanacetum balsamita) may be the plant on fol. 46v of the Voynich Manuscript

The Voynich Manuscript: Hairy Alpenrose

The Hairy Alpenrose (Rhododendron hirsutum) may starring on fol. 7v of the Voynich Manuscript.

The Voynich Manuscript: Immortelle

The Dwarf Everlast (Helichrisum arenarium, Immortelle) may be the plant behind the drawing on
fol. 93r of the Voynich manuscript.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Carlina

Carline Thistle (Carlina Vulgaris) will be my placeholder for fol. 15r of the Voynich manuscript. According to the story in Giovanni Cadamosto 16th century herbal (British Library, Harley 3736 here) an angel advised Charlemagne to eat the thistle so his body can be purged of poison.

The six leaves in the VMs drawing end with symbols that somewhat remind of the six 'towers' in the center of the Nine-rosette page.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Edelweiss

Nothing on fol. 18v of the Voynich Manuscript screams 'Edelweiss!', but then the only thing that screams 'Edelweiss!' in the 10th century Pseudo-Apuleius French manuscript in the National Library of Netherlands here is the written author's intention. Edelweiss or Leontopodium (Lion's Paw) is also hard to recognize in the 13-14th century Italian manuscript (Egerton 747, British Library here ).

So, can the fol. 18v of the VMs represent Edelweiss? Why not?

Distant real life possibility for this VMs page is the Passion Flower (Passiflora). The earliest known European depiction was the 16th century Van Cleve Madonna until it was proven that the Passion Flower was added to the painting at later date.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Calendula

My first association for fol. 18r of the Voynich manuscript (Beinecke 408) was Calendula. The overall impression I get is so strong that at this time I will go with it despite the fact that I like Edith Sherwood's proposal for Aster alpinus very much. Ethel Voynich was not able to decide between the Aster and the Calendula. O'Neill proposed Ringelblume, which is German for Calendula. Petersen went with Calendula officinalis. The leaves, the buds, the flower shape is so realistically drawn that I will go with Calendula. The coloring of every other petal in blue most likely has something to do with the text code. The same pattern is common all over the manuscript. Aster Alpinus, however, is a valid proposal - with its blueish-purple flowers and many people may like it better than Calendula.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Schoner Brunnen

The Beautiful Fountain Schoner Brunnen was completed in Nuremberg in 1396 and is possible candidate for the famous 'Tower in the hole' from the nine-rosette page of the Voynich Manuscript. Here is how the plaza in Nuremberg looks today.

UPDATE: Eleonore Menzel from the City of Nuremberg administration kindly explained that the square structure on the Hauptmarkt plaza is not related to the fountain - it just modern artwork.
Norbert Heinlein from the Hochbauamt Department in Nuremberg explained that years ago there was a bigger fountain in the same plaza - 20th century copy of the17th century - Neptunbrunnen, which was sold to Russia and was never installed in Nuremberg.

Illustration from 1707 shows fountain-like structure in the middle of the plaza, but it could be something else.

15th century Nuremberg was a big city for its time and we get some idea how it looked like from the Nuremberg Chronicles.


The Voynich Manuscript: Herb Paris

After exploring few other possibilities for fol. 5r of the Voynich Manuscript, I am finally settling with Herb Paris - the ID was originally proposed by Ethel Voynich.

The Voynivh Manuscript: Pinkroot

Ruby Nova─Źna from proposed the Pinkroot (Arapabaca, Spigelia anthelmia) as plant ID for the drawing on fol 15v of the Voynich manuscript. This is the best idea I've seen so far so I am adding it as placeholder in my list.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Red campion

Theodore Petersen worked with Ethel Voynich in 1930s on the VMs flower Ids and I find many of his proposals valid. Example of such Petersen ID with which I agree is the Red Campion (Silene dioica) on fol. 8v of the Voynich Manuscript (Beinecke 408).

The Voynich Manuscript: The Ghost Flower

The Voynich manuscript 'Ghost Flower' can be observed if you zoom in the first bloom from left to right on fol. 55r. It looks like the artist started drawing one flower and ended up with a weird symbol in its place. So when looking for real plant to match the drawing on fol 55r one has to wonder, if the plant should look more like the final symbol or like the ghost symbol beneath it.

The importance of the ghost flower is that it may explain inconsistencies in other plant IDs. Steve D. suggested Dogtooth violet (Erythronium dens-canis) for the spotted leaved plant on fol 39r and I really like this proposal. The paired leaves, the dog-tooth shaped root showing at the bottom - all this kind of brings confidence in this ID. And then comes the very Voynichese flower symbol that is not perfectly right - no ghost flower on this page to give us a hint.

This type of flower symbols in the VMs may represent  the flower before full bloom. It could be something totally different of course. Based on the 'ghost flower' and the leaves my personal favorite plant ID for fol55r is the Dark Columbine (Aquilegia atrata) which for now will be my placeholder for this page.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Wild Strawberry, Threeleaved Goldthread

The red three-leaved plant, second on fol42r of the Voynich Manuscript is puzzling. The first plant on the page seems to be Arum. Steve D here proposed Arum Italicum and I like his ID - European bog plant - wetlands plants seem well represented in the VMs - from the water lily, twin flower,sundew, bog rosemary, herb Paris, marsh cinquefoil... There is a three-leaved plant shaped like the one in the VMs that often appear in the neighborhood of the Arum in the wetlands - the Three-leaf Goldthread (Coptis trifolia). However, there's no much redness to it -  could be wrong about this.

Steve D's proposal has the right shape and color, but the wrong continent (I am kidding) - North American Frangrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica).

Another option based on shape and color for the red three-leaved plant on the VMs 42r may be the wild strawberry.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Turk's Cap Lily

The Turk's cap lily (Lilium martagon) has leaf formation similar to the drawing on fol 5r of the Voynich Manuscript (Beinecke 408). The roots of the plant are used to relive heart diseases.

The best proposal for this page so far comes from Theodore Petersen, Ethel Voynich's friend who came up with the Indian cucumber in 1930s. The flower, the berry and the leaves match perfectly... Medeola Virginiana, however, is a North American plant, which would mean the VMs was written at least decades after its parchment production. Unless experts can suggest similar plant from Europe.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Fumaria

Fumaria Officinalis was used in medicine since ancient times and may be the plant on fol.95v of the Voynich Manuscript (Beinecke 408).

The Voynich Manuscript: Bog Rosemary

Andromeda polifolia var polifolia (Bog Rosemary) is a pretty good match for the Voynich Manuscript (Beinecke 408) fol. 4r, in my opinion.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Dill

There are several good proposals about the plant ID on f41r of the Voynich Manuscript (Beinecke 408). Ethel Voynich saw Carduus thistle in it, Edith Sherwood chose Wild Marjoram and Steve D. came up with Common Agrimony. So it looks like this one is really tough for folks to agree on.

I will pile on with new proposal - Dill (Anethum Graveolens) - based on illustration in 14th century Arabic Book of Simple Drugs from Dioscorides, the British Museum here . Dill has the ability to fight flatulence - it is the medieval gas pill. This may explain the 'gassy' top cluster of the plant.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Von der Universal Tinctur

While browsing the Europeana  database here I stumbled over 17th century manuscript Von der Universal Tinctur signed in 1677 by Christian Wilhelm, Baro von Krohnemann. The drawings include few alchemical furnaces shaped very much like the famous Voynich manuscript 'jars'.
16th century German manuscript here has furnaces with VMs-like stands.

UPDATE. Rene Zandbergen asked via the VMs mailing list: why would a section with herbal drawings include stoves?
It is not that unusual, in my opinion. Not all herbs were consumed raw. The 10th century Dioscorides in the Pierpont Morgan Library (MS 652 here) includes few stoves in its recipes section, so the Voynich Manuscript would not be the first one if some of the 'jars' turn out to be stoves or other heating devices.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Cockscomb

Celosia Cristata (Cockscomb) is missing from the old European herbals and is likely not a match for the Voynich manuscript f40v. The leaves and the roots don't match either. The spectacular red flower, however, has always been my only association for the mysterious drawing, so until I see a better match, the Cockscomb will be my placeholder for this page.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Marsh Cinquefoil

Comarum Palustre (Marsh Cinquefoil) with its reddish brown stems and star-like flowers is the best match I've seen so far for f65r of the Voynich manuscript. The perception is, of course, subjective. The future may bring better alternative.

The Voynich Manuscript: Wild Teasel

The Wild Teasel (Dipsacus Fullonium) has a formation of sessile leaves in which water is trapped. In the old times it was used for eyewash (don't try this at home). It is these cups that make me think of the Wild Teasel as possible ID for the plant drawing on the right side of f43v of the Voynich manuscript (Beinecke 408).

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Nettle

Voynich Manuscript researcher Steve D at proposed today Coffee (Coffea Arabica) as plant ID for the drawing on f25r of Beinecke 408. It is a very interesting ID, because the picture shows brown bean-like forms close to the stem. I like this proposal very much, however, just as alternative possibility I will nominate the Stinging Nettle (variation Urtica Pilulifera) based on some details of the leaves on f25r and the appearance of the plant in the old herbals. Stinging Nettle (Urtica) was first suggested by Theodore Petersen and Ethel Voynich here.

The Voynich Manuscript: Black Arum Hidden Dragon

Dracunculus Vulgaris (Dragon Arum) is not a perfect match for the Voynich manuscript (Beinecke 408) fol.28r, but is my favorite placeholder ID for that drawing, mostly because of Arum's unique leaves formation and the 'hidden dragon' formed by its male and female flowers.

UPDATE. I found couple of representations of the plant from 10th century. The first one is Pseudo Hippocrates (BnF Latin 6862 here). The second is Pseudo Apuleius (The Hague, RMMW, 10D7 here).