Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Clematis Vitalba

Traveler's Joy (Clematis Vitalba) is my choice for plant Id for fol. 27v of the Voynich Manuscript.

The leaves and the fruits match the drawing and the root shape has some similarities to rope making tools. According to Johnson, Magnus, 2001, The Genus Clematis book the Traveler's Joy was used in Switzerland for rope making since the Stone Age. It is still reflected in the common names of the plant in Bavaria and Austria.


  1. Ellie
    Nice idea. I've also found a rope-making tool referenced in the Vms, but in an entirely different folio.

    As a rule, the rope-maker's 'mill' was only used for ropes made from fibre. In this case, the sort of ropes that are meant are a somewhat different kind, made simply by winding the long stems together. Osiers is a better description, really. The sort of ropes meant were used for suspended footbridges, or to wind between uprights to make a fence.

  2. Thanks! I have no clue about rope-making other than twisting both sides of a thread in different direction and then folding it :)

    If it is no secret: on what folio you've noticed rope-making tool?

  3. Ellie (and anonymous):

    I've seen the rope-making process being demonstrated by Boy Scouts. In their case, they were using pre-manufactured manila twine, and the "key" which appears in the drawing, to ply the twine into a thicker, multi-plied rope.

    I use my spinning wheel to do another type of plying ("Navajo" plying) where I can turn a single ply into a three-ply yarn. Much too much detail to go into, but I recently watched an online demonstration of the "silk-spinning" techniques used in the medieval silk industry.

    So, to get back to subject of using Clematis -- looks good to me!

  4. Hi BD, thanks for the explanation! My oldest one will be joining the Boy Scouts next year - he is Webelo now. I like their program - it includes useful activities. All the best! Ellie