Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: The garden of Earthly Delights

Hieronymus Bosch' Garden of Earthly Delights (see here ) has been referenced in connection with the Voynich manuscript in several books and forums. On first glance, the only things in common are mass nudity and general weirdness.

Closer look reveals somewhat 'Voynichese' flower in the left corner of the center panel.

 The other similarity of the painting with the VMs is that both suffer from endless interpretations and opinions of its meaning (to which I continue to contribute).

Some scholars see pineapple in the picture so the date of the work is generally placed somewhere between 1492 and 1504. Bosch's St. John in the Wilderness includes similar 'flower' and is dated around 1489.

To add to the pile of speculation, I will share my believe that the "bag-pipe" in the Hell portion of the drawing may be a picture of stomach - thus representing the place where the gluttons suffer  after death.

For the record, I believe Hieronimus Bosch has nothing to do with the Voynich Manuscript (his women lack in body mass). I am bringing it up as example of possible hidden anatomy in late 15th century art work.

Another example from the same period is Albrecht Dürer whose works are also examined to the smallest detail and it seems that the art experts see a lot of body parts (mostly of sexual nature) in his art. Below is detail from 1496 Dürer's woodcut The Men's Bath featuring suspicious faucet and pair of apples.

For the record, I believe Albrecht Dürerhas has nothing to do with the Voynich Manuscript (his flower drawings made during his travels through the Alps are realistic and masterfully executed). Again, it is just an example of possible hidden body features in late 15th century art.


  1. Hieronymus Bosch -- whoo!

    Several weeks ago, on another discussion page (and maybe here) I referred y'all to a website called the "Ambrosia Society". One (out of many) medieval works of art displayed on this webpage was Bosch's battlefield painting. The web-host was discussing "Angels" both good and bad: In this case he was referring to the "Destroying Angel" mushroom which appears everywhere on Bosch'st painting.

    The Ambrosia Society webpage is also where I found discussion of the mandrake, and members of the Solanacae family (belladonna, for one). Fascinating, absorbing, intelligent presentation of a whole world of botanical specimens which can be either benign or very dangerous. Enjoy perusing their site (if it is still being maintained).

  2. Hi BD, how does the Bosch mushroom look like? They say there is pineapple in this painting of his - I couldn't find it. There is pineapple there as much as there is sunflower in the VMs :)
    I'll try to find the Ambrosia site.

  3. It is Amanita Phalloides, common name is Destroying Angel. Here, in the US (California especially) it is often misidentified by new immigrants from Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Laos) as being a choice edible in their homelands.

    Back to Hieronymus -- I see a high-functioning bi-polar genius who probably lived a "nightmare" every day of his life. I wonder if he was a suicide.

  4. Ellie,

    On Nick's recent blog discussion with Mr. Kahn, I raised the question of a particular phrase which Diane and Nick have used several times: "nihil" "obstat". Diane referred me to Nick's discussion of that (cursed) phrase which appears on Vms folio 116v.

    I'm trying to make this story short without being entirely unintelligible, so I cite my interpretation of that phrase being reference to Ancyra (modern Turkey), the Monumentum Ancyranum, and the writings of Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq (ambassador in service to Ferdinand of Austria) who wrote extensively of his experiences with Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent (1555-1562) at Amasia in Asia Minor.

    Maybe now we will all have a better understanding of how the Vms MAY have ended up in Marci, Beckx, & Tepenecz hands: It may have been sitting in the "library" which Rudolph and his brother Mattias may have inherited from their father -- and which may have ended up in their Austrian cousin Ferdinand III archives/library.