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.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Dotted Stars

The stars with circle in the center are curious detail in the Voynich Manuscript.

So I decided to create a post where I can pile up medieval examples of such dotted stars.

Let's start with couple of 'starry' flowers from Pseudo-Apuleius herbals. The Hague, MMW, 10 D 7 is 10th century French manuscript ( visit here ) and Ashmole 1462 is 12th century England ( visit here ).

The Hague, MMW 10 D 7 also has drawing of the Virgin holding a dotted star (flower?).

The VMs stars could be just stars. Here is a dotted star that represents the Sun from the British Library Add MS 34652 ( visit here ) - second half of the 13th century, N. France or S. Netherlands.

Next, few dotted stars from England 1460-1500 illustrating a poem about the establishing of the Carthusian order from the British Library Add MS 37049 ( visit here ).

Dotted stars are decorating the outfits of the members of the Order of the Star, 1375-1379 France,
Paris Bibliothèque nationale de France MSS Français 2813 ( visit here ).

Aristotle explaining the effects of celestial bodies on plants, the British Library, Add MS 47680, dated 1326-1327, England ( visit here ).

We see a dotted star next to Solomon in 1455/58 German Biblia pauperum, Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, Cod. Pal. germ. 438 ( visit here ).

Codex Manesse (written between 1300-1340) Cod. Pal. germ. 848 (visit here ) contains a drawing of seven-point stars with dot in the center on the coat of arms of person named von Trostberg and on the page dedicated to Kristan von Hamle.

Coat of arms picturing a star with a dot in the center can be seen in  Chronik des Konstanzer Konzils (written between 1414-1422, XVI.A.17, National Library of the Czech Republic, visit   here ). The star belongs to Her Johannes Luti of Constance.

In short, dotted stars can be found in different contexts all over Western Europe, so they are not much help in solving the puzzle.

Winchester Cathedral floor tile. I'm not sure how old is this star.

 c1284-1316 the Alphonso Psalter, British Library, Add MS 24686

12th century, Vendome, Bibl. Mun. MS 0117

Astronomical manuscript, the Paul Getty Museum, English, 13th-15th century, MS Ludwig XII 5 ( visit here )

Notebook of Thomas Betson of Syon Abbey, 15th century, St John's College, Cambridge, MS E.6      ( visit here ).

St John's College, Cambridge, MS K.21, English, 13th -14th century  ( visit here )

The Hague, MMW 10 C 20, Germany, c 1475-1500 ( visit here )

The Hague, RMMW, 10 C 23, 15th century, Germany, ( visit here )

Zurich, Zentral Bibliothek, MS C 101 ( here ), 15th century, wandering monk Gall Kemli, in Latin and German

David Suter reminded me about the stars by Albrecht Durer, so I picked a few from woodcuts - end of 15th - early 16th century

BD suggested the Bethlehem star, so here is the silver star marking the supposed place of birth of Jesus in the Church of the Nativity.

Cheryl  Lynn Helm suggested the dotted stars in the Babylonian astrology and although they are far from medieval I'll include them for those interested.