Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Charms

The last page of the Voynich manuscript (fol. 116v) contains text of what appears to be a prayer with words separated by crosses.


So I am starting this post with intent to pile up examples of medical charms and prayers written in a similar way as I stumble upon them in different manuscripts.

The Hunterian Psalter, 12th/13th century, Glasgow Univers. Libr., Sp Coll MS Hunter U.3.2 ( here ) has interesting marginalia on the last page. It is instruction in Latin and charm (incomprehensible) to help with epilepsy.


Harley MS 4346, The British Library ( here ) is 12th century compilation of medical texts including recipes and charms like this one. The manuscript is in Latin.





 VMs researcher Tomas Sauvaget ( visit here ) discovered one in Zurich, Zentral Bibliothek, MS C 101 ( here ) on fol. 91r. Wandering monk Gall Kemli copies various medical recipes, including charms in 15th century. The manuscript is in Latin and German.


Collection of medical charms by Wily L. Braekman - visit here


BNF Italien 939 visit here, Medicina de falconi et remedii de cavalli, 1460-1480



Let me know if you are aware of more examples so I can add it in the post.





28 comments:

  1. Ellie, could you explain the difference between a charm and a short prayer in medieval Latin works?
    Thanks

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  2. I would imagine the prayer would include parts of established prayer tradition. Charms can contain anything - from abracadabra to any mix of words and sentences that the creator of the text believed to be 'potent'.

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  3. I wondered because I've seen missals and breviaries and service-books which used the cross to mark actions such as ringing a bell, or making the sign of the cross, or indicating that the signatory was metaphorically 'blessing' the text.

    You probably know that the passage on f.116v has been interpreted as a 'nihil obstat' (NP) and as a prayer etc. Whether the church practice imitated magic, or vice versa is an interesting question which I don't think I've ever seen addressed.

    Interesting post, thanks.
    Diane

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  4. Ellie, I shall restrain from making a contradictory explanation of what the text is saying on folior 116v. I have offered a full translations of this particular folio on several of Nick's blog topics. Neither Nick nor Diane have yet discussed my translation(s). Partly because both she and Nick had attempted a translation several months before I appeared on his pages.

    Nihil obstat is not the word that appears on that folio page. It is Ogier Ghiselin Busbecque's "signing out" from his diplomatic duties with Suleiman the Magnificent's court. Busbecq is said to have bought 240 manuscripts from the Ottoman territories to his boss Ferdinand I of Austria. He most like chose Boenicke ms 408 to write his parting commentary because it may have been the shabbiest of the manuscripts. Basically the phrases you see on that last page of the manuscript translates to the Latin with which he used in all of his correspondence: "Res Devi Augustus" Ancyranum Ancyra" "Monumentum Augustus".
    Not long after Busbecq returned to Ferdinand I's court with the huge archive of manuscripts, Suleiman laid siege to Vienna. Apparently quite a few of the manuscripts ended up in Rudolph II's estate (along with the menagerie Suleiman had gifted to Ferdinand I, which poor Busbecq apparently had to take to Rudolph's court). There is a lot more history concerning Rudolph's reaction to both the garden that Carolus Clusius designed, the menagerie which Ferdinand passed on to him. Rudolph wanted neither the garden nor the menagerie: he wanted stables for his purebred Arab horses.
    With Rudolph being incarcerated by his brother, and the opening maneuvers of the Thirty Years War, a whole chunk of history got buried. Athanasius Kircher eventually ended up with much of the belongings of several Hapsburg estates.

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  5. Ellie, I shall restrain from making a contradictory explanation of what the text is saying on folior 116v. I have offered a full translations of this particular folio on several of Nick's blog topics. Neither Nick nor Diane have yet discussed my translation(s). Partly because both she and Nick had attempted a translation several months before I appeared on his pages.

    Nihil obstat is not the word that appears on that folio page. It is Ogier Ghiselin Busbecque's "signing out" from his diplomatic duties with Suleiman the Magnificent's court. Busbecq is said to have bought 240 manuscripts from the Ottoman territories to his boss Ferdinand I of Austria. He most like chose Boenicke ms 408 to write his parting commentary because it may have been the shabbiest of the manuscripts. Basically the phrases you see on that last page of the manuscript translates to the Latin with which he used in all of his correspondence: "Res Devi Augustus" Ancyranum Ancyra" "Monumentum Augustus".
    Not long after Busbecq returned to Ferdinand I's court with the huge archive of manuscripts, Suleiman laid siege to Vienna. Apparently quite a few of the manuscripts ended up in Rudolph II's estate (along with the menagerie Suleiman had gifted to Ferdinand I, which poor Busbecq apparently had to take to Rudolph's court). There is a lot more history concerning Rudolph's reaction to both the garden that Carolus Clusius designed, the menagerie which Ferdinand passed on to him. Rudolph wanted neither the garden nor the menagerie: he wanted stables for his purebred Arab horses.
    With Rudolph being incarcerated by his brother, and the opening maneuvers of the Thirty Years War, a whole chunk of history got buried. Athanasius Kircher eventually ended up with much of the belongings of several Hapsburg estates.

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  6. Dear Ms. Velinska,
    thanks for this very interesting webpage. One question: I read somewhere that in the VM there are more buildings then the castles on the rosette leafs. Did somebody ever create a (jpg, pdf etc) document including all the buildings included in the VM?
    There are fantastic books about paiting in Italy of Trecento and Quattrocento with endless illustrations. Comparing the kind of buildings found in the VM with those of the known painters of the time could at least exclude some schools of drawing and painting and include others, maybe also from a regional point of view.
    Thanks alot in advance for your answer
    FP

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  7. Hi FP, you are absolutely right. There are buildings on the 9 rosette with very specific roof decorations.I believe it is worth studying. I'll keep an eye when I am browsing, but probably an expert in history of architecture can give you an answer in a glance. If we can bring more experts to take a look the VMs research will go faster.

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  8. Thanks alot for your answer. Can you let me know if you find other buildings in other parts of the manuscript?
    Thanks alot
    FP

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  9. Good morning Ellie (& friends):
    I'd like to refer you to a gr-r-reat website which might answer your questions about the squared off shapes of the crosses. In the not so far past I referred to the same site when I discovered some naked nymphs in a black-tiled pool of water:
    I usually am not successful in linking on other's blogs, so I'll only refer to the New York Metropolitan Museum and its "Hellbrunn Timeline of Art" slide shows.
    There you will find examples of Byzantine weaving, metal-working, iconry (one painting shows a group of men standing before a wooden screen, which perforations create squared crosses). If I could, I would probably spend hours and days exploring the Met's galleries. My computer is an antique, so I coddle it.

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  10. Good morning Ellie (& friends):
    I'd like to refer you to a gr-r-reat website which might answer your questions about the squared off shapes of the crosses. In the not so far past I referred to the same site when I discovered some naked nymphs in a black-tiled pool of water:
    I usually am not successful in linking on other's blogs, so I'll only refer to the New York Metropolitan Museum and its "Hellbrunn Timeline of Art" slide shows.
    There you will find examples of Byzantine weaving, metal-working, iconry (one painting shows a group of men standing before a wooden screen, which perforations create squared crosses). If I could, I would probably spend hours and days exploring the Met's galleries. My computer is an antique, so I coddle it.

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  11. I think I've figured out why the double posts, so I'm just going to say good morning, for now, and get back to you later. Cross your fingers!

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  12. I think I've figured out why the double posts, so I'm just going to say good morning, for now, and get back to you later. Cross your fingers!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi BD, good morning! I am a big fan of the Met Museum web-site. They have a lot of stuff and blogs on different issues. I like their cloister blog - I spend some time on it when researching the plants.
    All the best! Ellie

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  14. Hello! I have my own version of the last page (M. V.) Please, tell me, how I can share my groundwork? (Format .jpeg)

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  15. Hi Anonymous, you can message me of Facebook
    https://www.facebook.com/karatopraklieva

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi! I sent you the message on Facebook. Please, look at that.
      Yulia May

      Delete
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  17. https://picasaweb.google.com/104064582393233194631/HerbierPseudoApulee?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCIeJt9qIhbDH1wE&feat=directlink

    J'ai trouvé ces fragments dans le livre : Pseudo-Apulée, De medicaminibus herbarum liber, SIUE Herbarius (pseudo-Apulée, Herbier) http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b84262821

    D'après l'analyse de la BNF qui accompagne le livre, plus de 5 personnes ont annoté le livre après l'auteur.

    Voici les pages du manuscrit dans lesquelles se trouvent les fragments:
    - 37v http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b84262821/f78.image - 42v http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b84262821/f88.image - 43r http:// gallica.bnf.fr / ark :/ 12148/btv1b84262821/f89.image - page de garde recto. http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b84262821/f135

    Qu'en pensez-vous?

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  18. Hi Stephanie Levavasseur,

    I believe the author of the VMs was very familiar with the Pseudo-Apuleius tradition and even with this particular manuscript.
    I used image from it here

    http://ellievelinska.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-voynich-manuscript-black-arum.html

    Also another French Pseudo-Apuleius manuscript that maybe related to the VMs is the one in the Hague. It is also annotated by different people through the centuries.
    http://ellievelinska.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-voynich-manuscript-edelweiss.html

    http://ellievelinska.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-voynich-manuscript-same-but-what.html
    I noticed that the D in some of the marginalia you highlighted looks like the D in the famous oladabas on the last page of the VMs.
    All the best! Ellie

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  19. Ever hopeful that this note will not post twice: What looks like the (non-existent) word "oladaba" translates (in Busbecq's rough "Latin") to: "loc-a-orum" : a place, site, spot, locality, district, seat, town, village....
    Busbecq was signing off from the locality of Ankara, and he mentions Ancyranum, Ancyra. He also mentions "Monumentum Augustus". It is my "hunch" that he picked this particularly shabby manuscript ( upon which to sign off) before presenting the entire collection of some 240 manuscripts to Ferdinand I of Austria.

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  21. Ellie & Stephanie: Just my vague recollection: About a year ago, if I recall correctly, a "pseudo-Apuleius" manuscript sold for some outrageous amount. It just goes to show my "memory bank" is deteriorating -- perhaps you younger ladies/m'selles may recollect that transaction? Just compare the amount paid for that Apuleius ms with what Boenicke 408 is currently valued for insurance.

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  22. Ellie, much of the ms's which Busbecq delivered to Ferdinand I ended up in Rudolph II's estate. When Rudolph was incarcerated by his brother Mattias, the Holy Roman Emperor's crown (last worn by Rudolph) ended up in the archive of Hrad Karlstejn. Recently Hradkarlstejn has been posting photos of Karlstejn's interiors. The curators have also begun documenting their manuscript archive. When I last visited their website several months ago, they were in process (I hoped) of creating a link to the mss archive.

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  24. Hello Ellie !
    You took your vacation? I miss your wonderful discoveries, They are a source of inspiration for me.
    Ruby

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  25. Hi Rubi, I was working on the text of the VMs and obviously I had nothing to say :) It is maddening experience :) Thanks for checking on me! All the best! Ellie

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  26. Ellie, Harley 4346, at least, is a prayer (note the word amen). Also the crosses are indicators for people reading the script out loud to cross themselves. Though I am not a regular churchgoer, I had friends, "here and there", who would hold their Vulgate bible near me so I could read along (hearing impaired). I didn't notice any crosses in the Bible, itself, but my friends were all, at one time or another, catechism attendees.
    BTW, were you ever able to visit the newly discovered manuscript hoard at the Gregorian University (formerly the Roman School which had been "upgraded" shortly before Kircher's arrival in Frascati)?

    ReplyDelete
  27. Ellie, Harley 4346, at least, is a prayer (note the word amen). Also the crosses are indicators for people reading the script out loud to cross themselves. Though I am not a regular churchgoer, I had friends, "here and there", who would hold their Vulgate bible near me so I could read along (hearing impaired). I didn't notice any crosses in the Bible, itself, but my friends were all, at one time or another, catechism attendees.
    BTW, were you ever able to visit the newly discovered manuscript hoard at the Gregorian University (formerly the Roman School which had been "upgraded" shortly before Kircher's arrival in Frascati)?

    ReplyDelete