Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Voynich manuscript: Honey

Different interpretations have been offered for the marginalia on fol. 66r of the Voynich manuscript. The text was tempered with and it is hard to tell what was the original message. I'll speculate that the word above the pot with yellow substance is 'mel', which means 'honey' in Latin and many other languages.

There is also a yellow spot on the tummy of the figure next to the pot, so I'll speculate that the composition is a recipe for plaster based on honey.

There are few 15th century examples of such recipe, but I chose the medical treatment of St. Lidwina of Schiedam, because her illness was within the period the VMs parchment was dated (She died in 1433) . She had a bad fall while ice-skating as a girl and remained paralyzed for the rest of her life. She developed deep soars that were treated with plaster of honey and wheatmeal.

It would be very irresponsible to suggest that the figure in the VMs is St. Lidwina, but in a mysterious coincidence people from Schiedam, Netherlands show great interest for the VMs. Art exhibition inspired by the Voynich manuscript starts next month in Schiedam of all places.

The VMs expert Rene Zandbergen is born in Schiedam and lived there for 28 years.
Maybe St. Lidwina is calling :)

The Voynich Manuscript: the Purgatory

Couple of years ago I speculated that the illustration on fol. 79v of the Voynich manuscript may have been inspired by the Purgatory page of the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (MS 65, Condé Museum, Chantilly). It remains a speculation - all similarities maybe coincidental.

 The Purgatory illustration in the Très Riches Heures is believed to be work by Jean Colombe done in 1480s when he was commissioned by the Duke of Savoy to finish the manuscript.

We see couple of women being pulled up by angels towards salvation in heaven. The VMs lady with the cross at the top of VMs fol. 79v maybe reaching for heaven...

...while the woman being swallowed by fish maybe going to hell through the hellmouth...

Example of the hell's mouth being depicted as fish from Vaticana, Pal. lat. 412

 ... and the women in the middle await judgement...

Another example of similar layout is from 14th century Occitan (Provencal) manuscript - British Library Royal 19 C I - Last judgement - on top figure is holding a cross, on bottom is the hellmouth

 Again, this is just a subjective interpretation for the sake of a good story :)