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 :)


  1. Ellie, I read somewhere, that honey was used sometimes when mixed with saffron powder, by thrifty scribes and/or illustrators. Thom Spande's daughter studied art restoration at The Met in New York City. (Apparently they used the Met's Botanical Garden for some of their studies). This is my 2nd attempt this morning, using my husbands laptop. I am now trying again. Good Morning!

  2. Well, Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Valentine and President's Holidays will soon be upon us. I hope you haven't been a shut-in Mom with all the rain and snow storms.
    Ennyway, I've been translating whole folios of the Vms (Boenicke ms 408). If you would like to see for yourself, do a search for an online manuscript which displays the entire contents of the Florentine Codex, as compiled, composed, and handwritten and illustrated by Fr. Sahagun (in Spanish/Latin) and his scribes/students in Nahuatl. An excellent source for translating B-408 instead of trying to find a code.
    Time for breakfast.

  3. Ellie, Please consider including a 'search' widget in the sidebar. When I want to refer others to a post of yours (today it's your discussing 'swelled bellies' in a French manuscript) finding the post again is not easy.