Friday, January 15, 2016

The Voynich Manuscript: the Babenberg Family Tree

Among the simple joys of studying  the Voynich manuscript is researching castles, flowers, old books and... fashion.  Let' take a closer look at the VMs women headdresses. Probably the most weird is the one that looks like a roll on top their heads.

The closest I could find are couple of ladies from the Babenberg Family Tree triptych made around 1490 in the workshop of Hans Part for the Klosterneuburg Monastery, just north of Vienna.

The first example is with what looks like half roundel decorated with round pins at the ends with braided hair down.

The second one is with hair up and accessories hanging from the pins.

The hair roll appears to be trendy at about the same time - around 1490 - in Milan too. The example is from the Sforza Hours (BL Add. 62997)

The Babenberg family tree also features braided hairdo typical for the second half of 15th century Germany.

There are also some examples of fashion that was more widely spread in 15th century Europe - like veil over buns.

Some hoods...

Band with hair down...

At the same time (c 1490) the Bern Munster portal got its fabulous sculptures - including those representing the wise and the foolish virgins with their oil lamps. One of them has a big green hat...

  Similar hats can be found also in Germany in the first half of 15th century.

Back to Bern... some interesting headgear...

Renaissance Italy has a lot of nice examples of hair jewelry.

Moving to France... end of 15th century... we find jeweled coifs and the origin of the French hood made famous in the 16th century by Anne Boleyn...

Some pointy headdresses from the 2nd half of 15th century...

As always, these are just subjective interpretations, not facts in any way.


  1. Ellie,

    If all provenancers, gallery owners, acquisitions departments, and appraisers were as modest as you, the whole art world would stop dead.

    Response to the made image need no more be subjective than response to a three-dimensional object. I think you've done well here, within your elected limits of time and place, to find very similar looking headwear, and to say that it is similar is not 'subjective' - the lines are there on the page.

    However, I think it might help readers to know more about costume at that period, and the range of older and 'exotic' forms that people strove to imitate and adapt.

    It was an extravagant period, and the costume was often, quite literally, 'far-fetched'. Turkish turbans, imitations of Roman statuary and more, were quite the rage.

    One work you might enjoy reading is not all that easy to come by, but should give you a real insight into the attitudes of those times,
    T. F. Crane, Italian Social Customs of the Sixteenth Century...

    It says 'sixteenth century' but actually tracks back to the twelfth-to-fourteenth. Talks about how the courts of Europe were united by intermarriage and by the expectations that a member should be able to speak numerous languages, switching from one to another and about the sort of social word-games played, which really give an insight into the shared range and depth of learning, including about regions whose costume was imitated.

    I think you have a very good eye for detail, and find that I enjoy your posts increasingly as time passes.

    If you'd permit - I think your work would be much improved if more time was spent on establishing significance for different forms, and a little more on the range over which these forms occur. For example, the 'pineapple' above the forehead is meant to allude to the style of the angel from a distant and purer past. "A rose is a rose is a rose" could only be an idea of the era after mass-production.

    I look forward to reading more.


  2. 'allo, Ellie ! I hope this note clears with you -- it has been a long time; with a lot of forest fire activity interfering with our daily activities. The last fire was dowsed just a mile from our house. The leader of the evacuations missed our street entirely.
    Ennyway: Some of the headgear the ladies are wearing were common during the reign of Henry VIII. You may enjoy a novel written by Vanora Bennett: Portrait of an Unknown Woman
    Not a lot of pictures -- but front cover is fascinating. Inside the cover is a map of London (1561 by Agas.) Some mention of the artist Holbein. Also visitors from the French Court.
    Your discussions/findings are fascinating, to the point that they should not be criticized by anyone.
    More and more, lately, I start to speak of something or make a referral to something -- and forget to what I was referring.
    Alzheimer's Disease, probably, or just the effect of reading one or two books at a time. I'm also sorting out six bags of sheep wool donated to me so that I can finish identifying the different wools -- spin the yarn -- for weaving -- my rug, on my Navajo-style loom.
    I'll try to keep in touch -- if you do ! (Diane Sawyer, TV news reporter would finish her news with that expression.
    Here goes -- hope this note gets through to you!
    Adieu !

  3. Bonsoir
    Ce Livre de Voynich est un livre d'enseignements hébraïques
    Son texte est de forme alpha numérique ce que permet la singularité de l'alphabet hébreu.
    Sa formulation a un Esprit très Français dans sa logique de lecture...
    Ce livre est très très performant pour la mémorisation structurelle des 22/27 Lettres hébraïques et de leurs valeurs.
    Il faut avoir les mathématiques du cœur pour s'ouvrir à sa lecture.
    Nicolas Georges 67 ans France

  4. Hi Nicolas, I would love to read it one day.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Bonjour Elie
    Votre travail est très complémentaire aux explications des Lettres Hébraïques.
    Dans cet Alphabet des 22 Lettres... il y a trois Mères ...setp Lettres doubles et douze Lettres simple .
    Également sept Lettres couronnées...ext ext...
    Les habits.... les coiffes ext...tout à un sens!
    Bonne journée
    NICOLAS Georges 67ans

  6. Bonsoir
    Il faut comprendre habits...vé non pas habitudes.
    La deuxième page du livre de voynich,avec cette plante en forme d'arbre ,de 26 feuilles...14 bleu et 12jaune, représente les 5 Lettres finales de l'alphabet hébreu.
    Le texte décrit sur une ligne complète ,la Lettre SAMEKH
    La Lettre du secret.
    Le symbole de forme 5....en bas de page , des 4cercles aux
    4 figures humaines... indique les 5 Lettres Finales Hébraïques.
    Mr Bax a fait disparaitre mes documents explicatifs de son site.
    Cette posture de sa part fait sourire.
    A vous de me fournir votre adresse email...pour vous faire
    Parvenir ces documents

    NICOLAS Georges 67ans