Voynich theories are like radish shoots after Spring rain (as Rudy Cambier likes to say) – they keep on popping up. And here’s a new radish shoot theory, courtesy of Morten St George, whose Andean Sky God website digs deep into a whole range of historical mysteries – Nazca lines, Shakespeare, Cabala, Rosicrucianism, and now the Voynich Manuscript.

According to St George, the 9-rosette castle is likely to be a fortress similar to Carcassone, but one “destroyed by the Crusaders, i.e. left without ruins“… “Montségur, the final stronghold of the Cathari Church“. So it’s clearly a Cathar document.

Of course, the 15th century radiocarbon dating presents a problem for any Cathar Voynich theory: indeed, St George acknowledges that “it would seem impossible for the Cathars to have written the Voynich because at that time the Cathars no longer existed, at least not anywhere in Europe.”

So… if the Cathars wrote the Voynich Manuscript in the 15th century but they weren’t in Europe, where were they? St George’s response is unexpected yet logical:-

“The plant drawings in the Voynich provide the answer. The Voynich has drawings of more than one hundred exotic plant species, highly detailed drawings from flower to root, all of which represent plants that no one in Europe had ever seen before. Realistically, there is only one place on Earth that can produce such an extraordinary diversity of plant life, and that’s the tropical rainforests of South America, which I shall call Amazonia. The Cathars went to Amazonia.”

In fact, the Voynich Manuscript’s Quire 13 (the ‘balneological section’) has a whole load of drawings of the “elaborate network of conduits, funnels, and containers up in the trees to collect rain water, which they then used for drinking and washing. In the Voynich, drinkable rain water, in contrast to rainforest water, is always depicted in blue color“. Ah, so that is why they’re coloured differently! 😉

However, there is no happy ending for the Cathars in exile: even hundreds of years later, St George is convinced that the Inquisition would hunt down and kill the Cathars in South America. “In such circumstances, the Church of Satan would continue to hunt down the Cathars until the end of time.

In a worthy piece of soul-searching, St George finishes up his presentation with the following Q&A couplet:-

“Do you think this sounds like the plot of an end-of-times film?

Things are what they are.”


In the spirit of Rich SantaColoma’s desire to keep all possibilities in play, I freely admit say that there is a small chance that Morten St George has stumbled onto something huge here – that the Voynich Manuscript was indeed written by Cathars in exile in South America, before their being finally (if belatedly) obliterated from the pages of history by the Inquisition. (It also doesn’t take much to connect St George’s ideas with Leo Levitov’s (now venerable) Cathar heresy Voynich theory.)

Of course, the real study of history is about far more than enumerating possibilities, because in the hands of the imaginative (let alone of those really don’t get out enough), there is no list of possibilities that cannot be doubled or tripled in length. Indeed, such possibilities tells us far more about the showboating creative facility of the person or people constructing them than about the real historical artefact itself: the role of the object ultimately reduces to that of a stage on which to play out stories culled from the pareidoiliac static of a troubled mind.

And in my opinion, the biggest sign of such trouble is normally when would-be decrypters discover – almost always to their personal surprise and amazement – that their deciphering methodology developed for one particular object also just happens to work on other, apparently unrelated objects. For example, John Stojko not only could read the Voynich (in Old Ukrainian), but was also (as I recall) able to read Estrucan gravestones. It’s tempting to speculate whether he could in fact have used the same approach to “read” any string of letters. “John Stojko Read My Barcode” isn’t yet a T-Shirt slogan, but perhaps it should be.

If all the world’s a stage, then the evil Church conspiracy, the Rosicrucians, Shakespeare, and the Voynich Manuscript are surely the festival side-stages on which the troubled perform their one-man (or indeed one-woman) shows. Curiously for things of such age, history only has a walk-on part in such productions. The play’s the thing, indeed!

94 thoughts on “Voynich Manuscript: an Andean Sky God Cathar theory?

  1. Tricia on July 27, 2013 at 12:48 pm said:

    Dam you Nick Pelling! Who said you could tell anyone about my musical-in-progress?

    ok -ok- Opening theme is “Voynich-Templars-in-the-Amazonian-Kazbah (dee-dah-dee-dah)”

    Story line… well, imagine ‘Big Bang Theory’ meets Boris Karloff and many half-naked chicks.

    Opening in an opera house in Germany near you.

    (or wait for the streaming)

  2. bdid1dr on July 27, 2013 at 2:26 pm said:


  3. xplor on July 28, 2013 at 2:07 am said:

    Cathars were a gentle people. I doubt if acquiring knowledge and power was high on their list of priorities. Their leadership came from the masses not a ruling class. It would be hard to put the VMS into their lifestyle. They may have been the vanguard for the humanist and Protestant Reformation..

  4. Diane on July 28, 2013 at 10:45 am said:

    In case I’m not the last to know, the Voynich botanical section has a twin – well, not exactly a twin, but definitely the missing link related on one side to the Vms.

    It’s in the Wellcome Library, MS 336
    Not sure if the measurement is external cover, or internal folios, but info runs:
    103 ff. folio. 38 x 24 cm.
    In Italian. 15thC.

    Purchased at the Hoepli Sale, Milan 3/5/1928.

    Also said to have an inscription (no bio. info. offered)
    Signature of ‘Federico Patella MS. no. 94’

    Several folios can be seen on the site:
    .Go here
    Use search-box with search-term “herbal manuscript” (no quote marks).

    To see the whole manuscript you have to make an
    Closed stores WMS 2 MS.336.

    Catalogue entry


  5. Diane on July 28, 2013 at 11:05 am said:

    PS Rene mentioned it here in an earlier post.
    Comment: April 20, 2010 10:15 am

  6. Diane on July 28, 2013 at 11:50 am said:

    oh dear –
    and here again
    March 14, 2010 10:04 am

    Where’s my old hat? On the bright side, no-one but me and Rene seems to have paid this ms much attention.

  7. Diane: Wellcome MS 336 is very much how I would expect Filarete’s “elegant vernacular herbal” to have looked – it has an upright, Milanese scribal hand to it, very much in the kind of 1450-1470 date range that Sergio Toresella talks about for the VMs.

    Interestingly, did you see the page with swallowtail merlons in it? And did you see the page with the asparagus roots? That latter set of roots is a strong match to one of the Voynich root pages.

    Also: there are a couple of pages (maybe more) where the handwriting has been finished off by a scrappier (i.e. definitely not a scribal) hand. That might be the author’s handwriting.

    I really ought to ask Sergio Toresella if Wellcome MS336 is the specific kind of thing he’s thinking about when he dates the VMs.

  8. Diane on July 28, 2013 at 1:18 pm said:

    But Nick, Chronologically, the imagery evolves from the thirteenth, through the fourteenth (MS Sassoon 823) to the fifteenth, when Wellcome MS 336 was made.

    I think it is surely related closely to the Vms, less like full siblings than second-marriage ones. Living in the same house, though – to extend the metaphor.

    Handwriting is so close, and we are exactly in the right area for that imperfectly-finished parchment, parchment of the right dimensions, the implication of stationers’ ready-to-use quires, and all the other strands which come together round this time and in the regions with a high proportion of non-‘Italian’ presence, plus the pharmacy herbals, imagery set on card, and various immigrants and refugees (surely including many who arrived before 1492).

    It’s all starting to hang together very well, I think.

    Of course, you can’t place too much emphasis on a ‘Milanese hand’. A person usually writes as their tutor/school taught them to, and no matter where they go, that’s how they continue to write.


  9. Diane: my understanding is that scribes were neither highly paid nor socially mobile, and that scribal culture largely stayed put because scribes themselves stayed put. 🙂

  10. Diane on July 28, 2013 at 1:44 pm said:

    Also, small point
    Though called so, WMS 336 doesn’t look like a ‘herbal’ as such. More like a version of the Tacuinum.

    In that context, pics of the Tacuinum are well compared with the vignettes in WMS 336.

    and re asparagus – I summarise a wiki for easy checking:

    Galen mentioned asparagus as a beneficial herb during the second century AD, but after the Roman empire ended, asparagus drew little medieval attention.until al-Nafzawi’s (15thC) “The Perfumed Garden”.

    [Asparagus’] supposed virtue attributed by the Indian Ananga Ranga to “special phosphorus elements” that also counteract fatigue.

    By 1469(sic), asparagus was cultivated in French monasteries. Asparagus appears to have been hardly noticed in England until 1538,and in Germany until 1542.

    So here again, the line through Antioch and Laiazzo which brought the Tacuinum, and whose influence is evident also in the Lombardy Herbal seems to have been the route by which that matter came. Possibly again Nestorian – which is not by definition Armenian (sorry Thomas).

    On the other hand, the Vms is neither a medical text nor a ‘herbal’ but a compendium made to serve the supply-side of things (imo).

    And its imagery makes it still distinctively eastern. Definitely ‘elder’ half-brother’ to WMS 336

    again, of course… imo

    Just remembered, I haven’t yet posted anything about the Antioch chain yet. Oh, well.

  11. Diane on July 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm said:

    re scribes.
    May have been true for legal clerks etc. But as we know, certain professions are connected with travel over considerable distances: members of certain religious orders, students, physicians etc. etc. might travel very widely by obligation or choice. All being, by definition educated writers.
    That’s why we find German hands in ms made in England, English ones in French manuscripts, and so forth.

  12. Diane: I’m talking about professional scribes, not people who could write as part of their other (possibly travel-involving) job.

  13. Diane on July 28, 2013 at 3:10 pm said:

    I haven’t looked into just how a person reached the stage of literacy that allowed them to earn a living as a full-time scribe. Still, I’d expect that the majority learned to read and write in a cathedral- or other religious school before entering any higher studies – as those needed for entry to the church. Once that basic education was gained, perhaps in other cases it was followed apprenticeship to e.g. a stationer or lawyer. But I can’t say. Never looked into it.

  14. T Anderson on July 28, 2013 at 3:15 pm said:

    Somewhere between “Ancient Aliens” and “Francis Bacon was the secret author of Shakespeare’s plays and hid his preserved originals in mercury filled cylinders on Oak Island” …. Such fruitful imaginations are always better served in acts of creation, rather than wasted upon fantasy speculation

  15. Diane on July 28, 2013 at 3:18 pm said:

    I should have added that it’s an interesting point you raise – can we tell the profession of a writer purely by reference to his ‘hand’? And, further, are different types of abbreviations (say, different sets of Tironian notation) peculiar to specific types of scribe – legal, monastic, scholarly etc. Merchants’ hands pretty rough, most of time.

  16. Diane on July 28, 2013 at 4:27 pm said:

    Sorry Nick – it’s early morning here – brain is slowing.

    You believe the Wellcome ms by a layman, a commercial scribe?

    If so, how can you tell?

  17. Diane: come on, look at the upright humanist script and the neatly vertical right-hand margins. That’s not some mercantesca hack scribe copying a herbal as a favour, that’s a quality bit of professional-looking work, done by someone who really can wield a quill. 🙂

  18. Diane on July 28, 2013 at 6:59 pm said:

    Yes, it is. And in the vernacular. But writing in an educated Milanese 15thC hand doesn’t necessarily mean it was written in Milan. I expect it may have been, but all it really shows is that the person inscribing the parchment was educated in the Milanese style. And the higher in society one rose, the greater the likelihood that one might travel.

    Did you ever read the lovely story of a chap on board a ship, who saw a thoroughly respectable and responsible merchant come to the docks. He’d come to transact some business or other, but the smell of the harbour and sight of the ships got to him. He checked his purse, said to the servant accompanying him to inform the family he’d not be home for lunch, and on the spur of the moment took passage, abandoning all.

    So easy.

  19. bdid1dr on July 29, 2013 at 8:52 pm said:

    Hey, y’all! You reeeeeely do not want to go down the path that Michael Baigent took. Some of his citations (which he made in good faith from his explorations in the holdings of the National Library of France) were invalidated — AFTER he published his book, by the Librarians at that same library. They were very apologetic, and somewhat mortified, to have to tell the public-at-large that a hoax had been perpetrated some 800 years before they, themselves, had begun working
    at that venerable institution.

    So, I recommend that you “tiptoe” around “Cathar” History. As far as I’ve been able to follow Crusader history and the “goings-on” in Phillip le Bel’s court, things were pretty gruesome, not only for Cathars but also for de Molay and his Templar Knights. Even today Roman Catholics visit the shrine of the “Shroud”. They visit and worship at the Shrine of the Shroud — even though it has been carbon-dated to no earlier than the 14th century anno domini. Even today, the “Shroud” is adored as being the object in which Christ was wrapped prior to being entombed.

  20. thomas spande on August 7, 2013 at 9:59 pm said:

    Dear all, I think Diane has hit pay dirt with WMS 336. It is late 15thC and had some slight differences with the VM botanicals, but they seem minor or maybe it is that the VM artists have exaggerated some plant features?. It includes a few trees with fruit, it seems to minimize roots, sometimes (image 86) deleting them totally. It has elements of 3D (e.g. image 56) but not many. It seems to have been scrapbook-ized in a few pages at the front. A very strange 2-legged (front) dragon(?) appears instead of the root in image 67. Maybe mandrake? A stange vase appears on image 45. It has a punch up base like some wine bottles, but a blown in stand also. Maybe an apothecary jar?. A rim on the neck also but no stopper. Same muted greens, tans and browns as the British Library’s Sloane 4016. I would say that the Welcome ms herbal is very sparce on flowers and minimizes roots. Otherwise it has many overlaps with the VM botanicals to my eye anyway. The VM botanicals are less sparing of bright coloration but we really don’t know at what stage the bright oranges, blues and reds were added? Maybe it started life as a drab thing like the two herbals referred to above? Incidentally, the line drawings of both the above herbals is beautifully done. .

  21. thomas spande on August 8, 2013 at 10:33 pm said:

    For folks who care about Wellcome MS 336. Yesterday for some odd reason, I was able to access the whole thing, folio by folio but today got stopped at just a few illustrations sort of ending with asparagus. I noted that every searching scheme I tried failed to get more than a bite of the apple. Then I discovered that each folio has an indexing number. I think this will work to get you into the whole of the herbal. Start with L0041840 in the seach box and search that, then increment it by one and repeat. It is slow going but you will get them all, including some odd trees and grains toward the end. pp96-99 has barley or wheat grain heads which is sort of odd. Maybe one bite of the apple is all anyone gets unless he adopts the hard way of searching that I lay out above. Funny though, yesterday, I easily got to p100 by just hitting next. I planned to resume today and hit a non-Welcoming road block. Cheers, Tom

    ps. L0041929 (p 91) has elements of 3D.

  22. thomas spande on August 9, 2013 at 8:07 pm said:

    Dear all, Well I guess folks have moved on from that 15C herbal (Wellcome MS336); however I have found what I was looking for: clearcut shading, strong veining of leaves and proto-three dimensionality. The veining and shading is nicely done. You can use Diane’s Welcome link below but enter in the search box: L0041840 and search, then by incrementing it by one and hit search again. When you hit L0042044 you have come to the end. Additional numbers move you into costumes from around the world, like a female quatraroon from Lima Peru. Searching using the Wellcome Library index numbers gives 204 folio pages where the page numbering stops at p.104.Most plants are identified by common Italian name, not official Latin names. Most are not identified below the drawing but are likely referred to in the text which varies from two lines to half a page. Many grains and trees, mostly with fruit, and what appear to be root crops are present and I suspect this is more of an agricultural guide than a medicinal herbal, particularly if a super big bowel of barley soup is all that is needed to get one up and about again. There appears to be a tulip (p.100). Nick will even see swallow-tailed merlons on L0041958. The plant leaves are nicely done but one suspects that roots, which tend to be obsesively radish-like are just formalized. In many cases roots are absent. There is much more foxing on this parchment ms than seen in the VM and one folio has had an unfortunate spill of ink (L0042027) encroaching on a thistle like plant). Plant blossoms are often just greenish and seem of little consequence to the herbal artist. To indicate that weirdnesses exist in herbals other than the VM, consider L0041953 for saxifrage. Looks like a cube in some kind of mineral outcrop where one face of the cube is decorated with four little flower sprays? A rhizome with side branches harvested (like several in the VM) is seen at L0042211 but we really get back into Voynichland with the black dog-like root of L0041974 that even has a tail and maybe an indication of maleness? On L0041963, we have Spanish (I think), Tornorda with a nice Latin printed “T” and the Italian cursive Tortoralla. Note the tiny writing at the top of L0041977. Another oddness is seen on L004195, a cylindrial work of curved bricks, a metal top (lead?) with plants growing only on the inside. Maybe the top of a well?

  23. Diane on August 9, 2013 at 9:24 pm said:

    Thanks for the comment. I’d love to take credit for finding that herbal, but I’m sure that I wasn’t the first Voynichero to do so. I do think another Wellcome MS may be an original find of mine, a fourteenth-century Spanish-Jewish manuscript having female figures drawn very like our ‘nymphs’. Erwin Panofsky’s first evaluation of the Voynich was that it was ‘early, possibly 13thC’ and Jewish. He said Spanish, or ‘something southern’. According to documents which Rich Santacoloma posted a while ago, Panofsky knew no early ms which had female figures of this type, and for that reason supposed he must be mistaken about the date – moving it to the 15thC. So he was right, either way.

    I’ve had a close look at Panofsky’s responses to Friedman’s ’15 questions’; I am not sure these were so open as the earlier comments to Mrs. Voynich and Anne Nills.

    Matter of opinion, of course.

  24. thomas spande on August 12, 2013 at 4:40 pm said:

    To Diane and anyone else originally interested in Wellcome MS 336. I spent some time in re-examining the VM botanicals and there are consistent and odd differences with 336, for example: 1) no leaf veining is shown in VM plants at all, not a trace that I could spot; 2) Very little if any shadowing is used in the VM to give a sense of perspective. There might be some but it is hard to separate that from possible additional color having been added; 3) Very few VM roots are as simple as the little tap roots of 336. I spotted only two (f7v and f41r); most are complex systems of tangled rootlets. I am guessing that the VM roots being emphasized reflects their use in herbal medicine. The roots of 336 make one wonder if the herb delineator actually was even interested in them. Many plants are shown without any at all. The most significant difference to me between the two herbals, allegedly separated in time by approximately 50 yrs, is the lack of interest in flowers in the VM. Just little drab green things, sort of weed like. Unlike the carefully tinted largish flowers of the VM. I refocussed on an ink spill in the VM (f93r) where a tan yellowish ink is spilled on a folio sheet. On L0042027, we see a similar spill of a similar hue. I think the VM spill indicates the text ink was laid down before the tinting was done, at least on that folio as it will be seen that a few text glyphs are smeared. There are similarities as Diane pointed out, particularly with plants, like asparagus, that spread by root rhizomes. But to my eye, there are huge differences between the two herbals in overall approach and techniques. I think the use of three dimensionality is not pronounced enough in either herbal to be as useful as, for example, parallel hatching, might be as an art technique that would help place the herb drawings as to place and time. Shadowing, present in 336, is maybe a hint of 3D emphasis that could be explored more fully. Is this typical enough of work done in northern Italy to become a hallmark? Is the absense of any, a way of excluding the VM from at least, that tradition? Incidentally, there was much foxing of the partchment of MS336, just traces near the top of some pages of the VM botanical section. This might raise a codicological question? Are some animal parchments more prone to foxing than others, like sheep vs. cow? Foxing is caused by a mould that concentrates iron salts.

  25. Thomas,
    I think you’re looking for a ‘sibling’ or parent-offspring sort of relationship between the manuscripts, and I agree that the connection is plainly less close.

    As always, Voynich research must consider not just the ‘chicken and egg’ question, but whether the bird was migratory and whether what we have isn’t an omelette.

  26. bdid1dr on August 12, 2013 at 7:57 pm said:

    Dear ThomS (&Diane):
    Some of this latest discussion reminds me of an old song; perhaps you’ve heard it sung somewhere, sometime, not in the far past history, ennyway:

    “Won’t you tiptoe through the tulips ……dum de dum, …through the tulips with me!”

    Ah Diane –tsk tsk!

  27. thomas spande on August 14, 2013 at 9:55 pm said:

    Diane et al., I think kinship in the case of herbals boils down to influences; I agree that maybe we are the level of eggs from way different fowls, and may even have a weird omellette in our lap?. I noticed sometime ago when reading around on arabic herbals, in the Armenian context,, that the illustrations seem to have more in common with the VM than known European illustrated medieval herbals like Sloane 4016 (British Library) or Wellcome MS336 (Wellcome Library). Often Arab illustrators did emphasize flowers and leaf veining was minimal or not present. One of the best is in Montreal at McGill Univ. and is that of al-Ghafiqi but only a few folios are visible as a complete facsimile is underway (started in 2009). I append a U-tube lecture from a symposium at the Met in NYC on the curious history of this work, allegedly in two volumes, volume 2 of which is owned by the Bodleian at Oxford. The lecturer Ms. Kerner indicates they were bound in a similar fashion but are of two different hands and from two different dates: Oxford, 1240; Montreal, 1256. So only vol 1 is an authentic al Ghafiqi (b.Cordoba Spain). Bound together in Iran as a phony Dioscorides Materia Medica. The first 8 folios are faked by a 19th Iranian as indicated from the paper used. (Did that rascal forget the watermark?) It is the Montreal volume that is most intriguing and bears (to my eye anyway) some superficial similarity with the VM botanicals. The replica pages do resemble some of the botanicals of the VM. Kerner makes the argument that the Montreal ms comes from Al-Jazira, a huge region that covers Syria, Turkey and Iraq and included Armenians, Syrians, Azerbaijanis and Persians, among others. Only one copy is known. No animals in either volume which tends to rule out the “School of Baghdad” considered by its original owners Brill and Osler as likely. A German expert Max Meyerhof was also of that opinion (1940s) Anyway I include the 28 min U-tube link:


    Just not enough high resolution largish illustrations to really compare well, the VM with al-Ghafiqi. Diane will note that this herbalist did influence Maimonides and others in Spain.

  28. Thomas
    You’re right. The ‘herbal’ genre wasn’t native to Europe, but most of the discussions seems to suppose that it can be explained by internal cross-reference. External sources are so rarely considered at all, let alone in their full range and complexity. Best we get is discussion of Byzantine mss and a deceptively homogenous ‘Arab’ tradition.

    In any case, the Voynich plants aren’t necessarily anything to do with a medicinal herbal of that sort. The reason it is assumed so is untested presumption, or reliance on the fact that two centuries later, Baresch believed so.

    Since people drew plants in much the same way, region by region or community to community, for all we know these pictures are supposed to be patterns for embroidery, or for potters, or for enamellers, or dyers, or form a catalogue/order book for a warehouse or a trading company.

    We don’t know, and to bulldoze through all other options, to insist on the ‘herbal’ explanation, despite both internal and contextual evidence seems a less than optimum approach to me.

    It isn’t going to *be* a European herbal just because people have always assumed so.

  29. thomas spande on August 15, 2013 at 5:57 pm said:

    Dear all,

    It transpires that the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore has a 13thC Iranian copy in Arabic of Dioscorides. Their web site:


    unfortunately has only 4 illustrations but they do have a strong similarity to the botanical pages of the VM in having no leaf veining or shading. The Walters manuscript (Walters MS W.750) is on laid paper and measures 20.0 w x 29.5 cm h. The four specimens shown are pretty badly foxed. Images can be enlarged with Control +.

    The Minta Collins book unfortunately lacks much on the Montreal MS of Ghafiqi as work had just begun on photographing it when her book was written (copyright 2000). It does appear that other than Ghafiqi, most of the Arabic herbals will be copies of Dioscorides.

  30. Thomas,
    I’m didn’t mean to imply that you bulldoze; speaking generally of how assumptions tend to set, to the point where they are mistaken for self-evident truths.

  31. Thomas
    Thanks for that link. Those who’ve followed my blog-posts will know that I’ve been considering the Jezirah, partly because of the routes which converge there, partly because of the impact seen from peoples of hither Asia on local culture there, and partly because there is a known tradition of highly-condensed text in connection with works about plants of commercial (inc. medicinal) value.

    Stylistic similarities between imagery in the Vms and in works along that line of communication include more than the botanical figures.

    Among centres which are currently of interest to me are Samarra, Harran and Aleppo. But it’s work in progress, so no conclusions yet.

  32. bdid1dr on August 15, 2013 at 11:18 pm said:

    ThomS & Diane, I’m running out of steam for the day, but have found a VERY interesting mss in the Met’s vast holdings — you’ll know why I am so excited about this particular item if you immediately see at the bottom of this very colorful illustration five nymphs bathing in a rectangular, black-water, pool:

    Here’s the label for that mss:
    Art of the Timurid Period (ca. 1370-1507)
    Haft Paikar (Seven Portraits) of the Kamsa (Quintet) of Nizami, Illustrated detached folios, ca. 1430; Timurid Nizami (Ilyas Abu Muhammad Nizam al-Din of Ganj) (probably 1141-1217, Author Maulana Azhar, Caligrapher Iranian; Made in Afghanistan Ink, colors, and gold on paper

    I haven’t succeeded in making an html link, but …….if you succeed in getting to the “slide show”, click on slide 8 which portrays two people sitting a tile bench. The quintet of very white-skinned, black haired ladies appear to be having a good old-fashioned “water fight”.

  33. bdid1dr on August 16, 2013 at 12:12 am said:

    My tentative answer to a question raised “somewhere else” on Nick’s blog: Why would Busbecq be writing about his “tour” of Suleyman’s empire, using vellum/parchment instead of paper. Simple, he was using material given to him by Suleyman’s “pasha in charge of writing materials for non-believers”. Paper was sacred to Allah. So, Busbecq would have been writing his travel-journal on animal skins rather than paper. I still believe that Vms folio 116v was from Busbecq’s diary of his travels. Whether he began writing in his diary while visiting Ankara at the beginning of his “tour of duty” with Suleyman or when he was en route for departure and return to Austria — we still have historians contradicting each other “Contant-ine-ly”. That’s a pun for you, Diane! A grin for you both!


  34. thomas spande on August 16, 2013 at 4:13 pm said:

    Dear all, Well I now own the book “Medieval Herbals:The Illustrative Traditions by Minta Collins (Br. Library studies in Medieval Culture, copyright 2000). Chapter 5 “The Illustrated Arabic Herbals” has on page 122 the following comment that seems applicable to the VM botanicals: “The two-dimensional, decorative and often symmetrical pattern-making for the plants is indeed a characteristic of the Arabic herbals and echoes the Arabic Use of decorative natural forms in other media”. She unfortunately has little to say about the 13C herbal of the Spanish botanist Ghafiqi as the most critical studies on this herbal began in ca 2009 at NYU by Kerner and others and contradict her assertion it is completely the original work of Dioscorides and from the school of Baghdad. She has chapters on Greek herbals in addition to that of Dioscorides and a section on “Latin” herbals. The lattermost are biologically accurate and include, for example, leaf veining and shading. Collins points out that most of the Arabic herbals were either copies of Dioscorides or heavily indebted to him. The Greek herbalists also use features seen in some of the botanical drawings of the VM. Incidentally, the original herbal of Dioscorides was unillustrated. .

  35. bdid1dr on August 19, 2013 at 2:59 pm said:

    Diane & ThomS (you too, Nick), page 69 of Louisiana State University’s publication of “The Turkish Letters of Ogier Ghiselin Busbecq”, Busbecq discusses their search for “objects of interest” . He finds an unfamiliar herb, picks some, shows them to his physician companion (Quacquelben), who identifies the plant as “scordium”. The good doctor gives thanks to heaven for having “sent so timely a remedy against the plague”. There is more discussion, but I immediately recognized “scordium” as being a reference to Dioscorides. It didn’t take long for me to find “all kinds” of references to Dioscorides, but was able narrow my search to “scorea” and a plant which had the common name “yam” or Chinese “yam”. So, now all we have to do is search the Vms “botanical”, “pharma”, and “recipe” pages for plants and root systems which can be identified as “scorea” or “scordium” or “Dioscordium” Fun! 😉

  36. thomas spande on August 19, 2013 at 4:50 pm said:

    Dear b: If Busbecq was influenced by the Dioscorides Materia Medica he tried but failed to buy in Turkey, that unfortunately is in the mid 16th C and I think it is hard to argue that this particular herbal would have played a role in the botanical drawings of the VM, unless the time line accepted for the VM is off by 150 years or so. He did successfully lobby H.R. emperor Ferndinand to buy it a few years later and that copy now resides with the Imperial collections in Vienna. Busbecq just did not have deep enough pockets to buy it for himself. If it can be demonstrated that the drawings of plants and nymphs were really added ca.150 years after the VM vellum date, your arguments would have more weight.

    I did play the U tube video based on the Nat. Geo. Soc piece on the VM but noted that the pigments selected for analysis by the expert were likely added much later than the original coloration. Still “azurite” is used for blue which was commonly identified with the Armenians. It slowly converts to malachite green by reacting with air CO2. The iron gall inks for the VM text were evidently of the highest quality, using naturally occurring hydrated iron salts and oak galls.. It was later (16-17C) when this mineral proved hard to obtain that iron gall inks were made from sulfuric acid on nails and this stuff was very corrosive on parchment, The best oak galls for iron gall ink came from Aleppo, Syria. The NGS expert notes that several different batches were used in the VM. I wish that he had compared scribe #1 with #2 in this regard, but I saw no indication of this. Did these scribes use different batches?

  37. bdid1dr on August 20, 2013 at 6:16 am said:

    Dear ThomS, I just did an incredulous double-take; Dioscorides’ earliest botanical had no illustrations? So how on earth were people ever able to make “counterfeit” Dio-non-illustrated botanical books/manuscripts?
    Incredible, I say! incredible…..mutter mutter .. dumbfounded I am! tee hee! Helplessly laughing and mumbling …hysterical?

    beedee (hee hee)…..

  38. Thomas,
    In referring to Wellcome MS 336 as ‘kin’ to the Vms, I wasn’t referring to the imagery per se, but arrangement of the page, style of writing, relative dimensions and so on.

    The imagery itself is far closer in style to the Julia Anica’s (the Vienna Dioscorides). That particular copy arrived relatively late in the west, but we see these apparently related ‘hyper-real’ botanical illustrations before its arrival.

    You’re perfectly right that the botanical illustrations in Wellcome ms 336 are very different from those in the Vms. Which is why I described them as half- or step- siblings (as it were).

    What marks the Vms botanical imagery, except a couple like f.9v is the way they make use of the roots to express information about the plants’ uses.. as I read it.

    That part of a plant tends to be drawn much more perfunctorily in herbal manuscripts manuscripts that were written in Arabic. Where the Arabic-language tradition gained its sources from around the 9thC is the critical point here, because so much in the Vms is plainly not part of the Muslim-Arabic tradition, any more than of the Latin European.

    The closest of all that I’ve seen so far include (i) a leaf or two from a copy of Dioscorides made by a Yemeni Christian (probably Nestorian Christian) in northern Syria, for a Muslim patron. And (ii) some leaves painted somewhere in the Adriatic, probably in the Venetto. It seems pretty clear to me that the matter in the Vms came west by a similar route, from the shore of the Great Sea, mostly through the northern Syrian route (Harran, Aleppo, Laiazzo, Edessa etc.). And so to the west, our fifteenth century copy then being made, I’d agree, in northern Italy/northern France.

    Still, it is true that in his terse responses to Friedman’s questions, Panosky responded to … ‘where was it written…’ by saying ‘Germany’. Much has been made of this ~ perhaps far too much. Panofsky’s more detailed opinion is rarely mentioned, but placed the work instead to the south, or Spain, and to Jewish style.

  39. bdid1dr on August 21, 2013 at 4:16 pm said:

    ThomS & Diane, please forgive my hysterics. I’m basically having to read through developing cataracts in my right eye. Surgery on my left eye, when I was a child, (to correct lazy eye) was not done in time enough to correct the neural pathways, and I’ve never been able read with that eye. (I also have impaired depth perception.
    So, I followed your earlier discussion/reference to Minta Collins book, and ended up on a lecture where the closed captioning could not keep up with the rapid-fire rattle-on lecture. It was a rather difficult presentation to follow. Somewhere in the lecture, *somebody* mentioned that Dioscorides first manuscript had no illustrations. So ……


  40. Bd1dr
    About Nizami etc.
    There’s a very interesting connection which I’ve never got around to tracking between the Majorcan Jewish school in the 13th&14thC, the earlier Persian and the later Turkish.
    For example, the red-winged angels you see in copies of Nizami

    turn up in Cresques’ (Majorcan-Jewish) compendium usually called fairly inappropriately the ‘Atlas Catala’.

    Precisely the same diagram used in that work to depict the planets with manzil (lunar mansions) is found again in late sixteenth Turkish text known as the Zubdet ut Tevarih, by Lokman, now in the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul.

    What it shows is that the ‘flow’ didn’t always move east-to-west as is so often assumed. More to it.. as always.

  41. bdid1dr on August 31, 2013 at 8:33 pm said:

    & there u havit, Diane and ThomS, a trail, at least. Diane, can you tell me more about the particular Nizami mss to which I earlier referred, ie the “nymphs in the black pool” & their resemblance to the nymphae/women portrayed in Boenicke 408?
    ThomS, several weeks ago you gave us a small film clip of some ladies singing. Although I don’t hear very well unless I can read lips, I seem to recall a phrase similar to “Beyazid” I think you both know where I have been venturing lately? Besides being derailed in hospital for a week. I’ll catch up with your fascinating dialogue. a tout a l’heure…..or phonetic Turk “lokvan betteme” (thank you?)

  42. bdid1dr on September 1, 2013 at 5:10 pm said:

    I’m also backtracking to a website which mentioned that a “whole lot” of manuscripts (several centuries worth?) ended up in Topkapi Palace. So, we have a time frame there — and maybe an archive which is electronically available? Di, have you already delved into that archive? I surely hope so!

  43. Diane O'Donovan on September 2, 2013 at 4:54 am said:


    Not in person (would that I could), but among those I’ve had reason to mention is one (learned of here, from a post of Nick’s) which has hundreds of different scripts in it. I sent out an appeal to anyone able to get there, to ask if they’d check it out. But if any did, they felt no obligation to let me know what they found.

    More recently a manuscript from the same collections I noted contains a virtual replica of the planets-and-lunar stations diagram made centuries before as part of the (Majorcan Jewish) ‘Atlas Catala’.

    Others I’ve looked at relate to the various aspects of astronomical lore and maritime culture – not chiefly for my Vms project.

  44. bdid1dr on September 4, 2013 at 3:50 pm said:

    Diane and ThomS, I wonder if Leyden (Leiden) University has an illustrated manuscript collection which would be available online for our perusal. You are very much more adept at getting into university holdings than I. Their correspondence collection makes for some very interesting reading also. One of these days I am hoping to do some research on my husband’s Dutch (New Netherland) ancestors/founders of large plantations (Brooklyn/Staten Island in particular). A couple of years ago a website became available for the replica of the “Halve Moon”. Another fascinating book, by Russell Shorto, “The Island at the Center of the World” is, for me, riveting. A piece of American history, which I have found nowhere else, was Mr. Shorto’s revelation that Henry Hudson was not alone when the mutineers put him into a dinghy with no food, water, or heat source. His sixteen year old son accompanied him into an obscure death.
    I know, I am wandering far adrift from Andean sky gods, but since the Dutch figure quite prominently in a lot of European history, as well as their colonies “here and there” around the world…. ?

  45. Diane & ThomS, I’ve been trying, for a couple of days now, to alert Nick to a similarity to the scratchings which appear on the “Jabron” rock. I can’t remember which discussion page you and ThomS were talking about AND showed a photo/illustration of an very early rock-carving which apparently was an “abecedary”/Armenian origin. Please, I’ve referred your discussion to Nick because the two carvings bear strong resemblance/origins to his “Jabron discussion page carvings. Help me find my way back, or at least alert Nick to the resemblance after you’ve looked at his offering.

  46. Bd1 (or am I being over-familiar)

    There’s a rumour going around that the Voynich text is Dutch. If true, that should please you, I think.

  47. bdid1dr on September 8, 2013 at 4:17 pm said:

    I’m getting more single-minded every day. Bandwagons aside, I’d really like to find the discussion in which you or ThomS posted a photograph of a boulder/rock which appeared to have an abecedary carved into it (some ancient, possibly Armenian, alphabet). In the meantime, I’ve attempted to alert Nick to the resemblance to the photo on his Jabron discussion page.

    In re the possibility of Dutch being the handwriting: Maybe Flemish? I think Rene Z could possibly shed more light on that aspect.

    Over-familiar? Nah! Even bd will do — as long as the spam filter doesn’t go wonky on us, like it did yesterday.

  48. Double Dutch I guess. There is a nice castle in the tulip fields, but unfortunately it doesn’t have ghibbeline ramparts.

  49. Diane, I’m beginning at the beginning of this discussion, as far as ms 336 bearing resemblance to B 408’s various pages. You mention, at one point, the Tacuinum. My Q: Are you and ThomS seeing any evidence of the Tacuinum’s formal “protocol” of the qualities of each “vegetable” being portrayed? For example: hot or cold, wet or dry, edibility or topical applications (my example:loofa sponge was also used as a tampon)?
    Are we seeing the Tacuinum’s protocols consistently in either Wellcome 336 or B-408? I did see that protocol in B-408’s folio 15v — my full translation identified the squash/cucurbit/loofa sponge. I’ve had this whole discussion several months ago on one of Nick’s other topics.
    I’m still trying to X-refer another more recent discussion you and ThomS have been having regarding various earliest alphabets carved into stones.You even presented a beautiful photo example — which I now can’t find anywhere. I’ve just yesterday left Nick a partial cross reference on his latest”Jabron” rock carvings discussion. I hope you all can get together on that. Fascinating!

  50. Diane, thanks for the ref to “Atlas Catala” — gorgeous!



  51. Bd1
    Is this the folio 15v you mean?

    ( btw – Yonks ago, I identified the luffa as the subject of a detail in the ‘pharma’ section)

  52. Yes. Would you like my word-for-word translation (though I doubt you need it)? Meanwhile, is it possible for you and ThomS to get together with Nick on his “Jabron” pages as far as you and ThomS have been discussing various ancient scripts carved into various rocks/boulders? I only got a glimpse of your discussion, but I think your example was an “abecedary”? It sure bore a strong resemblance to Nick’s offering and discussion.

  53. Thomas’ name doesn’t appear in the Jabron posts now, but you needn’t doubt your memory because of that. Without reference to the conversation, I’m not sure which example I might have mentioned.

  54. mindy dunn on September 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm said:

    Ah, see, Diane, this is probably why I should try to follow what you put on these forums more closely. Several times now I have found after the fact that you have a similar plant opinion, or in this case the mention of the tacuinum. Thus far I don’t have any plants identified because of the tacuinum, but I do see the pictorial correlation, as mentioned earlier today…meaning the way parts of plants are intentionally exaggerated. I don’t know what your plant assumptions are for most of the pages, but I definitely pay attention to and respect your input on it, especially since we have come to a few similar conclusions without intending to do so. I have a friend here who thinks about the pictures in what I assume is a similar manner to how you do. Like you, she often has very valuable insight regarding the illustrations.

    I found the tacuiunum through an image search which led me to moliero .com. Finding the tacuinum led me to look for other manuscripts, and I subsequently found the 6th century medical manuscript (greek I think, I forgot the name, but a copy was given to a princess who had it alphabetized.) Then I found the oxford bodleian library, and the ms ashmole. This enabled me to probably identify a couple voynich plants. I say probably, because don’t u

  55. Mindy
    The Tacuinum is very well known to medievalists; I’ve had my copy of an Engish translation more than 20 yrs. My copy of Mrs. Grieve’s Modern Herbal I bought in the 1970s.

    Best thing, always – check Nick’s blog for precedents (it’s where Google will send you, anyway). Plus the old maling list, which had some honestly valuable research, too.

    (Nick should be telling you this – )

    Some plant ids are widely agreed – hemp, viola, Dracunculus Vulgaris. Don’t fall into the mean-minded habit of crediting your friends or inventing your sources. It’s frankly a sign of rank amateurs; nothing lower imo.

    I’d be surprised, though, if you’d found similar plant ids to me because I don’t believe the botanical folios show single plants, or European plants (do you?), and the images aren’t very easy to interpret to get *any* ids. ( I say this despite nearly 40 yrs experience in analysing imagery).

    Not that I wouldn’t be chuffed – but I’d be interested in your working-out.


  56. Mindy, another reference which may be helpful in your research: Ububchasym de Baldach — in particular a small book published by Franco Maria Rizzoli and Emma Pirani. Of course this small book does not begin to discuss the full content of Baldach’s “Herbarium” but it does present the full discussion of the medieval “qualities” of each plant. In many of B-408’s folios I have seen the same “formula” being illustrated and being accompanied by discussion similar to Baldach’s.

  57. Mindy Dunn on September 21, 2013 at 3:55 am said:

    Thank you Diane and BDID1DR.
    Would that I had the type of relationship the two of you have cultivated with Mr. Pelling. Actually I have not heard from him since I sent the decryption method to him in August. My hope is this means he is validating it. I don’t mind sending the method to people who would like to work on it with me. For me, the manuscript is wonderful because of the history and knowledge it contains. I want to protect and open the knowledge both at the same time. I suppose some people might want to use the book to conduct a treasure hunt of sorts. This is probably possible, considering the archaeological value some pages likely contain, but not what I am interested in accomplishing.

  58. Dear Mindy: You are not alone in hoping that Nick is validating our various posts. Mostly, I think, he is simply doing what blog hosts do. He presents a “puzzle” to his fans and then ponders along with them. Sometimes, I think, we are maybe impinging on his patience. Still, as long as we don’t get too contentious, I think he may be observing our posts with a moderately “laid back” sense of humor. I hope!

  59. Dear Nick, I’ve just been reading the “Foreward to The Turkish Letters of Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq”. Excerpt: he was the first copyist of the most famous of all Latin historical inscriptions, the Monumentum Ancyranum; and he brought back to Vienna some 240 classical manuscripts and greatly enriched the imperial collection of coins. He has other claims to fame in that he was the first to introduce the lilac and tulip into Europe, while his preservation of the Crim-Gothic vocabulary was a unique contribution to the history of language.”

    Nick, I am doing the best I can to ignore obfuscating remarks by backing up findings of various items in the Boenicke ms408. So, we now know that Busbecq retrieved B-408, along with some 200-odd other ancient manuscripts. So, we now have an explanation for the commentary on folio 116v. The commentary was Busbecq’s own handwriting which he applied to the last page of a manuscript which had been previously written upon and carbon-dated to the fifteenth century.
    I’m now wondering if he commented on any of the other 200-odd manuscripts which “disappeared” into the Viennese royal library.

  60. Hey biddie *talkin trash..*

    doing the best I can to ignore obfuscating remarks

  61. Tricia: talkintrash — as into the wastebasket? I read for the love of reading “history”. I write about what I read in the hope of staving off Alzheimer’s. So far, so good.

    “uck-buk-buk-buk” …. (chook talk) … “chook” is another word for chicken, or old biddie”
    BTW: I get a kick out of your very brief comments! A “chuckle” every time!
    bd 🙂

  62. mindy dunn on September 26, 2013 at 4:16 am said:

    Dear BDID1DR, et al,

    I just figured out a couple days ago that you and a couple others leave comments on a variety of sites. I had not previously considered this tactic myself. What I like about your posts is they are always well thought out, and on my very quick search i didn’t find copy and pastes from one site to the next. I also agree there may yet be a sago palm in the manuscript…although my plant identification ability still lags behind my translation ability.

    Also, in reference to your comment about manuscripts above, although my search is in a different direction than yours I wanted to let you know I agree with the multiple manuscript idea. I may have found an 11th century manuscript which tags a number of plants used in the voynich. So far I have only checked two, but both appear to be in the manuscript.

    Also, in general, does everyone else also get this immensely different perspective on life after studying the manuscript for a while? I have had a profound increase in my understanding of scientific, historic, and spiritual studies since beginning this translation in may. This aspect is one of the things I really about the book.

    Also, I heard back from Beinecke, and was given the link to request hard copies of leaves or the book. Has anyone else done this? What is the quality? Is it worth it?

    Finally, it has been a while since i last updated an actual translation. I am not certain what the receptivity is for the translations. I have another translation I think can probably be posted without too much stir. If the group is interested, I will consider posting it.

  63. mindy dunn on September 26, 2013 at 5:49 am said:

    Erm, it should say..this aspect is one of the things I really LIKE about the book…

    now if I could just get around to purchasing a keyboard for this thing…hunt and peck method is soooooo slow.

  64. Heads up, Mindy! I just yesterday discovered that Nick has a conversation going on on his home page: nymph small…. You might find it interesting.
    Did you say, earlier, that you do your research via a “Tablet”? Egads! Can a Tablet be accessorized? If so, you can probably find a vendor for a “gently used” keyboard. When my husband recently bought a brand new All-in-One computer, he thought he would be pleasing me *also*. Not so. All-black keyboard, shiny black with white lettering. Doesn’t work for me, with my encroaching visual cataracts. I can still touch-type 80 wpm on my greige keyboard, and with little or no glare I am able to automatically able to shift-key the numeral keys for punctuation.
    Sorry, Nick, if I’m “crossing paths” with various of your other subject posts. I’m off to re-visit and catch up with Nick and friends on “Nymph Small” Nick’s clip-art is hilarious!

  65. Menno, I just now got around to visiting your meticulously researched documentation of Beinecke manuscript 408’s travels through European history, and its subsequent ownerships and storage in the Boenicke’s vast holdings. I’m hoping you are aware that the Roman School (Kircher’s headquarters) and its remodelling into the Gregorian University, eventually appeared in an Italian television documentary (2010 ce?). The documentary focused on the discovery of several hundred ancient manuscripts which had been walled off by the remodelling. Incredible!

  66. Bdid1dr, I would certainly be interested to get in touch with the several hundred ancient manuscript. Any idea how and where ? I know that the Munich University owns many old manuscripts as litterae ignotae (unknown scripts), but I could not trace the online.

    Greetings, Menno

  67. The television newsclip was only a few minutes long; and when I tried to create a link in 2012, I discovered it was broadcast in 2010. I think my link came to a dead end. I did try to give Ellie the “heads up” also (in re to her study of “stars”). The various pages of manuscripts being portrayed by the TV item, had numerous stars. I mentioned to Ellie that “stars and stripes” were the Aldobrandini family’s logo which appeared in various works of art and murals commissioned by them.
    It could be that someone at the Gregorian University could refer you to that documentary. I hope I’ve helped rather than leading to dead end posts.

  68. bdid1dr on October 19, 2013 at 3:37 pm said:

    Andean Sky God, Nick? How about Greco-Roman mythology as found in “Pleiades”. I’ve found at least two pairs of lovers being mentioned in B-408: Alcyone & Ceyx is one pair that Francesco di Medici commissioned a piece of cut crystal which was, in turn, added onto with the figures of a man and a woman being turned into birds (kingfishers). I can’t blame Shakespeare for either this story or the story of “Pyramus and Thisbe”. I’m still working on the story of “Crocus and Smilax”. “Star-crossed” lovers all?

  69. bdid1dr on November 1, 2013 at 11:02 pm said:

    See my most recent posts in re Khosro Parvis & Shirin, Leyla & Majnun, Philemon & Baucis. I am now beginning research on Cronus & Rhea, Vis & Raman. Several of these pairs of lovers are artistically portrayed in various of Nizami’s Quintet mss and copies thereof. I am very impatiently awaiting the opening of the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto (January 2014)

  70. bdid1dr on November 26, 2013 at 8:50 pm said:

    BTW: The Aga Khan Museum has been posting selections from their museum holdings. They have also facilitated enlarging and focusing on particular items of interest on any particular manuscript. If what we are seeing now (prior to the museum’s formal opening) is any indicator, we’ve struck it rich!
    Note my full parentheses pair — regardless of my excited state! 🙂

  71. Michael Kanellos on April 4, 2017 at 5:05 pm said:

    I think that the Cathar theory is really correct. The problem with the dating of the Voynich manuscript is solved once you consider the possibility that the Templar Knights (who were – as is very well-known – also prosecuted) allied with the Cathars and especially helped them with their travel.
    It is very well-known (basic knowledge in fact) that the Templars re-emerged in Portugal and Spain and led the expeditions to the Americas, especially they also influenced the Columbus journeys. This whole theory even explains that the Templars took so much care that the unknown Columbus becomes the first leader in America. They needed a person who is politically neutral and maybe they even searched for remaining Cathars in America.

  72. Do you think there is a link between the drawings and the language used?

  73. Pete: Voynichese isn’t a language in any useful sense of the word because languages don’t work like that. So starting from the position that it’s a language is just setting yourself up for a fall.

  74. This is all your doing. Now I’m reading up. Another question: what part, if any, did the Jesuits play during the period of inquisitions?

  75. Pete: the Jesuits formed as an organization roughly a century after the Voynich Manuscript was made. Which, timeline-wise, means they had about as much to with its production as your Aunt Dora.

  76. When you say the VM was made do you mean the calf hide or the script or the illustrations?

  77. Or the 1st binding, or the second?

  78. And do you discount the fact that the Jesuit order was made up of existing priests, many from the Dominican order, who, unlike Jesuits allowed nuns to participate in their devotions?
    My apologies for being so pedantic (?) Nick, but all I’m doing is navigating opinions on this mystery.
    With an objective in view.

  79. Petebowes: the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) was founded in 1534 (ratified by a papal bull of 1540), whereas the Voynich Manuscript was created well before 1500, and even has 15th century marginalia on it (specifically its quire numbers).

    So while it would make sense to ask what influence the Voynich Manuscript had on the Jesuits (answer: the manuscript was given to a Jesuit in 1665, and it was the Jesuits who sold it to Wilfrid Voynich circa 1912), it would make no sense at all to ask what influence the Jesuits had on the making of the Voynich Manuscript (because it was made long before the Society of Jesus was even founded).

    All of which is basically historical fact rather than opinion.

    Good luck with your objective.

  80. Good luck with yours.

  81. Pete: the outer cover was added some time later. The base layer of the manuscript comprised the text, almost all of the drawings, and some painting. There seems every reason to think that this was done in one go.

    There was a second “elaboration” layer, which you can see clearly on the nine-rosette folio and its reverse side: this seems to have been added by the original author(s), but for reasons unknown: this has not yet been properly studied.

    Later stages included a “heavy painter” stage, quire numbering, folio numbering, zodiac month name adding, etc: these are not thought to be original features of the manuscript.

  82. Thanks. Are you certain the same person who wrote the script drew the illustrations?

  83. Petebowes: there is a persuasive argument (first put forward some 40 years ago) that the Voynich Manuscript’s text was made by a number of people; and more recently it has been argued that the drawings too may well have been added by more than one person.

    What complicates the matter further is that in some places it seems that the text was added before the drawings, while in others it seems that the drawings came first.

    As a result, the oft-repeated suggestion that the Voynich Manuscript was the product of a single “outsider artist” (a kind of rogue cultural “lone gunman”) seems quite unlikely.

  84. Thanks. Are there any idiosyncrasies inthe text that point to more than one author?

  85. Belay that, you’ve already given the answer.

  86. The carbon-dated vellum: could you imagine a leather seller keeping a store of them for the manuscript scribes?
    An inventory of skins, cut to size, ready to be written upon. Up on the shelf.

  87. Next question: are all the plants free of the earth? All I can see are exposed roots and bulbs.

  88. peteb: nobody would have stored vellum that just coincidentally happened to have been cut into large foldout shapes that no other manuscript before or since used. So the whole “stored vellum thing” would only possibly hold true for uncut sheets of vellum: and even then there’s a point at which the lovely writing surface of fresh vellum ceases to be much fun to write on – as far as I know, nobody has ever tried to assess how long this period is, but I suspect the answer will turn out to be 20 years or so.

  89. Petebowes: *sigh* yes, they are all “free of the earth”.

  90. You’re a gent, Nick, thanks. I’m just about through with everbody else. Zanderberg is the reference spot, right?

  91. Petebowes: Rene Zandbergen’s http://www.voynich.nu/ is (broadly speaking) the Voynich equivalent of Gerry Feltus’ “The Unknown Man”, yes.

  92. If indeed the MS was written by a Cathar (there were many wandering groups of ascetic preachers in the times) and given that they were understood to enjoy sex without procreation you could understand some of the allure in the bathing images.
    Naked girls bathing, their genitals almost exposed.
    But never a naked man ?
    Is there one in the SM, a bloke in the bollocky?

  93. John sanders on April 10, 2017 at 8:26 am said:

    Pete: Now that you mention it, I do have one fellow in mind. Used to run a nudist colony or some sort of pervert refuge under the guise of a deer hunting lodge up at The Coorong, near Policeman’s point and went by the name of Prester John a.k.a. Prestige Johnson, and better known to us believers as Lord Prosper. I have a feeling that he may have been connected with that old defunct Somerton Man investigation, but it was a while back and nobody ever followed up on it….. Blind elk with no legs and no canisters?…..Still, no f…..g eyed deer. Sorry Ruth; just couldn’t resist.

  94. Johnno … the people you meet when you don’t have a shotgun!

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