What would a “Voynich Manuscript for Dummies” look like? It’s easy to poke fun at the foolish mess Wikipedia editors have made of the subject, but it’s not so easy to do it properly.

For me, the first big step would be finding sufficient writing courage to discard all Voynich theories. Yes, all of them. Every single one. Come on, is there a single Voynich theory out there that genuinely adds anything significant to what we know about the manuscript itself?

(Even my Antonio Averlino hypothesis is a bit guilty in that respect, because it was so painstakingly built on top of best-in-class historical evidence that it ended up a bit too precise and monochromatic for most people’s tastes. And the stuff it did predict [e.g. the concealed machine drawings] nobody yet feels comfortable with. Oh well!)

I also really don’t care for the kind of who-might-have-done-it-and-why speculation that fills the Wikipedia Voynich Manuscript page: that’s another whole category of stuff that should get the +10 Blue Pencil of Death wielded at it.

In addition, the whole what-flower-is-that-drawing-similar-to cult that seems to have monopolized many Voynich researchers’ attentions in the last few years is a thing that for me warrants only the briefest of mentions. It is such a hazard-rich and information-poor approach to history: and the whole supposed point of the activity (to find cribs for code-breakers to work with) is destroyed by the complexity of Voynichese . If we can’t even tell vowels from consonants, numbers from letters, or even what ‘the’ or ‘and’ is across hundreds of pages of text, how much help could a crib give us? [“Not much” is the sad answer.]

But once you’ve stripped out all the rubbish, what is left? Well… the internal evidence (the codicology and palaeography, i.e. the construction, the writing and the pre-1600 history), the external evidence (mainly provenance from 1600 onwards), and the Art History (techniques employed, similarities with other documents and drawings, etc). And… errrm… that’s about it.

At this point, you’d have to point out that I’d obviously be writing for some fairly sophisticated Dummies. And I suspect that this is ultimately the problem, because almost everything written to date on the subject isn’t about the Voynich Manuscript itself, but about the Foolish Mythology of the Voynich Manuscript. And what a waste of everyone’s time that exercise has proved to be, huh?

I suppose that this is what I despair about: not only that the unfortunate legacy of Victorian historians (and their search for moral tales for the edification and instruction of the young) was a portfolio of polished pants myths that have taken over a century to dismantle, but also that the mythological-and-as-yet-largely-undeconstructed Voynich Manuscript remains very much in that disappointingly shiny vein. I mean, Roger Bacon and John Dee… is that honestly the best people can do after a hundred years? *sigh*

All this rant boils down to is this: that I’ve become heartily sick and tired of re-reading the same basic “Voynich Mystery Mythology for Dummies” account that bloggers, journalists, novelists, meeja luvvies, computer scientists and even (gasp!) historians seem so keen to regurgitate ad nauseam; and that I think the discourse around the Voynich Manuscript has become so worn-through that many people would struggle to recognize a genuinely informative and accurate account of the object itself.

Remove all the lurid speculation and the mad theories from the next Voynich article you read, and is anything much left?

138 thoughts on “The Voynich Manuscript for Dummies…?

  1. bdid1dr on June 19, 2014 at 12:35 am said:

    Well, Nick, I hope you got some new views of B-408’s offerings, in the form of actual word-for-word translations, from somebody else besides me. I refuse to argue or speculate about who wrote the entire document. Some teamwork was involved, true, but why is so much attention focused on the ‘who’ and ‘where’ of the document’s origins?
    The translations I have done are written, phonetic Latin. Those persons who continue to focus on the manufacture of the material (what kind of hide was turned into parchment or vellum), or its origins, or how it first came to the attention of Mr. Voynich……. are all going to continue on a fully closed circus/circle leading to nowhere.
    The botanical DISCUSSIONS are fully disclosive, but do not go into details of color, nor flavor, nor origins, nor proselytization.
    What actually kick-started me was the discovery of a South American “Monte Alban” archaeological site. I notified you immediately of its existence. Here is an update on another archaeological site (Peruvian coast) you might find interesting: National Geographic, June 2014, pp 54-77 (Wari agricultural terraces, just a small segment of a fascinating culture, and some references to “El Castillo de Huarmey” some 500 miles away).
    The reason I’m so fascinated is because the mummy wrappings were woven with very fine-spun warp made of one plant fiber, and the weft apparently even more finely spun
    (maybe cotton) yarn. Even more fascinating are the vivid dyes used to depict a possible ‘sea-faring’ story.
    I hope you get some relief from the tedium of speculation which is nauseatingly repetitive. Perhaps we may eventually find some discussion ‘somewhere’ of the maize, bean, squash trilogy which has sustained life, now, on many continents.

  2. James C. Comegys on June 19, 2014 at 6:17 am said:

    Frankly, Voynich for Dummies is daunting. It could be years before the scholars look carefully at the evidence much less come to agreement. I just had a disagreeable scholar rip me a new one because my evidence was in too incomplete a form to be instantly usable for debunking and applying his own name. For my money, keep the mystery as fascinating as possible. No-one wants to know the VMS says, “Take two aspirins and call me in the morning” even in Nahuatl . I’m just saying.

  3. James, sounds like you’re upset that scholars are not focusing on the subset of evidence that you find compelling for your own theory, to the point of questioning their motives.

    Next thing you know you’ll be claiming that Voynich scholars don’t want to accept the Nahuatl theory because they’ll have to rewrite all the textbooks.

    Voynich theories are alot like creationist theories – they focus on rationalizing the evidence relative to some pre-established belief – and make few if any useful or verifiable predictions.

    Nick, which concealed machine drawings were predicted by your Averlino theory?

  4. Job: from the books of secrets alluded to by Averlino in his Trattato, if he was the author of the Voynich Manuscript then we should expect it to specifically contain secrets of agriculture, water, machines, and bees. If that’s right, then where are they? I concluded (in “Curse”) that while I’d expect Herbal-A pages to hold Averlino’s secrets of agriculture, my guess was that Herbal-B drawings concealed his secrets concerning machines – gears, lifting machines, boats, even cars (!) are found in similar 15th century engineer notebooks, so why not there too?

  5. bdid1dr on June 19, 2014 at 2:32 pm said:

    Dear Nick, James, and Job (and ThomS too):
    When I first encountered your blog (while trying to do a little research on La Purisima Mission and pre-Gold Rush California missions) I had a lo-o-ng ‘waitaminnit’ moment. Fascinating, but not mind-bending. What I saw (cryptology and the involvement of our US military codiologists) has kept me enthralled ever since.
    I do my best to avoid disputation and argumentation. I’d much rather facilitate thoughtful discussions. I leave the ‘codiology’ to you and your long-time correspondents. Keep up the good work, as well as keep up your good spirits, y’all!! A cheering section of one?

  6. SirHubert on June 19, 2014 at 4:57 pm said:

    But once you’ve stripped out all the rubbish, what is left? Well… the internal evidence (the codicology and palaeography, i.e. the construction, the writing and the pre-1600 history), the external evidence (mainly provenance from 1600 onwards), and the Art History (techniques employed, similarities with other documents and drawings, etc). And… errrm… that’s about it.
    “Er…what about the text?” he asked, nervously.

  7. SirHubert: that’s the sequel – don’t give away all my publishing secrets! 😉

  8. You can TrUst the VMs ~Folding KEY~
    steve (relax a notch) ekwall :-))

  9. bdid1dr on June 21, 2014 at 12:11 am said:

    Rather than ‘reaming out a new one’ try a teaspoon of psyllium seed husk with your morning meal (Vms folio 16r discusses isphagula genus plantago ovata, as a gentler way to pass the product of frustrating episodes of the battles of wits and/or contradictory and down-putting episodes.

  10. Diane on June 21, 2014 at 10:29 am said:

    I’d suggest, Nick, that until people become more interested in the primary document than in their personal theories about it, Voynich studies will remain the mess it has become.

    Among some of the more obvious examples of the a-historical nature of the study is the idea that the manuscript’s parchment could be fifteenth-century German; another of course is that idea that the manuscript contains anything like fifteenth-century Italian graphic artists’ style of hatching.

    Ah well..

  11. bdid1dr on June 21, 2014 at 3:33 pm said:

    Ah Diane, I was getting seriously worried about your whereabouts. I couldn’t find anything more recent than January of this year on your blog. I think you’re probably just as weary of all the “Voynich” speculations as Nick and the rest of his regular correspondents. There has been some progress, though I’ve gotten disheartened at times (not able to travel by air). Keep in touch with Nick, at least; Ellie V. has been doing some serious research also.
    beady eyed wonder-er 😉

  12. bdid1dr on June 22, 2014 at 2:27 pm said:

    Yesterday I came across a website (Huichol Legend) which discusses the the five preferred colors of maize. Some twenty-five years ago, when we visited Canyon de Chelley (Navajo), we also visited the nearby Hopi Museum. There is some discussion to be found about the ancestors and the “Blue Corn Maiden”. Hopi legend has it that the ancestors came to the North American mesas through a ‘hole in the ground’. There is still a lot of research being done on the “Anasazi”.
    To this day, some Hopi still hand-water their gardens of maize, squash, and peppers. They also still have ceremonies for young women ‘coming of age’.
    Just recently I discovered that we have an archaeologist/anthropologist who contributes quite a lot of info to our historical museum. So, I’m trying to contact him on his website. I’ll keep you posted if we develop any meaningful discussion.

  13. SirHubert on June 23, 2014 at 1:33 pm said:

    “A genuinely informative and accurate account of the object” would be lovely. Unfortunately, I fear that if one were to ask each of (for example) you, Diane O’Donovan, BD and Rene Zandbergen to produce his or her independent version of such a thing, they probably wouldn’t look very similar.

    I don’t mean that as a criticism of anyone – it’s just a reflection of how very, very little solid information we have, let alone that is generally accepted. C14 dating? Oh, we can ignore that…just look at the Turin Shroud. Or maybe the blank vellum/parchment hung around somewhere for 200 years before anyone wrote on it. But surely we can agree roughly where it was made? Err…not even to within a few thousand miles in any direction. But at least we agree that it’s an enciphered document, right? Well, not if you’re the highly qualified Prof Bax, who seems to think it’s a natural language written in a forgotten script, or Gordon Rugg who thinks it’s a hoax.

    You can see why professional academics avoid this thing like the plague, can’t you?

  14. SirHubert: I just wonder whether the causal arrow points in the opposite direction, i.e. whether it is the lack of a coherent account of the evidence that has allowed such strange fruit to grow in the Voynich garden. Oh, and I do hope you’re not implying that Bax and Rugg aren’t professional academics. :-p

  15. Sir Hubert,

    What makes you think the Voynich MS is an enciphered text ?

  16. SirHubert: reflecting a little further, surely the biggest issue is that most Voynich theorists seem determined to kick back against (their imagined version of) the mainstream account of the Voynich, one which would take all the fragments of historical evidence at face value. Diane kicks back at everything that seems to her to presume a 15th century origin for the content; Gordon kicks back at everything that runs counter to his claimed 16th century hoaxing methodology; Rich SantaColoma kicks back at, well, everything really; and so forth.

    Sometimes it feels like I’m basically “The Man” they’re all kicking back against. Oh well!

  17. Menno: …apart from the fact that it just is? 😉

  18. SirHubert on June 23, 2014 at 2:55 pm said:

    Menno: it’s a common assumption that the Voynich MS is an enciphered text, although I haven’t actually said that I necessarily agree with it.

  19. Menno: seriously now 🙂 , I think that the inference that Voynichese is a consciously encrypted text (i.e. one that has one or more layers of concealment applied to it in order to confound would-be readers) is now strongly justifiable. Whether it uses codes, ciphers, shorthands, steganography or some tricky combination of them is far less certain… but that’s another matter entirely. 🙂

  20. bdid1dr on June 23, 2014 at 9:13 pm said:

    Well, Nick, I’ve seen no indicators of concealed meaning in the Very Mysterious Script which is written upon animal skin. I am still looking/comparing the story being told on those skins with Father Sahagun’s stories which were eventually compiled onto figtree-bark paper: He had some thirty years research in which to condense into a some 250-odd-page book, which pages were/are paper. The book is available online. That book is not just herbal. For example: the two wild cats (jaguar and ocelot). Current-day researchers and professionals are still confusing the the Jaguar (large, yellowish cat with spots) and the much smaller ocelot which has pale blond/whitish fur and proportionately smaller and darker spots. Sahagun discusses both; only several pages apart.

  21. Pingback: Emmanuel Mezino's "La Buse" cipher treasure book... -Cipher Mysteries

  22. bdid1dr on June 23, 2014 at 9:42 pm said:

    So — what if the ‘Voynich’ manuscript is just a small ‘field notebook’? Possibly just one volume of notes. I’m still 1-dering when the next volume of field notes might fall off the shelf in some ‘storage building’. Maybe the same storage building from which Mr. Voynich purchased ‘Volume 1’. (?)

  23. Sir Hubert, Nick,

    The Voynich MS has been bought in 1912. It has been declared immediately an encrypted text. In the past hundred years decryption has not made any progress. I think it is time to look for other possibilities such as obsolete scripts, especially because we know that the Italian regions and cities had their own scripts. What intrigues the most, is the question, why someone would encrypt a long text about subjects, which were open to scientists in Latin or Italian, especially herbal, astronomical en astrological information. Thirdly, the Voynichese text behaves like a normal text like Greek for those who cannot read and understand Greek. Decryption methods may help to identify the unknown script and language. The first task would be to isolate the individual letters and numbers and ligatures. In my opinion we would get better results, when we would have a printed version of the Voynich MS instead of facsimile or transcribed editions.

  24. Menno: actually, there was a wide variety of opinions right from the start (including people who suspected Wilfrid Voynich of forging it), so they’ve all had a century to fail, not just the encryption. Hence you could equally as well say that because people have failed to read Voynichese as a language for a century, it simply cannot be a language.

    My opinion is simply that while there are numerous ways that Voynichese resembles normal languages, it has many statistical features that never appear in normal languages. Therefore it cannot be a normal language.

  25. SirHubert on June 24, 2014 at 10:22 am said:

    Menno, I can tell you with some confidence is that the structure of the text is nothing at all like Greek, ancient or modern.

    I honestly don’t know what process or processes created the Voynich text, and I don’t yet have a view on whether it’s meaningful. But in my opinion Nick is absolutely right to say that statistical analysis indicates very, very strongly that it is not a natural language concealed behind an unfamiliar alphabet. And really, if you look at the calibre of the codebreakers who were working on it in the 1970s, who had cracked Enigma, Lorenz, Purple and whatever else, you’d have expected them to break what is effectively a monoalphabetic substitution cipher over breakfast, and probably before the eggs were hard boiled.

    My own view is that treating the text as a simple substitution cipher, or as an unknown language in an unfamiliar script, was a very good place for would-be decipherers to start, but that this has now been tested thoroughly and hasn’t given any positive results. So, in my opinion, we can now leave this and move on to other possibilities. But there are lots of people who don’t agree, including plenty of regular posters here and also academics such as Stephen Bax, and of course it’s their choice to do as they wish.

  26. Nick, SirHubert

    I think your idea is too much sophisticated. It’s hard to get reliable statistics as long as individual letters and numbers and ligatures have not been identified and words are read differently by scientists. The EVA transcription is fairly unreliable as it does not take into account special signs nor ligatures. Ligatures play an important role in mediëval scripts, even when printed.

    The Voynich MS is generally treated as a single volume, but it is obvious that left papers from different sources have been collected an renumbered. The herbal pages show their own quire numbers and should be taken together, even when a part of the is scattered in the latter half of the book. The usual number of pages for mediëval herbal books is some 200 pages, from which the Voynich MS shows some 70 pages. So the majority is missing.

    There are at least four occasions, which are more transparant:

    1. the mediëval T-O maps (showing Arabia, Africa and Europe)
    2. the astrological pages which show clear texts next to the Voynich texts in Spanish,Portugese or insular language.
    3. The word doaro in the Pleiades, which must be tauro(s) as the Pleiades are in the Taurus-sign.
    4. Most frequent in the herbal pages is the special sign Eva -t- , which comes where other herbal manuscripts show the word Erba or Herba. There is only a limited number of special signs -t- p – k – f and four combinations with the ch -sign, maybe a subcategorie.

    None of these show an attempt to encrypt the message, not even in the apothecary pages.

  27. Menno: if EVA doesn’t handle ligatures well enough for you, use Voyn-101 instead. You’ll get essentially the same results, though. 😐

    There are indeed many clear signs that the bifolios have been reordered and renumbered. However, the quire numbers seem very unlikely to me to be part of the original writing phase (Q13’s quire number is just plain wrong, etc), while the folio numbers were clearly added about century later. I doubt more than a handful of pages are genuinely missing: I gave a talk on this at the Voynich Centenary Conference.

    1. The T-O map – the illuminated image Ellie Velinska recently found was dated to ~1410, so not so medieval. 🙂
    2. The “zodiac hand” is clearly a hand (and I think language) completely different from the main text and marginalia
    3. Don’t get me started on Bax’s doaro – if (like Bax) that’s all you’ve got, you’ve got very close to nothing.
    4. So why do the same gallows appear everywhere else?

  28. SirHubert on June 24, 2014 at 1:49 pm said:

    Menno: if there is no attempt to encrypt the message, can you please read it for us?

  29. bdid1dr on June 24, 2014 at 3:41 pm said:

    Nick, Sir Hubert, Menno, and any other interested persons:
    Why not apply ‘my’ method of translating any folio in the Vms?
    Several times, over the past two years, I’ve given you the alphabetical/synonymous translation of each and every ‘mystery’ cipher. I’ve also posted word-for-word samples of key phrases which identify not only the botanical subjects but also discuss Rene’s findings in re ‘cosmological’ folios in the Vms folio 86 and its manifold verso-reverso segments.
    It appears that Professor Bax may be following my contributions, here on Nick’s blog, and maybe Ellie’s blog. I sincerely hope I’ve provided a key that works for you all, regardless of your national origins.
    I will be continuing my translations in between visits to my local historical society’s huge map/discussion of the migrations of prehistoric natives between the two continents we currently call North America and South America. I’ll stay in touch.
    a tout a l’heure!
    beady-eyed wonder-er (just stick another ‘r’, mentally, onto my usual sign-off:

  30. bdid1dr: because your method doesn’t work for anyone else in the way it works for you, I’m very sorry to say.

  31. bdid1dr on June 24, 2014 at 4:22 pm said:

    One last item: I haven’t found any evidence, in the Vms, of the migrations across the Aleutian Islands (from Europe) to the United States, of which Alaska is now included. I am, however, just discovering (via National Geographic-June 2014) a recent archaeological discovery at a Peruvian site called El Castillo de Huarmey. Her funeral/mummy wrappings were exquisitely woven with brilliantly dyed/painted weft fibers (cotton?) and ‘burlap’-colored warp (possibly agave fiber?).
    It’s been a while since I’ve done any spindling or wheel spinning. I’ll be checking to see if NatGeo is going to expand on the plant fibers and processes involved in Wari fabric production.

  32. bdid1dr on June 24, 2014 at 4:45 pm said:

    My apologies, Nick, for overlapping/crossposts! Thanx for your very rapid response to my latest contributions. You KNOW I’ll be following your “Voynich” discussions. I can take a hint; summer vacation. I might even be able to revisit the Hopi mesa and its beautiful museum. I’m pretty sure Valjean Joshevema (silversmith extraordinaire) is no longer of this world, but his relatives continue the traditional silversmithing. I might even be able to re-visit Canyon de Chelley. Hmmm — I wonder if they’ve gone on-line WWW?

  33. Out*of*the*Blue on June 24, 2014 at 8:55 pm said:

    And now for something completely different.

    My recent research into VMs imagery has led to the discovery of an interesting term: papelonny. Since you are such an avid puzzle investigator, I’ll not influence the matter with further comment, for the time being.

  34. Out*of*the*Blue: presumably you mean the fish-scales motif that appears in Q13 and the nine-rosette section (and possibly elsewhere)? If you’ve uncovered some kind of meaning to this beyond mere decoration, well done (it’s something I looked in vain for myself). 🙂

  35. Nick,

    T-O maps are known from the time of Isidor of Sevilla (560-636) and have been replaced by the circular mappae mundi in the 13th century like the Ebstorf map (c. 1250), the Hereford mappa mundi (ca. 1250), Borgia mappa mundi (1430). As soon as new continents were discovered by Vasco da Gama, Columbus and others, the circular mappa mundi were outdated.

    The appearance of a mappa mundi in the Voynich MS indicate that the sources for the Voynich MS are older than the 15th century. In September I’ll publish an article (in Dutch) about the location of Paradise on mediëval world maps.

  36. SirHubert,

    What sense does it make to encrypt texts accompanying elaborated pictures of plants, bath tubes, constellations of sun, moon and stars and apothecary jars, even if we are not yet able to read the texts or to understand the pictures ? In fact the early Middle ages were based primarily on pictorial information because literacy and science were mainly restricted to monks.

  37. Out*of*the*Blue on June 25, 2014 at 4:37 am said:

    The examples you cite both appear as architectural elements, a sort of fish-scale pattern in the tiling of the arches. My references are to something else. The term actually refers to one of the heraldic tinctures, technically papelonny is a fur, though one often sees only the variations of ermine and vair. And while the term reportedly derives from the French papillon, for butterfly, the best description is clearly fish-scales.

    (Ref: A. C. Fox-Davies, A Complete Guide to Heraldry, 2007, p. 83; available free online)

    The examples I refer to are patterns on the nymphs’ tubs in the Zodiac section of the VMs. The first is in the outer ring of Pisces and the second in the inner ring of Dark Aries, both in the area of 10 to 11 o’clock.

    A certain form of exposition that seems to occur in the VMs is that, while the interpretation of visual representations may be subjective, their positioning and placement is plainly objective.

    Therefore, compare the placement of these two depictions of papelonny with the locations of the patterns found on VMs White Aries and we will see if the pun hits you out of the blue, sneaks up on you eventually, or just goes whizzing right on by.

  38. Menno,

    The herbal pages show their own quire numbers and should be taken together, even when a part of the is scattered in the latter half of the book.

    If you look at the distribution of the EVA suffix “edy” (which you’ve noted before), you’ll see that it splits the VM in two.
    Each half contains herbal folios, so it seems unlikely that all herbal folios are members of an isolated group.

    Most frequent in the herbal pages is the special sign Eva -t- , which comes where other herbal manuscripts show the word Erba or Herba.

    EVA “cth” occurs quite a bit in biological folio f80r:

    It also occurs in three star labels in folio f68r1:

    While the VM could contain an invented language, it’s so atypical that it’s essentially a cipher.

    The following are some noteworthy properties of the text that (IMO) suggest that the VM does contain a cipher or synthetic language, instead of a natural language:

    – Some characters have a “positional affinity”. For example EVA “m” overwhelmingly occurs at the end of lines, whether the line wraps or not:

    – There are 51 different words starting with EVA “qo” and ending with EVA “edy”, quite a few of them in f77r:

    – If you look at the occurrence of EVA “p” and “f” you’ll see these horizontal clusters:
    That’s because p/f are likely to recur on lines that already contain a p/f – it’s suggestive of a stateful cipher.

    – Despite the length of the text, there are almost no repeated four-word sequences, here they are:

    – Two consecutive herbal folios, f90r1 and f90r2, contain almost no words in common. This plot highlights all the words present in f90r2:

    – Consider the words for which another word exists that differs by one character – here’s a plot showing them:
    That’s almost all of them. So while EVA “doaro” might stand for Taurus, EVA “doar”, which occurs in the bottom section of a T/O map, might be anything:

  39. Menno: you are pushing at an open door here, in that I have said for many years that the Voynich Manuscript’s contents seems to have their roots in the 14th century. 🙂

  40. Another good example of two consecutive herbal folios having a surprisingly low number of shared words are f53r and f53v:

    I’d also like to add that these properties of the text are still consistent with manually generated gibberish (e.g. taking an existing word and changing a character).

    I find it much more likely for the text to have no meaningful content than it is for it to contain a natural language. IMO, it’s cipher or gibberish – a battle between the Pellings and the Ruggs as it were, with not much room for Bax despite his well intended efforts.

  41. Ralph on June 25, 2014 at 6:50 am said:

    Out*of*the*Blue: I’m looking at f70v1 and f71r, but I can’t tell what you’re getting at. I see no papellony on the latter and hence no pun. Is it your creation, or do you suggest it’s latent in the manuscript?

  42. Nick,

    Maybe earlier c. 1250-1350 as I have said before. According to the French Wikipedia the T-O map has been abandioned from the XII century, but it has been maintained for some time in psalters.

  43. SirHubert on June 25, 2014 at 10:39 am said:


    What sense does it make to encrypt texts accompanying elaborated pictures of plants, bath tubes, constellations of sun, moon and stars and apothecary jars, even if we are not yet able to read the texts or to understand the pictures ?

    I don’t know, because I can’t read the text. I could speculate and come up with all sorts of possibilities. But the whole point of this thread is that speculating like this doesn’t get us very far. So it might be because the contents don’t in fact derive from a well-known source and were thought to be precious, or it might be that the manuscript was written by someone who thought they’d discovered all sorts of uniquely important things. But I don’t know, and until someone reads the text neither will anyone else.

    In fact the early Middle ages were based primarily on pictorial information because literacy and science were mainly restricted to monks.

    This is a manuscript with however many hundreds of thousands of words in it. It’s not a picture book. Of course the illustrations are important, but until we can read the text we won’t know whether their function is primarily decorative, functional, symbolic, allegorical, deliberately misleading, or (as Nick has suggested) to disguise the content.

    You are asking perfectly sensible questions, but I’m afraid there are no answers for you until the text can be read – just yet more speculation.

  44. bdid1dr on June 25, 2014 at 3:18 pm said:

    Sir Hubert & Friends,
    I’ve been reading the text in B-408 for several months now. I’ve been offering my translations on various of Nick’s blog discussions. Perhaps which discussion, I should post to, is problematic. It seems to me that the same contradictory and circular arguments appear with every post.
    So, I’m hoping to re-establish contact with our local anthropologist/archaeologist to compare his discussions with Nick’s discussions/presentations in re the “Voynich” and the Boenicke Library’s offerings and their recently posted blog. I’ll keep y’all posted — especially if I am able to fill in the blanks of the circular arguments.

  45. We are pulling the same horse – we say in Dutch – , you by deciphering and me by comparing the Voynich script with other scripts used in Nothern Italy and the Alpine region. We both hope, that it isn’t a dead horse.

  46. Out*of*the*Blue on June 25, 2014 at 4:22 pm said:


    You’ve noted the positions of the papelonny patterns found in Pisces and Dark Aries. When you turn to White Aries and mark the figures in the same locations, what do you see? Do you have any familiarity with medieval heraldry? The pun is a play on words. You don’t see it on the page. Do you know a little French?

  47. Gregory on June 25, 2014 at 4:36 pm said:

    The key cryptography is information that allows to perform certain cryptographic operations – encryption, decryption, and the like. But in order to increase the likelihood of accidental hit on the right track for the manuscript the author has applied, as it turns out to be effective maneuver brought the thinking of potential decipherers on a side track – all the energy directed search for text that is an about-face after the proverbial circle are “seekers of lost time” where this time the broadcast content was hidden in the symbolism of illustration.
    You need a key – and that is the continuum of time from the farthest past the inevitable future (two symbols of the folio 1R). Incidentally, a similar maneuver applied Nostradamus – the vast majority of amateur expertise focuses on the Centuries (volts), and easier to decipher the contents of hiding in his remaining works – Almanacs, Letters. Sticking to the principle of kontimuum (key) on my blog I present my interpretation of not only the MV but special almanacs.
    In summary, when it comes to MV text is the proverbial side track, and the meaning is contained in the illustrations.

  48. SirHubert on June 25, 2014 at 5:54 pm said:

    BD – please can I make two requests? Firstly, could you explain what about this thread you consider circular or contradictory, because I think it’s quite a refreshing attempt to clear away the layers of encrusted speculation. Secondly, your translations and explanations would be much easier to understand if you organized them coherently into a single document. They seem to be scattered in bite-sized chunks over dozens of threads on this and other sites. I do enjoy your posts but find it very difficult to follow your line of thought.

    Menno – I’d be interested to know which scripts or languages you have in mind. I can’t offhand think of any which aren’t from the same family as Latin or Italian, with the exception of Etruscan which died out centuries before the Voynich was written. And personally I don’t know whether i’m pulling a horse or a camel, but I fear I’m not doing either very successfully!

  49. Ralph,

    Did you consider the possibility, that the two versions of the same astrological pages may imply different languages e.g. Spanish and Italian, rendered in the same script.


    Not Etruscan of course. Southern Italy, Florence and Venice had their own writing system The same counts for Tirol. I let you know as soon as I have more information.

  50. thomas spande on June 25, 2014 at 7:51 pm said:

    Dear all, Sir Hubert is correct in that where the VM is concerned: speculation abounds and solid facts that we can agree on are few.

    Why were the pigments used on the original herbal section, fugative and why was it necessary to retint or repaint many times when medieval manuscripts in Italy or Europe had coloration that was stable, likely because they were mineral based? Some coloration was analyzed but in my opinion, the samples taken were not original but later accretions. I am guessing, as Nick and others have, that the original coloration of the herbals likely used vegetable dyes.. So, a more definitive pigment analysis would be very useful and make it extensive as newer methods (e.g. Raman microscopy) are non- destructive.

    DNA or mitochondrial RNA could shed light on what animal was used for the vellum and even how many animals were used as well as their kinship.

    Ellie V. and others including me have noted yin/yang symbology, most clearly in the plant shown on f38r. I think they are yangs but could be either. Anyway her plant ID indicates an East Asian origin. Have we painted ourselves into a European origin for the VM. Diane O’D has argued against a Eurocentric focus for the VM for years and I think her arguments need more consideration. I think the coloration (blue or orange mainly) of the flowers or buds, the leaf shape and directionality (right=yin; left=yang) indicates this thing came from East of Suez, likely way East. I have a copy of Materia Medica of China where some VM plants can be spotted along with their use in traditional chinese medicine and where yin and yang were important. Diane’s idea that the VM plant delineators were working from reports of travellers with rough descriptions in some cases, seems to work for me. The VM herbal is, in my opinion, not being used by any practising herbalist(s) as embedded clues (e.g. tape worm, intestinal stones, bent fingers, animals in the roots, snakes etc.) were mnemonic devices for them or some eventual subsequent owner.

    Ellie V has prepared in my opinion in her blog pages the most useful compendium so far of the likely plant/herb IDs; a distillation of her own and earlier investigators. Cheers, Tom

  51. Gregory on June 26, 2014 at 7:01 am said:

    As part of the herb is more than 120 folios and only one of them f38r see something that you and others can determine the Yin / Yang. In addition, it is not exactly the only element of its part – the half. As can be based on only one half (wrongly interpreted) symbol to conclude on the eastern origins of the VM? It is completely wrong thinking. If you follow this line of reasoning is in f27v root plants is one puzel – so the whole part of the herb is a toy – a puzzle.
    Previously mentioned by that: f38r a palm leaf – the American continent, now far east – China. Both of these proposals are irrational.

  52. bdid1dr on June 26, 2014 at 3:45 pm said:

    I guess my comments occasionally appear to be snide. Please forgive me, if that is so. I try to avoid argumentation, and simply provide ‘new’ aspects to consider. I do not have the ‘peripherals’ to maintain what would soon be a diary rather than a WWW (world-wide-web) discussion ‘blog’.
    A ‘long time ago’ deaf-mute persons were called “dummies”. Although I was ‘only’ hearing-impaired, I was placed in that category. So, I depended on my one ‘good’ eye to translate spoken dialogues and, in turn, use ASL to cross-communicate/translate spoken dialogues for my deaf-mute friends.
    My eyes are being overwhelmed with cataracts, which are not operable. Audio-tapes for the blind don’t work for me either.
    Ennyway, back to my visit, yesterday, in re “Uto-Aztecan” and Peruvian (Wari) archaeological discoveries. When I got home, I did some more ‘digging’ in re the fruit known as ‘date’. Lo and behold, I found YUCCA fruit being identified as ‘date’ (as separate from the ‘date’ Palm-tree).
    So, I am now able to separate the “Vms” discussion in re ‘soap-tree ROOT being used as soap/sudsy/root-beer foaming ingredient AND the same plant (Yucca) fruit (dates).
    So, I am now returning to Fr. Sahugun/Badianus’s huge manuscript and compare his discussions for what appears to be one of the most important ‘vegetable/fruit’/soap’ botanical specimens in the “New World”.

  53. bdid1dr: please don’t leave snide comments, they reflect badly on you for however many years they stay on the web.

  54. bdid1dr on June 27, 2014 at 5:14 pm said:

    Nick (and friends), I basically read Nick’s title for this particular discussion page as being indicative of his state of mind, and possibly allowing for borderline sarcasm; but not necessarily scurrilous dialogue.
    So, from the view-point of the visually-impaired and hearing-impaired: “Dummies” was, and still is, an offensive term. I’ve only been attempting to show that most deaf persons have inquiring minds. During my last years of employment with the US Postal Service, I was often asked to be an unofficial interpreter/translator between the ‘bosses’ and hearing-impaired employees. My ASL was limited; so when a deaf person came to the counter, I would ask them to talk to me (mouth the words, at least) and I would proceed to translate to the boss.
    So, Nick, I will once again apologize if my comments appear to be snide, rude, or scurrilous. I can’t apologize for my physical condition (blind in one eye and inoperable cataract in the other eye) and hearing impaired in both ears and constant, roaring, tinnitus ever-present.
    Thanks for the reminder to basically ‘tone-down’ my comments.
    I sincerely intend to ‘mind my manners’ with future discussions on any of your posts.

  55. thomas spande on June 27, 2014 at 5:56 pm said:

    Gregory, It seems to me that what is over the top irrational is calling those little inserts of f38r, parachutes involved in the Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba in ca 1960. They look spot on for yangs (or maybe yins) and any resemblance to parachutes is in the eye of the beholder. I am willing to live and let live but to propose preposterous stuff from 500 years after the VM vellum was created and to have a near or far eastern venue for the VM called irrational by you is well: irrational. Cheers, Tom

  56. SirHubert on June 27, 2014 at 9:03 pm said:

    BD: the title of this thread refers to the ‘For Dummies’ series of books (as you surely know), which has been around for at least 20 years without causing obvious offence to anyone. Wikipedia describes them as “an extensive series of instructional/reference books which are intended to present non-intimidating guides for readers new to the various topics covered.” (my emphasis).

    So this thread is asking the question: if you had to write a guide to the Voynich Manuscript for someone who knew nothing about it, what material can we agree is solid enough to be included?

    I still think that’s a valuable exercise, and Thomas Spande’s observations about the pigments give another good line of attack. McCrone Report?

  57. SirHubert: you can’t say that, that’s offensive to crones.

  58. SirHubert on June 27, 2014 at 9:34 pm said:

    Nick: only if they’re wearing raincoats.

  59. SirHubert: considering there’s no ‘a’ in McCrone, they’d obviously have to be short raincoats.

  60. SirHubert on June 27, 2014 at 9:52 pm said:

    So not a big Mac then?

  61. SirHubert: smll mc, n frs. 🙂

  62. thomas spande on June 27, 2014 at 10:02 pm said:

    Nick McCrones used analytical chemistry of yesteryear. It was destructive of the sample taken and in my opinion did not sample original color. Newer tecniques such as those using Raman radiation (non destructive) would be the way to go. I think the original report was useful only with respect to the iron gall ink used but more work can be done there too, as to any additives, like honey, like saliva,that might have been used and maybe the source of the galls can be placed. The best were from Syrian oaks but that is now problematical.

    I think we need new data, not necessarily more hypotheses. The latter can suggest needed confirmatory data but unbridled “pie in the sky” stuff can be off putting and lead nowhere or what is worse, discourage.participation. I would be the first to admit that you have never discouraged some of my contributions that were not mainstream (like Armenian involvement), and for this and your general attitude of allowing “contrarians” to post on your web site, I am grateful. Cheers, Tom

  63. SirHubert on June 27, 2014 at 10:10 pm said:

    OK, that’s enough. I’ll get my coat…

  64. bdid1dr on June 28, 2014 at 1:57 am said:

    SirHubert, I was responding to Nick’s gentle chiding in re my snide remarks. I’m still trying to review my recent (two months) posts to determine where I’ve been ‘snide’. So, I’ll try to be more concise, as well as more polite.
    Because there is no way I can be concise in re VMs folios numbered in the 70’s through the 80’s, all I can say is that there is a lot of discussion (in folio sections numbered in the 70’s and 80’s) which are referring to goddesses (Artemis and Diana) and their temples/sanctuaries for young women. When you can locate the folio which appears to have a set of ‘maracas/gourd rattles’ (83v) you are looking at cautionary discussion about the consumption of the fruit juice which is diluted with water: the FRUIT of the mandrake plant is being displayed. Key phrases translate to ‘numb’, ‘obscure’, ‘darken’. Much more dialogue follows the initial display and discussion.
    Folio 83v translates into the Latin for to begin–to take a bath-pouring out-pots/jars-swiftly-on the spot-here…..as often as (consuetudinus)-as you please-daily habit–alone.
    Folio 82v discusses that strange fuzzy three-prong object which appears below the bathing woman (upper left corner): it appears to me to be a mold (‘ergotamine’) which can appear on various plants besides rye grass (certain mushrooms can be infected). ThomS may have more to say about this (I hope).

  65. bdid1dr on June 28, 2014 at 5:05 pm said:

    As an aside (but maybe very interesting) is the Salem witch-craft trial and execution of the ‘witches’: Recent historians are discussing the possibility that the hallucinations (witchery) were caused by ergot mold being present on the rye fields. Apparently rye, rather than wheat, was the primary grain for bread-making. (?)

  66. Ralph on June 28, 2014 at 10:15 pm said:

    bdid1dr: I think Nick’s been poking fun at you. You’ve never left a snide remark, and (with respect) Nick’s left one or two. It’s that British sense of humor.

    Part of the reason your posts face resistance must be because you’re the only one with a bit of familiarity. People want the VM to come from their area of familiarity. (Consider nearly any commentator on this blog.) Brushing up on Nahautl is a huge investment, especially since, again, you haven’t provided an in-depth guide. I understand you feel physically unable, and that’s unfortunate for those of us who feel you might be onto something. Your method has been unclear/unreproducible, which has been the other obstacle. Say what you will about Bax’s hypothesis– it was nicely presented.

    Incidentally, do you feel capable of “translating” any arbitrary page? How feasible is this without the images? Perhaps someone (not me) could put forth a friendly challenge.

  67. Ralph: have you too read every one of bdid1dr’s 1472 comments to Cipher Mysteries? If not then…

  68. bdid1dr on June 29, 2014 at 1:57 am said:

    Nick; really? Really 1K-4C-72 comments from me? Whoo! I do realize that I’ve posted my Vms cipher/alpha translations probably more often than you would like (I can just now ‘see’ you with your eyes consulting the underside of your brain-pan). My apologies. Should I cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die-promise not to post one more translation?

  69. bdid1dr: I’ve approved every one of your (now) 1474 comments so far, haven’t I?

  70. bdid1dr on June 29, 2014 at 3:50 pm said:

    T-Y ! (1475?)

  71. bdid1dr: “1477” it says here.

  72. Out*of*the*Blue on June 29, 2014 at 5:52 pm said:

    Regarding papelonny:

    It sure looks like this thread has already died on the vine. Clearly it is too much to expect that people in the modern era will be able to make sense of the author’s disguised illustrations, when it is highly unlikely they would recognize the original, unaltered images. The thing is that these disguised illustrations are still able to evoke the memory of the original, historical identities. And once these evoked identities are invested through various confirmations in the text, then they will function in the same manner as the original images. Papelonny is the latest discovery of these textual confirmations and the failure to understand the resulting implications is why the disguised illustrations have stood unrecognized for so long.

  73. Out*of*the*Blue: my cup already o’erfloweth with the practical issues of dealing with uncertain historical artefacts, never mind dealing with people acting mysteriously about their claimed findings too.

    You must surely know that a finding that is only revealed by looking at the positions between adjacent zodiac rosettes where papelonny appears in only one, would sound pretty tentative and speculative (if not outright thin) to most historians and researchers. So why should people jump, exactly?

  74. Out*of*the*Blue on June 30, 2014 at 12:42 am said:

    Well, in short, because I do not believe that VMs investigations have as yet recorded a superfluous number of historically identifiable persons in the text. Not just a ‘Hey, that looks like Bob’ identification, but an identification with multiple reasons form the text as to why that identification is correct.

    And, in long, how long is too long? There are a number of points to be discussed and the explanations tend to take up some space.

    I realize you deal with some, shall we say, unusual content. I hope you will withhold judgement a bit longer. How should I submit my discoveries?

  75. Ellie Velinska on June 30, 2014 at 2:37 am said:

    I found a fabulous example of the fish scale motive in a letter of Philip IV of France to Henry VII, Holy Roman Emperor. It is a stunning letter – never seen anything like it. Here is the link
    You can zoom in to see the fish scales, but the drawings are very amusing – I wonder if they hide a cypher…

  76. Ellie,

    I hope you noticed on f126/244 the same numbers as have been used for the Voynich MS quire numbers.


  77. Out*of*the*Blue: on the contrary, people have suggested very specific identifications with individual Voynich drawings, supported by long argumentation as to why their identification is completely correct.

  78. Ellie Velinska on June 30, 2014 at 2:15 pm said:

    Hi Menno, it is not a surprise – the document on that page is from 15th century. Nick knows more about the VMs numbering than I do, but I’ll take the word of Prof. Manly who in his article about the VMs and Newbold says that the quire numbering in the VMs is 15th century.

  79. Out*of*the*Blue on June 30, 2014 at 3:07 pm said:

    Long arguments, yes, but based on on what? Based on a succession of evidence internal to the VMs? If that can be done, isn’t the argument conclusive?

    Unfortunately, once again, I find myself composing from scratch. It will be several pages. Then I’ll just fire away, shall I? And leave it to your discretion.

  80. Out*of*the*Blue: heavens above, I’ve seen some terrifically long chains of reasoning that take in all kinds of kabbalah, numerology, sacred geometry, art history, heraldry, and constellation lore to try to make a Franken-argument. All these generally do is make a position more plausible-sounding at the cost of making it utterly improbable.

    I’m normally happy to host and review research on Cipher Mysteries. But I prefer it when people create their own blog to which I can direct people, it’s far easier for everyone.

  81. bdid1dr on June 30, 2014 at 5:30 pm said:

    Fish-scale motive: Appears as ceramic tiles in many hot-spring spas world-wide. If you find the Vms folio which portrays the women holding a ‘pomegranate’ and another woman flourishing a ‘fleur d’ lys’, you may want to continue to wander through the rest of the labyrinthian ‘bath-house’ until you can see the young man (upper R corner) wearing a ‘loin-cloth”. Not my imagination. Draw your own conclusions.

  82. bdid1dr on June 30, 2014 at 5:53 pm said:

    ps: If you follow the link which Ellie provides, herein, take a look at the bottom left corner of the photograph in which appears that same symbol which begins the discussion on Vms/Boenicke 408.

  83. thomas spande on July 1, 2014 at 6:27 pm said:

    Dear all, Just focussing on one small aspect of the VMS that permeates every page and that is the obvious: the ink used by the scribes. If it is, as McCrone assoc indicates iron gall ink then the following has to be true: Those inks had to be made up frequently as moulds would set in within 10 days to 2 weeks. So would not just an analysis of each page of the VM for starters at least using Raman microscopy be a good first step? Go page by page and try and answer: (1) Were the two scribes sharing a pot of ink or did they each have a pot. Just the answer to that would be useful as it could indicate consanguinity of the scribes or maybe they were working independently from one another. Others have made the important observation that each scribe completes a page without intrusion of the other. This could be confirmed by inks used. If A and B used slightly different formulations then no B on A and vice versa would put a nail into each scribe having control over his own page. If they shared a communal pot of ink, then there remains a trace of ambiguity over scribal exclusiveness for each page.

    Moving along. How many pages could be written before a new pot had to be created. There will be an attempt at uniformity of ink composition but differences could likely be detected with the more sensitive assays now available. So some pages are written with one formulation, then another is used for another score of pages. There is bound to be more turnover in the recipe section where all pages are fully enscribed with dense closely spaced script.

    Where is all this going? Maybe nowhere definitive but we could end up with a few little factual nuggets and not just more rambling hypothesizing. Maybe we can get at the formulation(s) used in the ink. Maybe even the galls and who knows, they were living things, so maybe even the ink could be carbon dated. That will not be as definitive as the vellum as the galls might have been in storage before use. However if they were oak tree galls, this would be good to know. Perhaps the source might be traceable even though they were likely articles of commerce still each part of the world might have its own preferred galls or just gallic acids? I would he happiest to see a return to more burrowing after facts, like the vellum dating proved to be a game changer despite some few nagging critics. Cheers, Tom

  84. Thomas,

    If the Voynich MS is a compilation of libellae from different sources, different inks will be used.

    Cheers, Menno

  85. thomas spande on July 2, 2014 at 4:07 pm said:

    Menno, That might be inferred from a careful ink analyses and would be good to know. The scribal handwriting does seem of two types as has been noted since the 1970s but the two hands seem more or less consistent throughout. This does rule out that the VM codex or parts thereof may have been moved around and different inks would be used at different sites as you point out. .Cheers, Tom

    ps. Has any analysis been done on the inks used in folio and quire numbers? I have forgotten whether McCrone assoc. did this?

  86. bdid1dr on July 2, 2014 at 5:00 pm said:

    Nick and ThomS: Do you think it might be possible for ‘someone’ to contact the conservator who will be speaking at the Small Books symposium (Philadelphia?) (Paula Zlatys?). Being a conservator of books, she might be very interested in relatively non-invasive/non-destructive methods of determining, once and for all, the chronology of the Vms.
    Just a thought — perhaps in time for her talk?

  87. thomas spande on July 2, 2014 at 5:45 pm said:

    Dear all I think Ellie V. in her post of June 30 has given us a link to a very nice ms from 1339 that, to me, contained a big eye opener. The “&” is all over the place: 10 occurrences in 29 lines. The lines are ruled and the ruling left in, unlike the VM where I fail to see a sign of lining.l I know one hypothesis is that it was there but way on the right and the rulings and little dots were just cut off. Maybe so but wouldn’t a trace of a line remain here or there? Maybe red lead as Nick spotted earlier for part of a plant flower that was never completed. Also the example that Ellie supplies in that link on 6-30, to me, indicates that Beneventan has some overlap with the way medieval Latin was done in France.The shapes of “x”, “ss” (as “ff”), r (looks like f) etc. This script lacks all the weird ligatures of beneventan but it has otherwise a certain resemblance to benevantan. This is likely a rediscovery of the wheel by me but the commonness of “&” and its frequent use in the VM may be more ordinary than I first thought. It is true that the French controlled Beneventum at one time but not likely that Ellie V’s example came out of Puglia Italy? Thanks to Ellie though for flagging this interesting ms page. Cheers, Tom

  88. thomas spande on July 2, 2014 at 10:08 pm said:

    To BD (mainly). I think we need to go directly to an analytical chemist/conservator who is skilled in one of the Raman spectroscopy applications (Raman reflectance; Raman microscopy) possibly even some of the newer infrared reflectance techniques. Better to go to someone who will make this a project in which he/she has already published. Someone with the credentials that would allow unrestricted access to the VM for considerable time. I have suggested some names in the past (like Clark) but I know there are others, some here in the US, for whom travel would be easier (Clark is in the UK).

    I would like, if I had any input, to have the following analyzed:

    1) original colored inks or the fine watercolor washes that is likely original coloration put down concurrent with or slightly after the plants/herbs were drawn.. Faded original color that might have started life as indigo or some plant green pigment for example. Some tans and browns might be original. The outlining of the plant/herb is likely iron gall ink but this should be checked.

    2) Even some later coloration should be done, like the vivid greens, blues.

    3) several peeks at iron gall ink PER page and by folio. I think one scribe does each folio, i.e. scribe A does not do one page; scribe B the other. Then an examination of the iron gall ink page by page doing a statistical pick of spots to analyze.

    This will be a lot of work but for the right kind of dedicated analyst might be a labor of love not a commercial undertaking. Just being able to advance our understanding of the time line and perhaps the venue of the VM might be reward enough. Of course, the membership here would have to consider what “bragging rights” (e.g. lectures) might be part of the deal. If an analyst were to undertake this study on his own it seems to me that he/she already has carte blanche. We could only hope at that point to be part of the loop as Rene was with the McCrone analysis.

    All the above is just all off the top of my noggin. A rough guide only. I would be willing to supply what I think is original coloration in the herg/plant section. Generally this is on the main plant stems and some side stems. Some leaf edges and parts of buds. The original coloration is precise:,later coloration either mediocre or horrible.

    To summarize, There is enough analytical expertise out there so that I don’t think we need to get any intermediary librarian or even conservator involved. Some analysts have already looked at coloration of mediaeval manuscript fragments,and with non destructive methods..Cheers, Tom

  89. Out*of*the*Blue on July 2, 2014 at 11:16 pm said:

    I probably should start a blog -if I though that this might develop into an ongoing discussion. I’m not that optimistic. Some people may agree with my findings, but I expect they will not have much to add. Others may disagree and one additional bit of evidence will not convince them otherwise. Besides which, all my cards are already on the table. It will probably all blow over in a couple days.

    To your original question, rhetorical though it may have been, ” is there a single Voynich theory out there that genuinely adds anything significant to what we know about the manuscript itself?”, my answer is ‘yes’ and this is why. This is not a solution to the Curse of the VMs, though it may be the first steps in that direction. This is the Genoese Gambit.

    is there a single Voynich theory out there that genuinely adds anything significant to what we know about the manuscript itself?

  90. Out*of*the*Blue on July 2, 2014 at 11:23 pm said:

    Apparently I am unable to cut and paste to this commentary.
    I get a 404 Error.

  91. Gregory on July 3, 2014 at 8:22 am said:

    Tom. In the 70s of the twentieth century, American scientists sent into space probe Pioneer 10, whose mission is to get as far as possible into our universe. Spacecraft attached to the aluminum plate was covered with a thin layer of gold. At the plate engraved coded drawing – witness the level of our civilization, which is a signal sent to other intelligent extraterrestrial cywizacji. There are contained about our position in a number of planets of the solar system, about our species – male and female characters on the background of the space probe, the level of our knowledge – scheme of hydrogen in two different stages of individuals. Man sends into space so their “Credo”, waiting for any response.
    And such a type of cipher – Rebus is a VM, and you want to force – breaking into small parts, pixels, even by force (hammer – using spectroscopy) to find out what color paint drawings were made. None of this knowledge will come. This is the wrong way to go. VM is the same as the plate rebus space probe.
    Suppose that an alien civilization will explore the structure of an aluminum plate coated with gold, you will explore (hammer – using spectroscopy) its color. The thing is that the meaning of the sampler plate includes a rebus – the knowledge contained in an intelligent rorszyfrowaniu, not Kolors plate.
    Again, it’s not the shape of the letters, pixels, the frequency of appearance of words, but about intelligent message contained in the code illustration.

  92. Out*of*the*Blue: that’s odd, everything should work. Unfortunately, I’ve had to raise the security level significantly because of all the Tamam Trolls that were flooding the site last year, so you can’t currently include links. But if you make it clear what you want shown as a link, I’ll edit them back in. 🙂

  93. Out*of*the*Blue on July 3, 2014 at 3:13 pm said:

    No links were included, just a Word 2007 Doc a little over four pages. I happened once when pasted to above intro and again when attempted separately.
    Oh well.

  94. bdid1dr on July 3, 2014 at 5:01 pm said:

    Nick & Friends: Mostly I’m concerned that Paula may be going to the “Small Books” event with sparse or outdated information which apparently has been ‘over-written’ by various contributions to Nick’s “Voynich” papers. I think (opinionate-ly) that Paula could use a heads-up from you, Nick, as well as some of your more ‘frequent-flyers’ on these pages.
    So, I’m hoping that someone with WWW expertise will give her some info B4 her talk. I’m working with very elderly computer and printer systems.
    beady-eyed one-der

  95. Out*of*the*Blue: four pages is a bit big for a comment, so perhaps it would be better to email it to me at the usual email address (nickpelling at nickpelling dotcom), and I’ll see if I can turn it into a guest post for you. 🙂

  96. bdid1dr: I’m sure Paula has up-to-date information and that her very interesting talk will be from a very different perspective from mine. 🙂

  97. bdid1dr on July 4, 2014 at 2:05 pm said:

    Nick: T-Y!

  98. Out*of*the*Blue on July 4, 2014 at 4:18 pm said:

    Sent yesterday.
    Thank you.

  99. bdid1dr on July 5, 2014 at 4:09 pm said:

    Correction: Paula’s last name is Zyatz. At least I hope I’ve gotten it right this time.

  100. bdid1dr on July 6, 2014 at 3:12 pm said:

    ps: Has anyone followed up on my suggestion that it may be pomegranate juice which was used for ink? As far as the appearance of a pomegranate in the Vms, take another look at the balnealogical (bath-house) folios (in which appear naked ladies holding a fleur-de-lys and a pomegranate) a french woman and an armenian woman? A third woman (I can’t remember if on the same page) appears to be holding a ‘loofa sponge” / lufa sponge (a squash/cucurbit). Ububchasym recommended the lufa sponge for women’s menses, also.

  101. Gregory on July 7, 2014 at 8:48 am said:

    For all.
    Once again saying that all of you err. No text is important, but illustrations. Some herb is not a story about herbs. Biological part is not a story about treatments cubicles, methods of treatment – Spa. The biological part should be understood in the same way as described by Albert Barillé animated series: Une Fois Il Etait … La Vie – Once Upon a Time … Life. Biological part is a symbolic story about human physiology.
    At the end I’ll just say that I made “translating” all sections Voynich Manuscript: Part herb – historical, biological part – Physiological and all the others. I note that so far my interpretation VM does not meet with your interest. OK it’s your choice. But is it worth it easier for the conjecture, it is already a solution?

  102. bdid1dr on July 7, 2014 at 3:02 pm said:

    To Gregory: Sometimes, some people, would rather read and contemplate other contributions to discussions — especially on Nick Pelling’s very Compelling blog pages. A response is not always expected nor received. Perhaps arranging your commentary in chronological periods of history may be more easily understood.
    beady-eyed wonder 🙂

  103. Gregory on July 7, 2014 at 4:54 pm said:

    BD, Maybe more then adjust what you mean with this: beady-eyed wonder. And besides, you’re saying rather on his own behalf and not for others.

  104. SirHubert on July 7, 2014 at 5:50 pm said:

    Tom: I agree entirely that detailed scientific analysis of inks, coloration and the vellum would be a real help. We then get objective results, and while I’m sure that some will find their ways to interpret them according to their preconceptions, at least there is reasonably solid fact there for others.

    Gregory: since you ask, I’m afraid that I am not persuaded by your solution, which appears to ignore completely the 250,000 carefully-written and unique characters of the text, and which I find challenging in many, many other ways. But I’m not going to argue with you, because we are clearly so far apart that it’s not going to get us anywhere, and it would soon become very boring for everyone.

  105. thomas spande on July 7, 2014 at 7:43 pm said:

    To Gregory mainly,

    Along with that etched aluminum plate in Voyager was a CD recording by the Canadian pianist Glen Gould of his version of Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier”. These have nothing to do with being a rebus. It is possible that the bathing nymphs are rebus-like as Diane O’D has hinted at, i.e. they symbolize something else than bathing nymphs but I think the plants are really meant to resemble plants but with some other kind of symbolism, not rebuses but maybe yin/yang with some mnemomism here and there. There are clues embedded as to the medical use of the plant like simply being effective in expelling tape worms.

    Some bed rock facts persist such as the carbon-14 dating of the vellum (parchment) which indicate an early 15th Century date for THE PREPARATION OF THE VELLUM.

    It is not unreasonable, in my opinion, to raise some other questions that modern analytical techniques can answer, such as the pigments used in coloring plants, inks, the bathing pools etc. Perhaps we can learn something from the animal skins used in the parchment; calf, lamb, goat? Even species such as fat tailed sheep?

    Nick has gone briefly into some art tecniques such as what might be a very early use of parallel hatching in the VM. I have found an early use in Mesopotamia of parallel hatching rather than the later more common cross hatching. The dates are however similar but in an Armenian/Iranian zodiac, it could be a borrowed way of indicating texture and not independent of northern Italian drawing practices. Many examples exist in the VM herbal/plant section. Why fiddle with these fine points if what really counts, in your view, are shadowy profiles in the plant roots?

    In my opinion, we will remain stuck with the few nuggets of useful data we currently hoard unless we can torture the manuscript some more and hope for another eureka, akin to the C-14 dating. .I was hoping that a link with Beneventum/Montecassino and the movement of their manuscripts during WW2 might give us a link with Villa Mandragone but that thread seemed to have gone nowhere.

    BTW Elliie’s French manuscript that appeared to share some characteristics with Beneventan is nothing new. Beneventan was infuenced by both French Latin MS as well as Spanish Visogothic. Too much toothpaste out of that tube to really place even Benevenan as it could be mixed with Slavic languages in Dalmatia and also it likely travelled with the Venetians.

    WE need more facts to conjure with and not more hypothesizing, although it is the latter that gets attention, I will admit. Cheers, Tom.

  106. SirHubert on July 7, 2014 at 9:47 pm said:

    Tom: of course, the other source of unbiased information is statistical analysis of the text. Job’s earlier post in this thread gives several good examples. It doesn’t matter what one thinks about the age, date, provenance or language of the manuscript, his statement that There are 51 different words starting with EVA “qo” and ending with EVA “edy” is still factually correct. [OK, you could be fussy and finesse the definition of “words” to mean “sequence of Voynich characters separated by spaces, and you could ask if we’re sure that the transcription is completely error-free, but that’s not the point]. So while I have no idea what this fact means, or even whether it’s useful or significant, I do know that any translation I propose (or any hoax generator I construct) has to account for it.

    I don’t know which statistical properties of a text are more or less useful to identify a language or a ciphertext. Letter frequencies and word/character entropy would seem obvious…suggestions for others? The person who probably would know, of course, is Stephen Bax…but I fear that ship has sailed.

  107. thomas spande on July 8, 2014 at 5:50 pm said:

    SirHubert, I totally agree and one more aspect of textual analysis that might be worth considering could be the unusual glyphs one encounters in the VM. I am not thinking of the “gallows glyphs” which could well be unique to the VM but the commonness of the ampersand, although I find now that Beneventan and its related modified Latin from France also used the ampersand long before letter press printing which was considered by most as the real launching of the “&”. Usually Latin in the medieval/renaissance used “et” for “and”. Another glyph that appears a lot is the “tipped 2”. It happens to be an Armenian phenome for “ch” but I find few takers for that interpretation. Back to the ampersand for one last time and that is in Beneventan, it was used for “and” and sometimes also to mark the end of a sentence since Benevantan often left out punctuation. We also know for certain that the VM is written L->R at a time when R->L was more common in the literate world. Most of the languages east of Europe such as Arabic, Hebrew, Syriac, Aramaic wrote R->L and the arguments for that deal more or less with the way the brain works, not ease of avoiding blotting by the scribe. Armenian scribes wrote L->R in case anyone besides me, cares? The Armenians also used another glyph that was “8” like and resembled the ampersand; it was their “f” and was not common in Armenian until the 13thC, as it was only used in words “foreign” to them. Even if one were to assume an Armenian hand as being involved in the VM, this fact is not very helpful as they were all over the place, often embedded with the commercial interests of the Genoese or Venetians. They flourished in Beneventum and Armenian manuscripts have been found even in Timbuctu, Mali. I still like the “89” combination that is common in the VM and I think reflects a language using letters for numbers in this case, if it were Armenian: “89=et” (using a Latin equivalent of Armenian). The last glyph that appears commonly in the VM (and Armenian) is “4” but I think is not a number but is assigned a letter value; in this case I lean to “c”. Well, I alone seem fixated with an Armenian origin of the VM enscriptions and have a few test decrypts, like the tiny wirting at the right margin of that fhistle near the start of the plants/herbs which I think is “Troaia”. Well until I can come up with a full decrypt of an herbal page, I will have to continue to nurse the Armenian connection in private. SirHubert, I have undoubtedly made you rethink my rationality as you have seen me slide into the world of oddball “true believers”. Well there you have it. Cheers Tom

  108. thomas spande on July 8, 2014 at 9:27 pm said:

    Dear all, A key leading reference to Raman microscopy for identification of manuscript pigments is: “Raman microscopy and x-ray fluorescence analysis of pigments on medieval and Renaissance Italian manuscript cuttings”: Lucia Burgio, Robin J.H.Clark and Richard B. Hark; Proc of Natural Acad.Sciences (USA), 107(13), 2010, pp 5726-5731. The ms fragments were supplied by the Victoria and Albert museum, London. Clark has published in this area since 1982 (at least) and would seem the most experienced. Hark was from an American college. Burgio was evidently a chemist and also assoc. with A. and V. museum. Indigo (a vegetable dye was common but all the other pigments were inorganic. The presence of Prussian blue dye caused a few of the fragments to be redated to the 17-18 th C. An unusual form of iron gall ink was detected that had needle like crystals and was used as a pigment. I’m sure more recent publications exist and I will search for those. Likely Clark will be author on some or most. Cheers, Tom

  109. SirHubert on July 8, 2014 at 9:59 pm said:

    Tom: actually, there’s nothing inherently improbable about some kind of Armenian connection as far as I can see. Cilician Armenia was placed culturally and geographically between West and East while retaining its own individuality. For me, there could be echoes there in how people have viewed the images in the Voynich Manuscript, although that’s only a personal take on the subjective impressions of others. And, as you say, Armenians and the Armenian script crop up all over the place. But it also then follows that in the fifteenth century anyone – Eastern or Western – might have looked to Armenian letter forms for inspiration when creating a magic/cipher/artificial alphabet.

  110. bdid1dr on July 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm said:

    Have any one of you ever looked at a butterfly (Papillon) wing under a magnifying glass?

  111. bdid1dr on July 10, 2014 at 3:34 pm said:

    Or the wing of a moth which has emerged from a sericine cocoon? Which moth larvae had been fed ‘pabulumox” before it wound itself into that cocoon? The only leaves that larvae would eat was chopped mulberry leaves.
    Recently, I’ve discovered that South American natives used the bark of a mulberry tree (paper mulberry) and mashed it with the bark of the fig tree (amatl) to make paper for the various monks and governmental officials. Could it be that Columbus may have had Papal representatives on board?

  112. bdid1dr on July 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm said:

    Even the wing of a tomato/tobacco hornworm MOTH is beautiful under the scrutiny of a magnifying glass.

  113. bdid1dr on July 10, 2014 at 10:40 pm said:

    ThomS and Sir Hubert, several months ago I referred y’all to what might appear to be a very unusual ink and/or an agent for tanning skins for manuscripts (please don’t be put off by the publication’s title or its author’s name–it was published by the San Francisco “Chronicle” publisher ‘Chronicle Books’: pages 233-235); third paragraph of discussion refers to the hard rind (yellow or red) of the pomegranate being used for tanning and MAKING INDELIBLE INK (my emphasis).
    If could be that the current publishers of the San Francisco Chronicle may have a hoard of this very interesting publication: “The Greengrocer”, by Joe Carcione. Maybe Amazon books might be able to locate some copies for sale?
    ps: My copy isn’t up for ‘bids’ – no way – no how. I’m truly sorry!

  114. bdid1dr on July 10, 2014 at 10:44 pm said:

    ps: The ‘Chronicle’s’ pink pages (Sunday paper) usually has a “Way Back” section — perhaps the editors for that section might be helpful?

  115. thomas spande on July 11, 2014 at 6:42 pm said:

    To bd (mainly). Pomegranates do appear pictorially in at least one bathing scene of the VM. And they might contain gallic acids BUT iron likely has to be added? I think McCrones can be trusted on the occurrence of iron gall ink for the VM script BUT such inks could be complicated by additivies, including honey and saliva. In any case iron salts have to be added there also and were usually made in the med/ren era by action of sulfuric acid on rusty iron plates to give ferric/ferrous sulfates. Some iron salts found in nature were used. Galls as those weird growths on trees, typically oaks, made the best gallates but nut galls can also be used. All iron gall inks are water resistant once the ink dries. As I recall, one page of the VM had evidence of some spilled brownish dye and it had caused some ink to smear a bit supporting the view that the coloration was done at the same time as the plant/herb was drawn and colored. First the drawing, then around it the writing and maybe at the same time, the coloration.

    to SirHubert. I liked Armenian from the get go as it is an ancient script at a time when many cultures in their region of the Caucases had no written language. Georgian and non-Balkann Albanian used versions of it. It was devised largely for writing the bible and religious work including many non-canonical works. A sainted Bishop Mashtots is given credit for the alphabet in the early 4thC as I recall and Armenians take pride that they were Christian as a people or nation long before Constantine. So the Pope of Rome to them is merely the bishop of Rome and their own Catholicos take precedence on matters of doctrine. Some are allied loosely with the Roman Church, most are not and are of the Armenian Apostolic belief.

    Anyway their language was strictly phonetic (39 glyphs) so used no diacriticals (like the VM, I think). Lord Byron postulated that Armenian was “the language God would have used to speak to man” and became expert in it, writing two dictionaries and one grammar. This is likely over the top mania speaking but others see in Armenian a lot of Greek Influence although the good Bishop Mashtots implied it all came to him in a dream.

    It could be as I think you imply that someone knowledgeable about Armenian could have used some of their glyphs in the VM and there are a huge number of possibilities there: Arabs, Syrians, Persians, Turks and several of the early Italian city states, just to name a few. When you get into Tironian Notation as Nick and others think is found in the VM, then things get complicated as some T.N. like the inverted gamma are in the VM (as well as the Magna Carta) but here I think it serves as the letter “n” which is not an Armenian glyph.. I think the VM scribes used a bit of T.N. but also invented their own scribal abbreviations which adds another layer to the onion.

    The “89” occurrence thoughout the VM is to me a “tell” indicating an Armenian hand or an “Armeno-phile”.at work. Arabic and Hebrew also used letters instead of numbers and if one is curious as to why Arabs didn’t use what we would call arabic numerals, one has only to look at ‘arabic numbers” in the context of the arabic language to see that what we call arabic are really Indian numerals. Well I have doubtless strained anyone’s polite interest in Armenian but I remain convinced some echoes of it are there in the VM. All for the moment, Tom

  116. thomas spande on July 11, 2014 at 8:33 pm said:

    To BD. Although Columbus was Italian, he sailed for Spain leaving from Barcelona and the famous statue there has him pointing out to sea which was eastward (toward Italy).. Columbus caught Isabella and Ferdinand at a good time as they had just defeated the Moors at Grenada and the crown was feeling fluish enough to bankroll Columbus who had the treasurer of Spain interecede on his behalf. The keeper of the exchequer was Jewish and banished from Spain along with all their Jews, many of whom were artisans like paper makers and diamond cutters. The Dutch welcomed them. The first of Spain’s many bad choices. Another was to go up against England with ships manned by landlubber grandees.

    One possibility is that Columbus’s maps were made by the Genoese on the Island of Chios (thought you’d never ask!) then nominally under the Ottomans but because of mastic harvesting, they were allowed semi-autonomy. Pay your tribute in mastic to the sultan and go about doing your own stuff like making silk. A house in Chios, Greece is name Casa Colombo or something like that and is alleged to have been used by him when his maps were made.

    Papal representatikves aboard one or more ships of the first of Columbus’s expeditions? Why not?– at least papal spies. Would have been logical. Still, more circles remain to be closed! Cheers, Tom

    ps. Incidentally after his successes in the New World, which he considered coming at India by the back door, Columbus was given permission by the kind of Spain to ride a donkey, then anathema for Christians.

  117. bdid1dr on July 15, 2014 at 3:08 pm said:

    @ThomS (& friends): Armenians, very early on, had a neighborhood in Jerusalem. I’m returning to my various books which deal with the doings of the Knights of the White Cross, Knights of the Temple, the Temple Mount, and the occupancy of the ‘Mount’ by the Sheriff/Sharif. Probably one of the most riotous/righteous demonstrations of religious fervor occurs every year at ‘crucifixion’ time (Easter) — and not only in Jerusalem.
    What really alarms me is the death of elephants (which is ongoing) so that religous icons/statues can be made with elephant ivory, silver, and gold.
    Ah, Nick — Columbus and the King of Spain — hence your venture in Barcelona?
    Squintier than ever

  118. thomas spande on July 15, 2014 at 8:06 pm said:

    Dear BD et al., Armenians, never less than totally zealous, were so early into the “Holy Land” and Jerusalem, often aiding Crusades, that they had their own cemetary outside the walls of Jerusalem. The inscriptions were considered for centuries to be some variant of Hebrew but it was a Hebrew scholar at the Hebrew Univ., Michael E. Stone who recognized them as Armenian as were many stone carvings in the Sinai, including the route to St. Catherine’s monastery on Mt. Sinai. Stone has translated the bulk of the petroglyphs in Jerusalem and the Sinai and seems to be “Mr. Armenian paleography”. He has written with two other co-authors, the definitive book on Paleography of Armenian. It has been claimed, hugely falsely, the cursive Armenian has remained constant for 1500 years but just a glance at the digital images of that massive budget-buster and hernia-producer of a book shows significant changes by area and short episodes of time. Examples are shown of cursive Armenian from different codexes and manuscripts roughly ten years apart in time. Some barely resemble others. Some have the usual full stop punctuation symbol (the colon) while others dispense with punctuation. The ampersand is not seen in Armenian until the 16thC but they had a similar glyph for “f” that looks like “&” but has the rocker at the bottom, incomplete. The VM has both kinds of glyphs as well as plain old “8” that I think is “e” in Latin.

    Well among the many treasures on St. Catherine’s monastery is a huge collection of manuscripts on vellum at one of the peripheral monasteries run by the Armenians. Problem with these is that the pages are all fused, really fused and conservators have separated the folios of only a few. They are said to resemble bricks of leather. This struck me as odd in that these would be religious works yet received poor handling (and in a dry atmosphere?). The VM seems to have had no problems in this regard. Back to Stone. He knows I am sure more Armenian than even a catholicos, having translated some strange non-canonical books like a work on Adam and Eve and four books on Enoch.Some New Testament biblical studies have relied not on Greek (as usual) but Armenian for exegeses of doctrinal fine points in the gospels. .I think in conclusion it has to be said that the Armenians never did things by half. Full throttle on everything, particularly when it overlapped religion. Strangely though, they seemed unlucky with rulers, settlement choices and defenses. Cheers, Tom (a Norwegian, not an Armenian!).

  119. bdid1dr on July 16, 2014 at 4:12 pm said:

    ThomS and any other interested persons: I can’t remember where I’ve read this, but apparently some monasteries (especially those in desert climates) would toss their elderly/damaged religious manuscripts into spaces between building walls and defensive outer walls. Purpose, probably, to make room for newer additions to their scriptoriums/libraries?

  120. thomas spande on July 16, 2014 at 6:36 pm said:

    BD Could be the history of some of those Sinai Armenian codices? I just don’t know. I have read that mixed in with classical Armenian are older alphabets, some in what is called Odessian and evidently just a page or two of the original exists in some monastery in Odessa, Ukraine. That ms was considered likely looted from Sinai. Early Armenian (before ca 4thC) had some hieroglyphs also. Nothing that I saw resembling the VM glyphs however but I have yet to see much Odessian. Diane O’D has evidently seen it however, i.e. the one or two pages that still exist. It does seem likely that the early Armenian vellum “bricks” likely were exposed to water, or at least moisture and maybe really rough treatment such as you indicate. Thanks for the tip. Cheers Tom

  121. bdid1dr on July 19, 2014 at 2:49 pm said:

    Oh dear me! I just started re-reading the comments at the beginning of this topic; especially the references to ‘fish-scale’ motive.
    Fish-scale illustrations are indicating steep cliff-sides or mountain sides. This was the closest that manuscript illustrators were able to indicate terrain elevations. (Grapevines, for example, cover nearly every acre of terrain in California’s Napa Valley).

  122. bdid1dr on July 25, 2014 at 3:38 pm said:

    Topography — the word which had temporarily slipped my mind. ‘Somewhere’ Nick has my discussion of Vms/B-408, folio 86v; which Kircher identified as being a portrayal of Italy’s Alban Hills/Mountains which surround the Alban Lake and Lake Nemi. (Boenicke manuscript illustration file number 158 jpg (Viewer:1006231). Note the portrayal of mountainsides and several large estates.
    I shall be trying to locate any discussion of the contents of folio 86v (which should appear nearby in the arrangement of folios of accompanying script).
    So, I am now wondering if B-408’s folio 86v may be all about a South American mountain range which has a large lake (Titicaca) and several large cities (now archaelogical digs).
    beady-eyed wonder-er

  123. bdid1dr on July 30, 2014 at 3:14 pm said:

    In re ‘hernia-producing’ books: I’m long past being able to even leaf through a huge hard-copy volume of any size. Perhaps Paula has some ideas such as publishing pamphlets-per-pholio of each item of the Vms/B-408?
    I’ve been returning to Nick’s reference to her discussion at the Small Books symposium. Any new news Nick?

  124. bdid1dr on August 1, 2014 at 3:29 pm said:

    My apology and kudos to Gregory. I’ve just gone back to the earlier discussions, on this page, and Gregory’s presentation of the gold-plated ‘rebus’ exploratory probe which the US government Space Agency launched some thirty years ago. Fascinating!
    Gregory & ThomS: Has the US Government made the file accessible to the WWW yet?

  125. bdid1dr on August 3, 2014 at 4:06 pm said:

    ThomS et al: Have you considered, just for fun, flipping the ‘rocker’ on the ampersand so it appears on the left side? You would then be able to read that symbol as ‘it-ius’ or ‘tius’ or ‘tus’. That symbol does appear, here and there, in the Vms.
    The first time I noticed that symbol was at the end of discussion on B-408, folio 55V: the Water Lotus. A couple of our earliest botanists classified the water lotus as a ‘bean’ — the ‘Sacred Bean of Egypt’.
    BTW, the “For Dummies” series have always been very helpful for researchers of just about ‘ennything’ (including spelling).

  126. bdid1dr on August 3, 2014 at 4:43 pm said:

    Many years prior to the “Dummies” booklets, when I was 9 years old, I was a county-wide finalist for the annual State-wide spelling contest. My mother refused to sign the parents permission/release of responsibility for my participation.
    So, very early on, I learned to fend for myself when it came to furthering my educational efforts (which were always focused on becoming a medical professional).
    So, in much later years, when the “For Dummies” series went from yellow and black softbound booklets to joining the ranks of the WWW’s huge encyclopedia of just about anything, I’m sure you can appreciate my gratitude for all of the excellent opportunities for self-education and/or participating in just about any area of interest in the whole wide world!
    So, how’s that for one l-o-o-ng sentence cum paragraph?

  127. thomas spande on August 4, 2014 at 7:44 pm said:

    Dear all, As an aside, years ago I had access to one of the VM quires at another web site, since denied me for some reason. It had an interesting bit of marginalia, well really something else as it was not in any margin but on an otherwise blank page.. It was a pair of the so-called Armenian glyphs for “f” so it read “ff” which is still used for “as follows”. To reiterate, the Armenian “f” is like an “8” with the bottom as a rocker and not joined but having a gap with the rightmost vertical part of the glyph. That pair of supposedly Armenian glyphs encouraged me in the belief that these were serving as a Latin based abbreviation. Does anyone else recall seeing these? To bd: now we get into mirror imaging and I prefer not going there at the moment. Cheers, Tom

  128. bdid1dr on August 10, 2014 at 4:26 pm said:

    One more ref for ‘papellony’ (however it is spelled): the fish-scale motive may also be an attempt to indicate curved ‘alcoves’ in bath houses or temples, as well as seaside cliffs and other natural features of landscapes and/or waves.
    Nick, I’d like to once again refer to your “Brackets” discussion of several months ago. Especially one of the most useful ‘syllables’ appearing throughout the VMS:
    The ‘ell’ — which ‘legs’ can be stretched to be inserted in a subsequent word or syllable. I’m now wondering if the same ‘stretching’ maneuver/method can be done with the ‘tl’. For example the words ‘lateral’ or ‘literally’ . ?

  129. bdid1dr on August 10, 2014 at 4:35 pm said:

    The other mysterious combinations are the ‘c’ and ‘e’, and sometimes the ‘curlicue’ which appears above the ‘c’–‘e’ or
    ‘e’–‘c’ syllables: that ‘curlicue’ is indicating a syllable/insert between those characters which would form a whole word. Its all about context. A very good example is the word ‘c-ro-c-us’.

  130. Out*of*the*Blue on August 11, 2014 at 5:06 pm said:

    The topic of papelonny was my introduction. Like so many heraldic terms, it has cross-linguistic spelling variations (Fr. papelonné). The term derives from the French word for butterfly. In the heraldic tinctures, it is one of the furs, although, along with plummety (a feathery pattern), it is frequently omitted from more superficial references. The facts are so obscure and no one can recognize something unknown.

    The pattern clearly is more adequately described as fish scales and its relevance to the VMs, as I see it, is the presence of this pattern on a tub, in the 11 o’clock position, on both the outer band of Pisces and the inner band of Dark Aries. And this is followed, on White Aries by two blue-striped tub patterns, in the 11 o’clock positions, that are intentionally quirky, heraldry-based representations of the Genoese popes. Intentional obfuscation is accomplished with the use of a radial orientation of the figures on the page to create a sort of optical illusion – the inability to see the illustrations in their page-based orientations. Other details are also relevant.

    In addition, it is amusing to note from the underlying patterns of precisely placed papelonny, that the first four letters of papelonny are pape, the French word for pope. And above them are the Genoese popes. Does this type occurrence exist in a handwritten text by accident? It is inconceivable! It can only exist through the author’s intentional construction. And combined with the red galero and the record of Fieschi history, the White Aries representations will become obvious.

    Papelonny is rarely used in heraldry, and a plain shield of papelonny is rarer still. Nevertheless there are several examples. One of these belonged to a man who saved the life of the French king, Louis IX. And the connections of Louis X and Pope Innocent IV are part of history.

  131. bdid1dr on August 12, 2014 at 4:15 pm said:

    @ Gregory: The very shape of various heraldic shields resemble ‘papelonny’.
    Earlier I referred you all to the ‘bath-house’ pages because of the emblematic (enigmatic?) items the women were holding — and the paragraphs of discussion which accompany their movements through the chambers of the bath-house.
    Here and there on various discussions of South American archaeology (still ongoing) you will find mention of the public ‘bath-house’ (dome-shaped). The bath-structures were mostly shaped like an Eskimo ‘igloo’. The clay walls were heated by fires built exteriorly along the curving wall. Persons who were bathing inside the structure would throw water onto the very hot walls to create steam. They would then use a wooden blade to scrape away the steam and sweat.

    Even today various Native Americans of both continents continue the steam/sweat house practice.
    So, whether a woman uses a dried squash seed-pod (lufa/loofa) or a man uses a wooden ‘sword’, the result was refreshing, especially if followed by a rinse of cold clear water.
    Pomegranate seed/pulp was used in some parts of the world as soap.
    Yucca ROOT is still used as an ingredient in shampoo, soap, and as a foaming ingredient in root-beer. I’m still trying to find any folio in the Voynich manuscript which discusses the Yucca Elata (soap tree ROOT) as opposed to that other plant specimen which leaves and flowers were used as soap.


  132. Out*of*the*Blue on August 12, 2014 at 5:18 pm said:

    Correction: In the last sentence above, make that Louis IX.

  133. Out*of*the*Blue on August 12, 2014 at 6:07 pm said:

    Will the real Fieschi armorial insignia please stand up?

    Having researched heraldry relevant to the VMs for several years, more off than on, but always with an eye open for potentially useful material, I have run into a number of difficulties. Not the least of these is claiming that the VMs contains intentionally disguised representations of a certain heraldic insignia when it is somewhat less than perfectly clear exactly what the specifics of that pattern should look like. The old Google search yields examples that look to be correct along with others that appear similar,

    The Fieschi blazon is perfectly clear. Bendé, argent et azur. And a rendering can be found in the Wikipedia article on Pope Innocent IV. And here it should be noted that the small triangular corner is rendered in white.

    This contrasts with the representation of the Fieschi insignia as it is found here – with the small triangular corner colored blue. The standard rule is that the color in the upper right is named first, but looking at the patterns, it can be seen that this occurs in both cases and the difference is due to the relative angle of the patterned stripes.

  134. Hi Out*of*the*Blue,
    your comments on this stuff are really interesting. Do you have a blog or other page where you present the research you’ve done?

  135. bdid1dr on August 13, 2014 at 4:22 pm said:

    Hey, O-o-t-b and Goose; it is likely that Nick has consigned this whole discussion page to his back-files (page 2 of whatever discussion has gone on ‘long enough’). It is still my favorite, for its free-wheeling but mostly on-topic discussions. X your fingers that it may still be available for active discussions for a little while longer!
    Kudos Nick and all.
    beady-eyed wonder(er)

  136. Out*of*the*Blue on August 17, 2014 at 7:23 pm said:

    From above where I was interrupted when I got posted mid-sentence and then I was blocked out when I tried to add the rest.

    The sentence continues… along with others that appear similar, but are, in their heraldic definition, something quite different, such as three silver bendlets on a blue shield.

    Reference links:

    The proper placement of tincture in this pattern is indicated by Fox-Davies and shown in the bendy and bendy sinister diagrams where the bands are alternately numbered “1” and “2”. In these examples, the long crescent-shaped stripe on the lower edge is number 1. Resulting in the triangular upper corner of the pattern designated as number 2. In the Fieschi blazon, argent is first, azur is second.

    This system of color placement seems to validate the Viterbo example and point up certain problems with various other reputed replications of the Fieschi armorial insignia. Wikipedia has recently reversed the color placement in its illustrations. However there is still a difficulty with the pattern itself. The Viterbo example has four bands descending from the top, while the Wiki representation has only three.

    As to whether this is a perfect match to the illustrations found in the VMs, it really doesn’t make much difference. With the red galero and the papelonny etc., who else could it be?

    Thanks for the comments. Sorry, haven’t got a blog, yet. I’ve been on voynich.net for a while, but it looks like the last of the Voynich Monkeys is now bush meat, so that reference may be gone.

  137. Nick
    Would you happen to know if anyone has produced a concordance to the various systems of foliation?

    At present, I have the official (Beinecke) foliation, the different foliation at voynich.nu; the foliation used by Jason Davies, which makes folio 86v a disjunct, and then the definitely non-sequential ‘sequential’ series of JPgs recently issued by the Beinecke library.
    I will make the chart myself if necessary, but I do think it better to use and credit existing work.

  138. D.N. O'Donovan on December 23, 2015 at 12:21 pm said:

    You say above:
    “I have said for many years that the Voynich Manuscript’s contents seems to have their roots in the 14th century”
    Is that another bit of the ‘Curse’ I’ve forgotten? Tut. I really will try again in the New Year to order a copy. I’s needs must re-read.

    I do agree with that, but would only suggest that the date of immediate exemplars. Not necessarily of Latin European origin, either.

    Concerning the Dummies’ Guide. Perhaps it could consist of a one line introduction:
    “Aren’t we all?”

    then a hundred pages blank save for a heading which lists some general assumption never gained as a result of preliminary research, but for which proof is constantly being sought after the fact.

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