A recent comment to Cipher Mysteries by ‘Jimbo’ made me look again at the the various crowned nymphs in the Voynich Manuscript.
The Three Crowns
As far as I can see, there are three crowns in the Zodiac section, firstly in Cancer:-
There’s another in Leo:-
And another in Libra:-
There are also plenty of nymphs with a ‘tressed’ hairstyle in both the zodiac section and the water section, that some people (incorrectly, I suspect) think resembles some kind of crown. Here is a set of three examples from the Voynich’s Sagittarius page (rotated upright):-
Incidentally, one thing I can’t recall being mentioned elsewhere is that one particular nymph seems to directly link the zodiac pages to the water pages, by virtue of her standing in some kind of miniature bath or basin:-
To my eyes, there’s a big codicological (i.e. composition-layering) mystery about the whole way the nymphs were drawn. Not only were they originally all drawn with a single breast (and if there is some kind of long-standing graphical tradition of drawing one-breasted nymphs, it is something that decades of nymph-maniacal Voynicheros have apparently failed to uncover), but many specific details – most notably things such as these three crowns and the tressed head-dresses – were apparently added to the original drawing in a later ‘phase’ or composition pass.
And that begs the question: what was so wrong with the original unadorned ‘ugly duckling’ layer that the author felt compelled to dress it up with additional breasts, as well as crowns and tressed hairstyles? I don’t know, but I do wonder how far understanding that layering would carry us towards understanding the whole manuscript.
As far as the crowns go, the Cancer crown is somewhat dull, and was clearly added in a later pass; whereas the Leo crown was painted red and – crucially, I suspect – seems to have been part of the original layer, rather than an addition in a later construction phase.
The Libra crown is, like the Cancer crown, also clearly a later addition. Some people have speculated that this might have been modelled on a real crown that existed in the 15th Century, such as the Holy Crown of Hungary:-
…or perhaps something to do with Barbara of Cilli.
My Own Conclusions
Feel free to infer what you like from all the above.
For me, however, the Leo crown is the real deal, and the Cancer crown (added in almost the same place on the zodiac roundel preceding the Leo roundel) is a fake, designed to draw attention away from the Leo crown. Moreover, I strongly suspect that the Libra crown, for all its similarity to the Holy Crown of Hungary, is very probably a misdirection as well.
Yet… what was so telling about the red crown drawn in the original layer on the Leo zodiac roundel that the author wanted to distract our attention away from it? That, I think, is the right question to be asking here.
Edit: here’s what the Leo crown looks like, scaled up and overdrawn in Gimp. What does it mean? I don’t know but… I’m looking.