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.


90 thoughts on “The Voynich Manuscript’s Three Crowns…

  1. Tricia on June 29, 2015 at 10:09 am said:

    Classical authors say that Amazons burned off one breast.

  2. Tricia: indeed they were – but were Amazons depicted in medieval art at all? I thought there was a huge gap between Amazons in Antiquity and painters using them (say, 1600 onwards).


  3. Anton Alipov on June 29, 2015 at 1:36 pm said:

    I would not pay much attention to the “initially missing” breasts. Most probably this was the way to speed up the process, because the total number of the nymphs is enormous.

    For crowns added later one possible explanation is that, assuming that real persons were represented by these nymphs, some persons were not crowned initially, but then they got crowned, so the author reflected that by adding crowns.

  4. Tricia on June 29, 2015 at 2:03 pm said:

    not like this.

    but … Harley MS 4431, f. 103v (?)

  5. Anton: the key principle of codicology is that when you see things added in layers, there’s normally a pretty good reason. =:-o

  6. Anton Alipov on June 29, 2015 at 3:15 pm said:


    There is no distinct pattern. Some nymphs are initially with two breasts. Some are left one-breasted.

    But if one explains the significance of one-breasted female figures in the historical context, that would be a nice find indeed.

  7. boyfriend on June 29, 2015 at 6:13 pm said:

    Friends and Nick. In my opinion everyone should look at the page labeled 2r. It is at the beginning of the manuscript. This page is a drawing for understanding the manuscript is very important. And why ?
    Because there will author pointed encryption method. The manuscript thing is : Root.
    Root shows you what it is used for substitution. The root is composed of the letters C,G,S,L.
    This will show what the used gematria. The letters C,G,S,L, are sing for size 3. Other alphabet characters and l’ve published some time ago. ( Example, number 7 = O,Z).
    Then when you know the language, so you can easily find the instructions for decryption is written on te first page of the manuscript. That is how it is written correctly called : Acta.

    Nick, the queen of the libra, is Barbora from Cellje. The protocol is the year 1437 th. ( 1437 Barbora was crowned at Prague Castle, the Queen Czech lands.)

    Otherwise friends : Writing the manuscript is not complete. For specified character must install the missing letters. Then it can just writing meaning and significance. What are the letters is written precisely in that manual. ( instructions).

  8. bdid1dr on June 29, 2015 at 11:05 pm said:

    Nick, It is most likely that the crowns were simply indicating women of high social standing who were soon to be married to ‘suitable’ men.
    However, when you browse the folios numbered in the 80’s, then you will come across a very strange folio (83v) which depicts two women standing below an huge gourd-like figure. The women are still in the ‘bath-house-women’s quarters-or shrine”. The fruit being displayed is a mandragore FRUIT — which diluted juice- could be used as a sedative. Several folios (before and after) are depicting the women’s bath-house and shrine for preparing for marriage and childbirth.
    I’ve mentioned, before, that you can find lurking in the upper right corner of one of the bath-house folios a man (wearing only a lap cloth) waving at the ladies walking past.

  9. Thomas on June 30, 2015 at 7:04 am said:

    boyfriend: I would earnestly like to read your pages but I don’t know Czech. Could you, please, make a proper English language version?

    I don’t want to sound rude. But it is not good enough passionately to write into many blogs on the world wide web and pointing to your findings that are written in Czech.

    Maybe one percent of people in the world can read Czech. For Voynich researchers, it is probably easier to decipher the Voynich itself, than Czech.

    So, please, if you are in academia, then surely you must know people in your circles who could make an acceptable, coherent English translation.

    If you are so passionate about the world receiving your results, then you just cannot leave it to them that it is their problem if they don’t understand it clearly and fully because they don’t speak your language.

  10. Thomas on June 30, 2015 at 8:30 am said:

    The possible relevance of Barbara of Cilli is interesting. I have read snippets about her and learned that in her later life she meddled in alchemy.

  11. Thomas on June 30, 2015 at 9:12 am said:

    The Leo crown is really odd. It is vawey and as if it was flames, or made of soft cloth or something, and not of metal.

    I searched “fiery crown” but modern fantastic games came up, and also images of the phoenix bird with a crown that seems like fiery. It took me to the chinese phoenix crown or Fengguan, that seems a total red herring.

  12. Thomas on June 30, 2015 at 10:53 am said:

    I let you some insight into my vague, dim and hazy thought cloud… 🙂

    One lady is young, her crown is elaborate, and her star is seven pointed.

    Another (?) depicted lady is middle aged, her crown is simpler, and her star looks eight pointed.

    The third (?) lady looks of even more advanced age, her crown looks somewhat withering, and her star is nine pointed.

    Am I grabbing at straws here? 😀

  13. Thomas on June 30, 2015 at 11:23 am said:

    Currently I am under the influences of our Czech friend. His Barbara of Cilli theory… She was crowned at least three times. Could the three queens be the same one woman?

  14. Diane on June 30, 2015 at 12:01 pm said:

    I think this is a valid observation, and a good one, despite an understandable urge for those unable to account for it to dismiss out of hand.

    I can think of only two reasons why the original forms might have been drawn with just one breast, if that was intentional.

    One is reference to the amazons, as has been mentioned. I rather like that, because it puts us nicely in the region to which I assign the section’s origins.

    Another explanation is that the Greeks had incredible difficulty imagining any being who had no gender. I don’t mean eunuchs etc., but the equivalent of our angels, which medieval art made girlish-boys, or strong looking girls for the most part.

    The old Greeks would sometimes draw a male face and a body having a sort-of bosom chest, but immature male (if I write “genitals”here will it cause you spam-problems, Nick?) – well, bits.

    In either case, if you are right, it is a great new find.

  15. bdid1dr on June 30, 2015 at 4:52 pm said:

    Boy-friend & Thomas,
    If Czech you see, and Czech you read, you may enjoy visiting Ellie Velinska’s blog. She and Diane have both been visiting the Boenicke 408 botanicals for years, now. As have I.
    Perhaps Ellie may be amenable with your translations.
    My hunch is that the scribe(s) were at a loss as to when young girls became young women (and how the breasts developed, and one breast at a time? ) Who would be available for the artists’ models?

  16. Thomas on July 1, 2015 at 10:30 am said:

    As a fledging codicologist, I wondered how the perforation on the parchment came to existence on 71v. It looks to me most odd that the hole is around the lady’s hand while she is the only one whose star is placed farther away from her on a line. So the question is, who made that perforation in order to hide away from us the object or whatever she might hav in her hand?

  17. Thomas on July 1, 2015 at 10:48 am said:

    bdid1dr: thank you, and I have looked at her blog before. It is very thorough and interesting. Boyfriend may have valid points yet will not describe his method in standard english. At the same time he is harangueing all the “scientists” everywhere on the web because they don’t read or accept his “proof” that is only available in czech.

  18. Thomas on July 1, 2015 at 12:39 pm said:

    More of my fuzzy speculations. 🙂 The Leo crown may in fact be the most richly embellished one as the red colouring could refer to jewels in it, like rubies.

  19. bdid1dr on July 1, 2015 at 3:16 pm said:

    Except I don’t think he is still alive, check for a Czechoslovakian gentleman who used to visit Nick’s blog now and then. Nick can tell you more about him ( I called him ProfZ — and he seemed happy enough with my abbreviation of his name.))

  20. bdid1dr on July 1, 2015 at 3:31 pm said:

    Another explanation for the crowns: When young girls (Catholic?) reached 15 or 16 years old, they had a party (cinqueana?) to celebrate their coming of age. I vaguely recall my best friend’s party; paper crown, gold bracelet, and ice cream. Also, a frilly new white dress.
    I remember that Mexican, Hawaiian, and Philappean girls also celebrated per their nationality.

  21. Thomas on July 1, 2015 at 5:04 pm said:

    bdid1dr: He is the same awful, awful guy. 🙂 Josef or prof goldmaker, all the same, all over the world wide web. He only wants to speak czech and convince everybody.Still, he could be my friend because he made me buzz with his czech theory, if not with his shaky proof.

    So, I lloked at the crown of Elisabeth von Luxemburg, AKA Eliska, the daughter of Borbala or Barbara Cilli (or Celje). On the wiki page there is a painting as well as a statue of her. The crown on each are different, but they are sort of zigzagy and jewelled, that looks reddish on the painting.

  22. Anton Alipov on July 1, 2015 at 6:07 pm said:


    The hole most probably was already there when the image was created. Compare with the reverse side. (Stolfi’s description shares the same opinion :))

  23. Carmen on July 1, 2015 at 8:59 pm said:

    Hi, just a question. Why do you think that only women are wearing crowns? I still haven’t seen those crowns worn by men.

    The Leo crown is that of the Holy Roman Empire. I don’t know about the other two crowns. 🙁

  24. bdid1dr on July 1, 2015 at 9:53 pm said:

    BTW: ProfZ wasn’t entirely off-subject when it came to identifying the castle (as Rosenberg — the royal, or very wealthy family who commissioned the building of Prague castle).
    Watch out, people, the very mention of his name can start a tirade. I do give him credit for trying to comment in English.
    Nick, if he should appear on these pages, refer him to Ellie V. She is very patient with old fa_ts such as me/myself/and
    beady-eyed wonder

  25. bdid1dr on July 1, 2015 at 10:00 pm said:

    Carmen, the most likely meaning of the crowns are displaying the eligibility of the maidens for marriage into ‘royal’ families. There are other folios in B-408 which display young ladies in barrels — and holding what look like stars on strings, or even banners, (somewhat like the plasticized aluminum-look balloons which children now keep aloft on a string.

  26. Carmen: while there are definitely a few men depicted in the Voynich Manuscript, none of them has a crown. Of the hundreds of women depicted, a few have crowns. It’s not sexism (or crowneyism?), it’s just an observation. Which crown are you talking about, by the way? One of the perks of being HRE was that you had several to choose from. 🙂

    I’d agree with several commenters here that the Libra crown is much like the one that Barbara of Cilli (1392 – 1451) is frequently depicted wearing: she was the second wife of Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor from 1431 to 1437:-


    The crowns worn by Frederick III (Sigismund’s successor) and his young wife Eleanor of Portugal don’t really seem to me to be so similar:-


  27. bdid1dr on July 1, 2015 at 10:09 pm said:

    When Nick, Rene, and other friends were having their conference near Frascati, Diane, EllieV, and I were having a ‘party” with those ladies in tubs and their ‘balloons’ and/or ‘banners’.
    I was calling the ladies in tubs “Nick’s cheer-leading team”.

  28. bdid1dr on July 1, 2015 at 10:53 pm said:

    Thanx for the ref, Nick. Was it Frederick who introduced the genetic anomaly (Hapsburg Jaw) which tormented Rudolph II? Rudolph apparently was severely affected, to the point that he ‘preferred’ soups and soft fruits and vegetables.
    I also note the reference to the “Infanta”. Was there more than one historically significant “Infanta”?

  29. Diane on July 2, 2015 at 2:11 am said:

    One neat way to collect a useful range of ‘crown’ images is to look at images of King David in manuscript copies of the Psalter.

    How many people actually got to see the king in full regalia? Don’t forget, these are constructed images, not photos. For all we know, the crowns were added by looking at whatever coins the person had access to, regardless or when or where made. I rather think anyone with a smidgeon of common sense would avoid having to explain to the authorities why they had naked cartoon-type females wearing the crown of his [ whole endless string of titles] maj.

    That sort of thing could get a person into trouble. And more so if the figures were said to be saints, I should think.

    It’s all context..

  30. bdid1dr on July 2, 2015 at 3:21 pm said:

    Thomas, your ref to the Leo crown mentions “vawey” . Is that a variation of Czech/Hungarian/Yugoslavian…………or just a typo: wa-v-ey ?

  31. bdid1dr on July 2, 2015 at 8:11 pm said:

    Nick & friends,
    Consider the works of Fray Sahagun and his two scribes (both Nahuatl speaking/writing/illustrating) translating Fr. Sahagun’s spoken dialogue (Spanish) and accompanying the translations with artwork as described by celibate Fray Sahagun. Confusion would abound — especially any discussion about females.
    Still bd-eyed — still wondering.

  32. boyfriend on July 2, 2015 at 9:40 pm said:

    bdid- beady eyad wonder 🙂

    I’m soory but you never know nothing of what is written in the manuscript. And you Ellie do the same. I read what you write here’re next to the fir.So you could read what is written inthe manuscript. So you have to determine the key. A key is written on the first page of the manuscript. Then it is also written inside the manuscript. And it is also written on the side ( Page ) of 116.
    Manuscript here in Bohemia. And from start to finish. When he received a Jesuit priest and took him to Italy.

    It is written on paper Voynich. ( Beinecke).
    Important is the envelope. On the envelope is written. Instructions on translation as a manuscript page 116.
    This proves that the voynich knew the key. Voynich wife studied Slavic language. Voynich knew. Those eyes do not. 🙂

  33. boyfriend on July 2, 2015 at 10:08 pm said:

    The manuscript is written Czech history. According to what is written in the beginning, and began writing the manuscript Elizabeth Rosenberg ( Eliška z Rožmberka ). Elizabeth was very proficient cryptographes. The manuscript is written on many people. For example. Barbora Celská ( Cellje). Sigismund. Jan Hus. The Council of Constance ( Kostniský koncil). About Eliška Přemyslovna , Oueen wife Jan Lucemburský. About Přemysl Otakar I ,( Golden. ) The young king Vladislav Lucemburský ( Pohrobek) and his assassination. He says what was the cause of his death. AAnd what was the use of deadly poison. About the alchemist an astrologer Tyho Brahe, and the cause of his death. About , alchemist Hájek of Hájek. A supernova explosion. etc.

    Substituce :
    1, a,i,j,q,y. 2.b,r,k. 3 c,g,s,l. 4 d,m,t. 5 e,h,n. 6 u,v,w,x. 7o,z.
    8 f,p. 🙂

  34. Thomas on July 3, 2015 at 7:24 am said:

    bdid1dr: Sorry, my own bad English and v/w confusion. I try to catch up with boyfriend. 🙂

    boyfriend: your theory is fascinating. I would like to see a comprehensive English language account of your scientifically rigorous method of decryption. You should present your method to learned Czech academicians who scrutinize it and accept its validity with consensus. Then your solution would be in the news.

  35. bdid1dr on July 3, 2015 at 7:19 pm said:

    Boyfriend & Thomas:

    Boenicke Manuscript 408, folio 116v was Ambassador Busbecq’s reference to “Ancyranum Monumentum Res Divi”Augustus”.
    Busbecq was signing off from his diplomatic visit to Suleiman’s court (on behalf of Viennese/Austrian court) in an effort to avert Suleiman’s invasion of Austria/Bohemia/and other Hapsburg territories.
    Busbecq chose to write his note on the shabbiest manuscript he could find among some 200 manuscripts he was delivering to Vienna.

  36. bdid1dr on July 3, 2015 at 8:19 pm said:

    That ‘shabbiest’ manuscript’s origin was “New Spain”. It’s timeline/style/botanical portrayals and discussions were Fray Sahagun’s diary: interactions with local people and their identification of botanical items (yerbas), animals, insects, customs, religions, precious metals, gems, feathers, calendars, and, finally, Cortez’s arrival (with his army — and enslavement of Malintzin). Page after page of the effects of European diseases on the indigenous peoples of “New Spain”.
    Fray Sahagun was excommunicated (by the Spanish Inquisition). His notes were confiscated and never returned to him. However, he was able write the currently so-called “Florentine Manuscript” (each pictorial element is discussed in Latin & Nahuat)l. There is much discussion elsewhere on the WWW which details the life and times of Malintzin and Cortez. I suspect that Fray Sahagun’s beautiful book had some of the discussion in re Cortez’s enslavement of Malinzin and their child(ren) redacted before publication.

  37. bdid1dr on July 3, 2015 at 8:30 pm said:

    So, Nick and Friends: Take a look at each of the “Voynich” folios, and compare them with the contents of the “Florentine Manuscript”. Understand that the Florentine Manuscript is available in its bound form by using whatever online “reading” aid is available to us. The languages will be Spanish (Latin?) and Nahuatl in side-by-columns.
    I read every single page (some 540, I think). Fascinating!

  38. Diane on July 4, 2015 at 1:05 am said:

    I think there are many people quietly working in the background who agree with you, and have held the ‘New world’ theory for a long time. I can find no other reason for McCrone’s using mopa-mopa (of all things) as a control, nor for the public attitude to a faked picture of Columbus’ landing to have changed overnight. (Some of the female figures in it might be argued like the Voynich nymphs, but you wouldn’t convince specialists it meant anything more than a southern environment for both). And so on.

    I feel it in my bones that the ‘German-and-Rudolf’ story which has by some means maintained the centre-stage and entertained the media, is about to give way to a story rather like yours – equally full of important historical figures and wealth, but now with the tendresse which marked Fray Sahagun’s dealings with the people in Mexico.

    I look forward to the film. Cheers.

  39. Thomas on July 4, 2015 at 4:26 pm said:

    bdid1dr: I started to believe you. My czech dalliances are over. 🙂 I still need to picture it right. Sahagun is the author of the book, and Busbecq got hold of it later in Turkey? How this book got to Turkey? Who confiscated it from Sahagun and where?

  40. bdid1dr on July 4, 2015 at 5:28 pm said:

    Diane, what in h-ll is ‘mopa-mopa’ ? It sounds like some kind of cleaning fluid or cleaning tool. Any way I look at it, it is ridiculous!

  41. bdid1dr on July 4, 2015 at 5:54 pm said:


    The so-called “Voynich” manuscript (Boenicke MS 408) was Fray Sahagun’s diary, to begin with, first, his personal details education, and ship voyage to “New Spain”.
    Sahagun apparently immediately began instructing boys (from wealthier families) in Spanish — at the same time, Sahagun’s scribes began writing his notes in Nahuatl. (At least he was speaking Spanish, and his scribes automatically wrote the translation in Nahuatl. Whis why you will not find a word for water — but rather o-a-tl .

    Example: aquatilium (water lily) in Nahuatl is :

    oa tl a om eceo SP ec eos oll a mo san

    (folio 2v of B-408)


  42. bdid1dr on July 4, 2015 at 6:01 pm said:

    “Which” is why. I still forget to make a matched set of parentheses…..It’s all about focus on the translations and absent-minded punctuation.
    bd-eyed won-der

  43. bdid1dr on July 4, 2015 at 6:19 pm said:


    The so-called “Voynich” manuscript (Boenicke MS 408) was Fray Sahagun’s diary, to begin with, first, his personal details education, and ship voyage to “New Spain”.
    Sahagun apparently immediately began instructing boys (from wealthier families) in Spanish — at the same time, Sahagun’s scribes began writing his notes in Nahuatl. (At least he was speaking Spanish, and his scribes automatically wrote the translation in Nahuatl. Whis why you will not find a word for water — but rather o-a-tl .

    Example: aquatilium (water lily) in Nahuatl is :

    oa tl a om eceo SP ec eos oll a mo san

    (folio 2v of B-408)

    Because of his ‘iffy’ discussions (some of which seemed to be borderline lascivious) a neighboring monk (Dominican) reported Sahagun’s activities and writings to the Spanish Inquisition. The manuscript which is now being called the “Voynich” is one of many Spanish Inquisitional papers which ended up in Suleiman’s court. It was later retrieved by Ambassador Busbecq (who used the last page of the shabbiest manuscript to sign-off from Ankara and return to Vienna.

  44. Thomas on July 5, 2015 at 12:10 pm said:

    bdid1dr: yours is a nice theory. I fancy it that it will be proved to be fact. But so are the other theories. I am only an easily swayed spectator, me having no own personal theory. Like Manuel, the spanish waiter, I know nuffink. 🙂

  45. Diane on July 5, 2015 at 3:07 pm said:

    as long as you hold that position, you should do well.

    However, if you feel yourself in any danger of having studied enough to knowing something definite about this manuscript, do please move with exceeding care. In fact, it might be safest to quit about then. Many others have done so.

  46. bdid1dr on July 5, 2015 at 4:27 pm said:

    @ Thomas:
    Like the Spanish waiter, who knows ’nuffink’, cross your fingers whenever you tell even a tiny lie.
    I wink when I sign off — and sometimes smirk (tongue in cheek) when I’m having a good time on Nick’s pages:

  47. bdid1dr on July 5, 2015 at 4:37 pm said:

    BTW: Good morning Nick. We were listening to the local saloon’s 4th of July celebrations until 1:00 am this am.
    Still beady-eyed ;-^

  48. bdid1dr on July 8, 2015 at 8:34 pm said:

    Diane, gentlemen like Thomas (who profess/confess) to knowing nuffink, need to be encouraged to donate to the discussions on Nick’s blog.
    Thomas, leave the proofreading and/or spell-checking to us ladies. I’ve just noticed my ‘whis’ note. Some spell-checker, eh? Make the correction to ‘which is’.
    Better late than never — eh?

  49. bdid1dr on July 9, 2015 at 8:47 pm said:

    Nick, Diane, & Rene,
    Is it really that difficult for you to recognize that I am reading the so-called “Voynich” manuscript and making full, consistent translations of each written dialogue, whether or not the dialogue accompanies an illustration?
    I am now beginning to download those pages of unillustrated but ‘bulleted’ paragraphs. Depending on my speed of transcription, I’ll keep you posted in re my progress, but will not be boring you with the details until I am done.
    beady-eyed wonder-r

  50. bdid1dr: the problem isn’t that you have a decryption, it’s that I have twenty other similar claimed decryptions that I can’t tell it apart from. In short, the core problem is one of ‘prooflessness’ rather than that of mere ‘claimancy’ (if either of those is even a word). 🙁

  51. bdid1dr on July 10, 2015 at 3:41 pm said:

    Nick, I didn’t seriously begin translating the folios until I came upon your “Brackets” page (and the stretched l———l character). I also mentioned that the tl character apparently cannot be ‘stretched’.
    I’ve also explained the difference (one pen-stroke) between the ‘n’ and ‘m’ characters: which look like parentheses with either one ‘half-diagonal’ stroke at the base or two ‘half-diagonal strokes at the base of the parenthesis.
    The proof is demonstrated in the word ‘mon-u-men-tl-m’ .


  52. Diane on July 10, 2015 at 6:22 pm said:

    I don’t think the ‘Leo’ crown is an effort to draw any particular crown, but may reflect the maker’s impression gained from seeing imagery about him.

    Just as example of similar spacing etc. there’s the Adoration of the Magi (as Magian kings) from 1390 the church of San Pedro de Cubells in Lérida.

    It could be taken from any source – coin, sculpture – who knows?
    I agree it is probably the earliest.

  53. bdid1dr on July 11, 2015 at 4:05 pm said:

    Very similar crown depictions. I noted a name on that blog link: Serra — as in Fray Junipero Serra. So, I shall check the time-spans of Serra and Sahagun. I’m not sure if Spaniards had reached the West Coast and/or the Baja Peninsula of California yet. I do know that European diseases came with the various explorers and monks.
    Millions of our indigenous peoples (Canada/USA/Mexico) died from the measles, smallpox, chicken pox, syphilis….before the monks had established churches, schools, and residences.
    Apparently Cortez ‘skated’ through it all, besides forming a ‘family’ with Malintzin. I wonder how she was able to survive the epidemics.

  54. bdid1dr on July 12, 2015 at 12:43 am said:

    Nick, Diane, & any other interested persons:
    Since recent discussion has been about crowns, and some discussion of other head coverings, I’d like to identify one piece of head covering which appears in B-408: the standing archer (Sag i tar i us) is wearing a turban. Another identifying feature is the short tunic he is wearing: he probably did more archery while on horseback (while serving in Suleiman’s army)

  55. bdid1dr on July 12, 2015 at 11:14 pm said:

    A tiny bit off-subject, but may be of interest to those who research works of art: Klimpt’s painting of a young Jewish woman (Altman).
    To make a long (dreadful) story short, but with a positive ending: Nazi’s not only massacred millions of Jews and Gypsies — they stole every valuable possession. The sole surviving Altman daughter spent years in retrieving that one painting. She won her case with the U. S. Supreme Court and retrieved the painting.
    The son of Estee Lauder (Cosmetics Empress) bought the painting for some hundred millions of dollars. He then donated the painting to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Los Angeles, California.

  56. bdid1dr on July 13, 2015 at 11:57 pm said:

    So, this morning I took a look at the Holocaust Memorial Museum. I didn’t get past two apparent curators who were standing at the base of a concrete-walled-in ramp. Talk about shades of the Holocaust line-ups leading to the ‘showers’ and poison gas.
    I wonder if any survivors of the camps would dare to take even one step onto that gawd-awful ramp!

  57. Diane on July 22, 2015 at 5:34 am said:

    Now do sing of the tribe of women, sweet-voiced
    Olympian Muses, daughters of aegis-bearing Zeus

  58. Diane on July 22, 2015 at 5:40 am said:


    Interesting you should mention the archer’s clothes. I’ve just spent some time on them too. Posts will appear each couple of days for the next couple of weeks. I don’t agree that the hat is a turban; but do that the skirt is probably a military type.

  59. bdid1dr on July 22, 2015 at 9:24 pm said:

    Diane, I chose to mention, herein, that archer which you had just recently discussed and displayed in re Sagittarius. Because it is difficult for me to contribute to your discussions on your own website blog, I still feel that you are most likely to get more discussion of your views and opinions here on Nick’s great blog. ‘Hacking’ is probably less likely, also, herein.
    Correct me, Nick, if I am imposing on your courtesy.
    Sincerely, and still bd-eyed

  60. bdid1dr on July 24, 2015 at 11:07 pm said:

    Diane, did you also notice the shape of the bow in that tile floor mosaic (of a standing archer) ? There is no way that the bow would have “bowed” when the taut string was pulled.
    ps: I was fortunate when our family moved to Marin County California (at the other end of the Golden Gate Bridge). Sir Francis Drake High School offered archery, golf, tennis, trampoline, and gymnastics for Physical Ed (besides the usual softball and basketball. Basketball — all four-foot-ten-inches of me? Hah!

  61. Diane on July 25, 2015 at 12:13 pm said:

    You’ve left comments on my site before – and others have done so recently. It should be ok from my end, but don’t let me trammel your preferences. 🙂

  62. Diane on July 26, 2015 at 9:46 am said:

    Nick – a crown in a fourteenth century Jewish zodiac.
    now in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library University of Pennsylvania as [Schoenberg] LJS 57
    Catalonia 1361

    emblem for the constellation


  63. Diane: thanks for that, lots to think about there…

  64. bdid1dr on July 27, 2015 at 10:57 pm said:

    Stunningly beautiful ! The most comprehensive display and discussion (of both navigational symbols and horoscopes) in one tremendous volume! Do you know if U Penn has similar manuscripts for the same historical period (in which we are most interested/enthralled) ?
    PS: (I can almost visualize Nick breathing a huge sigh of relief if he realizes that I may be taking a brief vacation from Cipher Mysteries ; medical and optometry issues. )

  65. Diane on July 28, 2015 at 1:17 pm said:

    Bd – I’ll miss your comment.

  66. Diane on August 6, 2015 at 9:47 am said:

    is it just me, or is there something wrong with the Beinecke library site? Haven’t been able to access the MS for almost 2 weeks.

  67. Anton Alipov on August 7, 2015 at 3:28 pm said:


    The library site is OK for me, but the link to the VMS images has been broken for a while.

  68. Diane on August 8, 2015 at 9:44 am said:

    I still think that your observation about the ‘Lion’ (actually, panther) crown’s being the earliest is important.

    If we go past efforts to link it to some extant object, and turn instead to the object’s meaning (far more important in ancient and medieval thought), then a couple of possibilities:

    1. that it is on the star of ‘regulus’ as someone has already suggested, very sensibly.

    2. That the original image which we take for Leo wasn’t actually meant for that constellation. Its form is not actually that of a lion, and is one of a great many reasons why I think these folios are simply being made to do duty as a ‘zodiac’ calendar series. If it weren’t for the inscribed month-names, one would have enormous difficulty justifying their being described as such.

    In that case, the crown might refer to some other star and/or place. The logical one would be Canopus, but I won’t bother writing the essay-long explanation for that.

  69. Diane on August 8, 2015 at 3:14 pm said:


  70. Diane on August 9, 2015 at 1:42 pm said:

    One simple, and appropriate explanation for the generally single-breasted females is that the stars were associated with milk. Generally one figure, one star – so one breast.

    The association with milk is initially Egyptian, then following the Egyptians, the Greeks and then the Romans.

    Carians – termed ‘Greeks’ (though fairly loosely) have an early presence in Egypt, and before the time of Alexander, Herodotus noted the signs that Greek religion derived from the much older Egyptians’. The Greeks, though, romanticising the religious stories, a habit of which Philo of Biblos complains as late as the late first/early second centuries AD.

    From about the same time (2ndC AD) we have copies on papyrus of Hesiod’s “Catalogue of women’ [Ἠοῖαι] salvaged at Oxyrhinchus.

  71. bdid1dr on August 14, 2015 at 2:48 pm said:

    Diane — The “Milky Way” ?

  72. Bdid1dr,
    We get the term from that idea, yes. For myself, I shouldn’t expect the stars around each figure to be those, though it’s possible – I could imagine taking the ecliptic as horizontal axis and the ‘sky road’ as the vertical… sort of.

    When I look at the month roundels now, I keep thinking in terms of the Egyptian diagrams, so like those in later manuscripts, or of Menaboi’s ranks of saints and angels etc., which look so like what we have. So if I were working on the written part of the text (which, thank the lord, I’m not) I’d be looking at lists of persons, saints, angels, genealogies and that sort of thing. I recall reading somewhere that Pierrre d’Ailly constantly associates historical figures and mythological figures with stars – along the lines of Herodotus’ saying Perseus was the eponymous star of the Persians, but I’ve never seen d’Ailly’s text so not certain that’s true.

  73. That’s Giusto de’ Menabuoi (c. 1320–1391) – worked in Padua. His baptistry dome manages to look a bit like a planisphere, don’t you think?

    Another Voynich researcher – apologise for not recalling who – first suggested linking the star-flowers to the western Christian (Latin) calendar of saints.

  74. bdid1dr on August 16, 2015 at 3:23 pm said:

    Nick & Diane:
    Once again I ask you to compare the art of Giusto de Menabuoi of Padua
    with the artwork found on the domed ceiling of Fray Sahagun’s Colegio de Santa Cruz de Santiago (Mexico).
    Giusto’s dome is fabulous. Now, can we go back to the various circular diagrams of B-408 and compare with the “Saints” which appear in such domed artwork from Padua?
    I wonder if the cathedral at Compostela had similar artwork on its ceiling (dome?).

  75. bdid1dr on August 20, 2015 at 2:36 pm said:

    Diane, have you looked at Egyptian diagrams from the point of view that the layout of the pyramids represent “Orion’s belt”? My recall may be faulty in re Egyptian history. I really miss the current century’s investigations of the interior of the Great Pyramid (small ‘robot’ television camera). Current century Egyptian political jostling (and grave robberies) ended a decade of fabulous discoveries. Also disturbed by local political jostling, were the X-ray and dna studies being done. So — what else is new?

  76. Hello Nick
    I stumbled upon a video on youtube by a man claiming that the Beinecke MS 408 is written in Landa Khojki scripts. I am neither a cryptographer nor a linguist, so am in no way qualified to assess whether this man is on the right track. May I ask your opinion on this?
    The video is called ‘Voynich manuscript breakthrough. It is written in Landa Khojki scripts’, posted in 2014
    I am a botanist and artist and interested in the manuscript for it’s possible ethnobotanical value.

    p.s. My apologies if you have already written about this elsewhere, I have not yet read your entire blog.

    Thanks, Eve

  77. bdid1dr on August 27, 2015 at 4:34 pm said:

    Canopus — another term for funeral jar ? Mummies or ashes?
    Some of the earliest-mentioned ‘navigators’ were the ‘Three Kings of “Orient” are….. (a nineteenth-centruy Christmas carole?)
    PS: That very famous portolan map (which momentarily escapes my memory) also portrays the Three Kings (on camels) .

  78. bdid1dr on August 27, 2015 at 4:49 pm said:

    Nick, Diane, & others: Forgive my partial (if not downright confused) references. I think I may be travelling down Alzheimer’s lane sooner than later. The only re-assurance I have that I am not completely ‘bonkers’ is that I am still aware of occasional memory lapses. Thank goodness for online spell-check! Now, if only we could find a punctuation-check!
    Nick: how about an automatic ‘decryption-check’?
    Tongue-in-Cheek humor, as usual …
    bd-i’d one-der

  79. bdid1dr on August 29, 2015 at 5:03 pm said:

    La Isla Bonita (aka: Isla Mujeres) — and mention of Francisco Hernandez de Cordova. Further mention of worshipers of Ixchel — and their baring of their breasts…..Mention of pirates. (Morgan & Lafitte…..)
    I am probably no longer adept at referring to entire websites and their fascinating histories; but I will try once more:.


  80. bdid1dr on August 31, 2015 at 5:20 pm said:

    I haven’t been successful in citing the URL. Nick, if you should still be looking for nekkid ladies, hot springs, pirates, and their biographers, Mexico Less Traveled website is THE place to visit! But first visit their largest ‘radioactive’ pool.
    Diane — Isla Mujeres is THE place to visit via the WWW; at least to get some discussion in re Ixchel (goddess) and her women’s refuge.

  81. D.N.O'Donovan on September 13, 2015 at 9:46 am said:

    Battle crown – Getty MS. Ludwig XV 13. detail from fencing manual “Flower of Battle” (Fior di Battaglia or: Flos Duellatorum) (1409) composed by Fiore dei Liberi, (Fiore Furlano, Fiore de Cividale d’Austria) an Italian, c.1350- after 1409.

    first image is courtesy of Scott Wilson


    second from folio 13 in the same manuscript:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiore_dei_Liberi#/media/File Getty_Ms._Ludwig_XV_13_31r_%28detail%29.jpg

    LUDWIG – ?!! **quel excitements**

  82. As an artist, I don’t think the additions of breasts means anything significant. To me it’s just an amateur artist realising that, perspective-wise, both breasts would be visible on the figures they had drawn, and they went back later to correct their mistake (or, another, more skilled artist did it later – whatever) by adding another breast – missing a few as they did so. It was just an attempt to make their drawings more ‘realistic’.

    The crowns I have no idea as to their significance, but again, as an artist, this is something I have done with my own work… Gone back to it and prettied it up by adding extra decoration. IDK though… it’s possible that it has some deeper meaning. This is all just MHO. 😉

  83. TigerOfDarkness on October 5, 2015 at 7:39 pm said:

    Hi Ludi, as an artist myself, I don’t agree with your explanation re the breasts. I can’t see the artist drawing the figures and not realising that both breasts would be visible.

    I suspect that the presence or absence of breasts may have been significant originally. At least one Voynich researcher (Philip Neal?) commented that the breasts (and indeed, nipples) had been modified/added later (rather childishly they thought).

    So why would the original artist not draw the details? I wonder if they form a code of some sort? Some of the ladies are holding rings and some aren’t. Some have crowns and some don’t. Some had two breasts and some didn’t. some had nipples and some didn’t. That could encode some information. Not to mention that their arms and legs are in different positions… reminds me (a little bit) of the Sherlock Holmes Problem Of The Dancing Men story.

  84. bdid1dr on November 2, 2015 at 6:00 pm said:

    @: D’OD — LUDI — TOD :

    From the perspectives of Native American (Nahuatl) scribes, there would have been a lot of confusion. For the most part, the scribe and his partner illustrator would have been quite puzzled by Fray Sahagun’s modesty (and by the good Friar’s confusion when it came to female nudity).

    Never mind that he (Sahagun) may have been a major factor in the baptisms of not only infants and children, but also the children’s parents.

  85. bdid1dr on November 2, 2015 at 6:06 pm said:

    Cross-refer with Sahagun’s “Psalmodia”

  86. bdid1dr on November 2, 2015 at 6:18 pm said:

    Cross refer with Isla de Mujeres . Cross-refer with Sahagun’s discussions of Aztec Gods and Goddess (Ixtal — Mother of Gods). Some of my recent referrals can be found in the Florentine Codex Gods and Goddesses, and the Sun and the Moon (NOT an eclipse, but rather dividing the periods of light and dark. Also of interest is the discussion of the “Rabbit in the Moon”.

  87. Hi!

    Maybe the artist of these features had no conscious intent for them but was simply inspired by impressionable folklore and thibgs he might have listened to as a child.

    The Three Queens and the Lady of the Lake (arising out of water) was popularly mysterious and fascinating in the post medieval era.


    I think whoever added these blemishes was not much different in mindset as those early cartographers who adorn (seriously intended) maps with Dragons and Krakens and the like at corners; added for decorative purposes more of an after-thought once the serious work had been done and they found the overall document lacking a little kick to excite the senses. Life on a ship gets boring i suppose.

    Hmm. There has been evidence of retouching the document elsewhere right? See, when Im stuck in a boring lecture and doodle at the corner of my notes, I find myself just revisiting the doodle from time to time, just out of boredom. Don’t know about others but that’s what I’d do.

    So.. maybe somebody under house-arrest, maybe voluntarily like in the case those studying this document, had been staring at this manuscript for a long time and just unconsciously found himself doing basically the equivalent of drawing beards or other improvements onto the Mona Lisa etc. Totally understandable.

    Basically it’s not unrealistic for people to get bored.

    I think whoever drew the majority of illustrations in this book must probably definetely have had access to some form of magnification device which could observe basic cell structures of plants. He was certainly curious about the natural world but probably had samples of things gathered for him as opposed to him going out.

    Being under house arrest and close surveillance might have influenced his psychology in some part as to deem that a cipher was necessary.

    The decrypted text might probably just read things like : Wow, this is amazing! Look at all these tiny things and such. Cool!

    Maybe he even named some of the things. The binomial nomenclature for species (like homo sapiens) wasnt around at the time, but anyone discovering new things would probably have thought at some point that a standard way of categorising and cataloguing his discoveries only made sense.

    Also, if he did posses some sort of magnification device, chances are he might have tinkered a bit with lens to make a telescope as well. Which could explain why he was put under house arrest in the first place! (Like Galileo) His captors might probably have told him : no more of that “Earth is round” rubbish, or else! Botany is fine, but if we find anything to do with trigonometry, planets or the church and such they go straight into the fire, capisce? (and so some pages might have gone missing for the fact)

    Lots of people seem to think the obvious motivation for the secrecy and the script itself was for money etc. I don’t know, I don’t think so at all. I think he was moderately well off not to care that much about money but was instead just a curious person with very little privacy and the VMS was just a very personal thing for him. it’s very hard to be creative when you man privacy! You sort of feel self conscious and inhibited and I think the VMS looks like rather painful attempts of a bright, adventurous and impressionable mind hamstrung in experimental and creative capacity by prying eyes. Of some authority figure in his life. Like prison guards or maybe there was no house arrest but he was just a grown man living with his mom who gave him very little privacy and so he turned out this way, maybe he was gay? Inventing a super secret code or language is something I think a lot of children toy with at some point.. Maybe all those nymphs were inspired by his aversion to his mom. Somehow that makes sense to me.

    Anyway, touch ups -> probably normal OCD.

    The fact that they were added at a later date, whether on a whim or otherwise, just give me all the more reason to think he was simply exploring fantasy or at least developing ideas.

    I think some of the text may be relevant to the pictures sometimes. Just the little bits of text here and there.

    But the large chunks of text, probably narrative, that just wrap around the illustrations to me look like a different story altogether, and written in that manner so as to be concealed. The author may have just been really shy in letting others know what he was thinking.. the more I look at the book the more sympathy I feel, like that for a child having troubles..

    I don’t think money/greed/ambition was any factor in the VMS!!!

    There’s definitely deception afoote, but more than likely it did not set out to confuse or beffudle or intend to cause mischief… it seemed to me like its defenses was just to dissuade and deter prying eyes.. The naked women are just an after thought to offend you. Go away, it says. Afterthought followed by afterthought you add to the script until you find yourself connecting the dots and making homages to popular culture. Part inspired by the fantasy of imagination and part driven by a desire to create an orderly world for your creations, a responsibility you feel toward them as their creator. People give a happy ending to their stories more often than not; I believe the compulsion to adorning some nymphs with hats is the same.. You draw multiple ones so they don’t feel so lonely, because maybe you know how that feels..

  88. Hi, sorry to double post, I just want to expand a little since I recall distinctly the 3 Queens from my reading of the stories lf King Arthur etc. but the internet doesn’t talk much about them for some reason.

    The symbolism of the crowns might be an allusion to the 3 benevolent Queens of King Arthur/ Camelot or the myths they themselves were based on where the shiny things they hold are probably representative of their boon or blessings.

    The lady in the Lake carries a blessing too but it seems like the artist wouldn’t draw her holding a sword in her hand I feel because he’s just conflict-adverse by nature.

    He probably thought he was being childish for including a fantasy reference and certainly didn’t want to appear as such hence his rather callous portrayal of her. He probably thought drawing the Lady rise from a bath in a satirical manner was funny at first, but then felt like it was disrespectful and mocking. Nonetheless he decided to be bold and let it be but probably felt bad about it. I don’t think there’s much deeper motive behind any symbolic connection in the book really; probably very little to do with the text and certainly not an attempt to confound code breakers. Ironic really, how things turned out for this seemingly innocent manuscript whose only guilt is that it will not yield to attempts at savaging it of virtue.

    Anyway, that’s just what I feel about the whole thing… I’ve come to realise what I’m convinced are his wishes and that this document simply wasn’t meant to be read by anyone other than its creator.. I rightly had no right to know and am in truth somewhat glad I hadn’t crossed the line before learning my lesson.

    On a final note, I get the appeal but I personally don’t really see the VMS author as being very similar to Da Vinci other than they both obsessed over privacy. If it were just one person responsible for VMS, I imagine he would be similar to J. R. R. Tolkein but with HP Lovecraft’s difficulties and circumstances.

    Tolkein crafted his own fantasy world too, meticulously detailing a compendium of artificial lifeforms and such starting off with elves (which I think were more like fairies from his earlier descriptions), made up several alphabets and fantasy languages (though not very in depth), and did a lot of cursive writing in circular patterns too. I feel like the VMS guy would have turned out much the same way if he lived long enough but probably died young or something.

    Thanks everyone!

  89. Not sure how much of this Nick knew when making the post, but others may not. Three notes.


    Three crowns formed the arms of Bury (as in Bury St.Edmunds) and occur painted on a folio in an English ms which is dated between 1434 and 1439.
    Brit.Lib. MS Harley 2278 f. 3v


    Also of Oxford.

    and as a book-mark employed in Venice by the printer Giovanni Di Gara (1564-1610)

    3. Again in Venice… but now 17thC

    “In Venice, bereft of its former glory, Bragadini was still dominant at this period with Vendramini (de Zara) as his main competitor (from 1631) until they joined forces. Their activities were soon limited to siddurim and similar items. In Mantua, too, Hebrew printing continued, first under J.S. Perugia and his descendants, and from 1724 under the physician Raphael Ḥayyim d’Italia and his successor Eliezer Solomon d’Italia. From 1718 to 1723 Isaac Jare b. David and Jacob Ḥaver-Tov also printed in Mantua. A new center was to arise in Leghorn, where Abraham Ḥaver-Tov, one of Bragadini’s best proofreaders, printed some important works in partnership with Jedidiah Gabbai. They used as printer’s mark the three crowns – borrowed from Bragadini – with the addition of the coat of arms of the Medicis.”
    – this from JVL.

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