In passing: astronomy, Book of Creation and folio 57v

(added note – 21/12/2016.  One typographical error corrected – a maddening ‘e’ for ‘a’.    Hope to be back to the blog after the solstice festival, give or take a fortnight.

“Twenty-two foundation letters: He placed them in a circle….
He directed them with the twelve constellations.
— Sefer Yetzirah [or Sēpher Yəṣîrâh] (The Book of Creation)

Nairos 57v

detail from folio 57v, Beinecke MS 408. Line of the “beginning and end” marker shown in red.


Bacon portrait detail blog





Earlier efforts to equate the diagram on folio 57v with various astronomical instruments etc. are surely many.  My readers may prefer to begin with posts to the present blog, where I’ve including mention of certain other Voynich writers, including Richard Santacoloma.   As ever, if any reader knows of an earlier researcher’s having quoted from Sefer Yetzirah in connection with folio 57v or the Roger Bacon portrait, I should be most grateful to hear about it, so that I can do the honourable thing.

Some posts about folio 57v which I’ve published here:-


I have often mentioned having strong  reservations about the date for first inclusion of the diagram on folio 57v, not least because it was drawn using instruments and because its figures are not drawn  differently to the Latin habit, but are genuinely and truly awful drawing.  And as I pointed out  years ago, they are are bad in precisely the same way that a drawing is badly drawn in Kircher’s China Illustrata.

I shouldn’t be surprised at all to learn that the diagram on f.57v is a late addition, drawn on a  blank section in the fifteenth-century manuscript, nor should I be surprised to learn it was Kircher’s own bad drawing.

(Note the way the arms are drawn in the image from China Illustrata and cf. f.57v)  And yes, I do think the Voynich fish-‘lady’ is likely to refer to Matsuya. I said so in 2011 or so in the research blog and reprised it for voynichimagery,  but with regard to f.57v see the post  from April 17th., 2013),  where I laid Kircher’s drawing beside one from  Baldeus’  book (in which Baldeus quotes in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, English, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Sanskrit) wand which was published in 1665 – close indeed to when  Kircher is believed to have received the Voynich manuscript from Marcus Marci.  (as far as I’m aware I owe no acknowledgements for the comparison, though amateur Voynicheros habitually adopt matter from this blog, so you may find it in other sites now.)

machauter kircher chna illustrata

from Baldeus

from Baldeus


More about correlations between asterisms and alphabets in a mixed sort of paper by Hugh Moran.  The Egyptian-Phoenician side of it isn’t too bad, but Moran’s effort to make a direct link between the Phoenician alphabet and the Chinese seems forced to me. While the first part of Moran’s paper is still read and cited, today the second is less so. In 1985 when I first read David Kelley’s contribution I must say it impressed me less but then I was only interested in whether the astronomical ‘letters’ might have bearing on the history of the Byblos syllabary.

I must, however, credit  Brian R.Pellar whose work mentioned that passage from Sefer Yetzirah.

At present I am producing an evaluation of the way  Pellar has interpreted various artefacts and images.  I cannot say more here, but readers may note that it is not included below.

Recommended reading:

Moran, Hugh A. The Alphabet and the Ancient Calendar Signs.(1953). In 1969 Moran’s essay was re-published with the additional essay by David Kelley.

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