From Theory and Methodology

Style – the critical element

  The style in which the botanical pages  are drawn shows Indian and south-east Asian habits in art  have affected images first enunciated in a Hellenistic environment, something confirmed (not least) by the relative placing and weight of image over text. In addition there is some relatively late and fairly specific influence present in the…

Musing.. cloudbands?.. addendum A

Koen’s comment to an earlier post offered helpful comparisons (repeated below) for the bordering line which appears in numerous folios of the Voynich manuscript (illustrated left from f.68v). In Voynich studies, a convention (whose original proponent I cannot discover), sees this sort of line  described  as a ‘cloudband’,  a term that  by analogy suits its employment in f.68v pretty well.  I say  “by analogy” because in Latin art the cloudband appears consistently in a different form, though to the same purpose as the liminal line is used in f.68v namely, to indicate the boundary between the mundus and the realm of…

Cloudband history in brief

This history was (as I promised)  in a coming post – the next part of the ‘orb and book’ series – but as it  happens  JKP decided a few days ago to  post something about the ‘cloudband’ in general, taking as his reference [MS] Národní knihovna České republiky   XXIII.C.124,  also known as Velislavova bible  or Biblia picta Velislai.   It is online, digitised, courtesy of   Manuscriptorium’  (a site offering its readers tutorials on how to use it. See Tutorial 3). JKP’s post, ‘And the Clouds parted‘  is at voynichportal.com  (20th. November 2017). The Velislavova bible was made just when you’d expect: c.1340*. It is…

Containers in the “leaf and root” section – a selective review

*click to enlarge I have agreed to assert intellectual rights over the research and conclusions for which these comparative images were first introduced to Voynich studies as illustration. It is not pleasant to have to make the assertion, which would be unnecessary were all Voynicheros in the habit of observing the usual civilities and formalities. However, I agree that a positive statement may lessen the likelihood of future difficulties for my publisher.   Some of the same images – with or without reference to their associated matter and/or the present author – have since been taken up and so appear now…

Ring-o-Roses: heaven’s fabric in Byzantium

As demonstration that  Kabbalah relates naturally to representations of the heavens, of angelic ranks and of gridding ‘by the Rose’  we have a vivid example in an illustration from  ‘Traité de la Cabale’ or ‘Traité de la Cabala chrétienne’, an unpublished manuscript made by the Franciscan friar Jean Thenaud in 1521.

The ring o’ roses (Voynich map) Pt 2-ii of 2.

“the term Thien-i was always applied to the Pole star of a given epoch, but Thai-i  refers to “the unified celestial symbol of the Pole star and the terrestrial emperor, designated to a star adjacent to the Pole star”. ¬ Y. Maeyama

‘Like’-ness as criterion – a rarely-considered problem in Voynich studies.

I’d  written and have now scrapped, under the above title, a fairly standard academic paper on a fairly ordinary subject: the notion of ‘like’-ness as the proper purpose of the image. Anachronistic and inapplicable assumptions in regard to ‘realism’ are pervasive in Voynich studies, result in false comparisons being proffered and affect attribution, description and interpretation – so I treated the notion’s emergence in Latin Europe and explained that pre-Renaissance art, and non-western art has different self-definitions and different expectations of ‘like-’ness . I also spoke about advances in art history and analytical method since the end of the second World War – technologies, attitudes and specific techniques. There…

The rise of the “Greek” in Voynich studies

As late as August 2013, in a comment written to Elmar Vogt’s blog, Ellie Velinska made clear that she knew of no-one save the present writer who ascribed the origin of the Voynich ‘nymphs’ to the Hellenistic period. Thus, she wrote: Hi Diane – yes, it [her proposition] is just imagination, but the 16th century European bathing disaster teaches us one thing: when considering scholar’s opinion – always make sure it passes the smell test! Sometimes it is wiser to trust your own nose rather than scholar’s training 🙂 My nose says – Western Europe, your academic training says –…

Mozarabic manuscripts and the Vms – by request

[typo missed in the draft -. Corrected 21/02/2017 ]reader writes that she cannot find the post in which I compared the  layout of a Vms ‘bathy-‘ folios and that in an early Mozarabic work, so here’s the reference, though if you search the site using terms ‘Visigoth’ or ‘Mozarabic’ or ‘Beatus’ or ‘Apocalypse’ other examples should turn up. You might also search “Spain 10thC” for one particular post that I always rather liked. Here’s the one the reader wants. The illustration is from the Codex Vigilanus. Starting from scratch #10d – Fold-outs in Europe (afterword) Posted on June 20, 2015…

Clear vision cont 5 – notes

note to second ‘update’ – The local internet (wifi) has been dropping out each 20 seconds for the past week..yes, it could have led to a revolution, but fortunately we have DVDs.  The effect on this post was to have some key-strokes register, and not others, to mash formatting and my desktop .. you can imagine.  The men who came carrying cable say it will solve the problem. 🙂 [1] ‘They were not understood in the seventeenth century…’  Thus Baresch, enlisting Kircher’s help to identify the script, “the volume contains pictures of exotic plants which have escaped observation here in…

Evidence, evidence, evidence.

We’ve recently seen a rash of Polls at voynich.ninja, the aim of which is to reach ‘consensus’ about the sort of things “we all agree on” – and which of course will thereafter been deemed indisputable. First this one: The manuscript does not contain standard religious iconography from any of the three main Abrahamic religions known to 15th century Europe….With the single exception of one nymph holding a cross ( f79v ), there are no examples of 15th century Catholic, Jewish or Islamic religious imagery within the manuscript. Is the “one exception” actually an exception – is what she holds intended to…

Mnemonics, devices and “pictorial annotation”

I’m gratified to see that in recent months, some Voynich researchers have taken up the theme that the botanical imagery includes elements intended as memory-prompts.  I believe the first among recent writers to do this is Koen Gheuens, though others including Don Hoffmann have taken it to heart, too. I would like, though, to emphasise one clear distinction between this newer approach initiated by Koen, and the way in which it had earlier been described in my work: that is, that where I had seen – and still see – such elements as independent of language, and as a direct…

Comparing.. the issue of translating imagery ~ Postscript

Postscript – “Eastern Plants”. Tiltman provided me with a precedent for recognition of the images as being composite figures, and his tone suggests an opinion accepted by the Friedman group. However, I had a double-barrelled problem, because the identifications I’d reached and some specific forms used for the imagery, led me to conclude that the plants were very largely ones whose forms remained unknown to Latin European botany until long after Beinecke MS 408 was made. Tiltman gave no indication of ever thinking the manuscript’s content was other than medieval and European. Once more, for such precedent as I may…

Comparing… the issue of translating imagery Pt.3

Strictly speaking, I shouldn’t have said this post would be about how two people have treated this folio, because I hadn’t already considered it, researched it or come to any conclusion about the data. Having no time to do the proper depth of research at present, I can only add an off-the-cuff sketch to illustrate how I go about it and – entirely contrary to my usual practice – I have put the “posited id” first. In what follows, our different approaches are not just  those of botany versus art-analysis.  Edith sees her task as divining which (single) plant underlies…

Comparing… the issue of ‘translating’ imagery Pt2

[corrections and additions in green 29/07/2016 AEST] This post considers the somewhat delicate, but critical issue of the translator in relation to an audience whose reactions may not be purely intellectual, but more human, and the fairly limited set of responses which form the classic model of hostility that inhibits the reception of any translation. . From what I have observed and experienced over the past eight years, and on looking back through the history of this study in an effort to understand why it seems as a whole unable to progress as fields of study normally do, I have…

Comparing… 3c-i (concluded)

[ continuing from 3c-1, and with reference to B.L. MS Egerton 747, folio 6v…] In its native India, S.anacardium is known as  the ‘Varnish tree’ and its nut as the ‘Marking Nut’ (as I first mentioned here some years ago).[6]   Chiefly used as a kind of chalk in carpentry and in textile processes, the nut is also mentioned in Avyurvedic and Siddha texts, whence it entered Chinese traditional medicine. One must suppose knowledge of its medicinal use then came to Latin Europe from one of those three medical traditions, and it was certainly known to thirteenth century England, for…

comparing Beinecke MS 408 and the Tuscan Herbal – living creatures

[posted automatically at 6.45 am – minor typos then corrected (6.53am. (one Picture replaced; two more added; minor changes to improve grammar  – 13th June 2016) Living creatures An important point of difference between the two manuscripts is their attitude to living creatures. In the Voynich botanical folios they are not drawn literally, save for…

Comparing Beinecke 408 and the Tuscan Herbal 3-a

This post is not intended to study the stemma for herbal texts produced in Latin Europe, but to identify more nearly when and where we find similar attitudes to the page as those found in the botanical folios of Beinecke 408,  similar materials used, and so more nearly locate the time and place where it…

folio 116v Sheep and wig – reprint

If we suppose the sheep and the head-covering were first drawn from personal observation, and meant to refer to things found in some common region, then there is a good chance that, yet again, we are seeing imagery from the routes of the Indian ocean trade – possibly more exactly of the Yemen, or of southern India.

Pri Pri Pri Di… computus manualis

[formatting unmangled] “In addition to the longhand methods, computus manuscripts often included mnemonics and lists for easy reference. One example of this is the medieval mnemonic “post epi pri pri pri di di di pascha fi”, which reminds the reader that in a given year Easter is the third Sunday after the third new moon…

Medieval Mathematics

“The Renaissance Mathematicus” is one of my favourite blogs, but occasionally just like everyone else,Thony Christie gets a little too caught up with theoretical constructs and then comes a cropper because the general idea sounds fine, but the facts beg to differ. Even on the rare occasions when this happens on Thony’s blog (and they…