14th century Occitan Provencal manuscript


British Library Royal 19 C I f. 37v Circular diagram

I’m sure I’m not the first Voynich fanatic to notice it, but I’ve come across a fascinating manuscript in the British Library which I thought I’d share. It is written in Occitan, a language of southern France, from the 14th century, and has a number of images which remind me of parts of the Voynich, including the illustration on this page, which comes from here.

The manuscript is called Royal 19 C.I and can be found in full here.

Some of the images which are most striking are these:

Altogether, lots of resonances with the Voynich manuscript, it seems to me.

Particularly interesting to me is the language. If the Voynich manuscript were written in, say, some variant of a Romance language such as Occitan. it would look sufficiently close to Latin to seem familiar in places (as the Voynich does) but yet far enough away to stop us easily understanding it.


(Another version of the manuscript can be found here: http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b84192477/f1.planchecontact.)


I also found a reference in the translation which Marco mentioned, on page 147, of benign and malignant stars:


I wonder if this explains the black and white centre colourings of some stars in the Voynich, for example on page f68r? Is there a list of benign and malignant stars anywhere?


Also, who are the [presumably] astrologers referred to in this text – “Beda and Mizael”? Is the first one a reference to Veda, the Indian tradition which also has benign and malignant stars?



I’ve also been examining the Seasons pages:

British Library one

Transliteration (from a  different manuscript)


The words seem to me to be:

LEFT: p [r] mav [r] a = spring. Note that the two ‘r’ letters are indicated by marks above the preceding consonants. Note also the absence of the first vowel

(in the illustration in the transcribed manuscript spring is on the right and seems to be p [r] mavera)

TOP: ivern = winter (in the illustration in the transcribed manuscript it seems to be the same, but placed at the bottom)

RIGHT: ataimnus ? (in the illustration in the transcribed manuscript it is on the left and seems to be auptup[m]ne ?)

BOTTOM: estieu  (in the illustration in the transcribed manuscript it is on the top and seems to be estiu)

However, the transcription has a footnote saying that in some manuscripts the labels are misplaced. I believe this to be the case in the above picture from the British Library manuscript, where perhaps winter should be the bottom figure and summer the top,



  1. Tom O'Bedlam

    Its odd to me that so many people view this as some sort of weird mystery. Ockham’s Razor? It appears to be a herbal almanac with astrological and other elements, so that is most likely exactly what it is. I’m sure you and others will figure out the linguistic aspects and then all the weirdos will have to find another bugaboo to obsess over.

  2. Mark Siegeltuch

    I can’t provide an answer to the question whether the term “ether” (akasha. aither, avir, or any of its equivalent formulations) are used in the VM but I can certainly provide a better definition than the one provided by Wikipedia or by classical scholars in general, who are rarely acquainted with metaphysical ideas. The relevant sources here are:

    Ananda Coomaraswamy, “The Concept of Ether in Greek and Indian Cosmology,” in Guardians of the Sun-door, Fons Vitae Press, 2004. Also, Rene Guenon, “The Ether in the Heart” in Fundamental Symbols, Quinta Essentia, 1995.

    Without going into detail, ether is not an element but what binds the four elements together. It is generally described as bright or fiery. In the Loeb Classical Series translations it is generally mistranslated as “air” (which is normally described as dark, blue, or black) or in some other inaccurate way. Either is the connecting point between metaphysics and physics so it tends to escape the notice of moderns who look for science or progress towards it. Our ancestors were trying to reconcile the visible and the invisible worlds based on observation and traditional ideas. Ether is found in most if not all of the major religions. Coomaraswamy cites chapter and verse from a variety of traditions.

    It isn’t always clear when ancient or medieval writers understand the ideas they are writing about but certainly men like Dante, Ficino and Pico would have known what ether meant even if they didn’t use the same terminology. So too, Scholastic philosophers like Bonaventure. Plato and Philo for sure. The Indians and Arab sages as well, and probably the Chinese. These ideas are old and have roots in even older ideas.

    Quinque sunt corpora mundi simplicia, scilicet quatuor elementa et quinta essentia.

    St. Bonaventure, De. Red. art. ad theol. 3.

  3. NicolaB

    Hello Stephen,
    I have just finished reading your 2014 article suggesting a partial decoding of the Voynich ms., and found it very interesting and clever. I don’t know much about the ms.: it was just a distant and superficial curiosity for me until now, but your attempt triggered my curiosity and I would like to contribute in the “quest”. I am a romance philologist and I have studied intensively paleography and codicology, among other things, so perhaps I could give a useful hand (and eye, above all!).
    For now, I’ll try to start saying something on some topics I found on this page.
    I’m afraid I couldn’t read all of these comments, so I am not sure whether the doubts you epressed in the original article were answered yet, so I’ll try to give you my opinion hoping it can be useful.
    As for the text with malignant and benign stars, I think it is quite probable that the Beda referred to is just saint Bede the Venerable. In a provençal text from this period it can hardly be anybody else, I believe. So, as this is a reference to that kind of sources (which were by far the most common, by the way), I think we can be quite sure the mysterious Mizael quoted together with Bede should be some Michael (always count that in provençal mss. the “z” could stand for “ç”, and both could often indicate a fricative consonant not plainly describable with the roman alphabet, not only a /dz/). I have thought, as a first idea, to Michael Scot, since he is another insular authority, and he happens to have written on astronomy too, so this is nothing sure but something possible, at least.
    As for the transcription of the seasons from the image: the image itself is too small, I think, and it is not possible to read anything without putting too much imagination in the reading. If you could suggest in a link a better image I could give you a positive reading.
    And lastly, as for your stressing, in your (perfectly plausible) reading of “primavera”, the fact that the abbreviations skip the vowels: that’s what happens everytime you white an “r” over the line: it takes the vowel away with it.
    I hope these informations were not all redundant and predictable, and that some of it was found useful on the contrary!

    • Stephen Bax

      Hello, and thanks for and your comments. It is useful to have more expertise on board! In my view we badly need more people with expertise in paleography in particular.

      Your comment regarding Beda = Bede: yes, thanks, I agree. I believe Marco Ponzi also suggested that and I agree with you and him. As for your idea that Mizael might refer to Michael Scot, thanks again – that would make sense.

      Do keep working on it – the more the merrier!

  4. Maryam

    I have been asking Art teachers about the way he/ she wrote that manuscript. I am not sure that there is only one person did all that job, and I want to know if the person who wrote, is he the same who drew? is he the same who wrote numbers in the pages! those Q need to answer!

  5. The Occitan manuscript contains two superficial similarities to the Voynich manuscript. The first is that it includes a sun in the center of a circular diagram. Little else about the circular diagram speaks to having any connection with the Voynich. The patterning is certainly not similar. There is, however, one fundamental difference between the Occitan manuscript’s sun and the Voynich suns. The Occitan’s sun is male, the Voynich suns are female.

    The suns and the stars depicted in the Voynich in fact have little to do with astronomy. Rather, they represent some core elements of north European mythologies that can be found in Scandinavian, Finno-Ugric, north Germanic, and even to some extent Celtic traditional belief systems. These belief systems go back thousands of years. The woman in the center of each star chart is the deified ancestor of a north European clan. In Germanic mythology, an idis (Old Saxon, plural idisi) is a divine female being. Idis is cognate to Old High German itis and Old English ides, meaning ‘well-respected and dignified woman.’ Connections have been assumed or theorized between the idisi and the North Germanic dísir; female beings associated with fate, as well as the amended place name Idistaviso.

    • The second superficial similarity between the Occitan manuscript and the Voynich manuscript is that they both include the motif of the Wheel of the Year, an extremely prevalent concept during the Middle Ages. The fundamental difference here is that the Occitan manuscript with its angels is egregiously Christianized, whereas the Voynich has nothing remotely resembling an angel.

      In her paper, “Time and the Indo-European Gods in the Slavic Context,” Emily Lyle associates the three Dumézilian functions (three sons) with the three seasons, priests with spring, warriors with summer and food producers with winter (1990:4,86). Then she combines the three into a four-part whole, with their mother, an overarching woman, representing an intercalary period (seen in many ancient calendars) as well as the entire year. This intercalary period in the winter is equated with Eliade’s period of eternal return when the old again is regenerated. John Weinstock, from whom that explanation was taken, says that sort of model “engages prominently in the Sami culture.”

      In Germany, Frau Holda’s festival is in the middle of winter, the time when humans retreat indoors from the cold; it may be of significance that the Twelve Days of Christmas were originally the Zwölften (“the Twelve”), which like the same period in the Celtic calendar were an intercalary period during which the dead were thought to roam abroad. Holda seems to personify the weather that transforms the land, for when it snows, it is said that Holda is shaking out her feather pillows; fog is smoke from her fire, and thunder is heard when she reels her flax.

      • Now let’s talk about language. Occitan is based on Latin. I find it next to impossible to believe that for 600 years scholars extremely well-versed in Latin have completely missed figuring out a Latinate Voynichese. Voynichese remains unsolved because it’s extremely far from Latin. It’s neither Latin-based nor Persian nor Arabic nor Hebrew nor Sanskrit. I have found precisely one (1) Latinate word in the Voynich manuscript so far: épais, which means chubby. It’s overwhelmingly likely that it’s just a loan word. The rest, I’m telling you, is some probably extinct mixture of Finno-Ugric and Old Norse.

  6. I’ve just learned something new about the manuscript and I thought I’d share it here. In response to a query, Nick Pelling and “xplor” have given the lineage of that proposal now generally adopted that the month-names are in Occitan.

    It began earlier, but is recorded in a post to the OLD mailing list, by Jorge Stolfi. The message was dated Fri, 19 Sep 1997 and was reprinted on July 4th., 2004, in another, sent from Nick Pelling to Gabriel Landini (creator of the EVA version of the Voynich alphabet – assuming it is an alphabet).

    you can read it here:

    (People might keep a note of all this; the information is out of the way and quite important for properly crediting this first insight to Jorge Stolfi – that is, that the month roundels’ inscriptions might be Occitan).

    Subsequently, in a ciphermysteries post of August 22nd, 2009, (“Jaume Deydier’s “livre de raison”) Pelling credits Stolfi and then goes on to investigate the likely source-text from those month-names had come.

    All up, the ‘Occitan’ theory has remained fairly stable for nearly thirty years, and though it still can’t be said proven beyond all doubt, nobody has offered enough alternative evidence to change the general mind about the language of the month-labels. It is only fair to say that earlier, and later researchers have instead suggested a dialect of Spanish-French, such as Laas.

    • Stephen Bax

      Thanks Diane, that is interesting. However I have suggested in another post that we don’t have enough evidence to say if the month names are Occitan or any other particular French dialect. In my view, even that element of the VM requires caution!

      • I agree. But the habit of taking them for Occitan is now fairly wide-spread, and when the writers fail to acknowledge the person(s) who first proposed it, this not only insults the people who did the original work, but lends to the assertion an air of being established fact – something so universally known and accepted that no attribution is needed.

        The other result which comes from not crediting original work is that a reader is likely to imagine that the research was done by whoever ‘presents’ that information sans attribution. This is a general remark, Stephen; not aimed at anyone in particular. And, as I say, I’ve only just found out myself who first proposed Occitan for the month-names.

      • Budiel

        Occitan is not a dialect, but a language by itself
        However it don’t have to be specificly occitan just a loan from any other latin-based language

      • Lance Videen

        If the above images have writing in the Occitan language, the writing looks nothing like what is found in the Voynich Manuscript. However, I just saw a video; (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cHhwI_bqlk) mentioning a book once owned by John Dee called “The Book of Soyga”. The video showed a single page, but if you look at the script, it is the same language as that used in the Voynich Manuscript. According to the video, two copies of the book were found in British libraries. Though it does not mention which libraries. I don’t know if anyone else has ever mentioned The Book of Soyga before on any of your pages.

        • MarcoP

          Hi Lance, the image that appears in that video is not a page of the Book of Soyga but f2v of the Voynich manuscript.

          The Book of Soyga is written in the ordinary Latin alphabet. It is briefly discussed on Rene Zandbergen’s Voynich.nu site:

          One MS owned by Dee has also received special attention, namely his “Book of Soyga”. He once wrote in his diary: ‘Oh, if only I could read the tables of Soyga’. The combination of the fact that this book was lost, and that this quote refers to an undeciphered text, has led to some speculation that the “Book of Soyga” could be the Voynich MS. This speculation has, however, been proven to be wrong. The book of Soyga has been found again in two copies by Prof. Harkness. Indeed, it includes diagrams consisting of tables of letters, and, surpassing Dee, Jim Reeds has been able to decipher these.

        • To Lance Videen,
          this is a rather well-known mistake in that video, and the image is of course directly from the Voynich MS.
          The book of Soyga was discovered in two copies by Deborah Harkness, and the mystery of its tables was resolved by Jim Reeds.
          A full edition of the book of Soyga may be found here:

          To complete the circle back to the Voynich MS, Deborah Harkness has written the introduction to the new edition of the Voynich MS by Yale:
          a book that is likely to become the standard reference for the Voynich MS for the foreseeable future.

          • Rene,
            Have you read that introduction? When I try the link, it tells me that the book is not yet available.

            And of course, any work remains a standard reference only so long as nothing is published which changes or adds substantially to our understanding of a subject.

            With a single paper, and more than once, Jean Gautier-Dalché rendered the ‘standard references’ obsolete. No scholar, even the most eminent in their generation, expects to have the last word for more than twenty or thirty years. We live and learn, don’t we?

            • For general interest – it doesn’t look as if there are any remarkable insights in the Yale facsimile edition.

              The blurb, anyway, is strictly “2005” :
              Written in an unknown script by an unknown author…

              the manuscript has no clearer purpose now than when it was rediscovered in 1912 by rare books dealer Wilfrid Voynich….

              The manuscript appears and disappears throughout history, from the library of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II to a secret sale of books in 1903 by the Society of Jesus in Rome.

              The book’s language has eluded decipherment, and its elaborate illustrations remain as baffling as they are beautiful.

              same old thing and same ideas as were around in the 60s, and can be read in the wiki or voynich.nu

              still, it will be nice to have an official facsimile.

            • I may have read the introduction, but that won’t be the most important part of the book. Since you don’t seem to trust my opinion, I can only recommend to click the ‘Reviews’ button on the link I provided.

              The current ‘standard reference’ for the Voynich MS may be one of two books (D’Imperio and/or Brumbaugh) from the late 1970’s. These are almost 40 years old so this one is long overdue. If it ‘holds’ for even half that time span it will already be an achievement.

              • Matthew Dean

                The new Clemens edition is a $34 pre-order (from $50 USD list, which is remarkably reasonable already) on Amazon US for those interested. Quoted reviewer Roger Wieck at the Morgan is an excellent curator and collaborator across visual arts and musical and religious history frontiers, a good brain to pick on some of the visual comparisons on Rene’s and Stephen’s sites, many of the more compelling of which are quite recent. More on Raymond Clemens himself, a steady hand at familiar tillers: http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/about/staff/raymond-clemens

  7. javabean

    My 2 cents – Beda and Michael are mentioned on this webpage : http://www.volkoomen.nl/dieren/draak.htm in relation to the celestial sign “Dragon”

  8. “Beda and Mizael” are interesting forms.
    A very early church (5th-6thC) contained, before its destruction a series of unusual images, linked (vaguely) to both the Jewish law and to the angelology we associate with St.Denys (and pseudo-Dionysius Areopagite). This is especially interesting since the usual scheme is that .. let me quote a wiki:
    The real influence of Dionysius in the West … began with the gift in 827 of a Greek copy of his works by the Byzantine Emperor Michael II to the Carolingian King Louis the Pious, who in turn gave the manuscript to the monastery of St Denys near Paris.[21] About 838, Dionysius’ works were translated into Latin for the first time.

    To add to this, the names appear ill-spelled when compared with Greek or Latin texts, but the origin of “pseudo-Dionysius” is presently believed to be Syria, so we could be seeing a poor rendering of an older original work.

    Back to that church. the old church was pretty well demolished in the seventeenth century, being rebuilt as the “Golden church of Toulouse”, but some of the older carvings etc. were saved, and these show various figures (e.g. Micahil which is taken to be Michael; Hur-ihil who is taken for Uriel.. and
    in the 19th niche… Mitzrael or Mizrael, (elsewhere as Mistrael) who I think is your Mizael. The name suggests the lord/angel/ of Egypt, connecting with the four corners/winds etc…. and so do others in the Toulouse series.

    My sources here were Caecilia Davis-Weyer, Early Medieval Art, 300-1150: Sources and Documents.(1971/1986 etc.)
    Julia Cresswell, Watkins Dictionary of Angels…
    Cresswell refers to Ginzberg as her source, but I couldn’t find ‘Mitzrael’ or any variation in Ginzberg’s work. Perhaps someone else will have better luck.
    Ginzberg’s Legends of the Jews – all four volumes now online.

    However, the name Mizrael does turn up again in the region of Coptos, and in Coptic. Too long to go into, but not exactly Egyptian, nor Jewish, nor Christian religion, but a bit like all of them. The catch-phrase ‘Coptic Gnostic’ or ‘Coptic Magical’ is usually attached to works of this sort.

    As to the “Beda” – that would need just as much work to explain, I should think.

    Oh, Stephen, you might have noticed that the face-band (in yr illustration from British Library Royal 19 C I f. 37v) is seen a good deal earlier. That article by Obrist which so many people have found helpful has an example. Is it just a wimple, though?


  9. Vincent St-Pierre

    Hi Stephen,

    It came to me while reading your description about the seasons page of the manuscript, its sounds A LOT like french mixed with maybe german, latin… or very old french.

    ivern = winter (eng) = Hiver (french) : In quebec, we sometime say hivern with english accent)
    ataimnus = autumn (eng) = automne (frenche ) : sound like a mix of french and latin
    estieu = summer = été (french) : sound a lot like french
    p [r] mav [r] a = spring (eng) = printemps (french) : sound like a mix of french and latin again

    While reading transcription of the scripts, we also can read lots of similarity with french.

    • Stephen Bax

      Yes, but don’t forget that you are commenting on the OCCITAN manuscript, which is written in a language close to French, and not the VOYNICH manuscript! Sadly, we can find nothing very similar to French in the Voynich script itself.

  10. orun rubacı

    this is my humble translation of F69r.. is that really the word “chaos” ??

    • Stephen Bax

      Orun, thanks – what do you interpret this all to mean? How do you think it fits the illustration?

      • orun rubacı

        Firstly i believe the renaissance this manuscript written in Europe or İndia. Because i dont think any Muslim could draw undressed womens in medieval times. İf it was written in Europe, i think script is some kind of crypto, because of this i think writting date of the manuscript might be before the “the Renaissance”. Another my opinion is that manuscript was written by some kind of forbidden religious denomination, (oppression of the church), otherwise i dont think any person from 15. 16. Century wrote a detailed book and buried it and just waited to someone find and solve it.
        About contest, as in medieval times, especially cosmonomy pages been influced by religion and Myths. İ believe latests religions are new version of old religions and myths. This is about “chaos” i think. We know chaos is about creation an cosmos in Greek mythology. İn F69r maybe we see creation of the universe or cosmic map of the all universe etc..my other guess is “occean”. We know that ocean or occean is a big god in greek myths, ocean’s duty is girding the world and insulating it from the space.we see the word ocean(chaos) gids the center of the illustration. İ think base of astronomy pages is myths+medieval astronomy+religion. So ancient scripts would be a key for this work. Historians and historians of art will contribute absolutly i think.
        here is a christian painting seems like our astronomy illustrations : the name first painting is ” Creation of the elements”

    • Are you guying us, Orun?

      • orun rubaci

        i dont understand what you mean diane??

  11. Just a general note – the worldmap is folio 86v. Some scans offered to the Voynich mailing list, and then to the public, employ an idiosyncratic foliation which may confuse new readers and the general public who – naturally enough – use the Beinecke Library scans to interpret comments made about one or another folio.

  12. Stephen Bax

    I just found this page on another manuscript of the same work. See here. It shows a delightful circle with illustrations of the winds, with Levant (east wind) at the top, Grec (north east wind) and so on. Delightful.

    Is there any page of the Voynich which could be the winds?

    • Nice manuscript of 1388 that shows that medieval script was clearly maitrised at the time the VM has been written… (not as my english, excuses my frenchisisms…)
      VM often refers to alchemy so the four elements (and sometimes more) are often mentioned… wind, water, fire and earth can be find on several pages.
      A time, we can dream that it only speaks of sailors and winds they’ve meet decribed as flowers and stars… but, that’s more a dream than a probably reality. Specific references to sailors and the world of sailing seems not be a major subject, to my mind.
      The third circle on rosetta page clearly speaks of the seven seas known at that time and doesn’t seem to give them more importance (less than one nine-th of the full story)
      This tells me that winds wasn’t a major preoccupation of the writter of VM and, in my memory, there’s no really page that could clearly speek only of it.
      The closest of the subject may be http://www.jasondavies.com/voynich/#f86v5_f86v3/0.5/0.5/3.20
      and perhaps circles describing monthes :
      … and before, lot of graphical codes-structures may be removed before to discover something in a spoken language (probably an old catalan-french patois)

    • MarcoP

      In my opinion, there are a few Voynich diagrams that could be related to the winds. Wind diagrams came in many different forms, but usually were circular. They could also be related to the stars, since both stars and winds were indicators of direction. For instance, see this star map, where the Southern constellations are encircled by personifications of the winds:

      When wind diagrams do not include personifications, they are not always easily recognizable (see this discussion and Rene Zandbergen’s notes on Nick Pelling’s blog):

      One more difficulty: the number of the represented winds was very variable. They usually were four, eight, sixteen or twelve, but in the Breviari d’Amor image you linked they are fifteen.
      I browsed this article by Barbara Obrist, “Wind Diagrams and Medieval Cosmology”. It looks interesting…as usual, I mainly looked at the nice pictures 🙂

      Obrist notices that often wind diagrams include a depiction of the world at the center.
      They sometimes also include a cloud border (as the star map linked above).
      In this case, the winds are represented by wavy lines:

      Since f68v3 includes eight wavy lines, the world at the center and a cloud motif, it could be a reasonably good candidate?

      • Stephen Bax

        Thanks Marco for an interesting discussion, with useful links and also an interesting suggestion. f68v3 does look like a potential wind diagram with its swirls. Now the easy bit of cracking the words….

        • Darren Worley

          Stephen, my interpretation of f68v3, is not of a wind-diagram, but rather a T-O map of the world.

          I notice that you’ve discussed T-O maps in the thread below, but without making a connection with the VM.

          If you look carefully at the centre circle in f68v3, it is divided horizontally in half, and the upper half is sub-divided vertically into quarters. Typically, the large half represents Asia and the quarters are Europe and Africa, although I don’t know which continent is normally shown on the left or right.


          My interpretation of the the radiating arcs is that those that adjoining the “earth” might represent rivers of water (inner; 1, 4, 8 and 10 o’clock) filling the oceans, and those adjoining the sky represent water filling the heavens (clouds) (outer; 1, 4, 7, 10 o’clock.) The stars seems to sit between the edge-of-the-world and the extent of the sky. Perhaps the specks of blue represents rain?

          What do you think?

          Interestingly, the T-and-O map was first described by the 7th-century scholar Isidore of Seville. If this interpretation is sound, this may indicate a Spanish influence in the origin of the VM.

          • Stephen Bax

            re. 68v3 (see it here), I agree that the centre looks very much like a T/O map, as you say. Marco has elsewhere suggested that it is not intended to represent the continents but the four elements, with air all around the segments representing fire, water and earth, He has suggested that the top left might be read as ‘al atash’ related to an old Persian word ‘atash’ for fire.

            As for the swirls, I agree that they could be rivers, but I feel they also could be winds… not sure which is more likely.

          • Darren Worley

            Thanks Stephen, I seem to have followed similar ideas to Marco, but I have come to a different conclusion on the meaning of the text.

            Here is my analysis:

            I think the centre section of the f68v3, is a T-O map, as I can only determine 3 parts (as opposed to the 4 elements).

            I believe the 2 quarters represent Africa or Europe, as in most medieval depictions.


            EVA: otodol -> /A/?/A/T/A/SH -> means Africa or Europe

            EVA: opcholdg -> /A/?/Z/A/SH/T/? -> means Europe or Africa.

            I looked at possible matches with other Semitic languages, and this showed “Africa” in Arabic is “afrikiy”, and in Aramaic its “apryqy”. Neither are promising matches. [ref: Dictionary of Persian, Arabic and English by F. Johnson]

            However, amongst the Jews, Africa (and Egypt) was known as “Hot” or “Burning” (phonetic: Cham) [Ref: A complete Hebrew and English critical and pronouncing dictionary, on a new and improved plan – William L. Roy, p250]

            My suggestion is that EVA:otodol might be ABAT(ASH). As this is close to Abit, the Arabic for “Hot” with a suffix added, perhaps indicating a geographical name. This conforms with my previous suggestion that EVA:ot is Ab.

            However, I concede, that Al-Atash is also a good fit, since both hot and fiery are near synonyms. (However, in my dictionary “Atish” is Persian for fire, and the “Al” prefix is Arabic.)

            It would therefore appear as if Hebrew term for “Hot” (Cham, meaning Africa) has been transliterated into the Arabic word for Hot, instead of being correctly translated (to Afrikiy) as might be expected.

            The top-left quadrant therefore represents Africa and the top-right one Europe. The lower half would therefore be Asia.

            In any case, the crux of this analysis is that the there seems to be the interplay between Hebrew and Arabic in this text. Perhaps the VM represents an underlying Jewish text that has been poorly translated into Arabic. If the VM was subsequently recopied, this earlier mistranslation would have made it extremely difficult to comprehend. (Or perhaps the VM is in Judaeo-Arabic?)

            Does anyone have other interpretations? Was Africa known as “Hot” in Persian, or in any other cultures or languages?

            Can anyone suggest how EVA:opcholdg could mean Europe? (In Biblical and Quranic tradition “Japheth”, son of Noah, identifies Europe and its people.)

          • Darren Worley

            I’ve attached a scan of the Arabic and Persian words from the dictionary.

            My analysis is focused on the text of the T-O map. T-O maps do appear on wind-diagrams, the two are not mutually exclusive.

            However, my interpretation of the text is in-keeping with all other medieval T-O maps I’ve seen in that they contain the names or descriptions of the 3 known continents.

            What do you think?

            I think this description is agreeable, as it doesn’t require a new interpretation of the T-O diagram.

            • Stephen Bax

              Thanks Darren. I must say that ‘abit’ for ‘hot’ is odd to me as an Arabic word, but it could be an old one or a rare one. The possibility of the word reading ‘Al-atash ‘ does imply a blend of the original Persian with an Arabic article, but I’m told by Persian speakers that it’s not impossible.

              I don’t have suggestions for the words you’ve identified as intending Europe and Africa, but maybe someone has suggestions?

          • Darren Worley

            I think that I’ve successfully identified the text in the upper-right quadrant of the T-O map. I believe that EVA:opcholdg can be read as “afsartn” or “apsartn” which is close to the Persian(afsurdan) or the Pahlavi word (apasartan) both meaning frozen or cold. I previously suggested that upper-left quadrant contained a word related to the Arabic or Persian for hot. The appearance of words for hot and cold, in adjacent quadrants, is compelling.

            This textual interpretation works for both Persian and Pahlavi, suggesting the VM text is closely related to these Iranian languages. (I discuss this in more detail below.)

            Medieval tripartite T-O maps depict the 3 known continents, with Asia occupying one half and Africa and Europe as quadrants. Previously, I wrote that the T-O map, on f68v3, appears to show a Jewish influence, because the upper-left quadrant which often depicts Africa, contains an Arabic word for Hot (abata/abit) or the Persian for Hot or Fiery (atish). In Hebrew tradition, Africa is known as Hot or Burning, which derives from the word “Chem”, one of the sons-of-Noah, who populated Africa in Biblical tradition.

            A Biblical interpretation of the f68v3 diagram is that the 4 rivers that adjoin the “world” in the VM diagram, are the “Four Rivers of Paradise” described in the the “Book of Genesis” in the Jewish Bible (Old Testament).

            Quote: Genesis 2:10-14

            10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; […] 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; […] 14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; […] And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

            Quote: Genesis 9:19

            19 These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the whole earth.

            The sons of Noah were Shem (Sem), Ham (Cham) and Japheth (Jefeth or Yafit).


            This link has a very good image of a medieval German T-O map showing the 3 continents following the Hebrew naming scheme.

            Following this logic would suggest that the upper-right quadrant, which often depicts Europe, would contain some text relating to Japheth, son of Noah, who populated Europe according to Hebrew tradition. However, I could find no textual match. So what could the text in the upper-right possibly mean?

            Marco previously suggested that the diagram relates to the four elements (air, earth, water, fire), however, a better fit appears to be the Aristotelian “qualities” of the elements which are hot, cold, wet and dry.

            In his “On Generation and Corruption”, Aristotle related each of the four elements to two of the four sensible qualities:

            Fire is primarily hot and secondarily dry.
            Air is primarily wet and secondarily hot.
            Water is primarily cold and secondarily wet.
            Earth is primarily dry and secondarily cold.

            The upper-left quadrant appears to refer to “hot”, and the upper-right to “cold”.

            Reading the text as Persian

            EVA:otodol -> A/?/A/T/A/? = AL’ATISH which is close to the Persian for Fire (atish).

            EVA:opcholdg -> A/F/S/A/SH/T/g = AFSA(SH)T(N) which is close(ish) to the Persian word for Cold or Freezing (afsurdan)

            Reading the text as Pahlavi

            EVA:otodol -> A/?/A/T/A/R = AL’ATAR which is close to the Pahlavi for Fire (atar/atarun).

            EVA:opcholdg -> A/P/S/A/R/T/g = APSARTAN which is close to the Pahlavi for Cold (apa-sartan)

            Was “Cold” ever used as an archaic term to refer to Europe? Can anyone elaborate? I’m going to try and translate some words in the “Asia” hemisphere to see what they reveal.

            The text here appears to be closely related to Persian or Pahlavi. Pahlavi seems to be the better fit; it is an Aramaic/Iranian language. This attribution is also a better fit with Derek’s proposed links with Syriac (which is also closely related to Aramaic).


            Possible interpretations of this diagram are that (i) it represents an attempt to synthesize Greek (Aristotelian/Hellenistic) philosophy within a Jewish Biblical framework, or (ii) its a Jewish cosmological diagram using an obscure term (Cold), to refer to Europe. Has anyone got any other suggestions?

            Manual of Pahlavi (II) by Henrik Samuel Nyberg
            Dictionary of Persian, Arabic and Englsih by Francis Johnson
            A Complete Hebrew and English Critical Pronouncing Dictionary by W. L. Roy

            • Stephen Bax

              Fascinating…. many thanks.

            • Stephen Bax

              Congratulations on an ingenious set of ideas, which seem compelling.

              Maybe we could try to get more evidence concerning the possible Pahlavi or Persian words? For example, might they be nouns or adjectives? Can we find the words together in other Pahlavi or Persian manuscripts?

              That kind of evidence could push us further towards understanding what this diagram is all about, though personally I think your interpretation and evidence are fascinating.

          • Darren Worley

            Here are some further images showing a medieval T-O map (where the continents following the Hebrew tradition), alongside a close-up from f68v3.

            • It may be a profound mistake to be all over the map like this, one moment in Catalonia, the next in some Hebraic tradition, the next in outer space. It would behoove anyone studying the Voynich to try to pinpoint a location based on the cultural clues given between its pages and just see if you can come up with at least five consistent indications of a geographic area.

          • Darren Worley

            I’ve managed to answer the question I raised, in my last post – is the term “Cold” ever used to refer to the continent Europe, in relation to Japheth, son of Noah?

            The answer is Yes! Its is referred to as such in the Apocryphal Hebrew “Book of Jubilees”, an ancient Jewish work.


            Quote, from Chapter 8

            29) This is the land which came forth for Japheth and his sons as the portion of his inheritance which he should possess for himself and his sons, for their generations for ever; five great islands, and a great land in the north.
            30) But it is cold, and the land of Ham is hot, and the land of Shem is neither hot nor cold, but it is of blended cold and heat.

            This indicates that page f68v3 is describing the world-view following the Jewish tradition, as described in the Book of Genesis. It also confirms that the identification of the VM text, in the two quadrants, as being close to Perisan or Pahlavi was correct!

            I would also go further and suggest that this is strong evidence that the VM is derived from a Jewish source.

            Here is a quote from Wikipedia :

            [The Book of Jubilees] was well known to Early Christians, as evidenced by the writings of Epiphanius, Justin Martyr, Origen, Diodorus of Tarsus, Isidore of Alexandria, Isidore of Seville, Eutychius of Alexandria, John Malalas, George Syncellus, and George Kedrenos. The text was also utilized by the community that originally collected the Dead Sea Scrolls.

            Knowing how this text and ideas were transmitted might help us to better understand the origin of the VM.

            The fact that the (part of the) VM appears to be written in Persian/Pahlavi suggests that it has not been translated in to Western language. Is this assumption reasonable? Are there many Persian/Pahlavi loan-words in Europeans languages? I’m inclined to think that the VM has not undergone transmission into a European language, and it is in its original form (although it may have been copied in Europe).

            This is exciting!

            • Sorry to put a damper, Darren, but the book of Jubilees is describing three sides of the Mediterranean – Africa is hot; Europe is cold; the eastern Mediterranean (as home of the Jews) is temperate. Asia isn’t included, as far as I can see; the passage isn’t informed by a mental ‘T-O’ map idea of the world.

          • MarcoP

            Hello Darren, thank you for this great discussion of the f68v3 T-O map!

            The manuscript page you linked is from Isidore’s Etymologies (14,2 “De Orbe”). PS: this map seems also to contain the indication of the climas for the three continents, see below. In that paragraph, he writes: “Undique enim Oceanus circumfluens eius in circulo ambit fines.” (The Ocean, flowing around in a circle, touches the boundaries [of the Earth] on all side). The early printed map you posted labels the outer circle “Mare Oceanum”. I think that EVA ‘okeoeeey’ in the circle around the map could refer to Okeanos (see also the related Arabic and Persian qamus).

            Here is a Macrobian climatic map with interesting personifications of the four rivers of paradise. Macrobian maps are divided in horizontal areas corresponding to hot, temperate and cold regions. The general structure of this illustration is not dissimilar from f68v3:
            Still I favor the winds as the meaning of the eight wavy lines, in particular because there are longer and shorter lines alternating, as there are main winds (corresponding to the cardinal directions) and lesser winds.

            I think there is clear evidence of a Western influence in the Voynich manuscript. I do not think that the language is Western, but I think that part of the content is. About f68v3 in particular, the T-O map wikipedia page you linked says that this kind of diagram is ”sometimes also called a Beatine map or a Beatus map because one of the earliest known representations of this sort is attributed to Beatus of Liébana, an 8th-century Spanish monk. The map appeared in the prologue to his twelve books of commentaries on the Apocalypse” And also: ”The T-O map represents the physical world as first described by the 7th-century scholar Isidore of Seville in his Etymologiae (chapter 14, de terra et partibus)”. So, it seems that this kind of diagram is a European creation.

            If your extremely interesting analysis is correct, the Voynich diagram apparently merges two kinds of maps: Macrobian climatic maps and T-O maps. A tradition of this kind of conflated maps exists. Apparently, this Latin tradition can be attributed to the same Beatus of Liebana mentioned above. This site by Jean-Baptiste Piggin provides a detailed discussion of the subject. The relevant Latin passage is:
            “Tunc Noe avus eorum divisit tribus filiis suis terram, in qua habitarent, et sortitus est calidam Cham, Iafet hautem frigidam, Sem vero accepit terram temperatam” (Noah, their ancestor, divided the earth among his three sons, so that they could inhabit it. And Cham received the hot land, Iafet the cold and Sem the temperate.). I guess this is derived from the Hebraic text you quoted.
            In these maps, the three continents are labeled: Europa – frigida (cold); Africa – calida (hot); Asia – temperata (temperate).

            I am impressed by the fact that your analysis predicted the existence of this kind of maps, which I had never seen before!

            • Stephen Bax

              I had never thought that the parts of the T-O map might represent temperature zones, so Darren’s and your analysis are very revealing, and thanks also for the transliteration and translation of the small Latin script. Very persuasive.

          • MarcoP

            The Manuscript you previously linked:

            Real Academia de la Historia — Signatura: Cod. 78 – AD 1000 ca – f200v

            Zooming in, the inscriptions are clearly readable:

            Asia: Sem accepit terram temperatam (temperate)
            Europa: Iafet terram frigidam (cold)
            Lybia: Cam terram calidam (hot)

          • MarcoP

            Most of the maps we discussed also include one of the cardinal directions:
            Oriens (East) Sem accepit terram temperatam Asia
            – Iafeth terram frigidam Europa Septentrio (North)
            – Cam terram calidam Libia Meridies (South)

            I think that another Persian candidate for EVA:opcholdg (apyashtr?) could be apashtar, meaning “North”.

            I don’t know how exactly EVA:otodol could stand for ‘South’. I cannot think of anything more specific than Africa as “the land as hot as fire”.

          • Johannes Klein

            Technical question: Would Africa not be rather West to Persia? Or were there different boundaries to the Europe Africa and Asia back then?

          • MarcoP

            Hello Johannes, I have made some research in order to answer your excellent observation. T and O maps were usually (always?) centered on Jerusalem: as pointed out by Darren, these maps are not unrelated to biblical concepts. The cardinal directions are relative to the center of the map, independently from the place where the manuscript was written. The general structure of those maps is illustrated here:

            Also consider this English XV Century map (Huntington ms HM 64 f17). Here the directions are given in Greek: Anatole (East), Dusis (West), Arktos (North), and Mesembria (South). As you can seen, the author has placed his own land (Anglia / England) near the border of the map. Jerusalem is marked in red at the center and the directions are relative to that central point.

            If the Voynich manuscript was written in Asia, or is derived from an Eastern tradition, possibly the text inscribed in the half circle corresponding to Asia in the f68v3 map could give us some hint on its place of origin (as the HM 64 map hints to the English origin of that manuscript).

          • Darren Worley

            Stephen – you asked if its possible to find examples of my proposed identification in other texts. The dictionary I used “Handbook of Pahlavi” by Henrik Samuel Nyberg provides citations for each entry.

            Interestingly, I should have looked closer, but the term that has the closest match with one of the words I identified (apsartan) is identified as being from the “Manichean Persian” dialect (apa-sartan, meaning cold or freezing).

            Could the VM be a Manichean text? This would certainly explain the Gnostic influence I’ve previously discussed.


            Pahlavi is a term used to describe “Middle Persian” or more accurately its writing system; it is the Middle Iranian language/ethnolect of southwestern Iran that during Sassanid times (224-654 CE) became a prestige dialect and so came to be spoken in other regions of the empire as well. (Ref: Wikipedia)



            This suggests that underlying text of the VM is very ancient, and the VM is a rare surviving medieval copy of a much older text. This is consistent with the fact that it appears to be using terminology that is found in the Jewish text, the Book of Jubilees, (dating from c150 BCE), a text which was largely unknown between the 4th century until being re-discovered in the 19th-century.

            The opening chapter of this book (link below) gives a good summary of the rediscovery of Ethiopian manuscripts of the “Book of Jubilees” in Ge’ez. (most of it is accessible)


            The wikipedia also describes which communities were using the Pahlavi script into later more recent periods:

            Pahlavi Middle Persian is the language of quite a large body of Zoroastrian literature which details the traditions and prescriptions of the Zoroastrian religion, which was the state religion of Sassanid Iran (224 to ca. 650) before Iran was invaded by the Arab armies that spread Islam. The earliest texts in Zoroastrian Middle Persian were probably written down in late Sassanid times (6th-7th centuries), although they represent the codification of earlier oral tradition. However, most texts, including the translated versions of the Zoroastrian canon, date from the 9th to the 11th century, when Middle Persian had long ceased to be a spoken language, so they reflect the state of affairs in living Middle Persian only indirectly. The surviving manuscripts are usually 14th-century copies. Other, less abundantly attested varieties are Manichaean Middle Persian, used for a sizable amount of Manichaean religious writings, including many theological texts, homilies and hymns (3rd-9th, possibly 13th century), and the Middle Persian of Nestorian Christians, evidenced in the Pahlavi Psalter (7th century); these were used until the beginning of the second millennium in many places in Central Asia, including Turfan and even localities in Southern India. All three differ minimally from one another and indeed the less ambiguous and archaizing scripts of the latter two have helped to elucidate some aspects of the Sassanian-era pronunciation of the former.

            I think its important to distinguish between the script and the language. The language clearly has some similarity with Pahlavi, but the script appears to be unique. Perhaps some the VM text is partly derived from Pahlavi, or shares a common origin, although I suspect this is not the complete picture, as I believe there is also an Arabic influence in the VM.

            However, the proposed Pahlavi attribution could explain some of the many oddities about the VM language. Pahlavi employs hetrograms and logograms, which perhaps has not been considered before.


          • Darren Worley

            Marco – thanks for identifying the unattributed manuscript as being by “Isodore of Seville”.

            I don’t think your idea about the cardinal points is applicable to this T-O map because there are 4 cardinal points, but only 2 quadrants in the diagram. Moreover, it misses the central point that this diagram is of a Jewish origin, drawing its basis from the “Book of Genesis” and “Book of Jubilees”.

            It also more likely that the concept of a T-O map is of an Eastern and not a European origin and that this pre-dates its first appearance in European texts. Here is a quote from “The Discovery of North America” about early T-O maps (early exploration is another of my interests):

            Quote: The monastic houses in which such maps were drawn preserved the writings and maps left by Latin geographers of the Roman Empire and the early Church, from the 1st to the 4th centuries.

            The Eastern Roman Empire extended far into Africa and the Near East, and I believe the Near East is the origin of the ideas conveyed in the VM.

            I suspect that pre-Islamic Near Eastern manuscripts are under-represented in the historical record and this is giving a skewed impression that these ideas originated in Europe. There are several possible reasons for this – the Mongols destroyed centres of learning in Baghdad and elsewhere. For example, Harran, in modern-day Turkey, was destroyed by the Mongol advance. It was the location of one of the first universities and a centre for the translation of scientific texts from Greek to Arabic. Fortunately, the Mongols didn’t manage to advance further, and destroy greater number of European treasures and manuscripts.

            Another reason, for the lack of Jewish manuscripts, is that Christians destroyed many Jewish texts in Europe in the medieval period. The VM possibly owes its survival to the fact that it wasn’t written in easily identifiable Hebrew square-script.


            There’s also the fact that European archives and libraries have digitized more of their collections, and non-European manuscripts are under probably represented on the internet. This might unconsciously lead to a European bias when looking for similarities with other extant manuscripts.

            In order to prove that f68v3 is a wind-diagram it going to be necessary to identify some further words on the diagram As it is, I believe, there is external evidence associating water with the heavens. This could explain why 4 rivers appear to terminate in the sky. For example, there is the constellation of Aquarius, the Water-Bearer and also the Pleiades were looked-upon a “rain-givers” by medieval commentators (like Al-Biruni).

            T-O maps often contain the names of countries in a particular continent. I’ve started looking at possible text in the Asia hemisphere and one possible word is EVA:darol -> turan.

            This could be the Pahlavi word for a province of Iran, but this is very speculative.


            • Darren. You might want to check the manuscript itself and see what your eyes are telling you.

              • Darren Worley

                Claudette – I think you are mistaken to assume that Voynich figures are Scandinavians because (you think) the nymph figures have pale skin and blonde hair.

                I don’t think you can tell the skin tones of the female figures because they are unpainted. They’re just the colour of the calf-skin parchment that the book is made from.

                Furthermore, blonde hair and pale skin is not an exclusive trait of Northern Europeans.

                I’ve attached a picture of a pale skinned, blue eyed, blonde girl – where do you think she is from?

                She a member of the Kalash people from Pakistan. In fact the Kalash also have a tradition of wearing fancy hats (but don’t all cultures?).

                They are an isolated group from the mountainous areas of northern Pakistan, who have maintained their ancestral religion, whereas neighbouring tribes converted to Islam as recently as the 19th century.

                The Kalash also worship nymphs, gods and fairies. But again, most cultures seem to have a folk-tradition of nymphs and fairies.

                I would expect that in the past, such tribes would have been more numerous, whereas now they are found only in isolated, inaccessible valleys.

                I did consider these kind of tribes as a possible origin of the VM, but I found more evidence in favour of a Mandaean/Jewish/European thread.

                Another example of pale-skinned non-Europeans are the Gnostic Mandaeans. In the “The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran” by E.S. Dower, she writes: The priestly families have two distinct types, one wiry, tanned, and black-eyed; the other tall, white-skinned, or slightly bronzed, and with a proportion of blue eyes to dark of about three persons in twelve.

                In essence, I don’t think analysing skin-tones and hair colour of the Voynich figures is going to be helpful in understanding the origins of the VM.

                • The physical characteristics of the women is one (1) out of twenty-five (25) elements within the Voynich manuscript that converge on northern Europe as the origin. Most of the elements have a direct correspondence to a traditional north European belief system that spanned a region from the Barents Sea to the Austrian Alps. Within each of the 25 elements are numerous supporting examples.

                  It’s incredibly tiring when a researcher teases out a few anomalies and presents them as some sort of rule, even while refuting the obvious physical characteristics that are, in fact, present within the manuscript. The majority of the Kalash people look like those in the photograph below, that is, black-haired, with two shapes of head-covering–one like a cobra’s hood and the other like an open dixie-cup that rides on the head’s crown. Neither head-covering, Darren, appears in the Voynich. http://voynichbirths.blogspot.com/2014/12/follow-on-facebook-functiond-s-id-var.html

                • Darren Worley

                  Its been mentioned several times on this website (by Marco and others) that the prefix “ap” refers to water (from the Sanskrit).

                  I was interested to note that the name that the Kalash give to the fairies in their religion is Apsaras.

                  These mountain, cloud or water spirits, the Apsaras also derive their name from Sanskrit.

                  The Kalash follow a Proto-Indo-Iranian religion and their language according to one scholar, the the Kalasha language is the closest modern language to Ancient Sanskrit (old Indo-Aryan).

                  This belief in water-spirits is clearly very ancient – and it seems to parallel some ideas suggested “The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran” by E.S. Drower. She suggests that the light-spirits of the Mandaeans (uthri) may be derived from an earlier belief in water-spirits.

                  Quote (p95) : Thus “uthri” may have been originally life-spirits bringing fertility and wealth in the shape of rain and springs. In barren lands which only blossom when spring rain falls such messengers would indeed be ‘bringers of life’. The fact that consorts of “malkia” and “uthria” are called anania (clouds) and nituftatha (drops) lends colour to this conception. I suggest that the term “uthra” was originally applied to water-spirits rather than light-spirits and that the term took on a wider meaning by degrees.

                  There seems to be similar beliefs between these two geographically dispersed groups, which suggest that the Mandaeans may derive some of their beliefs and myths from the Proto-Indo-Iranian religion (probably via Zoroastrianism.)

                  Old Avestan (the language of Zoroastrian scripture) is closely related to Old Persian and also in some extent close in nature to Vedic Sanskrit.

          • MarcoP

            Hello Darren. You wrote: (1) I don’t think your idea about the cardinal points is applicable to this T-O map because there are 4 cardinal points, but only 2 quadrants in the diagram. (2) Moreover, it misses the central point that this diagram is of a Jewish origin.

            About point (1), please consider this diagram:
            It has three distinct areas (I count three also in f68v3 T and O map) which are labeled (among other things): “Oriens” (East), “Septentrionalem” (North), “Meridionalem” (South). This exemplifies the fact that sometimes not all the four cardinal directions were labeled. So we cannot exclude that the cardinal directions appear in f68r3 T and O map. In my opinion apashtar (North) for EVA:opcholdg (apyashtr? / abhashtr?) is a good match and it has parallels in Latin T and O diagrams (as “Septentrionalem” in the example above).

            About point (2): I think it is not safe to dismiss evidence because it does not conform to a particular theory. In my opinion, we need to collect all the evidence and see if we can make sense of a whole page or diagram.
            Applying the phonetics presented by Derek, EVA:opcholdg reads ‘abhashtr’ which is close to the Persian word ‘apashtar’, meaning North. This Voynichese label appears in a position that in similar ancient diagrams is labeled North. These are two facts. Possibly they are relevant and possibly they are accidental: at the moment, we should consider both alternatives.

            In my opinion, your analysis of this particular diagram is very promising. Both your idea that it represents rivers and that the “Eastern” portion of the T and O map contains names of places seem to me reasonable and worth pursuing. In particular, I agree that the four longer lines could be rivers, since they end in the circle surrounding the T and O map, which often represents a circular Ocean in similar diagrams.

            • Stephen Bax

              Maybe at this point it is useful to remind ourselves of another possible T-O diagram in the Voynich manuscript on the so-called Rosettes page here:


              This diagram is oriented differently from the one we are discussing on f68v3, but the lines seem clearly to be marked as rivers.

              I note that the word in the bottom right segment (EVA: okos) is close to the first word at 9 o’clock on the other T-O diagram (EVA: okosy) as here: http://www.voynichese.com/#/f68v3/exa:okosy/300

              It (EVA: okos)) is quite a rare word in the manuscript- only eight occurrences, half of which appear in relation to stars or the T-O map. However, if you take account of possible inflections such as (EVA: okosy) – since I have long felt that the final ‘y’ is an inflection of some kind – it could be more frequent. See for example:


              Both seem very common in the cosmology and zodiac pages.

              The same word (EVA: okos) is also used as a possible name for a star (number 56 in my scheme and numbering) and also once again on f68vr.

              So – which star name could also be a segment of the earth?! Or could it be the word for Earth itself?

          • MarcoP

            Thank you Stephen, for sharing this fascinating new hypothesis! ‘Akash’ is clearly related to the stars: “akash-ganga”, the heavenly Gange, is the Milky Way.

            I wonder if we should also consider the much more common EVA:otol (‘akash’?) as related to the same concept:

            There are a number of new interesting questions:

            * Which are the relevant primary sources (in particular for the Persian tradition)?

            * akash (ether) is one of the five elements. Which were the names of the other four? (In the Indian tradition they could be: Ether – akash, vyom, shunya. Air – vayu, marut, pavan. Fire – tejas, agni. Water – apas, ap, jala. Earth – prithvi, kshiti, bhumi)

            * Why is star #56 labeled ‘akas’? Is the association Jupiter/Akas so strong that the star could be Jupiter?

            * What is the relationship between the two T and O maps f68v3 and Rosettes? Do they represent the same subject (the world made up of five elements?).

            * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akasha#Modern_Paganism The upward point of the pentacle, the pentagram or five pointed star within a circle, represents Akasha. The others represent Fire, Earth, Air and Water. While Earth is considered “north”; Fire is “south”; air is “east”; Water is “west”, while Akasha is “center”. Is this a modern concept or is it derived from some ancient source?

            I have found that this 1845 “Oordoo” (Hindustani) Dictionary  By Joseph T. Thompson presents both ‘Akash’ for Firmament and ‘Atush’ for Fire.

          • Darren Worley

            Stephen – as Marco correctly identifies, your identification of “Akas”, for aether, in the Rosettes page T-O map within the quadrant normally associated with Africa is fascinating but also a puzzle. Why would “aether” be associated with Africa? I think I have an answer.

            T-O maps, as we have seen, identify the continents :

            Africa : Hot or Burning
            Europe : Cold or Freezing
            Asia : Temperate

            Or as,

            Africa : Ham, son of Noah
            Europe : Japheth, son of Noah
            Asia : Shem, son of Noah

            However, I was intrigued to read about the origin of the word aether (Greek: αἰθήρ).


            Quote: Aether is related to αἴθω “to incinerate”, and intransitive “to burn, to shine” (related is the name Aithiopes (Ethiopians), meaning “people with a burnt (black) visage”).

            This is an exact match with what I would expect to in this quadrant : I would expect there to be a word meaning either burning or hot.

            Could this be a clue that the VM has been translated from an original Greek text? Rather than translate the Greek word for “burn” as “Africa”, it has instead been mistakenly translated to “aether”?

            Translating this word as “aether” makes sense in other contexts. It is quite reasonable to find the word for “aether” in the area surrounding the world. I haven’t checked in detail, but if this word does have links with Jupiter, then again it would also be reasonable to find it in the astronomical pages.

            I like this interpretation, because this means the Rosettes T-O map could be interpreted in the same manner as elsewhere – as a depiction of the continents, and it may also give a clue about the origins and transmission of the VM.

            The proof for this idea, would be if we can demonstrate a link between the Greek(?) word for “cold, freezing, Japheth or Europe” with the text in the other quadrant, and a word for “temperate, Shem, or Asia” in the remaining semicircle.

            I have some ideas about the transmission of the VM, based on this hypothesis, but we perhaps ought to identify these other words first.

          • MarcoP

            Hello Stephen,
            I see that a number of words derive from the root “Ab” for “water”. Could EVA:opcholdg (abhashtr? apyashtr?) be one of them?
            For instance, I have considered the Persian abishkhur meaning “a cistern, a reservoir of water”.
            The Sanskrit apas (water) is also likely relevant.

            The Hindustani word “dhur-a” (“Earth”) could be related to the first word in the lower half of the T and O map EVA:doar (tuar). Possibly this word is also related to the Latin “Terra”.

            This other Hindustani Dictionary by John Shakespear has “turab” for “Earth”. This could be related to the third word in the same paragraph, mentioned by Darren above:  EVA:darol -> turan (I think more likely turash).

            So we can give a Persian / Hindustani interpretation of f68v3 T and O globe as possibly representing four elements:
            * Fire (EVA:otodol alatash) related to the Persian / Hindustani “atash” (top left quarter of the diagram)
            * Water (EVA opcholdg abhashtr? apyashtr?) related to the Sanskrit ”apas”(top right quarter of the diagram)
            * Earth (EVA:doar tuar / EVA:darol turash) related to the Hindustani “dhur-a” / “turab” (bottom half of the diagram)
            * Ether (EVA:okos akas) Persian / Hindustani: akas / akash / akasa / akasha (ring around the T and O globe)

            This interpretation parallels the Aristotle “On the heavens” illustration that we discussed a few months ago (BNF Fr 565). In that illustration, the central globe presents three elements (air, earth and water) with the starred “cloud” of fire/ether surrounding them.

            I also found interesting the comparison with two illustrations from “Le Livre des proprietés des choses” Bibliothèque nationale de France manuscript Français 135: the four elements in the macrocosm and the microcosm. From these illustrations, we can infer this color code: Earth is represented in green, Air and Fire in red, Water in blue (red for Air is rather surprising to me).
            We can compare these illustrations with the colors in the T and O globe at the bottom left of Voynich f67v2. The green half globe could than be Earth. The blue quarter could be Water and the red one Air or Fire (if these ideas are correct, the relative positions of Water and Fire are inverted with respect to f68v3).

            A problem with this interpretation of f68v3 is that (as you wrote) akas is the fifth element, but we only have four. Where is air in f68v3?
            My preferred solution would be to interpret the eight wavy lines as winds (the Hindustani vayu, recently mentioned by Neticis, means both ‘air’ and ‘wind’). A candidate Voynichese word could be EVA:ochey (ayou? ahon?).
            Another possible solution would be to assume that ‘akas’ here is one of the four elements (but I think that would be an anomaly). In that case, ‘Akas’ could be assimilated with Fire or Air (it is somehow intermediate between the two) and EVA:otodol would be the other one (Air or Fire respectively).

            • Darren Worley

              Marco – I think you’re right to suggest that there are words here that derive from the root “ab” or “ap” for water.

              The word Pahlavi word that I identified in the upper-right quadrant in the f68v3 T-O was “apa-sartn” meaning freezing. This appears to be a compound word containing the root “ap” for water, and “sart” for cold.

              In addition, I’ve looked at the Rosette T-O map and further to Stephen’s identification of “akas”, I report the following:

              Right Quadrant : eva: opoey -> apaon – this word also appears to be derived from the Pahlavi/Sanskrit root for water.

              Semicircle : eva:osal -> asu? – this word appears to be derived from the Sanskrit word for air.

              The Rosettes T-O therefore appears to contain the words related to the elements: aether or fire, water and air.

              I think this evidence supports a Pahlavi/Avestan connection and possible links with Zoroastrianism. (Avestan is closely related to Vedic Sanskrit.)



              • MarcoP

                Hello Darren, thank you for your interpretation of the Rosettes (f86v) T and O diagram!
                You wrote: “Right Quadrant : eva: opoey -> apaon – this word also appears to be derived from the Pahlavi/Sanskrit root for water.
                Semicircle : eva:osal -> asu? – this word appears to be derived from the Sanskrit word for air”.

                I guess that you are referring to Aban/Apas for “Water”, but I could not understand the exact Sanskrit word for Air you mean.

                I agree on the potential relevance of Zoroastrianism. I think it has been mentioned here before that the Zoroastrian calendar attributes individual names to the 30 days of each month and that this could be related to the “zodiac” pages (Voynich f70v2 ff).

                • Darren Worley

                  Thanks for your useful response Marco. I just used an online Sanskrit dictionary:. However, I’m not confident with this attribution anymore.


                  asu *= m. (1. %{as}), Ved. breath, life RV. AV. &c.; life of the spiritual world or departed spirits RV. x, 15, 1; (in astron.) `” respiration “‘, = four seconds of sidereal time or one minute of arc Su1ryas.; = %{prajJA} Naigh.; (in later language only %{a4savas}) m. pl. the vital breaths or airs of the body, animal life AV. Mn. iii, 217, &c.; (%{asu}) n. grief L.; (= %{citta}) the spirit L.

                  Its not clear if this definition it can be applied to “air” (as in what we breathe) or “vital air”, as in life or spirit.

                  In any case, I have an alternate explanation that fits the evidence better, and it also aligns with the interpretation of a T-O map as a description of the continents.

                  I’m going to publish my full response on the new thread about T-O maps.

                  Let’s carry on discussing this topic over there.

            • I think you ripped the bottom left graphic completely out of its context without even bothering to try to explain what the other, similar graphics on that page were doing, simply in order to shoehorn a favored classical interpretation having to do with Sanskrit, Persian, and, heck, why not also throw in Aristotle just to lend it some weight. http://voynichbirths.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-seasonal-calendar-year.html

        • Darren Worley

          And here is another medieval T-O map showing the Hebrew naming of the continents. I don’t know the source – can anyone identify this manuscript?

          • Johannes Klein

            This may be irrelevant, but I think on f86v5 there was supposed to be a T/O-map in the middle? Unless it is on the other side of the folio (sorry I haven’t comprehended whats front and back of the same page). The scribling left to the T/O should best be translated as: Dear Sponsor, unfortunately our painter had a heartattack in painting all your nude ladies, therefore this map could not be finished.


          • Neticis

            I see some similarity with seasons in Latvian:
            pavasaris (spring)
            vasara (summer)
            rudens (autumn)
            ziema (winter)

          • Neticis

            Maybe some hints from Latvian helps:
            Four seasons:
            pavasaris (spring)
            vasara (summer)
            rudens (autumn)
            ziema (winter)
            Four medieval elements:
            uguns (fire)
            ūdens (water)
            gaiss (air)
            zeme (earth)
            Four directions:
            Ziemeļi (North)
            Austrumi (East)
            Dienvidi (South)
            Rietumi (West)

    • MarcoP

      Following the discussion on star names, I have read this interesting post by T H Ing:
      https:[email protected]/thoughts-upon-the-voynich-rosettes-2b78d7d698dd
      The post discusses an article by Juergen Wastl and Danielle Feger,

      T H Ing (describing the Rosettes page) notes that “the pipes of the top left circle are likely to stand for air”. Wastl and Feger: “No visually identifiable feature in the Rosette map could be matched to the display of (up to) 12 winds, that where known in the medieval world. Although it can’t be excluded that the winds feature somewhere in the Rosette Map (e.g. 12 pipes in the central disc)”.

      I think that the interpretation of the pipes as related to air makes sense (see a XIV century illustration of a pipe organ). So other diagrams which could possibly be wind diagrams are:

      * the 12 pipes central rosette mentioned by Wastl and Feger (which also features the “cloud motif”):

      * the circular diagram f69r, with “pipes” and 16 labeled sections in the outer circle:

      * f69v, with 14 longer pipes alternating with 14 shorter pipes:
      28 winds are a suspiciously high number, but the division in main and minor winds is very common. Obrist quotes Svetonius: “Four winds blow from the four parts of the world, each maintaining two companions inferior to it.”

      • Stephen Bax

        Thanks, fascinating! This page might then help us with names..

      • Neticis

        Akasha could be top, not center, because akash (ether) sounds similar to Latvian “augša”, which is top (and opposite then could be “apakša” or maybe “leja”).
        Other similar words:
        Air – vayu — vējš (wind),
        Fire – agni — uguns.

        P.S. Stephen, could you configure WordPress to allow deeper “Reply” levels?

        • Stephen Bax

          Hi Neticis – on the last point I was wondering why it was stopping some replies! I think I have solved it, allowing the maximum of 10 nested replies instead of 5.

    • MarcoP

      I have made some further research about wind diagrams and the page discussed by Pelling and Zandbergen, f67r1:

      The proposed analysis makes extensive use of a diagram from a XII Century Latin “compendium” based on Bede, recently linked by Stephen (Walters Ms. W.73 f1v);

      The Compendium diagram presents twelve winds, giving for each of them one or two names.
      7 of the 12 sections of Voynich f68r1 can be connected to Bede’s diagram.

      I have also considered an Arabic diagram that features heavily corrupted variants of the Greek and Latin names that appear in the Compendium (the Book of Curiosity, XIII Century, Bodley MS. Arab. c. 90, f21b):
      The Arabic manuscript seems to confirm a few of the attributions based on the Compendium. I based on it a possible identification for an eighth wind as a particularly bad corruption from one of the winds of the Compendium (“Boreas”).

      For the remaining four winds, I propose two hypothesis based on ancient Greek wind names, one on a different Arabic wind name and one on the Spanish cardinal direction ‘sur’.
      I read EVA ‘y’ as ‘u’, on the basis of T H Ing’s analysis that suggests the possible equivalence of EVA ‘y’ and EVA ‘a’.
      I read the other characters following Stephen’s proposals (but I may have gotten something wrong).

      A few of the matches are quite poor, but I think it is interesting that they are mostly based on a single source.
      I read the diagram clockwise: South, East, North, West. The Compendium diagram reads in the opposite direction (as modern maps do), so in the image it is mirror imaged and rotated. The Arabic diagram (being conflated with a representation of the Zodiac) reads in the opposite direction than the Compendium: it reads in the same direction that I assume in the Voynich diagram. The Arabic diagram also has an orientation similar to what I assume here (West at the top).

      Here are the details of the single “winds” (from the top, clockwise). Numbering and EVA transcriptions are from Stolfi and Grove.

      1 EVA:otaldy Reads: alushtu (SW) Compendium: “Austro” (SSW) – Arab.c.90: “ustlys”

      2 EVA:otoky Reads: alaku (SSW) “Leuko notos” (Greek: the clearing wind)

      3 EVA:seeaiir Reads: soouur (S) ? Possibly related to ‘sur’, Spanish for South

      4 EVA:ykees.ary Reads: ukoos uru (SSE) Compendium : “Eurus” (SE)

      5 EVA:sosaiir Reads: sasuur (SE) ? “Scirocco” (Italian) – “Shluq” (Arabic)

      6 EVA:oteey.dar Reads: aloou tur (E) Compendium: “Apeliotes” – Arab.c.90: “fylyts”

      7 EVA:yto!daiir Reads: ula tuur (NE) Compendium: “Vulturnus”

      8 EVA:cheosam Reads: yoasur (NNE) Arab.c.90: “Buuryasy” (N) – Compendium: “Boreas”

      9 EVA:ykeeody Reads: ukooatu (N) ? “Αrctos” (Greek North Wind)

      10 EVA:okeol.sal Reads: akoash sush (NNW) Compendium: “Circius or Tracias”, “Thrascias” is another Greek variant

      11 EVA:okeey.sar Reads: akoou sur (NW) Compendium: “Chorus” or “Argystes”, “Caurus” is another Latin variant – Arab.c.90: “ayqrks”

      12 EVA:dalary Reads: tushuru (W) Compendium: “Zephirus” – Arab.c.90: “yfurus”

      • MarcoP

        The link to the Bodley Arabic manuscript seems to be broken, I am sorry.
        Hopefully, you can reach the diagram clicking here.
        Then click on “Table Of Contents” and search for
        “Book 1 – Chapter 10: On the blowing of winds, earthquakes and tremors”.

        • Stephen Bax

          Re. The Bodleian manuscript, thanks for the link. I’ve seen the original and it is superb, though I wasn’t looking at winds at the time.

          I think your suggestions for wind names are intriguing and deserve very close attention… Can I use it as the basis for a new post focussing on that folio?

          • MarcoP

            Thank you Stephen! I am looking forward for the new post!

      • Neticis

        1 EVA:otaldy Reads: alushtu (SW) Compendium: “Austro” (SSW) – Arab.c.90: “ustlys”
        Latvian Austrumu
        3 EVA:seeaiir Reads: soouur (S) ? Possibly related to ‘sur’, Spanish for South
        Soouur sounds similar to sūrs (bitter, or “hot” as for taste) though in Europe it should be North wind, not South wind.
        therefore maybe it is related to:
        11 EVA:okeey.sar Reads: akoou sur (NW) Compendium: “Chorus” or “Argystes”, “Caurus” is another Latin variant – Arab.c.90: “ayqrks”

  13. Recently, i visited a castle at Nouic in Limousin (castle of Fraisse) which belongs a letter from Jean de Leray to his labourer(XV th siecle), which use lot of graphisms very close used by the VM’s writter, so i think there’s a good possibility you are right from the origins of this manuscript… South France, North Spanish…
    i go to put my bad photography on my site echapfr.wordpress.com so you can see…

    [Merci, Eric! I have added a link to your site, above]

    • Thank you very much Stephan
      i write a lot of things on Voynich on this site… the picture of the Leray’s document is https://echapfr.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/leray02.jpg
      Even if i think that my decodage is not far from the truth, all the interpretations of this document should be not neglected and bring a different light on the story…

      • This asks us what should do Yale when we will have discovered which town belongs really the VM ?
        Where will be the right place of such a book ? Will Madrid ou Paris ask to stop after 99 years of lending ?
        I think there will be epic negociations where the concept of owning will be seriously difficult to establish…

  14. MarcoP

    Hello Stephen,
    about the passage discussing the stars, in my opinion “Beda” is a reference to Saint Bede the Venerable, in particular to his work De Temporibus, Chapter 11 “The Stars” (link to the English edition by Calvin B. Kendall and Faith Wallis):

    Both Bede and the Breviari d’Amor seem to be concerned specifically with the meteorological influence of the stars.

    Breviari d’Amor 3972-3992
    Encaras dizo li auctor
    Quez aquela gran resplandor,
    Quoz om en las estelas ve,
    An del solleylh e non de se,
    La quai resplandors mais apar
    E escura nueg ab temps clar,
    Que non fay ab clara luna;
    E sapjatz mays que cascuna,
    Ayssi co a mays de lugor,
    A mays atressi de vigor;
    Car mot gran vigor, ses dubtar,
    An las estelas en trempar
    destrempar l’ayre del cel,
    Segon Beda e Mizael,
    Segon que son de benigna
    Natura o de maligna.
    Mas no son totas veramen
    Plantadas sus el fermament;
    Ans n’i a d’alcunas rodans
    Dessotz , quez apelara errans
    Cum selas del VII planetas,
    E las estelas cometas;

    My rough translation:
    The authors also say that
    the great splendor
    that we see in the stars
    comes from the Sun and not from them.
    This splendor seems greater
    in dark nights with a clear weather
    than when the moon shines.
    Know also that each star
    is more powerful
    when its light is brighter.
    Without doubt, the stars have
    a great power to temper
    and distemper the air of the sky,
    according to Beda and Mizael,
    depending on their benign
    or malignant nature.
    But not all the stars are truly
    fixed up in the firmament;
    a few go around in circles
    below. They are called wandering,
    as the seven planets
    and the comets;

    The whole passage seems to vaguely echo Bede:
    “The stars, borrowing their light from the sun, are said to turn with the world…. The exception is those that are called planets, that is wanderers. … Some stars are productive of moisture released in liquid form, others of congealed moisture in the form of frost or of compacted moisture in the form of snow or of icy moisture in the form of hailstorms, others of a breeze of gentle warmth, others of heat, others of moisture, others of cold”.

    Simon A. Gilson (Dante and Renaissance Florence) mentions a XV Century occurrence of “Mishael” to refer to “the eighth-century Jewish astrologer Masha’allah”:

    Here “Misael” (“Bernhardi de Lavinheta opera omnia quibus tradidit artis Raymundi Lullii compendiosam explicationem”, a 1612 work about Lull, an author you recently mentioned):

    Possibly in Masha’allah’s works one could find something closer to the concept of benign and malignant stars.

  15. Diane

    Nice find, but you should also compare these diagrams with those produced by Abraham Cresques within his visual compendium generally known as the ‘Atlas Catala’. It was produced in the last quarter of the fourteenth century, and was a work of such scope and beauty that it became a model for similar works thereafter.. for those with access.

    On one point relevant to the Occitan MS (kudos again for the find!) is the inclusion of the white vine motif set on blue or on a terracotta-coloured ground. In manuscript made for the dominant Latin community, the gesso ground was commonly covered with gold, whereas we see in the Jewish and other minorities’ manuscripts it is left plain.

    Another item you may find of interest is the ‘French Miscellany’ which I first brought to the notice of Voynich researchers, although *sigh* I daresay that there are among them some who’d happily take one’s florin without any more thanks than leave…

    • Stephen Bax

      Thanks for this – so when you say “the gesso ground was commonly covered with gold, whereas we see in the Jewish and other minorities’ manuscripts it is left plain” does this suggest to you that it might have been produced for a Jewish or minority audience?

      As for the French Miscellany, thanks for the tip. One example I found as a result is here, and very interesting it is too.

      For the Atlas Catalan, thanks also – I see one version is here.

  16. orun rubacı


    written in 1521, is the oldest surviving document available in Romanian that can be reliably dated.

    many similar characters with voynich

  17. MarcoP

    Hello Stephen,
    what a great manuscript, thank you for sharing it!

    The main body of the text is The Breviari d’Amor, an Occitan encyclopædia composed between spring 1288 and c.1292 (ff. 7-250); . The work is in verses.

    I found a transcription of the text here (link to the chapter ending with the T-O map):

    At p.200 an illustration presents a diagram from a different manuscript of the same text.
    The text in the diagram seems to illustrate the size of the earth:
    * Diameter: 6.500 miles
    * Radius: 3.250 miles
    * Circumference: 20.400 miles

    By the way, the work also includes a herbal section (beginning at verse 6903):

    • Stephen Bax

      Better and better! Thanks for the information on the transcription, and also the fact it has a herbal section. I will make efforts to go and see the full manuscript. Even if it has no direct link with the Voynich, it looks very interesting in its own right. Regarding the verse element, many people have wondered if the Voynich text might be partly in verse.

      Marco, what do you make of the T-O map?

      • MarcoP

        Hello Stephen,
        I am afraid I cannot add much more about the O-T map. The T is labeled with the measures of the radius and the diameter of the earth. The O with the measure of the circumference. So this O-T map seems to be different both from those representing the continents and from those representing the elements. A peculiarity of this diagram is that only the lines of the drawing (and not the three areas) are labeled.

        The title of the figure (in red) is “Taula del espazis de la terra” (diagram of the size of the earth).

        I can attempt a rough and unreliable translation of the lines of the poem introducing the map:

        Et es l’espazis terrenals,
        Segon los actors naturals ,
        So es tota l’espeissetat
        E del tot l’espes la meitat,
        E tot entorn, aitan, ses plus,
        Qu’o trobaretz escrig dejus
        En la propdana figura
        En linhas et en sentura ,
        E proat es que vers sia
        Tot per art de geometria.

        And the size of the earth is,
        according to the scholars of nature,
        as is the whole width
        and the half of all the space,
        and much more all around,
        as you will find written below
        in the next figure
        in the lines and on the circle.
        All this is proven to be true
        by the art of geometry.

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