f73v Zodiac and Sagittarius page – Marco Ponzi & Darren Worley

A few days I asked if anyone might be prepared to summarise what has been said so far about the Voynich manuscript’s f73v Sagittarius Zodiac page. Marco Ponzi and Darren Worley have very kindly sent me the page below – a huge amount of work and scholarship for which I (and I hope everyone) must feel immensely grateful. Thanks Marco and Darren!

As usual, please feel free to add your comments and views.

Marco and Darren start with some background on the Voynich Zodiac images in general…..


Composite of Voynich Zodiac images

Composite of Voynich Zodiac images

Ewa Sniezynska-Stolot observations

(For an introduction to Voynich Zodiac f70v-f73v, see D’Imperio, p.16)

In 2001, Rafal T. Prinke translated a brief note by Prof. Ewa Sniezynska-Stolot about the Voynich Zodiac pages. Sniezynska-Stolot, professor at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, is an expert in the history of art in general and in astrological iconography in particular. She has published many books on the subject, including monographs about the Jewish astrologer Abraham ibn Ezra, the Persian astrologer Abu Ma’shar, the famous manuscript, now in Cracow, of the magic book Picatrix. As far as I know, her only book to have been translated into English is “Astrological iconography in the Middle Ages: the decanal planets” Canjani download. A wider selection of her works is listed on worldcat.

A few passages from Sniezynska-Stolot’s note translated by Prinke:
I have inspected the VMS at Beinecke. The signs of the Zodiac do not present problems – they are simply not of the Arateia type but were modernized. As I wrote in my books, because of linguistic mistakes and changes in artistic styles, human figures were represented in contemporary garments (viz. Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius). Attributes were changed in the same way, eg. Sagittarius’ bow developed into a crossbow in the 15th c.

The genre scenes, eg. Aries eating a bush, suggest that the signs were redrawn from a calendar. Garments: the jopulas [?] of men with a belt suggest the 14th/15th c. but headdresses of men (Gemini, Sagittarius) definitively indicate the 15th c. This was common fashion in Europe at that time. The Sagittarius’ cap with fox tail points to Germany – but they were also worn in Poland. I believe that the manuscript can be dated to mid-15th c.

In 2013 Ellie Velinska published a number of excellent parallels for some of the dresses and hats. Apparently, the Polish “jopula” mentioned by Sniezynska-Stolot is the kind of doublet “belted at the waist, giving in effect a short skirt below” common in the XV Century (see this article). The tapestry that Ellie discussed illustrates costumes from Burgundy.

Sniezynska-Stolot’observations are also consistent with the point of view of Erwin Panofsky: he thought that the Voynich manuscript was written in Western Europe (most probably in Spain) or Germany, even if he recognized a Jewish or Arab influence 바코드 스캐너 다운로드.
Notes about individual Zodiac signs

Johannes Klein has recently suggested on this site a systematic comparison of different Zodiac cycles with the Voynich Zodiac. That project seems very promising, but it clearly requires a significant effort. Here are some non-systematic, casual considerations: in general, as noted by Sniezynska-Stolot, the images of Voynich zodiac signs depart from Aratus-style constellation images. This seems to me to conform to a general trend in medieval Zodiac illustrations: Zodiac signs are made more similar to images of the “labors of the months”, a subject that often accompanied the Zodiac in medieval iconography. Illustrations of the signs are made more realistic: Virgo is not represented as an “angel”, but as an ordinary wingless girl; the centaur that typically illustrates the Sagittarius constellation is replaced by a human being; Capricorn appears as a normal goat (or kid), not as a fantastic half goat, half fish animal. About specific zodiac signs:
* Sniezynska-Stolot suggested that Aries eating a bush typically appears in calendars. An example (also associated with calendar-like “labours of the months”) is provided by a XIII Century relief from the Strasbourg cathedral.
* Gemini are usually represented as a dressed couple of males (Castor and Pollux) or as a naked couple of different sexes. Yet some manuscripts and reliefs represent them as a dressed couple of lovers. In this case, the relation with the “labors of the months” is particularly clear, since lovers sometimes appear as illustrations of Spring months (more examples below) arcgis 10.5 크랙.
* Cancer was often illustrated as a Lobster in Europe, while in all the Perso-Arabic examples at the Warburg site it is represented as a Crab.
* Aratus describes Virgo as a winged maiden (which he identifies with Dike, the goddess of justice). This iconography is followed in many ancient sources, but most XV Century images of Virgo produced in central Europe present her without wings.
* In Perso-Arabic sources, Scorpio is clearly recognizable as a scorpion (a common animal in the Near East). On the other hand, some European sources represent fantastic or unrelated animals. This apparent contradiction with respect to the general trend of increased realism is explained by specific reasons: “As many of the artists and illuminators responsible for these works never saw a scorpion or had a model book to work from, the representations of this sign reflect great variety” (Colum Hourihane, “Time in the Medieval World: Occupations of the Months and Signs of the Zodiac in the Index of Christian Art”).
Sagittarius with crossbow

As Rene Zandbergen has written here (August 10, 2015), finding actual examples of the Crossbow Sagittarius type discussed by Sniezynska-Stolot in 2001 has taken Voynich researchers almost ten years: those presented on Rene’s site were possibly found only in 2009 and 2015.

Up to now, in addition to Voynich f73v, eight other XV Century examples of a Sagittarius with crossbow have been identified (including those on Rene’s site) windows 10 익스플로러 11 다운로드.


In all these cases, the sign is represented by a human being. The Centaur form is the most frequent in ancient and medieval images, but the “Poeticon astronomicon” apparently suggests that the human and the centaur forms already coexisted in the I or II Century AD: “Many have called this sign the Centaurus; others deny the name, for the reason that no Centaurus makes use of arrows” (II,27). These Crossbow Sagittarius images seem to make part of a single tradition: they were all produced in a time span of about 80 years and in places at most 800 Km apart. Yet it is interesting to note how much they differ from one another. The poses are all notably different, with a few exceptions: one of the latest images (the 1475 Bavarian Ludwig-Maximilians University Library 2° Cod. ms. 578) bears a certain resemblance to the earliest (the 1400ca Polish cod. 1842). More clearly, the 1477ca Heidelberg manuscript illustration seems to have been copied from the 1469ca zodiac wheel in Fugger-Bibliothek Cod.5327 Han.

The German word “hausbuch” (literally, house-book) occurs in the description of many of the manuscripts described below. A Companion to Astrology in the Renaissance gives the following definition: “a kind of almanac, which included, … calendar and astrological information, as well as medical suggestions, usually structured throughout the course of the year”. The examples discussed below exemplify the heterogeneity of hausbuch contents. While it is tempting to draw a parallel between the hausbuch format and the Voynich manuscript, it is also clear that there are differences: the main body of the Voynich manuscript apparently is a herbal, so the contents seem to be both more homogeneous and more strictly “technical” than those of a typical hausbuch. Also, a complex diagram as the so called Rosettes page seems to fit more with an ambitious scientific work than with a house almanac.

In the following paragraphs, a brief discussion of each source is proposed 안재욱 친구 mp3 다운로드. Sources are presented in chronological order, from the earlier to the later.

A. Poland, 1395-1405 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek – cod. 1842


Up to now, not much information about this manuscript could be found. Apparently, it is a Book of Hours written in Poland (the Latin title is “Horae canonicae in Polonia Scriptae”). The Zodiac cycle also includes a couple of male and female, dressed, embracing Gemini (see Voynich f72r).

B. St.Gall, 1425-28 – St. Gallen Stiftsbibliothek – Cod. Sang. 827


From the on-line description of the manuscript: This composite volume, written between 1425 and 1425[28?] in the Lake Constance regions, though not at the Abbey of St. Gall, contains Latin versions of a great many computistic/astronomical/cosmographical treatises, including the widely disseminated work De sphaera mundi by John of Sacrobosco and his arithmetical foundation work Tractatus de algorismo. The manuscript, organized according to the calendar, also contains illustrations: the twelve signs of the zodiac, a map of the winds, sketches of the ecliptics of the sun and moon, planets and constellations, a diagrammatic guide for bloodletting, a set of early medieval Terra Orbis-type world maps, and (on pages 265 and 266) twelve simple illustrations for the months with brief rhyming proverbs in German derived from the nature- and landscape-dominated everyday life of the people of the late middle ages.
The Sagittarius appears in an addition to the initial Latin Calendar which discusses the best times for bloodletting. The relevant paragraph has been transcribed and translated here Tekken Tag Tournament2 Download.
In the labors of the months illustrations, a couple of lovers represent the month of April.
This was the second crossbow Sagittarius to be found. It was originally published by Rene Zandbergen.

C. Nürnberg, 1429 – Concordia Seminary Library – Medizinisch-astrologisches Hausbuch


From the on-line description of the manuscript: Profusely illustrated in water colors with signs of the Zodiac and miniature paintings showing activities of the seasons and other scenes of daily life. A layman’s “medical manual” – one of seven of the genre known to remain.
The manuscript also includes illustrations of the “labors of the months”: a couple of lovers represents the month of May. f12v illustrates Sagittarius as a two-legged Centaur armed with a bow. f18c represents Sagittarius as a sitting man with a bow.
f22r features the Crossbow Sagittarius as an illustration of one of the two Zodiac signs ruled by planet Jupiter (here the god resembles illustrations of Mars or of the Perseus constellation). The other sign ruled by Jupiter (Pisces) appears in a circular frame opposite to Sagittarius. Of course the manuscript includes in the preceding and following pages illustrations of the other six planets and ten zodiac signs metal slug romfile. The fact that images are dominated by the personifications of the planets makes this cycle visually very different from the Voynich Zodiac.

D. Konstanz, 1463 – Planeten-Buch – BSB Cgm 7269


In this case, Sagittarius appears on a calendar page corresponding to the month of November. So (similarly to the Voynich manuscript) each Zodiac sign appears on a separate page. Similarly to the 1429 Concordia Seminary Library Hausbuch, f15r illustrates Sagittarius and Pisces at the sides of a large image of Jupiter. In this case, Sagittarius is fully human but he is armed with a bow. The illustrations are particularly carefully painted and they are all surrounded by gilded circular frames.
The manuscript is entirely written in German. It was likely written in 1463, the year that prominently appears on the cover.
This was the first crossbow Sagittarius to be mentioned in relation with the Voynich manuscript. It was originally published by Rene Zandbergen, possibly in 2009.

E. Swabia, 1469? – Fugger-Bibliothek – Cod. 5327 Han


This manuscript seems to be strictly about divination, mainly geomancy. It is written in different hands, partly in Latin and partly in German. The Crossbow Sagittarius appears at p.387, in the context of a detailed Zodiac wheel in which the 360 degrees of the zodiac are clearly and individually marked Download the css font. Darren Worley, who first found and commented this source, noticed that the image was cut and pasted in the manuscript. He also noticed that it appears not to be a drawing but a copper engraving. Since the German text of the manuscript flows just below the image, the diagram was likely pasted before the text was written. It is noteworthy that so far this is the only known image of a Crossbow Sagittarius that makes part of a Zodiac wheel. The date 1469 is inscribed at the end of the manuscript (p.392, f188v).

F. Southern Germany, 1474-1475 – Ludwig-Maximilians University Library – 2° Cod. ms. 578


A medical book written in the Southern German dialect. It contains different images of the zodiac signs. A few of the illustrations have been cut away. The first pages contain illustrations of the planets with the respective ruled signs, but Jupiter seems to be missing. At p.34 a Zodiacal man (melothesia) is represented. Another series of images of the planets follows. This time Jupiter is present (f27r / p.53): his image is Perseus-like, as in the 1429 manuscript described above; Sagittarius here is a man armed with a bow. The Crossbow Sagittarius appears in the last illustration, together with other 9 zodiac signs individually framed in circles (Pisces and Aquarius are missing). This source was also found by Darren Worley.

G 백색소음 mp3 다운로드. Württemberg, 1475 – Universitätsbibliothek Tübingen – Hausbuch – Md 2


This manuscript bears some resemblance with the 1429 manuscript at the Concordia Seminary Library discussed above. It is a complex work, often mentioned in art history texts mainly because it discusses and illustrates the children of the planets (Jupiter with Pisces and Sagittarius – f268r). It also includes many other crossbow-less images of Sagittarius (f6r, f12v,melothesia, f40v, f43r,zodiac wheel, f116r, f323r, star map). Similarly to the 1429 manuscript, f321r, in which the sign is represented as a Crossbowman, makes part (together with Pisces) of an illustration of the ruling planet Jupiter. In this cycle, each Zodiac sign appears as a tower representing a nightly or daily domicile for a specific planet. Saturn, Mars and the Sun (with their respective Zodiac signs) are illustrated on f321r. The cycle illustrating the seven planets and the twelve zodiac signs is concluded on the verso of the same folio. As customary, the Sun has a single domicile (Leo). Strangely, Libra has been duplicated and appears not only in association with Venus, but also as a second domicile for the Moon (together with the typical Cancer). The iconography of Mars in f321r has been modernized as well: one of his two images holds an arquebus. Among the examples listed here, this is the only case in which the Crossbow Sagittarius is not included in any kind of frame: with the exception of the possibly engraved zodiac wheel, all other Crossbow Sagittarii discussed are framed in circles 샤이닝 스타 극장판 다운로드.
Ellie Velinska referred to this manuscript in her 2013 post mentioned above.

H. Bavaria, 1477 – Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg – Cod. Pal. germ. 291


Another German hausbuch, apparently written in a single hand. It includes astrological, medical, pharmaceutical and devotional texts. The calendar tables at the beginning refer to the time period 1477-1514, so the manuscript was likely written in 1476 or 1477? The Crossbow Sagittarius appears in f17r, in a chapter written in German (or a German dialect) illustrating the properties of the Zodiac signs. The usual illustrations of the planets with their domiciles appear in the following pages (f23v-f29r). The Zodiac cycle was apparently copied from the Zodiac wheel pasted in the 1469 Fugger-Bibliothek manuscript discussed above (or they were both copied from a common source). This could confirm that the wheel is an engraving (so that image had a wider distribution and could more easily be copied). Darren Worley (who first found this source) posted the following comments: “There are two zodiac series shown in this manuscript, … [the first] shows a Sagittarius crossbowman, the second zodiac sequence [representing planetary domiciles] depicts Sagittarius as an archer. The first zodiac series is interesting in that it shows the distinctive cloud-band pattern (on Aries, Taurus and Cancer), which also appears in a celestial context in VM f68v3.”




  1. Darren Worley

    Here is another example of a Sagittarius Crossbowman dated to 1455. It appears on a playing card, possibly from the Court of Ladislaus Postumus (1440-1457). He was Duke of Austria from 1440, King of Hungary (as Ladislaus V) from 1444 and King of Bohemia from 1453 until his early death.

    Here is an English translation of the item description:

    Playing card
    Game, Hungary, Sagittarius (Five), from the so-called court game
    Around 1455
    Paper, woodcut, watercolors, gold and silver editions, pencil drawing
    H. 13.9 cm, B. 9.9 cm
    Museum of Fine Arts Vienna, Kunstkammer
    Inv KK_5089

    There seems to be differing location for its possible origin : Vienna, Hungary or Prague.

    It can be accessed here: Europeana or here, Museum of Fine Arts, Vienna.

    I attach an image below.

  2. MarcoP

    I find some aspects of the posture and costume of this illustration of Sagittarius comparable with the VMS. The source is Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Pal. lat. 1370 (second half of the XV Century). This part of the text is an essay about comets written in German. If I understand correctly, this section was written in Strasbourg.

  3. MarcoP

    As mentioned by Rene Zandbergen here, Fritz Saxl’s 1915 book (Verzeichnis astrologischer und mythologischer illustrierter Handschriften des lateinischen Mittelalters) is available online. I found there (pg.149) confirmation of Darren’s analysis of the zodiac wheel in Fugger-Bibliothek Cod. 5327 Han (see above): the illustration really is a copper engraving that was cut and pasted into the manuscript.

  4. Maryam Al-shhehi

    The manuscript was written by Voynich, he got old paper and started doing it by re-writing the same ideas and science as a personal note. In addition, he have his own reasons to turned it as unknown manuscript.

    • Stephen Bax

      Hi Maryam. Personally I feel that there is no good evidence at all for this idea. But that is just my opinion.

  5. Matthew

    Just wondering if you’ve looked at medieval polish alphabets, some of the symbols seem similar in appearance to me.

    In the last link, the symbol second from the left, and top most, is very similar to the “ch” symbol in the Voynich. While the Sasina appears similar to a symbol found in the manuscript (easily found on the F1rin the first line)
    I have no idea if this is helpful in any way, but I’m very interested in this document, and am dying for resolutions concerning it!

    • Stephen Bax

      Thanks, it is interesting to see this and reflect on it. However, it is easy to find resemblances between individual letters, or even (as others have suggested on these pages on a regular basis) the shape of words.

      The problem is that instead we need to find resemblances which run right through the whole script, and through lots of words, which is what I tried to do in my paper two years ago. Individual similarities can be very deceptive on their own!

      • Matthew

        Have you looked at the possibility of it being a (to the author) foreign alphabet using phonetic spellings of the writer’s native language? For instance a traveler speaks Farsi, but doesn’t know the written language of it, but picks up an early alphabet of Greek and applies the symbols to their own language phonetically in order to keep records. like the Hepburn Romanization of Japanese. When I watched your video presentation it struck me that a number of the words you’ve translated seem like a phonetic transcription.

        • Stephen Bax

          Yes, of course it could be. But until we identify the actual language we cannot know for sure.

  6. MarcoP

    I have tried to collect in a pdf file all the images pointed out by Darren and others, sorting them by date:
    I hope I included all the relevant images and sources.
    This was also published on voynich.ninja

    Once again, many thanks to Darren and Stephen for finding all this documentation and making it available to everybody interested in the subject!

    • Darren Worley

      Thanks Marco for compiling this pdf. It looks quite impressive to see all the images collected together.

      Of course, this is still a work-in-progress. It would be great if someone else can find further examples…I’ve looked high-and-low for other examples originating from outside Germany/Poland, but I’ve yet to find any…

  7. Joe

    Using the data from this website I am not sure if this has been noticed or noted, but there seems to be a correlation between the symbols in the center of some of the VM circles that are surrounded with women. In my pdf file of the VM they are pages 127-133, the VM pages seem to be 70-73. The symbols seem to correlate with symbols from this text which was linked to from this website. http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b84192477/f77.item.zoom

    http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b84192477/f1.planchecontact this is the link to the entire manuscript.

    I am sure another source in regards to the zodiac signs

    • Stephen Bax

      Thanks Joe, can you please explain which symbols you mean, exactly?

  8. Darren Worley

    Finding that the image of the Mars (as the Third Decanal planet of Pisces) [in the 1488 edition of Johannes Angelus, Astrolabium Planum] has strong similarities with the VM Gemini image, prompted me to see if I could find any other matches between VM zodiac signs and other 15th-century Decanal Planet representations.

    I found the following series of images, that also show a Crossbowman in an astrological context.

    I think this is relevant, firstly as the appearance of a crossbowman in an astrological context is very rare (cf. VM f73v), and also because this manuscript originated in Prague, where the VM was first reported.

    They are taken from the Picatrix Latinus a manuscript dating from 1450-1470 in Prague. It it currently located in the Jagiellonian University Library, Poland and is known as Ms. Krakow 793.

    It can be accessed here

    As Marco correctly remarked, there are 3 types of Astrological Crossbowmen:
    * Sagittarii
    * Children of Planet Jupiter (“jovial hunters”)
    * Decanal images (as found in the Picatrix).

    And all of these appear only quite rarely. (These images fall into the third category).

    The manuscript they appear in, the Picatrix, is a 400-page book of occult magic and astrology originally written in Arabic under the title غاية الحكيم Ghāyat al-Ḥakīm, which most scholars assume was originally written in the middle of the 11th century, though a supported argument for composition in the first half of the 10th century has been made. The Arabic title translates as The Aim of the Sage or The Goal of The Wise. The Arabic work was translated into Spanish and then into Latin during the 13th century, at which time it got the Latin title Picatrix.

    It is basically a grimoire composed from Arabic texts on a variety of occult scientific subjects, largely written in Syria and Mesopotamia during the previous two centuries. These texts clearly clearly contained material derived from Greek astrological and magical treatises, and it is also possible to detect Indian practices (mediated through Pahlavi sources) [ref: Astrology: From Ancient Babylon to the Present by P. G. Maxwell-Stuart]

    What I find intriguing is that these influences [Greek, Arabic, Indian] are reported in a 15th-century manuscript that originated in Prague and these same influences have also been reported in the VM.

    • MarcoP

      Hello Darren, I just want to add to your interesting observations that crossbowmen also appear as Children of the Sun in the Italian engravings attributed to Baccio Baldini (1460 ca).
      In general, I think that the Children of the Planets tradition is a contemporary parallel of the Voynich manuscript and cannot be a source for it (since it started at the same time as the manuscript was written).
      Also the images of the decans are only tangentially relevant, since the Voynich manuscript presents a Zodiac cycle, which might or might not be a “paranatellonta” cycle but does not seem to include a representation of the decans. Also the Decanal images that so closely resemble Voynich Gemini might have been originated by a common Gemini image unknown to us (but of course all this is pure speculation).

      In my opinion, the Sagittarius crossbowmen definitely are the most relevant images.

      • Also, to my untrained eye, the clothes of the male half of Gemini are similar to those of the Sagittarius, and those of the female half to those of Virgo.
        This is expected, as they should be representative of the time and ‘environment’ of the draughtsman. Given the very moderate skill of the draughtsman, I would hesitate to draw too many conclusions, but at least there is a hint of the same very wide sleeves in the Voynich sagittarius as in the 1425-8 image from St.Gallen.

        • MarcoP

          Hello Rene,
          I did not notice the voluminous sleeves of the Sagittarius before, thank you for pointing out the similarity with the St.Gall manuscript!
          In my opinion, the parallel posted by Ellie Velinska is an excellent match for the costume of the Sagittarius crossbowman (hat, dress, shoes).

          I also agree that the dress of the female Twin is very similar to that of Virgo. I don’t remember seeing parallels for these costumes as good as the Hunting Tapestry is for Sagittarius.

          The female dress can be described as a  houppelande (or houpelande) with long triangular sleeves having a jagged edge (a technique called slittering, according to this page).

          A quote from this bachelor thesis (Fashion of Middle England and its Image in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales):
          “Another way of adorning clothes was dagging (see fig.7). It came into fashion between 1380 and 1450 or thereabouts and soon became the favourite method of cutting the edges. Dagging means cutting the hemlines, wide sleeves, vents and collars into scallops, leaves, or tongues”.

          In the case of the female Twin, dagging/slitting produced sawtooth edges along the sleeves. Darren recently posted an artistically beautiful Gemini image from a Swabian lot book: the Male Twin wears a  houppelande  with similar sleeves. In contrast with the rough style of the drawings, the costumes of the Voynich zodiac seem to be of the richest kind, like those in the “Olmützer Losbuch”.

          It would be interesting to find images of female dresses paralleling the costumes of Virgo and the female Twin (in particular, the sawtooth-dagged triangular sleeves).

          • Ellie Velinska

            Nice observation! If you guys make a separate post on fashion – I have bunch of houppelande examples to share. One detail that is not easy to notice is the yellow on the collar line and the sleeves. The yellow is faded really badly in the VMs – it is better visible on the new scans from Beinecke.

          • Ellie Velinska

            Example of sawtooth-dagged sleeves

            • MarcoP

              Thank you Ellie, excellent images! Apparently, this very interesting (and beautiful) manuscript (BNF Nouvelle acquisition latine 1673 Tacuinum Sanitatis) is from Milan:

              • Ellie Velinska

                Hi Marco, I have examples of similar sleeves also from France, Flanders and Germany – so the dagged sleeves are no help in the task for narrowing the area – they are found all over the Western Europe in 15th century. The neck-line (in my non-expert opinion) is more interesting. Burgundian gowns have mostly V-neck or square neck and the round-necks are a bit deeper. The Sagittarius outfit is also typical – such can be found everywhere in manuscripts, tapestries, sculptures all over Western Europe 15th century. There is very interesting female hair accessory in the VMs – some sort of a roll on top the head – I looked hard and only have one example of something close to it – so if you stumble upon something similar by chance – please let me know.

                • MarcoP

                  Hi Ellie, I understand your point. I think that all good parallels are interesting, even those that only confirm the current theories.
                  The necklaces certainly are interesting and the hair-dresses even more so: I don’t remember seeing anything like that (and I also have difficulties understanding their actual shape). The example at the top left seems to have something like red ribbon hanging from the circles at the two extremities: intriguing! Thank you for pointing out these details!

                • VV

                  Hi Ellie,
                  Very interesting! Regarding the female hair accessory:
                  if we’re assuming this section is somehow related to balneo stuff, those weird head rolls could be some kind of medical compress or cloth containing a cataplasm of some sort rather than a headdress/accessory meant to be worn in public.
                  I wonder if searching through images of medieval medical head packs/dressings might yield something interesting?

                  • VV

                    Sorry to reply to my own comment, but a quick search pointed me to something called a “magdaleon”, defined by wiktionary as: “A medicine in the form of a roll, especially a roll of plaster.”
                    I can’t find a picture, but there seem to be a few herbal recipes for them in Lemery (1689), although that’s way too late for our purposes, and I have no idea how ancient they are or how they were used.

                    • Ellie Velinska

                      Hi VV, very interesting idea. I’ll search for examples for that kind of plaster. There should be be some – at least as fever reducer. On the other hand there are many examples in 15th century of bathing people who keep their headdress in the tub – I just grabbed a couple randomly – there are many.

                    • Ellie Velinska

                      Also, the roll is not the only type of headdress the VMs ladies are wearing in the ‘baths’. The other types are much easier to find – veils, roundels, coifs, hoods etc. Couple of the hair-rolls have jewelry attached to them – which would be weird if it is a plaster. I had difficulty finding ‘roll’ examples. This is why I sort of crashed the post (thanks for your patience, Mr. Bax) – Marco and Darren seem to go through many images daily and I was hoping they can keep an eye for that kind of accessory.

                    • VV

                      I agree with all that you’re saying here regarding headresses in baths, just trying to think outside the box about what these things might be!
                      Also, the “magdaleon” (it seems a smaller version is called a magdalia) is also mentioned in the Trotula and by Rabelais (he makes a crude joke about these tubular medicines), so it’s safe to say they would have been around since at least medieval times. I’m not at all pleading for this to be what we see here, just putting it out there as an option. Still no images though sorry!

                • VV

                  Another option about the rolls: Might some of them be sporting something like this hairstyle?
                  (Boccacio, 1403)

                  • Ellie Velinska

                    Nice one. It also could be just hair buns. The Babenberg family tree has another example – this time with hair up and jewelry hanging from the round pins – may explain the red stuff coming out of one of the rolls

                    • Ellie Velinska

                      Also, in the version with the hair down – the hair is braided. It is hard to tell if the VMs hair is braided or just curly – the actual size of the VMs women is very small. There seems to be a braid in the VMs lady whose roll was covered by green paint. Also, in the version with the hair up – the gems that are hanging are red which is hilarious coincidence 🙂

            • Ellie, I’ve just noticed this, and have added a note to a recent one of mine where I mentioned the same in relation to the figure in Gemini.

              Sorry, I don’t get back here often these days, or I should have noticed sooner.

      • Darren Worley

        Marco & Rene – thanks for your comments. Yes, I agree the Sagitarrius crossbowmen are the most relevant images, but the similarities of the VM Gemini with the Decanal image is quite startling. Its not just the clothes that are similar; the posture and positions of the arms and hands are very alike. It may well be that they’ve both been copied from a common earlier image, if true, this becomes a good clue to the source material the copyist used when compiling the VM (and the engraver used when preparing the Astrolabium Planum). Perhaps looking for other examples by this engraver might unearth further similar images?

        I think one useful thing we have learnt from this is that the VM has many parallels with other medieval astrological manuscripts and early printed books.

        I’ve been thinking about Marco comments about the “paranatellonta” cycle. While these images do look similar to the VM the individual degrees are not named. Each degree has a description, but not a single word label, as in the VM. This seems to be quite a distinctive feature of the VM Zodiac.

        Are there documented examples where each of the 30 sub-divisions of a zodiac sign are individually named? I’d be especially interested to learn of any lists, describing all 360 degrees. Perhaps derived from older Indian or Arabic traditions?

        I agree that the VM figures indicate “degrees of the zodiac”, but I’m not aware of any examples where each sub-division represents an individual star, a day or a single virtue/vice.

        I’ve seen that there is a specific term for the “360 individual degrees in Hellenistic astrology”; its Monomoiria.

        In this astrological system each degree is associated with particular planets, especially in traditions that were influenced by the astrological author from the late-Roman Empire Paulus Alexandrinus‘ Eisagogika and the 2nd-century astrologer Vettius Valens‘s Anthology.

        However, I’m not sure if this system was practiced in 15th-century central Europe. Given the German influence that been reported in the VM, I would expect any astrological system describing “360 individual degrees” to be documented elsewhere in other 15th-century texts.

        • Hello Darren,

          that is the 1-million dollar question, so to speak, and one which I have been wondering about for many years:

          what *could* the 30 single words (with some exceptions) in the zodiac signs represent?

          It is not an unanswerable question. There are quite a number of possibilities, and the real problem is to decide which one(s) is/are reasonable or even realistic.
          Some obvious possibilities are:
          – a number (encoded somehow)
          – a name
          – a property
          Lists of properties related to each degree of the zodiac exist, as you say, and the earliest one I found took me a long time to get. It’s in “Dupuis: l’origine de tous les cultes” and again, nowadays easily viewable online:


          (sorry for the ugly link. One needs to scroll down from this point).
          Indeed, these do not tend to be single words. With respect to the number, there is one special case that has always attracted my interest, namely the possibility that it represents ecliptic latitude of a star. Its ecliptic longitude would be implied by the degree in the zodiac sign. The magnitude by the number of points of the star.
          This could (at least qualitatively) explain the almost flat but not entirely unique distribution of the label words.
          This theory has some problems though… It would seem to imply at first sight that all words in the MS are numbers, though that isn’t necessarily so.

          But I digress.

          I agree that a very important clue is that the illustrations in the Voynich MS do not stand on their own, in a vacuum, but are connected to other MSs in ways that are only just becoming clear and warrant a more detailed search.

          • Darren Worley

            Marco / Rene – thanks for your thought provoking responses. (I’d already written most of this before Marco’s last post – so there is some overlap).

            I think it will be a better strategy to focus attention on 360-degree zodiac lists that were likely to have been in circulation in 15th-century central Europe. Following the example of the Picatrix we already have an historical example of a manuscript of Indian/Arabic origin that circulated in 15th-century Prague. Although interesting, I don’t think its necessary to look directly to Indian sources, unless they can be shown to have been available in medieval Europe.

            Furthermore, the recent comments about the distinctive dress worn by the female VM Gemini twin, makes an even more compelling argument that the VM was compiled/copied in 15th-century Central Europe.

            Rene’s 1795 example is interesting since it references the concept of Monomoiria that I referred to earlier. Rene’s example “Origine de tous les cultes ou Religion universelle par Dupuis” (Origin of all religions or Universal Religion) By Charles-François Dupuis was first published in 1795.

            I’m aware that Renaissance astrology was based on Greek sources only available from the mid-15th century. Prior to this medieval astrology in Europe was based on translations into Latin from Arabic, or from Latin translations from Hebrew via Old French. Given that carbon-dating of the VM suggests an early 15th-century origin, and the European influence already remarked upon, suggested the Hebrew/Old French origin might be more likely.

            This lead me to focus on European-Jewish influenced documents – and very quickly I identified a 360-degree zodiac list, that is several centuries older than Rene’s example.

            This list is taken from Sloane MS. 2731 – a English manuscript dating from 1676 held in the British Library. It is reported to be compiled from documents several centuries older which puts it contemporary with the VM. The section containing the 360-degree list is found in the section called the “Ars Paulina” of the compendium known as the Lemegeton or Clavicula Salomonis Regis, another name is the Lesser Key of Solomon.

            According to wikipedia the “Ars Paulina” is in turn divided into two books, the first detailing twenty-four angels aligned with the twenty-four hours of the day, the second (derived more from the Heptameron) detailing the 360 spirits of the degrees of the zodiac. Other sources for other elements of the document are also mentioned, including the Apostle Paul(!)

            As mentioned before, Pietro d’Abano‘s Heptameron pre-dates the creation of the VM, suggestion this could be a possible source for the 360-degree labels found in the VM.

            I attach an image showning of the labels for each degree. The entire document is available here.

            The zodiac symbols run across horizontally the page starting at Aries, Taurus, Gemini etc, through to Aquarius and Pisces.

            I’ve found duplicates between the “Ars Paulina” Zodiac sequence and the VM Zodiac, which I think could indicate important parallels.

            For example, the text “Chazael” appears in Gemini (3rd column; 19 row), and also in Pisces (12th column; 27th row). These are the only 2 appearance of this label in the entire 360-degree list.

            Similarly, in VM Gemini (f72r2) we have EVA:okaram (at 12 o’clock oter ring) and Pisces (f70v2) EVA:okaram (4 o’clock inner ring). Again. this is the only place this label appears in the VM Zodiac section!

            I’m no expert on probability, but think it could be relevant that a common label has been found in both sets of Zodiac sequences (Gemini and Pisces), so it seems worth considering and investigating these similarities further.

            • MarcoP

              Hello Darren,
              since I have been following your brilliant intuition about the existence of “examples where each of the 30 sub-divisions of a zodiac sign are individually named” it is not surprising that we both found the Ars Paulina at the same time! I think your approach of looking for repeating names in both the Ars Paulina and the Voynich manuscript could provide interesting results!

              In general, I agree with what Stephen wrote here: the manuscript was possibly written by or for a community in eastern Europe, the Caucasus, or western Asia – sorry not to be more specific – and has the traces of Arabic, Persian. Mongol, Indian ideas and even language which would not be unexpected or surprising at the time in, say, the area of the Black Sea, the Caucasus or eastern Turkey. It currently seems likely that the manuscript was materially written in Central Europe, but I think the content and the language come from somewhere East and far. So I don’t think that sources that circulated in 15th-century central Europe are necessarily more relevant than, say, Arabic, Persian or Indian sources. On the pragmatic point of view, European sources are much more accessible (to me, at least) so it is certainly convenient to work with those.

          • Stephen Bax

            Has anyone done a clear analysis of which words in the zodiac rings are repeated? i.e. which are not unique to that particular ring?

            • MarcoP

              Hello Stephen,
              I have attempted an analysis of the repeated labels: I am not sure it is 100% accurate. I used Takeshi Takahashi’s “H” EVA transcription. Apparently, there are 20 repeating labels, some repeat more than twice and some repeat in the same page.

              Here are the details:




















              • MarcoP

                Correcting my previous comment:
                * The repeating labels are 18 (not 20).
                * I erroneously listed twice the occurrences of EVA:okeos.

              • I just checked my list. Qualitatively it is quite similar (maximum duplications = 4) but there are very significant differences in the readings. For example I have 2x oeedy (Leo and Virgo) and 2x oeeodaiin (Cancer and Virgo). I mention these examples, because the labels starting with oee- and oeeo- occur only in the few adjacent signs Cancer, Leo, Virgo and Libra. This must mean something, though I wonder what…..

                (Of course, all readings, including mine are to some extent doubtful).

                • Stephen Bax


                  Is this list on your site, or just in your own notes?

                  • Hello Stephen, this list is part of a transcription which isn’t on my site. I wouldn’t have a problem in sharing it, though I would need to review it, which is something that may take a while.

            • Darren Worley

              I wrote a simple computer program to count the frequency of each label appearing the the Lemegeton. This should a be more accurate and quicker method of generating these statistics. It should be a simple process to repeat this for the VM Zodiac labels.

              The results demonstrate some properties that Marco reported finding in the VM – for example, the same label appearing twice within the same Zodiac sign (e.g. Dahiel for Virgo) and the same label appearing across two-or-more Zodiac signs. There are many examples where a single label appears in 2 signs (eg. Abiel, Achael), less frequent are examples where a single label appears in 3 or more Zodiac signs (eg. Chadiel; 4 occurances or Zachiel; 5 occurances).

              It seems highly likely there are transaction/copying errors in this medieval list – looking down the columns for Scorpio and Sagittarius it can be seen that most labels are paired (e.g. [Scorpio,15] = [Sagittarius,15] = Goziel) however for some rows there are slight spelling differences eg. [Scorpio,3] = Cosiel and [Sagittarius,3] = Casiel; [Scorpio,12] = Tagiel and [Sagittarius,12] = Tadiel.

              I haven’t corrected for this in the results, but it means that a greater number of unique labels are being reported than perhaps there should be.

              Finally its worth remarking that many (all?) of these labels (or angels’ names) are not just random text, but are Hebrew words. (Are there better matches for Arabic or Persian terms?)

              For example:

              “Adiel” means “God’s ornament”
              “Chazael” means “God See’s”
              “Chael” means “Who is like God”
              “Sachiel” or “Zachiel” means “the covering of God”
              “Ariel” means “Lion of God” or “Hearth of God”
              “Tobiel” or “Tabeel” means “God is good”
              “Haajah” or Hajah meaning “she was the mother of all living” (referring to Eve)

              Analysis of Labels in the Lemegeton (Degrees of the Zodaic)

              Abiel : Leo,15 : Cancer,15
              Achael : Leo,24 : Cancer,24
              Achiel : Leo,21 : Cancer,21
              Adiel : Leo,27 : Cancer,27
              Ahiel : Cancer,18
              Ahoel : Leo,18
              Aiel : Leo,3
              Aniel : Leo,6 : Cancer,6
              Aphiel : Leo,9
              Ariel : Leo,12 : Cancer,12
              Athiel : Cancer,9
              Aziel : Cancer,30
              Aziol : Leo,30
              Baajah : Aquarius,15 : Capricorn,15
              Bachael : Gemini,20
              Bachiel : Pisces,21 : Taurus,20
              Bagiel : Virgo,12 : Virgo,22
              Bahiel : Gemini,10
              Bangiel : Libra,13
              Baviel : Sagittarius,24 : Scorpio,24
              Bial : Aries,1
              Bohel : Libra,23
              Bomiel : Aquarius,25
              Bongael : Pisces,11
              Boriel : Taurus,11
              Boshael : Capricorn,25
              Botiel : Aries,20
              Bovael : Sagittarius,14 : Scorpio,14
              Cabiel : Virgo,21
              Cahael : Sagittarius,23
              Cajael : Pisces,30
              Cajoal : Pisces,20
              Caliel : Aries,9
              Camiel : Aquarius,4
              Cashiel : Capricorn,16
              Casiel : Scorpio,30 : Sagittarius,3
              Casmel : Capricorn,4
              Chabiel : Sagittarius,20 : Scorpio,20
              Chadiel : Taurus,16 : Taurus,26 : Gemini,16 : Gemini,26
              Chael : Aquarius,21 : Aries,26 : Capricorn,21 : Scorpio,23
              Chahel : Capricorn,1
              Chamel : Aquarius,1
              Chanel : Sagittarius,30
              Chazael : Pisces,27 : Gemini,19
              Chaziel : Pisces,17 : Taurus,19 : Taurus,29
              Chiel : Aries,29
              Chochiel : Libra,29
              Chongel : Libra,19
              Chotiel : Virgo,18
              Ciajah : Aquarius,24 : Capricorn,24
              Codiel : Libra,22
              Cognel : Aries,6
              Coliel : Virgo,1
              Cosiel : Scorpio,3
              Daael : Aquarius,27 : Capricorn,27
              Dachael : Aries,22 : Sagittarius,26 : Scorpio,26
              Dachiel : Sagittarius,16 : Scorpio,16
              Dagiel : Pisces,13 : Pisces,23
              Dagnel : Taurus,13
              Dahiel : Virgo,14 : Virgo,24
              Daiel : Gemini,28
              Dajel : Taurus,22
              Dajoel : Gemini,22
              Damiel : Capricorn,17
              Dashiel : Aquarius,17
              Dathiel : Gemini,12
              Datziel : Libra,15
              Daziel : Libra,25
              Eagiel : Libra,2
              G?otiel : Virgo,28
              Gabael : Pisces,22
              Gabiel : Aries,13
              Gacniel : Aquarius,16
              Gadiel : Aries,15 : Virgo,23
              Gamiel : Capricorn,26
              Ganiot : Aries,4
              Gashiel : Aquarius,26
              Gatiel : Libra,7
              Giel : Aries,21
              Gnabiel : Virgo,11
              Gnachiel : Libra,6
              Gnadiel : Scorpio,13
              Gnahoel : Sagittarius,13
              Gnakiel : Sagittarius,7 : Scorpio,7
              Gnamel : Libra,12
              Gnamiel : Capricorn,8
              Gnashiel : Aquarius,8
              Gnasiel : Pisces,4
              Gnetiel : Gemini,9
              Gobiel : Pisces,12
              Gociel : Aries,19
              Godiel : Virgo,13
              Goel : Leo,23
              Gonamiel : Capricorn,14
              Gonastiel : Aquarius,14
              Gonhiel : Taurus,10
              Gophel : Libra,14
              Goriel : Gemini,11
              Gosiel : Aries,2
              Gothiel : Taurus,12
              Gotiel : Taurus,21 : Gemini,21
              Gozael : Sagittarius,25 : Scorpio,25
              Goziel : Sagittarius,15 : Scorpio,15
              Gualiel : Gemini,4
              Gueliel : Taurus,4
              Haajah : Aquarius,18 : Capricorn,18
              Habiel : Aries,23
              Hachael : Taurus,23 : Gemini,23
              Hacl : Aries,3
              Hadiel : Pisces,14
              Hael : Aries,8
              Hatiel : Sagittarius,27 : Scorpio,27
              Hazael : Aries,18
              Heriel : Aries,30
              Hochiel : Libra,26
              Hodiel : Pisces,24
              Hogael : Gemini,13
              Hokel : Libra,16
              Homiel : Aquarius,28
              Hophiel : Sagittarius,17 : Scorpio,17
              Hoshael : Capricorn,28
              Hovael : Virgo,15 : Virgo,25
              Hoziel : Gemini,29
              Ibaich : Libra,1
              Jaajah : Capricorn,3 : Aquarius,3
              Jabael : Pisces,19
              Jachiel : Virgo,30
              Jadiel : Sagittarius,22 : Scorpio,22
              Jagiel : Libra,21
              Jalael : Pisces,29
              Jamael : Sagittarius,2
              Jashiel : Aquarius,23
              Javael : Taurus,28
              Javiel : Taurus,18 : Gemini,18
              Jmojah : Capricorn,23
              Jochiel : Virgo,20
              Joniel : Scorpio,2
              Jozel : Aries,28
              Kabiel : Sagittarius,10
              Kahiel : Aquarius,11
              Khoel : Aries,16
              Kingael : Taurus,7 : Gemini,7
              Kingiel : Scorpio,10
              Kiniel : Capricorn,11
              Knaphel : Virgo,5
              Kphiel : Pisces,7
              Kriel : Virgo,8
              Lachiel : Pisces,1
              Lahael : Libra,3
              Lamajah : Capricorn,5
              Lariot : Aries,10
              Lashiel : Aquarius,5
              Latiel : Gemini,1
              Laugael : Sagittarius,4 : Scorpio,4
              Lavael : Cancer,19
              Letiel : Taurus,1
              Lonael : Virgo,2
              Loviel : Aries,17
              Mabiel : Leo,25
              Madiel : Cancer,17
              Magiel : Leo,16 : Cancer,26
              Magnael : Cancer,8 : Cancer,14
              Mahiel : Leo,28
              Majel : Cancer,23
              Makel : Cancer,11
              Masiel : Leo,7
              Mathiel : Pisces,10
              Matiel : Leo,22
              Maziel : Cancer,20
              Mochiel : Leo,1 : Leo,4
              Moliel : Cancer,5
              Mothiel : Leo,13
              Motiel : Cancer,2
              Motziel : Leo,10
              Moviel : Cancer,29
              Mukel : Leo,19
              Naajah : Capricorn,6 : Aquarius,6
              Najael : Gemini,2
              Naphadel : Sagittarius,5
              Naphael : Scorpio,5
              Nathel : Aries,11
              Niyael : Taurus,2
              Nohiel : Pisces,2
              Nosael : Virgo,3
              Paajah : Capricorn,9 : Aquarius,9
              Pamel : Gemini,5
              Pangael : Pisces,5
              Patziel : Virgo,6
              Pegiel : Aries,14
              Ponoel : Taurus,5
              Poriel : Sagittarius,8 : Scorpio,8
              Raajah : Aquarius,12
              Raliel : Libra,10
              Raphiel : Gemini,8
              Raphoel : Taurus,8
              Rathiel : Virgo,9
              Ratziel : Pisces,8
              Riajah : Capricorn,12
              Robiel : Scorpio,11
              Rogael : Sagittarius,11
              Rohiel : Libra,9
              Sabiel : Cancer,25
              Sachael : Taurus,30 : Gemini,3
              Sachiel : Taurus,3 : Cancer,1 : Cancer,4
              Sadiel : Leo,17
              Sael : Libra,24
              Sagel : Leo,14 : Cancer,16
              Sagiel : Leo,26
              Sagnel : Aries,12
              Sahiel : Cancer,28
              Samael : Aquarius,7
              Sanael : Pisces,3
              Sangiel : Virgo,4
              Sasael : Cancer,7
              Sasaial : Capricorn,7
              Satiel : Leo,2 : Leo,5
              Satziel : Sagittarius,6 : Scorpio,6
              Savael : Leo,29
              Saziel : Libra,5 : Leo,20
              Sobael : Cancer,10
              Sokel : Leo,11
              Songael : Leo,8
              Sothiel : Cancer,13
              Sotiel : Cancer,22
              Stiel : Cancer,3
              Tiel : Capricorn,10
              Tachael : Pisces,18
              Tachiel : Pisces,28
              Tadiel : Sagittarius,12
              Tagiel : Sagittarius,21 : Scorpio,12 : Scorpio,21
              Tahiel : Gemini,27
              Tahoel : Gemini,17
              Taliel : Sagittarius,1
              Tamiel : Aquarius,13 : Aquarius,22
              Tangiel : Virgo,10
              Taphael : Aries,7
              Taraziel : Pisces,9
              Tashiel : Capricorn,13 : Capricorn,22
              Tavael : Libra,11 : Aries,27
              Tazael : Virgo,29
              Tijel : Virgo,19
              Tobiel : Libra,20
              Tohael : Taurus,27
              Tohiel : Libra,30 : Taurus,17
              Toliel : Scorpio,1
              Tomael : Capricorn,2
              Tosael : Aquarius,2
              Toxisiel : Taurus,6
              Tozael : Taurus,9
              Tzajael : Libra,8
              Tzakiel : Virgo,7
              Tzaniel : Aquarius,10
              Tzathel : Scorpio,9
              Tzaugel : Sagittarius,9
              Tzisiel : Gemini,6
              Tzophal : Pisces,6
              Uaviel : Libra,4
              Vabiel : Taurus,14 : Taurus,24 : Gemini,14 : Gemini,24
              Vachael : Gemini,30
              Vadael : Sagittarius,28
              Vagael : Scorpio,28
              Vagel : Aries,24
              Vahasah : Pisces,15
              Vahoiah : Pisces,25
              Vajael : Sagittarius,18 : Scorpio,18
              Vamiel : Aquarius,19
              Vannel : Capricorn,29
              Varziel : Libra,17
              Vashiel : Aquarius,29 : Capricorn,19
              Vasiel : Virgo,26
              Vatiel : Libra,27
              Vaziel : Virgo,16
              Zaajah : Aquarius,30 : Capricorn,30
              Zachiel : Sagittarius,19 : Virgo,17 : Virgo,27 : Scorpio,19 : Scorpio,29
              Zaciot : Aries,5
              Zadiel : Aries,25
              Zael : Libra,28
              Zagiel : Taurus,25 : Gemini,25
              Zagiil : Gemini,15
              Zahael : Sagittarius,29
              Zannel : Capricorn,20
              Zashiel : Aquarius,20
              Zavael : Pisces,16 : Pisces,26
              Zegiel : Taurus,15

              • Darren,
                Thanks for taking this trouble. I see that the wiki article says the list was “compiled in the mid-17th century, mostly from materials a couple of centuries older.”

                I do wish we had some source earlier still: fourteenth century would be good.

                Come to think of it, I should re-read Pseudo-Dionysius, I suppose.

                The theme of heavenly hierarchies was fairly popular among the Italian religious painters during the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. I wonder what their sources were.

            • Darren Worley

              I re-worked my exisiting program to analyse the frequency of labels appearing in the VM Zodiac signs and I can report an exact correspondance with Marco’s results. (Marco only listed those labels appearing multiple times). I too used the same dataset as Marco : Takeshi Takahashi’s “H” EVA transcription.

              In the Lemegeton I found 284 unique labels (across 12 Zodiac signs) and in the VM Zodiac there are 272 unique labels (across 10 Zodiac signs, since Capricorn and Aquarius are missing).

              I think further work is required to interpret these results (because of the likely mis-transcriptions in the source data), and I can upload full results, if anyone wants to see them.

              • Zodiac

                It would be great to see the full set of labels (unique and duplicates) in a similar format to what you provided for the Lemegeton.

                • Darren Worley

                  I wasn’t sure if anyone would want to see the complete results – but since you ask, I’ve posted them below. The program output gives the page that each VM zodiac label appears in, so that duplicates can be seen. I don’t really have the expertise in statistics to tell if the similarities/differences between the 2 data sets are significant – the difficulty I have is that there are likely copying errors in both data sets (and the labels might represented in different language translations).

                  Its not possible to show these results in the same kind of table format as found in the Lemegeton, because there is no (known) order to the VM zodiac labels – the labels could be unordered, or run clockwise or anticlockwise, or from inner ring to outer.

                  The EVA transcription has ordered them inner-to-outer running clockwise, however, I suspect that if the labels are ordered, they probably run anti-clockwise from inner to outer.

                  I am also suspicious of any approach that depends too much on statistics, however, I am encouraged that certain traits are found in both data sets – i.e. there are duplicate labels within a single sign, and the maximum number of repetitions in each data set are roughly equal (they don’t differ vastly in magnitude.)

                  Thanks Marco – for the link to the French academic paper that describes a little more about other manuscript copies of this text. I’ve read it as best as I can (its in French) and it appears that the Lemegaton exists in 5 extant manuscripts – the earliest dates from the 15th-century (Vatican Library, MS Rome, Vat. lat. 3180) putting it contemporary with the VM. I think its also significant that it existed in multiple copies. Elsewhere in the paper it mentions that these Lemegaton manuscripts were found in the “trans-alpine peninsular” – which I assume refers to Alpine Region between Northern Italy and Southern Germany. It would be interesting to know how much these 5 versions differ from one another.

                  The Lemegaton is said to have been re-worked from elements of Pietro de Abano’s writings, who in turn re-worked even earlier Arabic texts by Albumasar (Abu Ma’shar) and “the most learned rabbi Abraham Aben Ezra”. Here is an interesting article explaining a little more about Albumasar.

                  I suspect/speculate that both the VM and the Lemegaton Zodiac labels share a common origin and the Lemegaton is currently the best candidate for the (most recent) origin of the VM Zodiac labels, although this tradition seems to have much more ancient sources. I’m also intrigued by Pietro de Abano’s biography (c.1257 – 1316) – he was born in the spa town of Abano, and during his life he lived in Greece, Padua and Paris. He was also investigated by the Inquisition; if the VM is a later copy of one of his works – this might hint why the VM was later found in a Jesuit library collection. His works were also published in some of the earliest printed books, which might explain why similarities have been found in early woodcut book illustrations.


                  VM Zodiac Label Analysis Results

                  **!!!!!!!ofaiin : Leo,8
                  aiinod : Libra,10
                  ainaly : Gemini,28
                  air!olm : Virgo,4
                  ar : Scorpio,29
                  char.al!f : Taurus2,6
                  char.orom : Taurus1,1
                  chckhhy : Pisces,20
                  chcthhy : Leo,22
                  chdaiir!sainy : Taurus2,2
                  chdy : Scorpio,17
                  ched : Sagittarius,21
                  chefy : Scorpio,26
                  cheody : Sagittarius,4
                  cheoekcy : Virgo,7
                  cheoepy : Libra,19
                  cheolpy : Leo,15
                  cheos.sh*s : Virgo,26
                  chfaly : Taurus1,2
                  chockhy : Scorpio,2
                  chosar : Gemini,26
                  chsary : Aries2,8
                  daiin.chcpy : Leo,13
                  dalshey : Scorpio,18
                  dolara!m!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : Pisces,4
                  ecsy : Sagittarius,8
                  eeeoloy : Virgo,18
                  eeoeety : Virgo,8
                  epal : Leo,29
                  kar : Scorpio,30
                  loly : Leo,23
                  o!eeod : Virgo,12
                  oaiin.ar.ary : Taurus2,3
                  oalcheg : Aries1,11
                  ocf{&F}shy : Libra,6
                  ocheos : Libra,17
                  ochey.fydy : Cancer,18
                  ochol.charam : Taurus2,10
                  octho : Cancer,29
                  octhy : Libra,2
                  odair.an : Leo,25
                  odal : Libra,9
                  odees : Sagittarius,7
                  odody : Libra,11
                  oeaiin.olaikhy : Cancer,23
                  oecs.aiin : Leo,27
                  oeedaly : Virgo,25
                  oeedey : Virgo,1
                  oeedy : Virgo,21
                  oeeeodaiin : Cancer,10
                  oeees : Libra,5
                  oeees.aiin : Cancer,16
                  oeemy : Leo,24
                  oeeo.daiin : Virgo,2
                  oeeody : Libra,29
                  oeeoly : Libra,21
                  oeeoty : Libra,1
                  oees : Libra,7
                  oeey : Libra,25
                  oekeol : Virgo,20
                  ofacfom : Taurus1,11
                  ofais.o.s!eesaly : Cancer,19
                  ofalals : Leo,11
                  ofaralar : Taurus2,11
                  ofc!hea!y : Virgo,27
                  ofchdady : Gemini,1
                  ofchdy!sd : Virgo,11
                  ofcheesy : Sagittarius,15
                  ofsholdy : Cancer,11
                  ogeom : Leo,2
                  oi!air : Sagittarius,23
                  oiiny : Libra,24
                  ok*olo{fold} : Leo,1
                  okady : Libra,22
                  okaiin : Virgo,19
                  okair!cham : Gemini,14
                  okairy : Gemini,4
                  okal : Sagittarius,24 : Gemini,10 : Gemini,8
                  okal!dal : Pisces,8
                  okal!dy : Gemini,25
                  okala!r : Cancer,21
                  okalair : Libra,28
                  okalal : Aries1,9
                  okalam : Taurus2,4
                  okalar : Gemini,7
                  okaldy : Leo,18
                  okaly : Pisces,14 : Leo,17 : Gemini,17 : Gemini,9
                  okam : Leo,4 : Gemini,23
                  okar.ar.aly : Taurus1,8
                  okar.cham : Gemini,29
                  okaraiin : Taurus1,7
                  okaram : Pisces,5 : Gemini,3
                  okary : Scorpio,22 : Leo,26
                  okasy : Pisces,28
                  okchedy : Libra,14
                  okeal : Gemini,15
                  okedal : Scorpio,16
                  okedy : Libra,26 : Scorpio,3
                  okeeol : Leo,16
                  okeeoly : Libra,8
                  okeeom : Virgo,23
                  okees : Pisces,26
                  okeey : Libra,23
                  okeey.ary : Gemini,11 : Taurus2,14
                  okeo.rar : Virgo,30
                  okeoaly : Aries2,5
                  okeod! : Sagittarius,27
                  okeody : Sagittarius,12 : Virgo,14 : Sagittarius,5 : Scorpio,7
                  okeol : Libra,30
                  okeolar : Gemini,5
                  okeoldy : Virgo,15
                  okeoly : Pisces,24 : Libra,4
                  okeoram : Virgo,3
                  okeory : Virgo,6
                  okeos : Sagittarius,18 : Scorpio,20 : Scorpio,21
                  okery : Scorpio,10
                  okesdy : Scorpio,9
                  okey : Leo,5
                  oklairdy : Gemini,2
                  okldam : Aries2,2
                  okody : Pisces,18
                  okol : Sagittarius,1
                  okolar : Taurus1,3
                  okolshy : Aries1,13
                  okoly : Leo,9 : Aries1,1
                  oksedy : Scorpio,11
                  oky : Sagittarius,22 : Scorpio,25 : Leo,21
                  oky!dy : Pisces,25
                  oky.ody : Pisces,12
                  okyd : Gemini,19
                  okyeeshy : Leo,7
                  okyl : Libra,15
                  olalsy : Cancer,3
                  olcphy : Taurus1,5
                  oletal : Cancer,24
                  olfsheoral : Cancer,13
                  olkalaiin : Cancer,2
                  olkar : Virgo,24
                  oota!dy : Scorpio,24
                  opaiin : Scorpio,19
                  opaiin!ar : Virgo,17
                  opalal : Cancer,25
                  opalar.am.da!n : Taurus1,9
                  opalg : Virgo,22
                  opalor.ar : Taurus1,10
                  opals : Sagittarius,10
                  opchey.sal : Aries1,7
                  opoeey.okaiin : Cancer,12
                  opoiisooin.al.aes : Cancer,7
                  opys.am : Pisces,19
                  or.aiin.am : Cancer,4
                  or.alkam : Cancer,14
                  oraiin : Virgo,29
                  oraiiny : Sagittarius,16
                  oral : Cancer,30
                  orara : Cancer,22
                  orary : Gemini,18
                  oreeey : Leo,3
                  ory : Cancer,17
                  os.as.sheeen : Cancer,5
                  osaiisal : Cancer,27
                  oshesy : Virgo,5
                  oshodody : Taurus2,1
                  ot*!ad! : Scorpio,23
                  otaiin : Taurus1,6
                  otaiin.otain : Taurus2,8
                  otainy : Taurus2,15
                  otair.dy : Gemini,13
                  otal : Scorpio,27 : Gemini,21
                  otal!am : Pisces,3
                  otal!ar : Pisces,2
                  otal.!rar : Pisces,22
                  otal.dar : Pisces,17 : Aries2,15
                  otal.dy : Pisces,23
                  otalaiin : Taurus1,13
                  otalalg : Pisces,27
                  otalaly : Aries2,10
                  otalchy.tar.am.dy : Aries1,6
                  otald : Pisces,16
                  otalef.as.ainam : Taurus2,9
                  otaleky : Aries2,6
                  otalody : Taurus1,12
                  otalsar : Aries2,7
                  otalshy : Gemini,24
                  otaly : Pisces,21 : Leo,30 : Scorpio,6
                  otam : Gemini,27
                  otar!!{fold} : Pisces,29
                  otar!al : Pisces,1
                  otar!aldy : Gemini,6
                  otar.shor : Taurus1,14
                  otaraldy : Taurus2,7
                  otarar!!!! : Gemini,16
                  otchdal : Taurus2,13
                  otchodals : Aries1,12
                  otchody : Taurus1,4
                  otchoshy : Taurus2,12
                  oteas.araydy : Aries1,5
                  otedy : Sagittarius,30
                  oteeary : Gemini,12
                  oteedyg! : Scorpio,15
                  oteedyl : Scorpio,8
                  oteeeody : Leo,6
                  oteeol : Aries2,13
                  oteeosy : Scorpio,13
                  oteesod : Leo,28
                  oteey.daiin : Cancer,9
                  oteey.dchyr : Leo,14
                  oteo!tey.sary : Aries2,9
                  oteo.alols.asaly : Aries1,3
                  oteoaldy : Aries2,3
                  oteod : Libra,12
                  oteodar : Virgo,10
                  oteody : Sagittarius,2 : Sagittarius,3
                  oteoeey!!.otal.okeal.ar : Aries1,4
                  oteofy : Libra,18
                  oteolar : Aries2,4
                  oteoly : Libra,3
                  oteos.arar : Aries2,1
                  oteosal : Pisces,6
                  otey : Scorpio,5
                  otody : Pisces,15
                  otokaiman : Aries1,8
                  otol.chdy : Aries2,11
                  otol.ypsharal : Aries1,15
                  otolaiin : Aries1,2
                  otolam : Gemini,20
                  otolchd : Aries2,14
                  otoloaram : Aries2,12
                  otoly : Leo,10 : Scorpio,1
                  otoly.yty : Leo,19
                  otos!aiin : Cancer,6
                  otshshdy : Aries1,14
                  oty : Pisces,11
                  oty.or : Pisces,13
                  otyly : Aries1,10
                  qokeoly : Sagittarius,20
                  reeeos.ocfhey : Leo,12
                  s!ar.am : Pisces,10
                  sal!ols : Pisces,7
                  salal : Gemini,22
                  shek : Scorpio,28
                  shekal : Scorpio,14
                  sheoeky : Virgo,9
                  sheol : Sagittarius,6
                  sholeey : Leo,20
                  sholshdy : Taurus1,15
                  yfaiin.y : Sagittarius,14
                  yfary : Cancer,26
                  ykairaiin.oiral : Cancer,20
                  ykee!dy : Libra,20
                  ykeear : Sagittarius,19
                  ykeeo : Sagittarius,26
                  ykeeody : Sagittarius,17
                  ykeeol : Virgo,16
                  ykeeory : Scorpio,12
                  ykeody : Sagittarius,11
                  ykeor : Sagittarius,9
                  ykey : Sagittarius,25 : Sagittarius,28
                  ykolaiin : Pisces,9
                  ykolairol : Cancer,1
                  ypaiin : Sagittarius,13
                  ypaiin.aloly : Cancer,8
                  ypain : Libra,27
                  ypal : Sagittarius,29
                  ytairal : Cancer,15
                  ytal.shda : Taurus2,5
                  ytaly : Libra,16
                  yteedy : Virgo,28
                  yteeody : Scorpio,4
                  yteod : Libra,13
                  yteody : Virgo,13
                  ytoar.shor : Cancer,28

                  KEY = Zodiac Sign, Index

                  WHERE Zodiac signs:

                  Pisces = f70v2
                  Aries1 = f70v1
                  Aries2 = f71r
                  Taurus1 = f71v
                  Taurus2 = f72r1
                  Gemini = f72r2
                  Cancer = f72r3
                  Libra = f72v1
                  Leo = f72v3
                  Virgo = f72v2
                  Scorpio = f73r
                  Sagittarius = f73v

                  Indices are based on sequence given in Takeshi Takahashi’s “H” EVA transcription. I’m not going to list them all – you can find them in the EVA transcripts, but this gives an indication.

                  Pisces,1 = f70v2.S1.1;H = otar!al
                  Pisces,2 = f70v2.S1.2;H = otal!ar
                  Pisces,3 = f70v2.S1.3;H = otal!am
                  Pisces,4 = f70v2.S1.4;H = dolara!m!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                  Pisces,5 = f70v2.S1.5;H = okaram
                  Pisces,6 = f70v2.S1.6;H = oteosal
                  Pisces,7 = f70v2.S1.7;H = sal!ols
                  Pisces,8 = f70v2.S1.8;H = okal!dal
                  Pisces,9 = f70v2.S1.9;H = ykolaiin
                  Pisces,10 = f70v2.S1.10;H = s!ar.am
                  Pisces,11 = f70v2.S2.1;H = oty
                  Pisces,12 = f70v2.S2.2;H = oky.ody
                  Pisces,13 = f70v2.S2.3;H = oty.or
                  Pisces,14 = f70v2.S2.4;H = okaly
                  Pisces,15 = f70v2.S2.5;H = otody
                  Pisces,16 = f70v2.S2.6;H = otald
                  Pisces,17 = f70v2.S2.7;H = otal.dar
                  Pisces,18 = f70v2.S2.8;H = okody
                  Pisces,19 = f70v2.S2.9;H = opys.am
                  Pisces,20 = f70v2.S2.10;H = chckhhy
                  Pisces,21 = f70v2.S2.11;H = otaly
                  Pisces,22 = f70v2.S2.12;H = otal.!rar
                  Pisces,23 = f70v2.S2.13;H = otal.dy
                  Pisces,24 = f70v2.S2.14;H = okeoly
                  Pisces,25 = f70v2.S2.15;H = oky!dy
                  Pisces,26 = f70v2.S2.16;H = okees
                  Pisces,27 = f70v2.S2.17;H = otalalg
                  Pisces,28 = f70v2.S2.18;H = okasy
                  Pisces,29 = f70v2.S2.19;H = otar!!{fold}

                  And so on for the other pages.

                  I’ve checked as best I can, but mistakes could have crept in.

        • MarcoP

          Hello Darren,
          apparently Vishnu was said to have 360 names, with a clear astrological / astronomical reference:

          According to Dirghatamas Rig Veda I.155.6, “With four times ninety names (caturbhih sakam navatim ca namabhih), he (Vishnu) sets in motion moving forces like a turning wheel (cakra).” This suggests that even in Vedic times Vishnu had 360 names or forms, one for each degree of the zodiac. A fourfold division may correspond to the solstices and equinoxes. Elsewhere Dirghatamas states, I.164.36, “Seven half embryos form the seed of the world. They stand in the dharma by the direction of Vishnu.” This probably refers to the seven planets. (from this page about the Vedic origins of the Zodiac).

          There also are other stories of Indian / Persian origin that involve a god / hero with 360 daugther / wives.

          The Madras journal of literature and science: Vishnu marries the 360 daughters of Calava (or Galava, Kalava, Galavamuni…). He marries a different daughter everyday, so the connection is explicit.

          This book (“The Vedanta Kesari”) mentions the 360 daughters of Prajapati (who is a personification of the Cosmos, if I understand correctly) “which represent the 360 days of the sacrifical year”.

          This article discusses a Tamil story about King Pattirakiri of Kaniyapuri, married to 360 wives.

          Alexander Histories and Iranian Reflections: According to some Greek sources, the Persian Emperor Darius had 360 wives (I don’t think the number is coincidential, given the other stories mentioned above).

          The Sources of Esotericism in Islam: the Persian mystic al Kulayni (X Century) mentions the 360 Names of Allah (he also lists at least some of them).

          I have been unable to find any iconographic reference for these sources, nor an actual list of 360 names.

          • MarcoP

            Hello Darren,
            here are more instances of the “360 things” possibly associated with the Zodiac. Apparently, there also is a gnostic / Mandean tradition about this.

            The Book of the Thousand and One Nights “The Tale of King Umar al Numan”: Your father … has three hundred and sixty women to satisfy me”.

            Madras… Calava (father of the 360 wives of Vishnu) is a derivation from Cala, or time.

            The Sherpas of Nepal – A version from Nepal: King Arsadhara of Zahor has three hundred and sixty wives. … It is the custom in this land for the king to spend one night a year with each of his queens.

            A Dictionary of Gnosticism “Twelve powers and heavens split into six, producing seventy-two posers and heavens, which split into a further five, to equal three hundred and sixty”.

            The books of Jeu and the Pistis Sophia p.187 Discusses a gnostic astronomical myth including 360 archons.

            Irenaeus (about the gnostics): “They make up names for the angels, claiming that these are in the first heaven, those in the second, and go on to give the names of the archons, angels, and powers of the 365 supposed heavens”.

            Brandt “Die Mandeaische Religion” p.195 mentions the 360 names of Jatir Jatrun, the great Luminary giving light to the world (reference found here, through Bousset).

            Mandeism “the three hundred and sixty names of Samis”.

            A pair of Nasoraean commentaries Pure Ether has 360 names and 360 wings. (also a Mandean source).

            Kitāb al-Tawḥīd He established for every one of the evident [known] Names (al-asmā’ alk-ẓāhir) four pillars (arkān) though a single pillar consists of thirty Names (asmā’). So the Pillars are twelve and the Names are three hundred and sixty

            Ars Paulina I don’t know how reliable this source is, the text should be from ms Sloane 2731 (England, 1676). Anyway, on pg. 16 a table lists the names of each one of the 360 Angels of the Degrees of the Zodiac. The list is conveniently organized by zodiac sign. Here different manuscripts of the Ars Paulina are discussed.

  9. MarcoP

    Following an interesting conversation with Darren about different astrological crossbowmen, here are a couple of images from Alfonso X’s “Astromagia” manuscript BAV Reg.lat.1283 A (XIII Century).

    The second decan of Leo features a man with a crossbow. The text (in the preceding page) provides three different versions of the decans (Indian, Babylonian and Greek). The crossbow appears in the Indian version: “En la segunda faz sube un omne que a la nariz delgada. A en la cabeza una corona de mirto blanco. En la mano una ballesta. Esta teniendo dos de los ladrones malicioso e sannudo. Semeia su sanna a la del leon. Esta embuelto en un alquice que es en color de leon” (rough translation: In the second decan a man with a thin nose rises. He wears on his head a crown of white myrtle. He hold a crossbow in his hand. He is accompanied by two malicious and fanged thieves. His fangs are like those of a lion. He wears a mantle which has the color of a lion”).
    Of course the image is not as relevant as a Sagittarius crossbowman (the Voynich image clearly illustrates the Zodiac sign, as most of the examples discussed in this page). Still I think this decanal image might be noteworthy.

    The other illustration apparently is a talisman related to the sign of Aries. What I find interesting is the double light / dark image of the Zodiac sign.

    • MarcoP

      A crossbow also appears in the first Babylonian decan of Leo (central ring, lower part of the diagram).

      • Indeed, and I am fairly certain that these are references to the constellation sagittarius. There should be in total 30 small illustrations, each referring to one degree of the zodiac sign of Leo. Each degree is associated (one way or another) with one star, or a small group of stars. The most important ‘association’ is ‘rising at the same time’ but this is not always the case.
        Many of these we can still easily recognise. In the illustration of Leo there are some ‘rear ends’ of lions (referring to the bright star Denebola and possibly another star in that area). There is a crow (corvus) and a bear (Ursa Maior or Minor). There’s a part of a ship (the Argo). Now the stars in Ursa Maior never rise at our latitudes, but maybe they did in Egypt or Babylonia. Should be easy to check. Beside the crossbow, there are also some bolts in the outer ring.

        Many of the associations are also very difficult or even impossible to trace back. The best source I read for all of this is an old one: “Sphaera” of Franz Boll. He explains how some of the associations are probably based on translation errors in times lost. (The book is online now:
        http://www.hellenisticastrology.com/critical%20editions/Boll-Sphaera.pdf ).

        One thing to take away from this is, that this topic traces back several millennia. How direct or less direct this link is in the Voynich MS is hard to say without reading the text.
        The style of the execution of the MS is of course primarily determined by the time, place and origin of the author/draughtsman. There are still many options, but I am impressed by all the new evidence that is gradually appearing here.

        • MarcoP

          Thank you for your comments, Rene! I greatly enjoyed what I could read of Boll’s work. My ignorance of German makes Sphaera unaccessible to me.
          Of course, as you point out on your site, Alfonso’s book is mainly relevant for the “paranatellonta” cycle, which are strikingly resemblant to the Voynich Zodiac (a page for each sign, each sign surrounded by 30 radially arranged images). The crossbows I mentioned above appear in another set of illustrations, which only includes Virgo and Leo. Each diagram features again the Zodiac sign at the center. The sign is surrounded by three circles corresponding (starting from the center) to the Greek, Babylonian and Indian decans. Each circle is divided into three 120 degrees arcs, each arc corresponding to a decan (1/3 of a sign, roughly corresponding to ten days).

          I think the parallel with the images of the 30 degrees you discuss on your site is extremely relevant. On the contrary, it seems to me unlikely that the decanal images have anything to do with the Voynich manuscript: the reason is simply that the 36 decans are always presented along a 3×12 format, and nothing like that is recognizable in the Voynich manuscript.

          Thanks to Darren, I learned that the Indian decans are discussed by Varāhamihira (VI Century). An English translation of his work is available online. Above I translated the Spanish description of the second decan of Leo. Here is the passage from Varāhamihira (p.240): “The 2nd Drekkana of sign Leo is a man of the shape of a horse, wearing a slightly white garland of flowers in the head and covered with deer skin and flannel, unapproachable like the lion, holding a bow in his hand and with a bent nose”.

          The Spanish and Indian texts are very similar, but the original has a bow, which became a crossbow (“ballesta”) in the Spanish manuscript. The evidence we have suggests that European authors sometimes replaced bows with crossbows. It is interesting that in the case of the Spanish decans the substitution was both textual and graphical, while in the German zodiac examples as far as I know it only applied to images.

    • Darren Worley

      Attached below is another example of a light/dark Zodiac sign – this time the Pisces fish. This is taken from a Dekoulou Monastery in Laconia, Peloponnese, Greece.

      Marco has mentioned this Zodiac before, in connection with the Sun and the Moon that appear opposite each other.

      This feature is also found the 12th-century Church of Agios Ioannis, Platsa, Greece but I’m not sure this example is not just the result of more recent over-painting.

      I wonder if this dark/light motif has been mediated through Greek from Indian sources (or the other way around)? The transmission of Western astronomical knowledge (especially the Alexandrian school) to India during the first centuries of our era is well documented.

    • Yes, I think this is the image which Dana Scott sent to the Voynich mailing list a while ago. Rene has been talking about one similar for some years. Perhaps what we need to know more about is Abano’s system/s.?

  10. After all the work which has been done attempting to prove that the Voynich archer is German, it almost seems a pity to point out that not only is the clothing, hat and fashion in facial hair quite unlike the German examples, but the most reasonable explanation for the position of the Voynich archer’s right hand is that he is cocking the crossbow – using a particular type of lock inset into the stock and turned by hand to set it.

    Our only extant examples, so far as I know, are ones that were made in c.1510, but since this particular variation of the crossbow was intended for use at sea, we are lucky to have any examples at all extant.

    So the figure in all aspects agrees with imagery from the southern and maritime environment, rather than any north of the Alps.

    Plenty of images of crossbowmen south of the Alps, of course, and ‘Saracen Archery’ (a Mamluk text) to attest to the weapon’s popularity in the Maghrib, just as we have records from Spain and Calais, Genoa and Venice, to speak of the Latins’ use.

    The term recorded earlier in English-held Calais, in regard to the hire of crossbowmen, was ‘sagittarios’ – derived from the Latin, but specifically applied to the crossbowmen. Elsewhere the usual term was arcuballista. It is true that in German the same vernacular term applied to a hunter, archer, crossbowman and to the constellation, but .. the bow is apparently Spanish.

    references and illustrations in my post
    “Iberia etc.” (December 6, 2015) at


    • It’s funny that just two comments away from this (post of 6 November from Darren Worley), we see an archer with the same type of garment as in the Voynich MS, and an aquarius with a hat and a beard, which supposedly are not to be found in German MSs.

      It’s worth pointing out, by the way, that clothing styles changed every few decades. The range of German MSs with crossbow archers that has been presented here covers about a century, so the variation seen in these is completely as should be expected.

      • Rene,
        Concerning your comment of December 10, 2015 – 2:03 pm.

        I agree that you can see no difference between the style of that book’s page’s layout, its finish or materials, and those in codex MS Beincke 408 – or if you do notice differences, that you cannot rank them, or that because they seem to you without significance that you consider them all unimportant. This opinion of yours is no doubt honest, and you truly believe your own opinions, but that doesn’t constitute proof that they are true.

        I also accept that you can perceive no distinctions between the style of drawing, costume, weapon, stance or style of drawing between that image and what we see on folio 73v of MS Beinecke 408.

        I do wish I could find such inability amusing, but it seems rather more sad to me. I expect people with a better sense of musical pitch than mine might feel somewhat the same when the topic is music.

        One can try as one might, but if one hasn’t perfect pitch it can’t be learned. I’m afraid that the same applies in other fields too, including the analysis of imagery.

        At least you find it funny.

  11. Ste

    Hi, i may be a little off topic, but i was wondering, by looking at the difference of colour and aspect between each aries and taurus signs, if it may have something to do with shearing. Here’s a 15 century illumination of Pierre de Crescent Rustican calendar (circa 1306), showing sheep shearing happening in the 4th month, i.e in april,like in the vms.

  12. Darren Worley

    Here is another Sagittarius Crossbowman, it looks a little different to the other examples found so far suggesting that its not been copied directly from those.

    It appears a medical-astronomical compendium called “Regimen Sanitatis” (Regimen of Health) by Heinrich von Laufenberg or Loufenberg (c1390, Fribourg – 1460, Strasbourg). This manuscript dates from c1450 (possibly from 1429, as inscribed in the opening page) and is a metrical German version of a Latin hygienic treatise.

    It can be downloaded here.

    Below, I attach a composite image of the first Zodiac series found in this manuscript. Like the VM, several of the Zodiac signs are missing – presumably lost.

    I found the biographical information about the author quite illuminating; describing how a 15th-century clergyman can be found re-writing and popularising astrological medicinal tracts.

    Heinrich von Laufenberg (circa 1390–1460) was a cleric from the southwest German town of Freiburg, a prolific writer of prose and verse in both German and Latin, who is best known for his religious lyrics. His Regimen Sanitatis (Regimen of health) of 1429 is a medical-astronomical compendium of guidance to healthful living that stretches to more than 6,000 lines of metrical German. The work presents the reader with practical rules for healthy living concerning such matters as a balanced diet, phlebotomy (bloodletting, then a common treatment to prevent or cure illness), and ways to prevent the plague. The text reflects the contemporary scientific view that planetary configurations affect an individual’s well-being. Folio 23v (image 50) of the manuscript, for example, shows an illustration depicting the sections of the human body that it was believed should not be medicated while the moon is in a certain sign of the zodiac. This splendid codex with its beautiful layout and 71 colored drawings and initials offers a representative example of a mid-15th-century scientific manuscript intended for practical use by wealthy citizens or by religious orders.

    • Darren Worley

      The 1429 Regimen Sanitatis (Regimen of Health) has a couple of other notable features, firstly, it displays some of the curious calligraphy also seen in the VM.

      I’ve attached a sample image below. The sample is taken from page 7.

      Another interesting point is that each Zodiac sign is shown with a star – in the same way as each nymph is shown with a star in the VM Zodiac.

      • MarcoP

        Hello Darren, I agree that the stars in the Zodiac signs are an interesting feature. Zodiac signs in which the stars appearing in the constellation are displayed are more frequent. This variant, with only one star, is closer to what is seen in some of the Voynich signs. Pisces, with two stars, is a particularly good match.

  13. Just to emphasise that the following statement in the post is quite misleading, and absolutely incorrect, viz:

    Sniezynska-Stolot’observations are also consistent with the point of view of Erwin Panofsky: he thought that the Voynich manuscript was written in Western Europe (most probably in Spain) or Germany, even if he recognized a Jewish or Arab influence.

    Sniesynska-Stolot spoke of the manuscript as if it were a typical product of Latin Christian manuscript art, save perhaps a little unusual in details.

    Irwin Panofsky attributed the work – without any equivocation – to Jewish origins, and southern Jewish origins “spain or somewhere southern” speaking specifically of Kabbalah, and (after he had been exposed to post-war hysteria in America about the Jews as supposed communists) rather more obliquely about exactly which text(s) he thought might inform the written part of the work.

    For him, the major problem I expect was the “shapely ladies” not only because he had not encountered such forms in southern Jewish manuscript art (though I have since demonstrated its presence in some few instances), but because the images were not marked by that style of modesty seen in most Jewish manuscripts’ representation of naked and bathing bodies. There is a reason for that too, but Panofsky therefore supposed there could be few possible texts informing it.

    On that I won’t say more here; like Panofsky, I am no Hebraist and have left that section of it to someone who is a specialist in Jewish literature and palaeography.

    To say that Panofsky’s opinion concurs with S-S’s is simply wrong.

  14. Darren Worley

    Here is another Sagittarius Crossbowman, only the second example found (so far) which appears within a Zodiac wheel. I attach an example image below.

    Its dates from 1491/92 and appears as the title page in a book published in Leipzig (Kachelofen), Germany.

    The author is Johannes Virdung (c.1465-c.1535), a celebrated astrologer of the 15/16th-century from Haßfurt, Bavaria. Its title is “Deutcz practica Baccalarii Johannis Cracoviensis von Hasfurt (GW M5072510)”

    Virdung was a correspondent with Johannes Trithemius a famous a lexicographer, chronicler, cryptographer and occultist of the German Renaissance.

    Further information on the manuscript is available here.

  15. Darren Worley

    I’ve found another Sagittarius Crossbowman. Again it originates from Southern Germany. This time Nuremberg, ca. 1500, in a manuscript entitled “Prognosticatio” (i.e. Predicting future events)

    Its reference is : Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection. LJS 445. It can be viewed here

    The author is listed as Johannes Lichtenberger (died 1503) who was court astrologer to Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor in the 1470’s. (Frederick III was the Holy Roman Emperor about 80 years prior to Rudolf II).

    The website provides a detailed description of the manuscript.

    This zodiac sequence was in quite poor preservation – only 5 of the original signs have survived, so perhaps its not that unusual for leading or trailing pages to be lost from a folio that is subsequently rebound into a longer volume.

    This Sagittarius sign is quite similar to some others that have been previously reported (e.g.. Cod. Pal. Germ. 298); however in this example the arbalists’ quiver can be seen on the ground.

  16. Darren Worley

    I’ve found two further Sagittarius Crossbowman images, both in the same manuscript.

    The manuscript is located in Österreich Nationalbibliotech (Austrian National Library) and is identifed as Cod. 3085 Han. and dates from 1475. Its origin is given as South Germany or Austria.

    Its a very pretty manuscript and the standard of illustration is very high, unlike the VM. It contains 150+ coloured illustrations.

    I attach a composite of the zodiacal sign from the first series (pages 11-31). Only eleven signs are depicted, perhaps (like the VM) some have been omitted deliberately or lost?

    There is one aspect to this sequence that I’ve not paid much attention to before and could be relevant : the zodiacal sequence starts with Pisces (not Aries) exactly the same as in the VM. This is not typical across examples I’ve seen elsewhere and I think this identifying feature is worth investigating further.

    A digitised version can be accessed here.

    And a better description is available here.

    • Darren Worley

      And here is the second Sagittarius Crossbowman from the same manuscript [Österreich Nationalbibliotech Cod. 3085 Han.; date: 1475; origin: South Germany or Austria.]

      This image is taken from p51 – which is an illustration of the planet Jupiter (in human form) together with its zodiacal domiciles : Sagittarius (the arbalist) and Pisces (the fishes).

    • The start with Pisces is unusual enough to follow up further, i.e. try to find out why, even though it is not certain a priori that it is important. Since Aquarius is the missing one, this could have been the original first. In Zodiac cycles associated to calendars, Aquarius, associated with January, is often the first, even though there is no hard rule how to assodiate months with zodiac signs.
      Since the month names in the Voynich MS are in a different hand, it is usually assumed they are by a later owner but nobody can say how much later. The association may in any case not have been the intention of the composer of the MS.

      It may be worth mentioning that in many Indic languages the names of the months and the names of the zodiac signs are basically the same, and the match is the same as in the Voynich MS. While I don’t know any Indic languages, there is an enormous heritage of Sanskrit in the Thai langauge, which I do know quite well. Here, the parallel equally exists.
      Oddly enough, Thai uses a script which is alphabetic, but derived from an abugida, and the way the vowels are ‘inserted’ among the consonants is quite unusual. As a consequence, some signs will only appear at the start of words (or syllables), and others at the end. Seeing here a parallel with the Voynich writing is, however, another nice example of the ‘Rorschach effect’. The parallel is not really there. While Thai, as a largely syllabic language, does exhibit a word structure, it is much weaker than e.g. Mandarin Chinese.

      • Ste

        hi. here’s an interesting article talking about the fact that some medieval calendars started in march


        • MarcoP

          Thank you, Ste. Astrological calendars starting with the Spring Equinox in March have Aries as the first sign…Pisces is difficult to explain.
          In the case of Cod. 3085 Han, I think that Rene is right: the starting pages are missing. The open book presents a month on the left side (verso) and the corresponding zodiac sign on the right side (recto), but the calendar starts with Pisces on f1r and March on f1v. Apparently, originally there were two more folios: missing1r ?, missing1v January, missing2r Aquarius, missing2v February (this would have matched f1r: Pisces).

          • Ste

            Hi Marco, i ve made a research, and as far as i know, the dates corresponding to the pisces sign differ wether one’s refer to tropical, western zodiac or to vedic zodiac…pisces sign comes a little later in the second case

  17. Darren Worley

    I found these two new (non-manuscript) images, of Sagittarius crossbowmen, in an online digital collection of “the Arts and Architecture” indexed under Schütze, the German term for Sagittarius.

    Example 1 Description (left-hand image)

    Figürlich gestalteter Schlussstein mit Darstellung des Tierkreiszeichen Schütze [1301/1400?]
    Schlussstein, Bauskulptur
    Standort: Marburg, Kirche, Lutherische Pfarrkirche & Marienkirche, Mittelschiff, 2. Joch von Westen

    Figurative designed keystone depicting the zodiac sign Sagittarius [1301/1400?]
    Capstone, architectural sculpture [roof-boss]
    Location: Marburg, Church, Lutheran Parish Church & St. Mary’s Church, Nave, 2nd yoke of the West

    Example (1) would appear to be the earliest Sagittarius crossbowman so far identified, as the nave of this church was built between 1318 and 1390-95 [ref: wikipedia].

    Example 2 Description (right-hand image)

    Schütze nach 1423
    Schlussstein, Bauskulptur
    Standort: Erfurt, Klosterkirche, Barfüßerkirche, südliches Seitenschiff

    Sagittarius of 1423
    Capstone, sculpture [roof-boss]
    Location: Erfurt, Monastery church, Barfüßerkirche Southern aisle [Franciscan-order Monastery ]

    We can be fairly confident that (2) is a Sagittarius zodiac sign, since another roof-boss from the same church contains an image of the Gemini twins (or possibly two angels).

    • Darren Worley

      Here is a recent colour image of the Sagittarius crossbowman roof-boss that is found in the Lutherische Pfarrkirche & Marienkirche (Lutheran Parish Church & St. Mary’s Church) in Marburg, Germany.

      • MarcoP

        Thank you, Darren! It’s great to see a high quality photograph of this relief! Does it make part of a complete zodiac cycle?

  18. Darren Worley

    Below I’ve attached a composite image assembled from Cod. Pal. Germ. 298. [f142r-149v] depicting a new Sagittarius crossbowman, together with the other zodiac signs. Thanks to Ellie Velinska who’s post about Pal. Germ. 148 led me to find this.

    This manuscript appears to be bound from several shorter manuscripts as it has four dates (1550/1502/1503/1st half of 15th century) and 3 named locations of origin (Augsburg/Heidelberg/Bavaria).

    The zodiacal section appears to be from the 1st half of the 15th century.

    The catalog description can be found here
    The manuscript can be seen

    In addition to the Sagittarius crossbowman the Scorpio figure is very similar to the VM example, and the Aries Ram and Taurus Bull appear to be eating (as in the VM zodiac).

    Furthermore, the text above the Gemini twins says “Die Zwilach” as in Pal. Lat. 1369.

    • MarcoP

      Thank you, Darren! Very impressive.
      I think Virgo is also interesting.

    • Darren Worley

      I’ve uploaded an image comparing the Scorpio images from Cod. Pal. Germ. 298 f147r with that in the VM f73r.

      These are the most similar versions that I’ve seen.

      • Darren Worley

        Here’s another Scorpio that I think bears a great similarity with that found in VM f73r.

        These are the criteria I apply when trying to identify “good” Scorpio match

        1) Four limbs
        2) A distinct neck between head and body
        3) No shell, pincers, scales, or body segmentation
        4) Uniform colouring
        5) Curled Tail
        6) Rounded snout/nose

        Furthermore, ideally, the Scorpio should –

        1) Appear with a circular ring
        2) Text should encircle the Scorpio, ideally around the whole circumference

        This example appears in the ceiling painting of the Jewish Synagogue in Chodorow, near Lvov, western Ukraine. It dates from 1651 – which is a little late for the VM but this suggests that looking for other earlier Jewish examples might prove fruitful for locating other close visual matches, however, this may prove difficult given the relative scarcity of Jewish records.

        I found it in the “Atlas of the Jewish World” by Nicholas de Lange, in the chapter on Ashkenazi Diaspora.

        Can anyone provide an English translation of the Hebrew writing?

        • MarcoP

          Hello Darren, thank you for this beautiful image!
          In addition to what you listed, another peculiar feature of Voynich Scorpio is that it is seen “in profile” not “from above”: i.e. all the legs appear on the same side of the body.

          Two images of Scorpio sharing this particular feature:
          Morgan Lib Ms M 103, England, Reading, ca. 1250
          Vézelay, Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, central door, France, ca. 1125

          • Stephen Bax

            I can sense a Scorpio page coming up 🙂

          • Ellie Velinska

            Cambridge, MS D.6, 13th century

            [Click here for the link]

            • Ellie Velinska

              Example of double Cancer, the Morgan Library, MS M.700

              • Ellie Velinska

                Here is one from Paris, 14th century
                Bodleian Library, MS. Douce 313, fol.9v

                • Ellie Velinska

                  This one is from Marco’s Pinterest page 🙂 and it is a very good example.

                  • MarcoP

                    I am glad you find the image interesting, Ellie! It is from a 1460 ca French book of hours (BNF NAL 3191). The fact that in this manuscript all the zodiac signs are arbitrarily replicated in a clearly decorative way makes it somehow less interesting as a parallel for the Voynich manuscript. In the East, some forms of replication seem to be more traditional and systematic (three Pisces in Hebrew manuscripts, two Scorpions in Arabic sources). In the West, the process seems to be rather random, often different signs are replicated in the rare different sources that present this feature. Is this decoration? It is a puzzling phenomenon. It is comforting to see that this is not a singularity of the Voynich manuscript, but I find it difficult to make sense of it.

                    This paper discussing Morgan M 700 and M 511 is on Jstor:
                    Two Unusual Calendar Cycles of the Fourteenth Century by Olga Koseleff Gordon.
                    The author explains these replications as pointing to a bestiary as the source of the zodiac illustrations. She writes that “illustrations of animals in mirror-like contrapposto occur quite frequently in Bestiaries, which were widely circulated during the Middle Ages”. She does not seem to assign a particular meaning to this typology. In footnote 23 she mentions another XIV Century double Cancer in a Paris Calendar manuscript.

                  • Darren Worley

                    Hi Ellie – do you have any further details about the origin of this image?

                    One of Aesop’s Fables is about two crabs, and I’ve seen medieval manuscripts with this story illustrated. This could be just such an example.

              • Darren Worley

                Thanks Ellie. The duplication of zodiac signs in the VM, and of Cancer, in particular, is quite curious.

                Marco already remarked about this in a post back on May 11, 2014 – 2:47 pm.


                Apparently, a duplication of the sign of Cancer was rather common in editions and translations of al-Sufi’s “Book of the fixed stars”:

                I found another example in the Kitab Al’Buhan. Its a 14th and 15th century Arabic manuscript made up of astrological, astronomical and geomantic texts compiled by Abd al-Hasan Al-Isfahani. It appears on f85a.

                In fact, many (all?) of the zodiacal signs, in this section, seem to have been duplicated. Its quite odd.

                The manuscript can be seen in full here.

                • Many, many years ago, an idea was proposed on the Voynich mailing list by Guy Thibault, that the cycle of feminine figures represents the birth of a person, possibly a woman. In the beginning (Pisces) the figure is lying in a tub, later she is sitting and standing in tubs, and in the end she is standing free.
                  Since the very first one shows two ‘nymphs’ the theory also suggested that the birth concerned twins, but perhaps only one survived, or the cycle only concerns one of the two.
                  The duplication of signs could be somehow related to the idea of twins: Pisces are already a pair, aries and taurus are represented twice, Gemini is already a pair, Cancer is doubled. After that, maybe the author got lazy. Or it doesn’t mean anything at all. I find the idea of a birth interesting though.

                  • Darren Worley

                    Rene – I too think the birthing idea is interesting.

                    I don’t think the imagery found in the VM is unique. I think parallels to it contents can be found in other medieval manuscripts.

                    This “birthing idea” should therefore be no different.

                    I attach am image that (I’ve posted before), its taken from a Trotula Major, a group of texts on women’s medicine were composed in the southern Italian port town of Salerno in the 12th century.

                    Interesting, a manuscript that I recent identified as containing a Sagittarius Crossbowman, the “Regimen Sanitatis (Regimen of Health) by Heinrich von Laufenberg (c1390, Fribourg – 1460, Strasbourg), is a German metrical translation of the Regimen sanitatis Salernitanum, another work allegedly from of the Schola Medica Salernitana; the world’s first medical school situated in the south Italian city of Salerno.

                    Medicine and astrology were thought to be strongly linked in the medieval period, and it should not be surprising if the VM also incorporates this idea of iatromathematics. (I suspect this idea underlies the purpose and meaning of the VM “bathing section”.)

                    • Ellie Velinska

                      Did you notice that there are dots inside those “barrels” – it could represent grapes. There are numerous pictures of folks crushing grapes in barrels – usually they are in the fall part of the calendars with the labors of the month. Another point (most likely a coincidence) – we have sort of iconic images of Diogenes sitting next to a barrel in 15th century manuscripts.

                    • Ellie Velinska

                      few more examples

                    • Darren Worley

                      Here is another image from a 1474 German version of the Regimen Sanitatis.

                      Like one of the female figures in the VM (seen on f72v1), this naked-bathing female is depicted wearing a crown.

                      I’m not sure of the publisher who produced this edition, but this illustration came from “Regimen Sanitatis Salernitanum (1474 – 1888) – A Bibliography” (1983) by Gorgias Gambacorta & Alberto Giordano

                    • Darren Worley

                      Hi Ellie – I think there are several reason’s why these dots are unlikely to represent grapes.

                      1) The VM “barrels” are depicted on the zodiac signs for Pisces, Aries and Taurus (i.e. Feb-May), whereas the only “Labour of the Month” associated with grapes is September (Autumn/Fall, as you say) for the grape harvest.

                      2) Most of the VM barrel markings are not dots. Most are decorated with symbols. (Following your logic, what would these represent?). I think the dots and symbols are just decorative.

                      3) The manuscript examples you’ve provided have old men sitting in plain barrels, rather than naked female figures.

                      Incidentally, the manuscript that I recent identified as containing a Sagittarius Crossbowman, the “Regimen Sanitatis (Regimen of Health) by Heinrich von Laufenberg that is dated to 1429, as well as containing many Zodiac signs also contains several images of bathing – a naked bather in a tub on p169, and child being bathed by their mother on p269.

                      I’m sure the VM barrels/tubs have connotations with health and medicine rather than grapes.

                      PS. I’m not sure that this comment will appear in the correct place. I think we might have reached the maximum number of indents for this thread. The reply option is not available for your posts : November 14, 2015 – 6:15 pm, November 14, 2015 – 6:22 pm

                    • Ellie Velinska

                      Hi Darren, I am not sure if this reply will appear in the right place. Sorry for that. While I agree that the ‘tub people’ in the calendar are probably related to something medical as symbolism, the count shows that out of 79 ‘tub people’ in the first 5 rosettes 37 are dressed – that is roughly half of them. Out of 42 naked ‘tub people’ 14 are men – that is about a third of them. Referring to them generally as naked women does not reflect the more complex picture, because many are dressed and some are men. Also, I was talking about the dots inside the tubs/tubes/barrels, not about the outside decoration. Maybe they represent bath salts or herbs or whatever, but some of the people soaking in them are fully dressed and some are men.

                    • Darren Worley

                      I think this is quite an important image – I found it in a manuscript that has already been identified as containing a Sagittarius Crossbowman.

                      It depicts a naked woman bathing in a tub, alongside a man of Eastern appearance (he’s wearing a turban) with his hand outstretched towards a star. I think this image has many parallels with the VM Zodiac figures several of whom are also depicted sitting in bathing tubs touching or holding tethered stars. See example attached below.

                      It appears in Cod. Pal. 291 ‘Iatromathematisches Hausbuch’, f43v – its dates from between 1477-96 and originates from Bavaria, Southern Germany.

                      This is a handbook on iatromathematics or medical astrology and it contains a selection of texts from different authors.

                      The source of this particular page as listed as : Konrad von Eichstätt (Conradus Eichstetensis), Regel der Gesundheit, chap. 22-23 (on bathing).

                      This would appear to be an excerpt of the “Regimen sanitatis” of Konrad von Eichstätt that was composed between 1310 and 1320. (Eichstätt is in Bavaria, Southern Germany). According to a book review here. This early work was translated and edited by various
                      (sometimes anonymous) later authors, one possible re-working of this text was undertaken by Heinrich von Laufenberg, who co-incidentally has also been named as the author of manuscript that contains a Sagittarius Crossbowman.

                      Can anyone locate any other images of bathing men and women holding or touching stars? I think other medieval medical-astrology texts would be a good place to look.

                  • Darren Worley

                    Hi Ellie – thanks for your insightful comments! Some of the Zodiac figures do indeed look like males, and some are wearing distinctive hats. For example, those on the inner ring of the 2nd Aries, on f71r.
                    I’ll stop calling them nymphs from now on…

                    • This is in reply to the interesting bathing image in Pal.Germ.291 (but there is no REPLY link there….).

                      What I can make out of the text surrounding the illustration is, that this is a treatise about bathing, and under which conditions one should take a bath. One of these conditions is that, if one has a problem with any part of the body (arm, leg), one should check the constellation governing this part (as per the usual zodiac men) beforehand, presumably whether moon or planets are in it or not.

                      This seems to be what the savant in the bath is doing for the lady.

                  • Darren Worley

                    Rene – I remarked earlier that the VM bath-tubs/barrels appear on the zodiac signs for Pisces, Aries and Taurus (i.e. late Feb- late May) – this roughly marks out the months of Spring.

                    In this English translation of the “Regimen Sanitatis Salernitanum” found here it specifically associates Spring as the optimal time for Baths.

                    Quote: In spring lovemaking is beneficial to man in moderation, As are exercises, laxatives, sweating, and Baths. [..] The summer encourages the occurrences of red choler. In summer food of cold and humid qualities should be served, and lovemaking should be avoided; Baths are not good then, and phlebotomy should be rare.

                    Although this translation is unlikely to be based on precisely the same text accompanying the illustration mentioned earlier, I think this is a excellent reason to explain why the VM bathing-tubs appear on the pages of those specific Zodiac signs.

                    It seems that the appearance of the bathing tubs on these pages is indicating the best time of the year to take baths.

                    Interestingly, on the 2nd Taurus page (f72r1) not all the figures are bathing, suggesting that some way through Taurus it is not longer good for baths. It would be good to see if this correlates with advise found in similar medieval medical texts.

                    Marco – thanks for sharing this link with me.

                    • Darren,

                      the tubs in the Zodiac *could* very well represents baths and bathing, but I am not entirely convinced (though your argument makes complete sense). What keeps me doubtful is that the very first ones (inner circle of Pisces) are lying on their side, so bathing is not possible. Another point is that there is no sign anywhere of liquid (water) in any of the tubs. This may not mean anything. The artist may simply not have bothered…. On the other hand, some of the containers in the pharma section seem clearly empty, and others clearly have a liquid. (For the majority it is impossible to say, due to the application of paint).

                      I believe the second Taurus marks the transition from ‘tubs’ to ‘no tubs’, i.e. the first 20 degrees of Taurus have tubs and the last 10 don’t.

                      Whatever it means, it means *something* and it might be worth checking how the first two decans of Taurus differ from the third. The horizontal tubs in Pisces also represent 10 degrees, i.e. the first decan, apart from the remaining ambiguity of the ‘missing degree’.

                    • MarcoP

                      Hello Rene, with respect to your observations about the tubs and the decans (November 22, 2015 – 1:50 PM), if I understand correctly, the situation you describe is:
                      * 1st decan of Pisces – horizontal tubs;
                      * from 2nd decan of Pisces to 2nd decan of Taurus – vertical tubs;
                      * from 3rd decan of Taurus – no tubs.

                      A possible link could be with the months of March and April, which would correspond to the 60 vertical tubs (the first decan of Pisces is in February and the last of Taurus is in May).

                    • Darren Worley

                      The first decan of Pisces corresponds with the inner zodiac ring on f70v2 which shows 10 figures appearing next to each of 9 horizontal barrels (since 2 figures appear at both ends of one barrel).

                      Ellie earlier made the association with wine barrels and remarked that Diogenes is often shown sitting inside a horizontal barrel.

                      I found this intriguing comment in “Astrological iconography in the Middle Ages: the decanal planets” by Ewa Śnieżyńska-Stolotowa on p35.

                      Quote: “The art of growing wine was also attributed to Kronos (Grimal 1986) which may explain the emergence of a large basket in Saturn’s image as the ruler of the first decan of Pisces“.

                      This suggests there is indeed a connection between wine and the first decan of Pisces, which corresponds with the horizontal tubs/barrels seen in the VM on f70v2.

                    • Darren Worley

                      I have found evidence linking Saturn, the governing planet of the first decan of Pisces with the horizontal tubs found on the Pisces zodiac page.

                      Below is a copy of the image referred to by Ewa Sniezynska-Stolotowa it appears in the 1488 edition of the “Astrolabium Planum” by Johannes Angelus (1463-1512) dated to 1488 and printed by Erhard Ratdolt.

                      It represents Saturn as the first decanal ruler of Pisces. I’ve also attached a version from a later edition of the same text dating from 1494 printed by Johannes Emericus de Spira (of Speyer, Germany) (on f63r).

                      We are seeking to answer the question – why are horizontal barrels/tubs shown for the inner ring of Pisces? These tubs/figures seem to correspond to the first decan of Pisces, which is governed by Saturn.

                      Ellie has already suggested a visual similarity with wine-barrels and suggested that the dots on the inside might be grapes.

                      I now believe this to be mostly correct, since this statement seems to be corroborated by other evidence.

                      Firstly, I think its significant that these are horizontal tubs – suggesting that they are not designed hold liquids.

                      The image referred to by Sniezynska-Stolotowa depicts Saturn, in human form, with a grape-collecting basket on his back. Sniezynska-Stolotowa suggests that this association is being made since Kronos (Cronus) is the Greek equivalent of the Roman God Saturn, who is associated with the art of winemaking, sowing and planting.

                      The conclusion I think we can draw from this is:

                      1) the horizontal tubs on the inner ring of Pisces, likely represent wine-gathering baskets, which are associated with Saturn, who governs the first decan of Pisces.
                      2) the figures in the VM zodiac rings are associated with the medieval “children of the planets” astrological motif, and this might help understand other aspects of the VM zodiac.

                      I’ve looked for other images of medieval grape-gathering baskets (in a non-astrological content) and some look quite similar to the tubs/baskets found on the VM Pisces zodiac page.

                • Ellie Velinska

                  Hi Darren,
                  Here is another example of “doubling” from the Morgan Library, MS M.511, Italy 14th century

                • Ellie Velinska

                  Hi Rene,

                  There are 30 human figures for each VMs zodiac sign – except for the first one – 29. I think the artist couldn’t fit 30 and decided to split the next months into 2 rosettes with 15 figures so it is easier to count. Then he/she got ‘lazy’ and went back to one rosette per sign, skipped on decoration and placed the ‘nymphs’ (some of them are male) that couldn’t fit inside the circle – on top of it. I think that the next section of the VMs has been already started before the calendar was completed – so, by doubling the pages used for April and May, the artist ended up 2 pages short – something he/she may have adjusted by adding a folio that was later lost… or just never doing anything about it.

                  • Hi Ellie,

                    while there aren’t 30 ‘nymphs’ in Pisces, there are 30 labels each near a star. However, I agree that we are still guessing what was the intention of the author, w.r.t. the doubling.

                    On the other hand, there are a few things that we can conclude. First is that there is a clear progression in the way the nymphs are drawn, spanning several zodiac signs. This clearly has ‘some’ purpose. There is some intention behind this. It is not just a random set of female figures. Though a weak one, I see it as an argument that the MS is not likely to be a meaningless creation by some quack.

                    Next is that the order of the signs we see is intentional. In particular, having Pisces before Aries (the traditional first sign) is deliberate. I also doubt that Aquarius should have been before this.

                    Most interesting of all, I find, is that we can be sure that the circles have to be interpreted from inside to outside.

                    • Ellie Velinska

                      Hi Rene, I agree with everything you said. Just wanted to point again to the fact that some of the ‘nymphs’ are dudes 🙂 Some have beards and other male attributes – some are dressed similar to the male figure in Gemini. Having both male and female figures in the calendar is important for me, because we have an example of naked souls – both male and female – (not the typical winged angels) decorating the zodiac in the Hague MMW, 10 A 11

                    • Ellie Velinska

                      Here are some of the male souls in the calendar

                    • Ellie Velinska

                      and the example from the Hague

                • MarcoP

                  Hello Darren,
                  Al-Sufi’s specular images of the constellations are explained in “Islamicate Celestial Globes: Their History, Construction, and Use” by Emilie Savage-Smith et al.

                  [In his commentary on Ptolemy’s star catalog,] “Al-Sufi gives information on pre-Islamic star names and on some stars not listed by Ptolemy. Accompanying the commentary were illustrations of each of the 48 constellations (with stars indicated and numbered in each) as they are seen in the sky by an observer on earth and again as seen on a celestial globe which is to say reversed right to left, and also a slight revision of Ptolemy’s star catalog in chart form”.

                  • Ellie Velinska

                    another 4 legged Scorpio – as part of a Zodiac man and as constellation

                    • MarcoP

                      Thank you Ellie. Great images from BNF Latin 7351!

                      The stars sprouting out of Scorpio’s muzzle are also an interesting parallel.

                    • MarcoP

                      Also Virgo, with Spica that can be seen as a star or a flower.

                    • Darren Worley

                      Here’s another 4-limbed lizard-like Scorpio, shown in profile, from a Zodiacal Man (Homo Signorum) figure found in an 15th-century English manuscript (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ashmole 370, folio 27v).


                      The Scorpio is positioned over the male genitals.

                      I think its about time we had dedicated Scorpio and Cancer discussion threads..

                    • MarcoP

                      Hi Ellie, I only now noticed that BNF Lat 7351 also features a double cancer (as both lobster and crab) on f41v. Thank you again for sharing the reference to this great manuscript!

            • MarcoP

              Great Scorpio! Thank you Ellie!

          • Darren Worley

            Marco – you make a good point about the Scorpio being in profile. This makes the Voynich Scorpio all the more unusual, as it is very rare to find examples like this.

            Here is one example I’ve found. Its from a Jewish source, but unfortunately, I don’t know the date. In Jewish examples, Scorpio is often shown as a lizard, but most often from a birds-eye view.

          • Darren Worley

            Here is a rare example of a Scorpio sharing some of the distinctive features found in the VM example : having 4 legs and shown in profile. It appears in a Catalan manuscript of the Breviari d’amor by Matfré Ermengau. Its is dated between 1300-1350. It can be accessed here : http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b60009491/f25.item.r=Breviari%20d'amor#

            Titre : Matfré Ermengau, Breviari d’amor.
            Date d’édition : 1301-1500
            Type : manuscrit
            Langue : Provençal ancien
            Format : Catalogne. – Dessins à la plume, rehaussés. – Papier. – Reliure du premier Empire, titre doré au dos “Breviaire d’amour en vers catalan[s]”
            Description : Manuscrit D des éditions. Copie exécutée par un scribe catalan, incomplète du début et de la fin, mutilée en plusieurs endroits ; le premier vers correspond au 3355e de l’édition publiée à Béziers ; le dernier, au 31461e ; les feuillets 39 à 41, 52, 90, 167, 204 et 205 manquent.
            Description : D manuscript editions. Copy by a Catalan scribe, incomplete early and late, mutilated in several places ; the first line corresponds to the 3355th edition published in Beziers ; the last, the 31,461th ; the sheets 39 to 41, 52 , 90, 167, 204 and 205 missing.
            Source : Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Français 1601

        • Derek Vogt

          I don’t know about the first and third words; with this handwriting, some of the letters in there look like they could be either of two letters, and either I haven’t tried the right combination yet or they’re just words that aren’t included at Google Translate.

          The second gives me “you have not answered”, which in this case must be in the sense of answering a higher calling or call to action, not just questions or even prayers, based on the rest of it starting at the fourth word, which I am sure of:

          שענית answering (šʕnyt)
          כאברהם as Abraham (kʔbrhm; k’brhm; kabrhm)
          אבינו Our Father (ʔbynw; ‘bynw; abynw)
          בהר Mount (bhr)
          המוריה Moriah (hmwryh)

          “___ you have not answered ___ answering Our Father like Abraham at Mount Moriah”

          (Mount Moriah is where Abraham was ordered to kill one of his sons.)

          Nothing about Scorpio at all… I presume all twelve signs are encircled by other religious sentences with a similar lack of connection to the drawings.

          • Darren Worley

            Thank you Derek, I really appreciate it. I expect you can guess where I’m am going with this line-of-thought…

            My initial idea was that perhaps the text in the VM inner circle ring simply contains a label identifying the Zodiac sign e.g. Gemini or Die Zwillinge, or something similar. (Perhaps they do…?)

            However, in light of your reply, maybe the text in the inner rings contain verses or paraphrases from the Torah or Tanakh? (i.e. verses from the books of Old Testament)

            I’m going to look for other Jewish examples, and try to see if certain verses/themes are often or always associated with particular Zodiac signs. I know that Jewish scripture is intended to be read out in the Synagogue over the course of a year, so there could a link between certain passages and times of the year, or perhaps certain verses are associated with certain Annual Festivals that always fall in a particular month/zodiac sign.

            Using your phonetic rules, does the text on the inner ring of the VM Scorpio (f73r) contain words phonetically similar to Abraham or Mount Moriah? Is this approach practical at present?

            For example – here are the EVA transcriptions from the inner-ring of Scorpio (f73r).

            ## {}
            # inner ring of text
            # Last edited on 1998-12-10 01:05:15 by stolfi
            # Transcribed clockwise from wide gap at 09:00

            I attach images of some of the other Zodiac signs from the Chodorow Synagogue in Ukraine. I haven’t got examples of all of them.

            Thanks Again.

            • I might note that the overturned tail – seen in the Voynich ‘Scorpio’ and ‘Leo’ – is routinely seen in Jewish manuscripts too, in Ashkenazi as well as Sephardic texts. I believe that Ellie is quite correct in considering examples from the earlier period.

              Darren’s Franciscan example from the later period (1423) – (and not from a manuscript) – is one which I think may prove highly significant in the long term. Very well noted.

              Sagittarius of 1423
              Capstone, sculpture [roof-boss]
              Location: Erfurt, Monastery church, Barfüßerkirche Southern aisle [Franciscan-order Monastery ]

            • Derek Vogt

              Here’s a shot at the Sagittarius…

              First, I must note that the second word , if read as ידי “ydy”, would mean “shooting”, which looks like it could be part of a sentence relevant to the archer. But I don’t think that’s what it actually is, because the surrounding words don’t add up that way.

              If I read that word as ירי “yry”, I can put together the first four words as a phrase such as “an indicator of how much is sacrificed” or “an indicator by which to measure sacrifice”. Then there’s a word I can’t make any sense out of, and then one that means either a thicket/woods or a hut, and one more for “and grazing”. Is there a tale involving a sacrifice in the wilderness or farmland? (It’s not clear that this is a religious “sacrifice”, as opposed to a hard decision in which you must give up one thing for another. But if it is, then all twelve sentences could string together to tell one story.)

              • Derek Vogt

                …maybe not an “indicator” about sacrifice, but “taught” by/about sacrifice…

                • MarcoP

                  Hello Derek, thank you for transcribing and translating these sentences!

                  About Scorpio: the Talmud includes this passage: “May he that answered Abraham our father in mount Moriah answer you”.

                  The Sagittarius sentence seems to be related to the same episode (the sacrifice of Isaac): “And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son” (Genesis, 22,13). In Rabbi Eliezer’s comment: “The ram came from the mountains where it had been grazing”.

                  I recently discussed this passage with Darren, since it is possibly related with the bush that is sometimes represented together with the Ram in the Aries zodiac sign.

                  (attached images: Beth Alpha synagogue, 5th Century – Winchester Bible, 12th Century)

                  • Darren Worley

                    Thanks Derek and Marco.

                    A full view of the ceiling of the Chodorov Synagogue in western Ukraine can be seen here.

                    It seems clear that events in the life of the patriarch Abraham are described in the text around the Chodorov zodiac signs.

                    Could this relate to whats written around the zodiac signs in the VM? I think certain keywords (e.g. Abraham) might appear frequently in these passages – does the VM text display these patterns? Or perhaps Derek’s phonetic rules might indicate a relationship between the two sets of text?

                    • Derek Vogt

                      I didn’t see anything like “Abraham” or “Moriah” in the EVA sample you posted recently. I don’t think the ring text needs to say the same stuff in all examples; all I’m sure of is that it doesn’t need to be associated with the drawing inside, so maybe it could be anything somebody thought was important to say and could be broken into 12 pieces.

            • Derek Vogt

              Of the remaining Zodiac pictures’ text rings, Pisces is the one I can make the most sense out of; it’s about cities/towns/fortresses at war:

              עמד “ʕmd” stood
              מאחזיס “maḥzys” outposts
              בדגיס\ברגיס “bdgys/brgys” (name of a place/people?)
              במצורה\במצודה “bm$wrh/bm$wdh” siege/citadel
              הצילס “h$yls” help
              צרה\צדה “$rh/$dh” narrow/caught
              עכ “ʕk” …?
              חבא “ḥba” friend, ally
              פרה\פדה “prh/pdh” cow/cashed (probably neither)

              If עכ and חבא are meant as one word, it would be עכחבא “ʕkḥba”, which looks like an alternative spelling for עקבה “ʕqbh”, which is used as the name of two separate cities. One is Aqaba, an important millennia-old port city at the northern end of the Red Sea and the southern end of Jordan, and the other is `Aqqaba, a little Palestinian town in the Jordan Valley in northeastern Israel which I have no historical information about.

              Aries/Capricorn could be about some group of people starving, probably in Gaza or another hill-town in that area:

              כבו “kbw” switch
              במז “bmz” insufficient food
              שעוית “šʕwyt” beans
              כאכיהז\כאכיהו “kakyhz/kakyhw” …?
              בהר “bhr” Mount (mountain/hill)
              הברמכ\הבדמכ “hbrmk/hbdmk” (mountain’s/hill’s name)
              ואב “wab” and father
              עסג_י “ʕsg_y” …?
              עזה “ʕzh” Gaza

              Also, the beginning & end point for this ring isn’t clear, so Gaza, for example, could be the first word instead of the last.

              Libra just gives me a jumble of seemingly random words:

              בזבות\בובות “bwbwt/bzbwt” bears/flux
              דכה\רכה “dkh/rkh” oppresses/soft
              דכה\רכה “dkh/rkh” oppresses/soft
              עס “ʕs” to business
              רכי “rky” purposes
              חוש “ḥwš” sense
              כנו “knw” restored
              מבשר “mbšr” precursor
              התשבי “htšby” …?

              I tried the phrase דכה עס רכי to see if it was a phrase that would be translated all together as something like “enslaves” or “raids” or “plunders” or “pillages” or “tithes”. I just got back exactly what the individual words said when translated one at a time: “oppresses to business purposes”… not even a change from “to” to “for”.

        • Darren Worley

          Here is another Scorpio image with some similarities with the VM example. Unfortunately, it is a scan of a microfilm, so the quality is very poor. The original is held in Cod. Paris Biblioteque Nationale Lat. 13013, but it has not been digitised on the Gallica digital archive.

          Its a birds-eye-view of a 4-limbed lizard-like creature, but I was most taken with its rounded head.

          This image is taken from a manuscript of Bede’s “On the Nature of Things” (De natura rerum) in a copy dated to c830 from Auxerre.

          I’ve seen Scorpio zodiac signs that look like lizards, frogs, turtles, snails but I’ve yet to find an example that is quite as feline looking as the VM example.

          I spotted this example on Marco pintrest pins. Thanks!

  19. Joseph Perrotta

    Hello and thank you all for such interesting work. This is actually the first time I have seen or even heard of the VM but it is very intriguing. I have a question – more like an observation from someone who is not versed in linguistics – about the zodiac representations. Is it just me, or does the writing directly under each graphical representation of the zodiac symbol resemble the month in which each symbol represents? An example being that the word under the Aries ram picture in the center of the circle looks a lot like the word April. I tried to search and see if anyone else had felt the same way but didn’t see it mentioned on your page. It seems that each word under the sign resembles, to some extent, the latter month that each particular sign represents. Just wondering your thoughts on this!

    • Stephen Bax

      Hello – yes, these were clearly added later and you can see more about them here.

  20. I added a link to the main article above at my web site:

    I hope it’s OK that I used a copy of the main image for this link. Please just let me know if not.

    • MarcoP

      Thank you, Rene!
      For my part, I am also happy you included the image!

    • Darren Worley

      Rene – looks good to me.

      I would qualify that if the purpose is to identify similarities with the VM zodiac iconography, then we shouldn’t just look for parallels in the manuscript form.

      One of the other examples of the Sagittarius crossbowman that I reported, appears in a 1457 block-book, and I think this is just as valid as an exemplar. It dates from mid-way through the period of the manuscript examples that have been identified so far.

      Block-books (woodcut books without typeset printed text) would have had popular appeal, but have been poorly preserved. I understand only about 300 examples have survived, some only fragmentary. Calendars and almanacs (with zodiacal signs) were often featured in block-books.

      It seems quite likely that similar examples of the zodiacal signs found in the VM might also be found in media other than manuscripts, like block-books (or zodiacal clocks.)

      Furthermore, there are also examples of books, that are part-manuscript, part block-book – like this one here:

      Totentanz, [Blockbuch], [Süddeutschland?], [ca. 1465/70?]

      • For the tradition of depicting the Sagittarius zodiac emblem as a human with a crossbow, these block books (biblia pauperum) are certainly quite relevant. For the Voynich MS they tend to be a bit late. This follows both from the radio-carbon dating, and other analyses that are not yet published. In general, it makes sense to keep them in mind, I agree.

        • Darren Worley

          Rene – the Voynich manuscript is carbon-dated to between 1404–1438 and the earliest European, surviving and dated woodcut-with-text, the St Christopher woodcut is from 1423. Its held at the John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester and was executed in southern Germany or German Switzerland. It is preserved as an endpaper in a manuscript dated 1417 from Bohemia, the ‘Laus Virginis’.

          Block-printing seemingly pre-dates this slightly, as printed playing cards were created from 1418 in Ulm, Nuremberg, and Augsburg.

          Furthermore, in the paper that Marco mentioned previously Children of the Planets – The Popularization of Astrology in the 15th Century by Dieter Blume (p553) mentions woodcuts prints of astrological themes being made : “around 1430 an ambitious publishing project was realized, characterized by the close interaction of image and poem”.

          The creation date-range of the VM therefore overlaps with these events.

          The VM may have been created first, but I think parallels with the VM zodiacal signs will be found in block-books (as the 1457 example already attests).

          The “Children of the Planets” (Planetenkinder) popular literary form, as described in the Blume paper, seems to suggest that many of the ideas expressed in the VM zodiac are found in early 15th-century German/Swiss Renaissance culture.

          • Hello Darren,

            such early woodcuts could of course play a role. From what I have read so far (but I am no expert), I understood that in these early decades one would really find only single page woodcuts that would print as a whole page, and the biblia pauperum as block books only came roughly at the same time as the movable printing.
            I would see anything up to 1440 or 1450 as potentially inspiring the maker(s) of the Voynich MS, but all dates should be taken with some care. The entire process may have take several decades for all I know.

            Another comment is on the date of MS CGM 7269 (‘Planetenbuch’). While it has the date of 1463 on the cover, the part with the zodiac may be quite a bit older. The library description says: ranging from early 15th Century until quite a lot later. When browsing through the MS one first encounters a long section (evidently the oldest) with consistent handwriting, wihch includes the zodiac emblems. Then there are several paragraphs all in different hands, with differents dates of the middle of the 15th C, and further on there is a section in a much more recent hand.

    • Rene,
      I hope you will join me in offering an apology to Professor Bax for the unbridled comments published by Nick Pelling.
      As my own followers know, I have always spoken well of Mr/Dr(?) Pelling’s attitude to fellow researchers, but of late his efforts to show the “big boys” that he should be one of the team has led him to abandon any pretence of scholarly moderation. I apologise on behalf of other researchers who feel as embarrassed as I do that Professor Bax’ generosity in offering to contribute to this study, and making this space available to everyone, should have been met with such public and gratuitous insult.

      We have seen a long line of people who – having views which were at odds with a certain sector – were harried and abused until whatever threat they were perceived as representing was neutralised.
      One need only think of Stolfi among the many to know what I mean.
      Rene, since you happily use both spaces to make comments, I hope that you will be among those offering apologies to our host for the rudeness of a fellow guest and sometime scholar.

  21. I gather that we are supposed to take from all this, and implied argument that since German manuscripts of about 1445-1480 often show a crossbowman who is a hunter or bird-shooter in association with astrological and astrologico-medical zodiacs, so it proves that the figure in the Voynich manuscript is German?

    And perhaps we are also meant to infer that the botanical section is also German (though it includes plants unknown to German botanical imagery for centuries to come)?

    And also perhaps that it was a peculiar habit of Germany to draw maps like that which constitutes folio 86v?

    And altogether that the manuscript’s imagery is not only (as Rene has so long attempted to prove) “characteristically European” but in some sense a uniquely German cultural expression?

    Because if that’s the aim of producing these many, and largely inappropriate comparative examples, then there’s not much point in hoping for a more dispassionate and even-handed treatment of the topic.

    So, what exactly is the argument here? Could someone set it out *as* an argument, rather than hoping we’ll all just sniff the inference and then follow it to the gingerbread house.

    The first illustration is dated 1300-1340. From the Smithfield Decretals.

    The second illustration shows a type of crossbow which had a unique form of locking device – the tip is seen protruding from one side. This sort of device might explain the position of the Voynich archer’s hands. The question-mark is when the type was first developed, and whether it was ever employed other than on board ship; it was intended to prevent the arrow being accidentally released on the less stable platform of a heaving ship.

    • The order in which these illustrations appear is reversed from that in which they were loaded.

      • Darren Worley

        Diane – I’m not arguing any position. Just letting the evidence speak for itself…

        Further to my earlier post dated 14/September, could you post just one counter-example of a Sagittarius crossbowman from a non-German source? I look forward to your response.

  22. Marco, the first link is described by the holding library as having been printed rather late in the fifteenth century.
    Auteur : Engel, Johann
    Éditeur : J. Emericum (Venetiis)
    Date d’édition : 1494
    Astrolabium planum … ([Reprod.]) / [Johannes Angelus].

    The second link shows the crossbowman under the “horned centaur bowman” type for Sagittarius, yet another instance of the rising German nationalism reviving antique forms, often from Caroline mss. It is exactly equivalent to the Italian-speakers’ efforts to revive classical Roman language, letters and art. Caroline works were popular in both areas: in Germany because identified as German, in Italy because Charlemagne was a “Roman” emperor. Not the only factor to influence the later fifteenth-century works, but a notable one. I have said somewhere or other that the Voynich month-roundels (which do not form a zodiac) do not show other than minor signs of evolving past the tenth century or so. The best comparisons in European Latin mss come from regions where Spanish and various forms of French dialect were spoken.

  23. I note that the majority of these examples are rather later than our manuscript’s latest attested date, and that a number are from printed texts – most of which, as we know, gained their imagery by imitation of earlier manuscript- architectural- or other graphic sources.
    For these reasons, I do not think that they offer informative comparisons for our earlier manuscript, but others of course may differ.

    I note especially that none of these show the archer with similar costume, or in a similar stance. The latter occurs not in German texts but in French work of the earlier period, and the costume is nothing like the usual tight-fitting, short-jacketed German figures.

    With all due respect to Sniezynska-Stolot, and thanks to Raphal Prinke for the translation, we have had another fifteen years’ research-time since then, and our understanding of the manuscript no longer makes the earlier assumptions of an all-European context and provenance tenable. It was in that context, and from the then-general assumptions of a European “authorship” that her remarks were made. In fact, I am rather surprised by the casual tone of that evaluation, because it is perfectly evident that this is not one person’s idiosyncratic ‘take’ on the usual medieval Latin zodiac.

    I might also add that that I know of no example of a standing human figure for Sagittarius in classical imagery of the constellations. In fact, even to provide the Centaur with a bow was so unusual that (as in the passage quoted above), some persons refused to call it a Centaur at all, for that reason. Historically, the recognition of Sagittarius as a Bow came from the Greeks of Asia minor and (as I’ve illustrated) was associated rather with the ‘Pan’ or ‘Satyr’ – but the end result of later classical Latin syncretism produced the curious form of the Centaur-with-Bow, about which Isidore was initially puzzled, even as late as the sixth century AD.

    A standing human figure for Sagittarius was, as far as our evidence permits us to conclude, the original invention of the Jews around the region of Tiberius, and it is not attested before the 5th-6thC AD.

    As to the costume, it is so markedly different from anything in any of the central European Latin works that this alone prohibits our attributing it to German provenance.

    Irwin Panofsky, by the way, *never* attributed to the work to central European (i.e. German) Latin culture. He said that it was from Spain or somewhere southern, Jewish with ‘Arabic’ influence. Today we would say ‘Islamic’ influence, I think and of course Islamic influence affected the Jews within Islam, just as Latin habit influenced Jewish art in the north.

    I think it is important not merely to present a selection of figures which agree with one’s hypothesis, and proclaim them “like” one in the Voynich manuscript. One has to consider the full range of comparative examples, and then make an argument that this or that type is *MORE* like the Voynich image than similar images from other sources and regions.

    If one ignores the costume and the type of bow, then the stance of the archer from Soissons, which some researchers believe came from the older Braine Abbey (12C France) is far more like the archer in the Voynich manuscript than is any of the German examples. If one ignores the Voynich archer’s costume and his stance, then the German argument is almost but not quite tenable; the Voynich archer’s hands then have to be explained away, because their position is not compatible with the German hunting or military crossbow.

    If one refuses to ignores either the stance, or the weapon, or the costume or the position of the archer’s hands, some fairly serious research is needed, and across more than the limited range seen above.

    The process also means that while the answer may be less easily gained, and less appealing as suiting an old theory, surely when results are able to explain all the details, waving none away by excuses that the draughtsman had “problems”, then these are surely the facts more likely to be useful to other researchers, even if not particularly helpful in maintaining a preferred theory.

    The first known example of Sagittarius as a human standing archer. (note: not kneeling – that comes from quite a different lineage) can be seen as part of the mosiac at Beth She’an. Scholars and historians of art are very generally agreed that the type was created by Jews around the region of Lake Tiberias during the 5th-6thC.

    The figure at Soissons, believed to have come from Braine Abbey, happens to be associated with the Premonstratensian order, who were founded in France, established a few centres in the Holy Land, and also became extremely numerous in parts of central Europe. In general, however, the Premonstratensian style in manuscript art and architecture from the last shows few points of similarity to imagery in MS Beinecke 408.

    However, rather than continue labouring the point that most of the arguments shown above manage to survive more by what they neglect than what they address, I will refer any interested readers to the several thousand words I’ve recently devoted to analysis of folio 73v at voynichimagery.wordpress.com.

    Readers might like to note that my more detailed study also changed my own mind on some points: the posts at voynichretro are quite superseded now.

  24. Darren Worley

    I’ve found a further example of a Sagittarius crossbowman zodiac sign. I had a hunch that printed versions the Sagittarius crossbowman existed prior the 1581 Zodiacal man version previously noted, and I managed to locate one.

    This early block-book calendar dates from 1457, close to the invention of the printed book, and mid-way through the time period of the manuscript versions that have been previously described.

    Other pages from this block-book can be viewed here

    Curiously, this version doesn’t originate from Southern Germany as do many of the others (its origin is more northerly). This image appears alongside the other signs-of-the-Zodiac and another Zodiacal man (without a crossbowman).

    Here is an excerpt from the description:

    Institution: Herzog August Bibliothek
    Reference Cod. Guelf. 1189 Helmst. Fol. 180-189
    URL http://diglib.hab.de/?grafik=1189-helmst-00014
    Provenance: Juleum, Helmstedt
    Title: Zodiac sign Sagittarius.
    Unknown person (engraver)
    Dating 1457
    Hand-coloring technique; Woodcut; xylographic text
    Printing Reiber pressure
    Dimensions in mm plate: 111 x 84; Sheet: 144 x 101
    Context Cod. Guelf. 1189 Helmst.
    Manual Heinemann 1903 1st Div., 3rd vol., No. 1297, pp 100-103

    Notes Part of a calendar; Block book of five folded sheets (ten Folia), incorporated in a manuscript of the 15th century; Calculation of the Holy Days; comparable to the ‘Almanac of Mainz’ and the ‘Almanac of Kachelouen’, both in 1493 (?), see Schreiber, T. 4, pp 411-415, fig. T. 8, or CXV and CXVII. The complete object can also be seen in the series of digitized HAB Block Books: http://diglib.hab.de/inkunabeln/1189-helmst-2/start.htm?image=00002. Lit .: A. Stijnman, S. Gehrke, B. Lesser, ‘a newly discovered book block with Zodiac Man’, in: C. Heitzmann, the stars do not lie, Wolfenbüttel: HAB, 2008, pp 41-45. Ad Stijnman, ‘An unknown block book in Cod. Guelf. 1189 Helmst. the Herzog August Library, Wolfenbüttel ‘, in: Gutenberg Yearbook, Jrg. 84 (2009), pp 79-94.

    Can anyone explain what the curious rune-like symbols between the Latin alphabets mean?

    • Darren Worley

      Here is a further possible image of a Sagittarius crossbowman. I’m unsure if it can strictly be classed as a Sagittarius crossbowman, or if its just a Crossbowman being used to illustrate a page on the Sagittarius zodiac sign.

      In any case, it appears in a fascinating German manuscript dating from 1491. It can be viewed here.

      The image appears on p68, in a section title “36r-83v Johannes Angelus nach Pietro d’Abano (?): Astrolabium planum, illustriert, dt.”

      It contains many different zodiac cycles and numerous depictions of crossbowmen.

      Here is the manuscript description:

      Inv.Nr./Signatur Cod. Pal. germ. 832
      Herstellungsort/Region Regensburg
      Provenienz Bibliotheca Palatina
      Datierung nach 1491

      The codex contains several different texts –

      1r Inhaltsverzeichnis
      1v-27r Astrologischer Kalender nach Regiomonotanus
      28r-33r Erläuterungen zum Gebrauch des Kalenders sowie für das Astrolabium planum
      36r-83v Johannes Angelus nach Pietro d’Abano (?): Astrolabium planum, illustriert, dt.
      84r-92r Von den 36 Sternbildern nach Michael Scotus
      92v-98r Von den zwölf Tierkreiszeichen
      98v-101v Von den Planeten und ihren Kindern, dt.
      102rv Darstellung zur Bestimmung der Planetenstunden; Anweisung zur Benutzung des folgenden Drehbildes
      103r Berthold Furtmeyr, ganzseitiges Astrolabium mit drehbarer Scheibe zur Bestimmung der Planetenstunden
      104r-105v Die vier Complexionen
      106r-108r Die vier Elemente
      108v Windschema mit Erläuterungen
      110r-116r Traumbuch
      118v-119r Abbildung zweier Instrumente zur Bestimmung der Temporalstunden aus Regiomontanus, Calendarium deutsch
      120r-125v Sandkunst der 16 Richter
      127r-129r Guido Bonatti, Astrologie, dt. mit Rotae
      130r-135v Johannes Hartlieb, Namenmantik
      137r-233v Geomantie mit Auszügen aus Johannes Hartlieb (?), Geomantie
      244r-248r Astrologischer Jagdtraktat; Planetenstunden
      248r-259r Mondwahrsagenbuch nach den 28 Mansionen; Beschreibung eines Kalendars; Horoskopschema
      259v-271v Traktat zur Prognostik

    • Darren Worley

      The section of the manuscript described above [Cod. Pal. germ. 832; Johannes Angelus nach Pietro d’Abano (?): Astrolabium planum], seems to have been popular, as it has been re-copied here :

      Cod. Pal. germ. 833
      Astronomisch-astrologische Sammelhandschrift („Geomantie“)
      Nürnberg (Nuremberg), 1552–1557

      The (possible) Sagittarius crossbowman can be found on 81v.

    • Normski

      “Can anyone explain what the curious rune-like symbols between the Latin alphabets mean?”

      Looks like Ogham to me. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogham)

      • You think this ?

      • Darren Worley

        Here’s another example of the rune-like symbols (I’ve seen others), but this is a nice manuscript example from “An Illustrated Almanac for Peasants” dated 1513.


        National Library of Denmark
        NKS 901 8º: Bondealmanak
        An illustrated Almanac for Peasants

        A rough English translation from the Danish description:

        A Danish bonde-almanak (perpetual calendar in Latin) on parchment from 1513, possibly made ​​in Scania. In the folded position fills the almanac 5 x 5 cm . , Rolled out 63 cm.

        The calendar includes month pictures from January to December. In rosettes day are indicated light and dark hours, respectively, red and black lines, and each month is illustrated with a picture showing the month’s typical form of labor.

        In addition, a summary of the months, anniversaries, illustrated with pictures to help læseukyndige(?), partly portraits of saints and look like down, partly rebus-like shapes. E.g. stands Three crowns of Epiphany ( January 6 ) and a lion for Evangelist ‘ today (April 25). Particularly amusing illustrated is February 10, called scolastica (virgo), i.e. the learned young lady today. The day are indicated by the Danish significance of the name’s first syllable – a shoe !

        • MarcoP

          Apparently, this numbering system is described by David A. King (“The Ciphers of the Monks”) in the chapter about “Calendrical numerals”.


          • Darren Worley

            Thanks Marco – its interesting that this numerical cipher seems to have been used outside the ecclesiastical community, as demonstrated by its use in “an almanac for peasants”.

            Here is another slightly earlier example – this time from Leipzig (Eastern Germany) dated c1490. Unfortunately, only a single page from this block-book calendar seems to have survived. (A pity, as it might have shed some light on the representation of the other zodiacal signs. It seems only a limited number of block-books have survived to the present day.)

            Kachelofen, Konrad: Kalender, [Blockbuch], Leipzig, [ca. 1490]

            I think the crude, rough nature of these block-book images, has a greater similarity with the VM “artwork” than that often found in polished, skillful examples found in manuscripts. The manuscript examples of the Sagittarius crossbowmen are too accomplished in comparison with the VM Sagittarius sign.

  25. MarcoP

    Rene and Derek recently posted some very interesting observations about Scorpio:

    Rene: Scorpio: looks nothing at all like a real scorpion … Thus, we are faced with an artist who knew what a zodiac cycle should look like, but had no idea how to draw Scorpio.
    Already in 2008, in the preparation of the 2009 Austrian documentary, a historian from Vienna suggested that the artist may not have been from ‘South of the Alps’ because otherwise he should have known what a scorpion should look like. This is not, and was not meant as, hard evidence of course.

    Derek: Defining the word “scorpion” and its foreign cognates the way we do now, and applying that particular meaning to the constellation, is a recent convention. Most of the old references to the constellation here talk about the animal’s great size and strength, calling it a “monster” or “beast”, telling stories about it scaring off Apollo’s horses and being hunted by archers and slaying Orion, whom it was bigger than; a couple of Greek names for it have “mega” built in. They don’t mention claws or a stinger. Some descriptions of it talk about not any version of an arthropod but a dragon (a giant snake, before dragons grew legs).

    In this page, we quoted Colum Hourihane: “As many of the artists and illuminators responsible for these works never saw a scorpion or had a model book to work from, the representations of this sign reflect great variety” (“Time in the Medieval World: Occupations of the Months and Signs of the Zodiac in the Index of Christian Art”).

    I must say that Hourihane’s explanation of strange Scorpios as only due to the ignorance of the artists does not seem convincing to me. I think it likely that some kind of written tradition (as suggested by Derek, quoting Allen) has taken part in the birth of this iconography. On the other hand, I also agree with the Austrian historian mentioned by Rene: I could not find any dragon-like Scorpio in Italian or Perso-Arabic works of arts. The examples I have seen are all from France, Germany or England, with the exception of a Romanic relief in the S. Isidore church in Leon, Northern Spain. Has anyone seen a lizard or dragon-like Scorpio from somewhere further South?
    (attached: S.Isidore, Spain, XI C.; Pierpont Morgan M103, England, 1250ca; Pierpont Morgan M75, Paris, 1350ca)

    • Darren,
      re your comment 21, 2015 – 2:52 pm.

      Your point is well made. Perhaps the reason that we find such un-scorpion-like imagery for the creature in most of Europe is that no scorpions were found there. Euscorpius flavicaudis does occur in southern Europe and even in England. You can see an excellent version of the scorpion’s tail in some Spanish (and Franco-Spanish) Christian manuscripts. There’s a fair example in the ‘Scorpion men’ from Apocalypse of St-Sever, Franco-Spanish, 1028-1072. Paris, Bib.Nat. MS. Lat.8879, f.145v.

      I’ve often wondered whether the peculiar form we see in so many Latin works isn’t by reference to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, for he wrote:
      “If you remove the hollow claws of land-crabs, and put the rest under the soil, a scorpion, with its curved and threatening tail, will emerge from the parts interred”.(Met. 15: 369-371).

      Works produced in scriptoria tend to be more reliant on such texts, and on earlier works produced in the same parochial environment than works of the fifteenth century, often gained in the much more flexible and varied environment of the international “bottega” or workshop which we see flourish from the early fourteenth century onwards in some regions.

      • PS – Darren, I expect you know the ‘Medieval Bestiary’ site, but others may not.

        Its “Scorpion” page is here:

        Apologies if anyone else has mentioned it already. I’ve not read every comment on Stephen’s page yet.

  26. Darren Worley

    I found a couple of further Sagittarius crossbowman images, attached below is the first. This is also from a South German source.

    Almanach Erhardi Etzlaub, burger zu Nurnberg, der Freyen kunst vnnd Ertzney liebhaber
    Kalenderblatt von Balthasar Müller, 1529/30
    Universitätsbibliothek Würzburg
    Sign.Nr.: 36/A 50.63

    Marco and I decided not to include these in main introduction as they were either undated, or from a later period and they also appear in a different media (they’re woodcut prints).

    I’ve included them now for completeness.

    This woodcut is very similar to the example found here (without a crossbow) in the Wellcome Gallery collection. This one is credited to Petrus SLOVCIUS [Petrum Slovacium]. Allmanach auff das 1581. Breslau [1581]

    A good website of other images of Astrological Man or Zodiacal Man can be found here: http://www.luminarium.org/encyclopedia/zodiacman.htm

    • Darren Worley

      And here is another woodcut of a Zodiacal man containing a Sagittarius crossbowman. I don’t know the source or its date; I suspect sometime between 1460-1530 from Southern Germany, based on its similarity with other images.

      If anyone can identify the source, please post details.

      • Helmut Winkler
        • Darren Worley

          Helmut – yes, the Wellcome manuscript is similar, but it only shows a Sagittarius archer (not a crossbowman).

          These Zodiacal man images are fairly common, below are a collection that were pasted into the last page of an early printed book (1457).

          They don’t appear to contain any Sagittarius crossbowman, but the woodblock prints are so crude its hard to be certain.

          Cgm 340, Sammelhandschrift. Bayern 1457.
          Munchen, Bayerische Staatbibliothek

          I suspect they date after 1457 (probably not long after) and have been cut from early printed almanacs and calendars.

          Its seem highly probably that Sagittarius crossbowmen also appear in early printed books. With a more thorough search through other 15th-century books and manuscripts we might find the archetypal zodiacal images that the VM images have been copied from.

    • Darren Worley

      Here are some zodiacal signs from an 18th-century German astrological treatise, currently kept at Biblioteka Kapitulna, Wrocław, Poland, it contains another Sagittarius Crossbowman.

      Ordinarily, I wouldn’t bother posting images from such a late date, but the zodiac signs in this German manuscript contains several features found in the VM zodiac.

      The full set of images can be found here: Wrocław, Biblioteka Kapitulna, 121

      The current evidence seems to suggest that the Zodiacal sign of Sagittarius as a Crossbowman (arbalist) first appeared in Polish manuscripts in c.1400 and subsequently in German manuscripts and books, however, it never spread beyond this region in the 400 years through to the 18th-century.

  27. Brilliant!
    Stephen, is this link likely to be relatively permanent, or would site updates (WordPress…) change it from time to time?


  1. The Voynich Sagittarius: A coincidence? | Voynich Views

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