Italian herbal – Veneto 15th century

See other interesting manuscripts here.

This  wonderful manuscript has 192 drawings of plants (Manuscript on paper. Veneto? Italy, S. XV). It is described as follows:
“This herbal was begun in the first half of the 15th century and continued for about half a century. It presents an interesting contrast between the early, conventional representation of plants and the naturalistic style, which was becoming common by the end of the century.

The roots are heavily emphasized and are often depicted as fantastic faces and creatures, e.g. the female mandragora (f. 36) and the woad plant (f. 42), which has a blue root with a human face.”

See page 33 r for an illustration of Folegar with heads in the roots. Folio 42r has a nice blue head in the root.

On another page of this site Marco has added the following interesting comments and description:

“[This manuscript] has a few “snake roots” similar to Voynich f49r

35: ‘Tiles’ with a wavy blue root (with a face on one end), four erect leaves with flowers between; the root might indicate a water plant

49: ‘Corbealis’ with another blue root ending in an animal head

50: ‘Bustana’ with a red snake rouond its stem, presumably a herb recommended for snake bite

To me it’s very instructive to see that many images of the Voynich ms that seem weird to modern eyes actually belong to a consolidated tradition in late medieval science.”

Any other observations?





  1. R&B

    Hi Stephen,

    I was quite unsure on how to get in contact, I just wanted to leave this here. I watched the video about the voynich manuscript and your AMA on reddit, and earlier today I was checking a thread on reddit about other books and this image showed some characters which I believe are similar to some of the ones you showed on your research:

    the reddit post was this one:

    Am I imagining things here or could it be related?

    best regards

    • Stephen Bax

      Thanks, it looks interesting. The book looks modern to me. Any idea what it is?

      • Jan M

        The article R&B linked labels it as “The Rohonc Codex” 😉

        And tells (with references to sources):

        Study of the paper on which the codex is written shows that it is most probably a Venetian paper made in the 1530s. However, it may simply have been transcribed from an earlier source, or the paper could have been used long after it was produced.

        So it is about 100 years younger than VM. And I don’t actually see any relation between the two scripts. Yes, there are iii clusters, but apart from that… I really don’t know. Just my 2p.

  2. Marco

    Just to point out that I copied the descriptions of the illustrations from the web page presenting the manuscript:

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