Here I have collected together interesting examples of mediaeval herbal manuscripts and related documents which might help us to understand the Voynich plants better. My aim is to offer a respoitory to help everyone to find them and comment on them.
If you know any, and you want me to include them, please add a comment on this page.
|Origin, language & script, date, location||Description||Link to full manuscript||Link to discussion (coming soon)|
|Italy, Italian, 15th century|
University of Vermont
|128 leaves, paper,|
Date, c. 1475 - 1525
|Click here||Italian herbal manuscript - Vermont|
|Italy, Italian and Latin, 15th century||192 drawings of plants, Manuscript on paper. Veneto? Italy, S. XV|
"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."
|Click here||Italian herbal – Veneto 15th century|
|Eastern Mediterranean, Greek cursive, 15th c,||The Herbal of Dioscorides Pedanius, Isocrates and Galen], in Greek. Illustrated Manuscript on Paper. Written in the Eastern Mediterranean in the fifteenth century.|
"the inspired work of the wise teachers Galen Claudius (Pergamum 129-ca. 200), Isocrates (Athens 436 BC-338 BC) and Dioscorides Pedanius (Cilicia ca 60) on the making of medicines from plants"
|Leiden Dioscorides (Date: 1082, Place: Samarkand, Language: Arabic) Kitāb al-Ḥašāʾiš fī hāyūlā al-ʿilāg al-ṭibbī, Dioscorides Pedanius, Manuscript OR 289,||Wonderful 11th century translation into Arabic of Dioscorides. To see it, click on this link and then click on the picture of manuscript Or. 289||Click here|
|Hunayn ibn Ishaq was the Syriac translator who translated many Greek works into Syriac and Arabic, including Galen's 'Hidden Drugs', with his commentary. This discusses a Hebrew version.||Not a full herbal, but an interesting discussion about a Hebrew version of Galen's original Greek text, with commentary by Hunayn ibn Ishaq. Part 2 mentions hellebore as 'kharbaq'.|
Discussion of many individual plants.
|Click here for Part 1 of the blog|
Click here for Part 2, mentioning Hellebore as 'kharbaq'
Click here for the full original pdf
|Not a full herbal manuscript, but a useful list of Arabic plant names from a 9th century source.: "ABU HANIFAH AL-DINAWARI'S BOOK OF PLANTS|
AN ANNOTATED ENGLISH TRANSLATION
OF THE EXTANT ALPHABETICAL PORTION
Catherine Alice Yff Breslln 1986
|"Abu Hanifah al-Dinawari's 9th century Kitab al-Nabat (Book of|
Plants) became the standard reference work on Arabic plant names and
botanical terms for later generations of lexicographers and pharmaco-
|Click here||Thanks to Marnix Hoekstra for this reference|
|A description and discussion of an Arabic version of Qazwini's 'Book of wonders'||This is an article in Google Books about an Arabic manuscript from 1322, a version of Qazwini's Book of Wonders. It includes a page-by-page list of contents, including several of the plants I have identified with relation to the Voynich, such as Juniper ('Ar'ar).||Click here|
|Wonderful herbal in Arabic, a late copy of Qazwini's Book of Wonders, with page after page of plants with Arabic names|
كتاب عجائب المخلوقات و غرائب الموجودات. زكريا بن محمد بن محمود القزويني
= Kitāb 'ağā'ib al-maḫlūqāt wa ġarā'ib al-mawğūdāt by Zakariyyā ibn Muḥammad
|For example see 'Kharshaf', artichoke, at the bottom of folio 174r: here, last picture on the page.|
Also see the wonderful depiction of the Castor Oil Plant here, second picture, at the bottom, which fits well with the discussion elsewhere on this site.
|A wonderful earlier edition of Qazwini's Book of Wonders, in Arabic. Now in a library in Bordeaux. Around 1274||Lots of wonderful illustrations of astrology, animals and plants|
Bibliothèque de Bordeaux
Source : ms 1130, Bibliothèque/Médiathèque, Bordeaux
Author: Qazwīnī, Zakariyyā ibn Muḥammad ibn Maḥmūd al- (1203-1283)
Date : 1199 - 1298
Subject matter : Astrology / Botany / Zoology / Astronomy / Geology / History / Algeria / Cosmography / Mythology
|Click here, then click on the box 'Tout afficher' to see a gallery of all the pages.||Thanks to Marco Ponzi for the reference|
|Spanish manuscript "Historia general de las cosas de nueva España (General history of the things of New Spain) is an encyclopedic work about the people and culture of central Mexico compiled by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún (1499–1590), a Franciscan missionary who arrived in Mexico in 1529, eight years after completion of the Spanish conquest by Hernan Cortés. Commonly referred to as the Florentine Codex, the manuscript consists of 12 books devoted to different topics. Book XI, the longest in the codex, is a treatise on natural history."||For those wishing to compare the Voynich with Latin American flora and fauna.||Click here||Thanks to devarshi for the reference|