The mnemonic and other devices found in plant images in the Voynich Manuscript images (as yet incomplete) (29Jan17)
The pages of the Voynich Manuscript, otherwise known as MS 408 in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, contain many heretofore mysterious images.
Almost all of the images in the manuscript look strange, very different from other documents of the period or later.
I think I have found the reasons behind much of the strangeness.
Hundreds of birds, dozens of animals and lots of people and other objects are shown openly or hidden on the herbal pages, both the full page kind, and the ones showing many sets of plant roots and leaves with labels. A few are easily discernible and have been wondered about for decades. Others have only lately been winkled out. Together, they are some of the reasons that many images look so strange.
This is about those pages and the mnemonic devices I have been finding that show visual reminders for the names or alternate names of the herbs indicated on those pages. More complete information and other supporting (mostly plant) images may be found in the chapters with proposed plant image id’s pages and the proposed plant label image id’s pages. Mostly mnemonic device information is shown here.
The artist of the manuscript clearly loved to hide things in plain sight. Just as the author(s) tried to obscure the meanings of the glyphs and glyph words, the artist did likewise. Many things about the Voynich Manuscript are not what they seem to be. (Not an original opinion.)
Some images are not yet understood. Some Group I codes are associated with more than one image, often with different mnemonic devices, when they are provided. Some images have no attendant labels/text words. Some labels seem to have no attendant image. One image seems to be associated with two labels. Some images are almost repeated/mirrored on different pages. Many images in the manuscript seem to have no mnemonic device associated with them.
Many of the images of herbs seem to offer mnemonic devices or other hints of the associated herb name’s identity. Many seem to have been drawn from actual herbs with very little attempt at subterfuge or disguise. Some VMS images turn out to be mostly mnemonic devices related to the alternate names and are not depictions of the actual plants or plant parts.
I am still using the same glyph/sound alphabet and deconstruction scheme to make my initial Group I code attributions, and then to come up with almost all of the mnemonic devices found afterward. Only a few mnemonic devices were unraveled before the herb names were known to me and thus led to the new herb image/code attributions.
I think of these mnemonic device results as possible supporting evidence for the code attributions. Some, like Sir Plume, the cuckoos, herons and cranesbills, the Hesperides nymph and the dragons, look like no-brainers to me. Other readers will have their own opinions, I’m sure, especially if my results contradict their own results or ideas.
All of the images of the Voynich Manuscript, MS 408, in this document are courtesy of Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University.
I have stolen my other images from all over the internet. Many of those images were chosen from a large group because they are similar to the VMS images or illustrate some point or mnemonic device. I admit they have been cherry-picked and still may not always be exact replications of the VMS images. Many plants encompass a large variation in their physical characteristics, from leaf types and shapes to flower colors to roots. I try to show the closest comparisons for which I can find images. I am not even sure all of the internet images are correct in their image attributions. I doubt my attributions are all correct.
Some VMS image plant parts are not the parts one would expect them to be – leaves turn out to be flowers, roots turn out to be fruit, and so on. Many herb image parts are fabricated, fanciful or disguised.
As always, my work is tentative, offered as a possible and partial solution and subject to change or revocation as work progresses. I have finished my first turn through herb images and am now starting to work my way through the herb/root/part images with labels. I am far from finished. I don’t expect everyone to see all the mnemonic devices or agree that some are more than vaguely possible, if that.
I think I am currently the only person both assigning tentative herb plant identities, and showing mnemonic device support for any/many of those assignments.
The language behind the glyph words is English and the herbs names abbreviated/encoded are mostly common English plant names of the Fifteenth Century, as far as I can tell. The names or words brought to mind by the mnemonic devices were common English words or names of the period.
I think I have identified some artistic devices used by the artist that may have been used by other artists. I don’t know which other artists or on which dates. One is the use of the quarter moon shapes for depicting the 3-D funnel shape of a leaf for asarabaca, Asarum europaeum. Another is the use of nebuly lines around the edges of a few leaves in the VMS images to show they feel velvety, The velvet mite VMS image has similar nebuly lines, and, in real life, the mite feels velvety (thus its name).
Try to keep in mind that I didn’t draw, paint, write or encode the VMS. I’m trying to help you understand the author and artist, as I understand her/him/them.
Don of Tallahassee