[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

astrological iconography

I have received a very kind and informative reply from 
Prof. Ewa Sniezynska-Stolot of the Jagiellonian University
in Cracow (my repeated apologies to the list I had not
written to her earlier). Below is a translation/summary
of her letter.


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. From the astrological iconography point of view,
the Taurus at a well is somewhat strange - unless an image
of donkeys was a basis for it and then it would refer
to Cancer - but that is certainly going too far.

In my opinion it is a notebook of a liberal arts student.
Similar notebooks are Beinecke 225 and 226. The former
belonged to Paul de Worczin who studied in Cracow in 1422
(according to the Beinecke catalogue Cracow is in Bohemia!).
The latter is also from Cracow. 

In our Institute we have a database with descriptions of
most of existing medieval zodiacal iconography. I am now
preparing a similar database of the iconography of
individual degrees of the Zodiac.


Thus she confirms the opinion of Panofsky (and my own
amateurish feeling) that the VMS should be dated
to mid-15th Germany/Poland/Bohemia.

The suggestion that it is a student's notebook 
is a bit of a revelation to me! Drawing naked ladies
and fantastic pipelines during boring lectures 
is perhaps what they were doing from the dawn of time.

Prof. Sniezynska-Stolot has not addressed the VMS script
but I hope to keep in contact with her. Maybe that
was some kind of a medieval "beta-kappa" students'
corporation fun popular in Cracow and there are loads
of similar manuscripts at the Jagiellonian Library?

Best regards,