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Re: VMs: How translucent is vellum?

Hi Ken,

Ken of the giant PDF, here. Big FWIW. I don't deal with old manuscripts really so here's a question for the experts. How translucent is vellum?

I guess it probably depends how much you stretch it, and (perhaps) on the age of the animal used to produce it. BTW, it was Sergio Toresella who pointed out that the VMS' vellum was very thin: he was also sure (and he's a very careful observer) that many of the circular diagrams weren't mechanically drawn, but were in fact hand-traced.

I ask because as I've been compiling the registered versions of the foldouts I'd flip the verso, paste it atop the recto and attempt to align the two folios with distinctive features on the vellum. What I noticed was this. The center of the zodiac pendants line up in every case. OK, so the author used the same point to scribe the circles. In fact, if I'm not mistaken the center point is easily seen on f73r and f71v. But what is also interesting is that there are only a few instances where a ring of text overlaps the ring on the verso. What you see is many concentric rings of text. Also, (and this may just be giddy hope of having discovered something) many of the maidens appear to be holding the same star.

Interesting! Can you please catalogue the places where this happens & post your results to the list?

If you look at the interlinear transcription (ooops - another piece of jargon slipping in) or elsewhere, you should be able to see that there is a generally accepted order ("Grove numbers") for the nymphs: for each ring, these are numbered clockwise from just above the ascendant (ie, from 9 o'clock around), ie f70r1 inner ring #1, #2, #3, etc.

It's possible that, if the astrological diagrams were traced, they would have to be lined up in order not to confuse the tracer too much. It's possible, then, that in some cases a star on the verso side might have been accidentally traced from a star on the recto side rather than a star on the actual manuscript... analysing this carefully might help us build up insights into what was going on here!

A couple folios are difficult to determine because getting a sense of scale can be difficult in a few instances. What would have been really helpful is a scale on the edge of each image.

A lot of scans put a short ruler at the side... we're not so fortunate in this case, though. :-(

...though you could calibrate pages (if different) by matching the size of the retaining clip at the side (used to hold the page in place). :-)

Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....

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