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VMs: Gasparinus de Bripio...
Following a recent suggestion by Luis, I had a close look at the herbal
manuscript by Gasparinus de Bripio in the British Library.
This dates from around 1464, and is apparently from Northern Italy. It
* a calendar (saints days, etc)
* a table of lunar changes (and how to fix it for each year of the 19-year
* an index of all the plants (one name per line)
* a short list of medical terms
* coloured drawings of 171 herbs, one-per-page
* a long section of recipes, remedies, superstitions, magical chants, etc
What I found particularly interesting was the intra-document linkage
between the drawings and the recipes. Most of the plants had no text on the
page, apart from a short reference of the form:-
scripta in fo 103
Where a plant had multiple references, the text would typically say
scripta in fo 104
et in fo 106
The recipe/remedy section of the Ms generally had only 30%-50% as many
paragraphs per page as we see in the VMs: it also had extensive 17th
century (I think) marginalia, marking recipes as "ad oculos", "ad
conceptione", "ad urinam provocandum", "ad fistulam", etc.
While ths Ms had no obvious connections with the VMs' at all (sorry Luis!),
I think that its structure does however point to a reasonable hypothesis
for the "Neal keys" (typically 8-10 pairs of glyphs held between a pair of
single-leg (p or f) gallows, on the top line of a page) in the VMs.
Basically, if the VMs was encoding broadly the same structure seen in the
de Bripio manuscript, then we could expect to find a reference to a folio
and a caption on each herbal page: and the Neal keys would be a reasonable
place to expect to find them. Single-leg gallows might (in effect) be
signalling some kind of an intra-document reference.
Let's take as an example <fx: opens CopyFlo at random> f37r: the top line
there has a clear Neal key:-
tocphol shaiin qotor ofchor oty chory daiin otod or
Here, the Neal key seems most likely to be "(ch).ol.sh.aiin.qo.t.or.o".
Tiltman pointed out that the general "aiin" motif could be an encoded Roman
numeral, and I've suggested various numbering schemes based on this in the
past. One proposal was that <ch> might code for "V" (5) and <sh> for "L"
(50). If <ol> is "X" (10) here, then it's possible this is referring to
folio "XLII" here (ie, 42), with the remainder of the Neal Key specifying
which caption (though probably in terms of the star type at the head of the
paragraph, rather than simply a caption number as such)
If the intra-document referencing were easily extractable in this kind of
way, this would mean that the VMs could still be used as a working document
if required - personally, I don't believe that it was, but that it could
have been if necessary. :-o Alternatively, if the VMs had been
subcontracted out, these could have been used as a quality control
mechanism (to make sure everything was still in place).
Incidentally, the presence of intra-document references like these might
well have been a powerful motivation to keep the layout and page contents
matched between the original and the copy.
Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....
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