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belated replies: [was VMs: Evita, EVA, and transcriptions.]
for Nick, Jon, and Dennis,
> Here's a challenge for you - looking closely at the quill-strokes that
> up the two VMs "hands", can you tell the two handwritings apart? That is,
> is there any evidence to believe that two (or more) scribes physically
> wrote it, or does the evidence point to only a single scribe (perhaps
> two different size quills)?
> This has long been an open question, but which (AFAIK) no-one on-list has
> tried to answer with any paleographic / epigraphic rigor.
That's question for a forensic graphologist - and don't forget the
"forensic", they get quite irate if they're confused with mere
graphologists (those that claim to read character from handwriting <g>).
Comparing the high quality 4-colour print I have to the digital versions one
quickly realizes just how badly voynich scholars are served by them (for
anyone who wants a copy it was in Fortean Times #130 Jan 2000: back issues
available from forteantimes.com).
In consequence I think even a forensic graphologist would need either a
higher quality reproduction that is available at the moment or to examine
the mss itself.
This isn't to say there aren't "obvious" things I could pick up on, but one
would need a very high quality repro to do that and as far as I know only
the microfilm, facsimile, and digital versions are available and they're
just not up to snuff at all
>In your detained examination of the script, have you noticed that
>the 'legs' of the gallows characters appear to have been drawn in halves?
My "detailed examination" is of the text on one page ; f78r ; if you can
find an example of what you mean on that page I'll have a look at it.
What I *suspect* however is that you're looking at "double artifacts".
Converting colour to Black and White creates tonal artifacts, and converting
to digital creates "pixel average" artifacts; converting a colour page to a
digital black and white and you've both these artifacts to content with!
Normally it is a fair bet that any "disjointed" line in a digital image is a
digital artifact. In addition there are places where the faint brown ink and
the fawn vellum have the same tonal value and become merged in Black and
White repro - digitizing that artifact is almost certain to create
"disjointing" and "offsetting" between pixels of lines that are actually
straight (digitizing "averages" the total content of the pixel area).
What we really need are good colour slides of every page from which 4-colour
repros can be made, or a DVD filmed line by line by a rostrum camera a
couple of inched from the text - I don't see this coming however :-(
I know from my contacts in Fortean Time that the slides for magazine repro
are out there somewhere (they've swapped art editors since 2000 and the
editor of the time Bob, has no idea where they got from) but the Yale sites
don't have then on offer. I've a few picture libraries trying to track them
down for me but no success so far - even then that'll only provide about
half a dozen good images of the vms.
I'm hoping that the new book on the vms that's coming out this year will
have better repro than has been available so far.
> What do you think of the idea that the VMs might be "outsider art"?
>That might not be saying a lot. I haven't seen that "outsider art" is that
>different from "mainstream art", except that it's even more idiosyncratic.
I've absolutely no idea what "outsider art" is so I haven't the foggiest
notion! Our art historian would be better able to answer that one.
My study of art was practical; techniques etc, and the history of
and the hand/brain and eye/brain psychology, eg; art technology, and of
course typography which included its graphological precedents. My study of
writing systems is self taught.
Art movements, art criticism, art history, etc was another subject
Of one thing I am certain however; the past is a different country and
nowhere is this more true than in "art". The why, the how, the motive, the
purpose, and the function, changes and changes and changes: how
individuals and societies saw and reacted to what today we'd classify as
"art" is very different from our 3rd millennium perspective. Indeed you'd
have a very hard job defining "art" to some cultures of the past, it'd be a
totally alien concept to them. The ancient Egyptians spring to mind
>Such an artist might be more likely to borrow archaic
>source material, e.g. using gallows embellishments
>[little used by 1450, although I'm sure I've seen an
>example from 1340] and T-O maps during the
Well I've found gallows-like embellishments in Greek Document hand from the
6th C and in Merovingian and Carolinian book hand from the 7/8th C , so
they've been around for a long time. But that in itself doesn't mean the vms
artist was exposed to them. The ee ligature (cursive joint) is identical to
Merovingian "u". I think pining down the time frame is important because
it'll tell us what book and document hand conventions were prevalent at the
time and might be incorporated in the vms script. For example in many
medieval hands the word "minim" looks like "iiiiiiiiii". Also it'll tell us
what punctuation was in use and considered orthographically essential, and
therefore probably hidden in the voynich script (and here I think that some
initial letters and the repeated words have an orthographic function).
I'm beginning to suspect that the various gallows are ascender versions of
"lower case" ligatures. To use non-eva for a moment; 4o is constructed
almost exactly like 4P (in writing systems graphemes with almost identical
construction are usually variants of the same grapheme). So I think that qo
is both a word and is composed of two units of information; which is why one
can get the 4 and the P "split" with graphemes between them. I think 4o is
the word/word initial-final form and that 4P is the medial and
line/paragraph initial form of the same grapheme. What I need to find to
disprove this is qo regularly found in medial positions
But I ramble. Back to Dennis.....
I've also found, sometimes with great excitement, T-O maps from the
renaissance, but in every case so far they were in copies of earlier
The henerydavis.com site that Jeff provided (I thought I'd posted that one
here myself but it must have been privately to someone) has many examples.
I've been cruising renaissance maps sites too, but it seems Prof Edson's
contention that no original T-Os were created after the late 1400s is true.
One the herbal side, I asked an acquaintance who dabbles in herbal medicine
how she'd date an old herbal. Her answer was quite surprising, she'd look
for specific plants. Apparently plants had "fashions" that came and went in
specific eras. The example she gave was the tomato which between roughly
1450 and 1550 was thought to be an aphrodisiac, and called a "love apple" in
English, so if one finds a tomato in a medicinal herbal it's probably from
that period. She admits her knowledge is too limited for the task but
suggested that any good college of herbal medicine would know not only
plants used today but plants used in the past and the eras they were
fashionable. Apparently the believed aphrodisiacs came and went the most and
no herbalist (to her belief anyway) would omit them from their herbal - they
were too good for business! ;-)
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