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Alfonso X’s Lapidario: Stones, Stars and Colours

October 13, 2016 6 comments

I’ve been down a bit of rabbit hole over the last couple of days which others may have already been down. I was looking once more at the Zodiac folios, in particular Taurus. The Taurus Light and Dark folios are both marked “may” in, as often remarked, a later hand. There are 15 figures in each Taurus folio, for a total of 30. However, as we well know, May has 31 days, so the figures probably don’t represent days. I thus went in search of 30-way splits of Zodiac signs ….

Alfonso X’s Lapidario

Looking at this old Spanish illustrated manuscript:

“Tratados de Alfonso X sobre astrología y sobre las propiedades de las piedras”

which is a treatise on astrology and the importance of stones/gems etc., we can see a circular Taurus diagram with 30 divisions.

lapidario_taurus_30

Each of these divisions is associated with a stone, of a noted colour, and one or a few stars in a constellation. There is a lengthy description of each division, its stone, its stars, the various ailments the stone cures, when the stone should be used, et cetera. There is a Spanish transcription of the text here, which I found very useful (combined with Google Translate):

Alfonso X Lapidario

Since a plausible language match to the month spellings as written in the Zodiac folios is Occitan which at one point covered part of Spain (please correct me on this, as I’m not sure), there seems to be a compelling regional match here, but I can’t quite figure it out.

From what I’ve read, Alfonso X assembled a team of scholars from all world regions, who worked on documents on a variety of topics. This website says of the Lapidario: “The Lapidario is a thirteenth century Castilian translation sponsored by King Alfonso X el Sabio, the Learned. The translation was done from an Arabic text which in turn is said to have been translated by the mysterious Abolays from an ancient text in the “Chaldean language”

Matching Stone Colours

Anyway, my first approach was to try to match the colours of the headgear or tunics of the clothed figures in the Taurus Light folio to the colours of the first and second fifteen stones mentioned in the Lapidario. It’s a little tricky, because although the stones are numbered, we don’t know which is figure 1 in the Taurus Light folio, and whether the inner ring precedes the outer. Even so, the patterns of colours in the stones sequence might reveal a match. I drew a blank.

Matching Stones with Voynich Star Labels

My second approach was to try to match the names of the stones with the labels on the figures, to see if there was some correlation between the label length, or its initial glyph, with the stones’ names. Very tricky.

Some of the stones that appear in the Taurus set of 30 also appear in other Zodiac signs in the Lapidario. For example, the ninth stone in Taurus is “esmeri(l)” (Latin), and esmeril is also the third stone of Libra, and the second stone of Aquarius.

This leads to the obvious question: is there a Figure in the both the Voynich Taurus and Libra roundels (Aquarius is missing) that shares the same label? If so, might that label be “esmeril”? And, are there other stones that appear in more than one sign which might be matched to duplicate stones in the Lapidario?

(As an aside, regarding the stones and colours, I was struck by the third stone of Taurus, called “camorica”, which is scarlet in colour and associated with the Pleiades.)

Another promising avenue is to compare the shapes and orientations of the stars in the constellations as they appear in the VM with how they appear in the Lapidario. Since the Pleiades are mentioned in the Lapidario, are they illustrated there, and does its illustration of the cluster match the apparent drawing of it in the VM (which differs in detail from its actual appearance in the night sky)? I need to investigate further, but my suspicion is that others have already been down this path 🙂

Chaldean Stones

I extracted the Chaldean stone names for each Zodiac sign, from the transcription I linked to above. The stones for Aries are shown below, as an example. (The whole set is available if anyone wants it.)

The first 12 sections in the Lapidario list the 30 stones for each zodiac sign, but a few signs appear to be truncated: Leo has only one stone, Pisces only has two stones, and Aquarius only 28.

There follow more sections, again one for each sign, but these each have only three stones. I’m not clear what they represent. I posted about all this at Voynich Ninja, and MarcoP was able to explain. Others also chimed in with some useful comments. The discussion is here.

Anyway, following those sections are several more that cover the stones of Saturn (4 stones), Jupiter (4 stones), Mars (4 stones), Venus (24 stones), Sun (9 stones) and Mercury (17 stones).

Here is an extract of the list I extracted for all the Zodiac stones: this is for Aries.

ARIES
1 magnitad
2 zurudica
3 gagatiz
4 miliztiz
5 centiz
6 movedor
7 goliztiz
8 telliminuz
9 milititaz
10 huye de la leche
11 alj?far
12 anetatiz
13 beruth
14 piedra de cinc
15 tira el oro
16 chupa la sangre
17 parece en la mar cuando sube Marte
18 tira el vidrio
19 annora
20 yzf
21 cuminon
22 astarnuz
23 belyniz
24 gaciuz
25 azufaratiz
26 abietityz
27 lubi
28 ceraquiz
29 berlimaz
30 annoxatir

In total I count 301 stones in the Lapidario’s Zodiac section, of which 291 are unique to a sign. The remainder appear more than once as follows:

bezaar [(9, 'G\x83MINIS'), (11, 'G\x83MINIS')]
azarnech [(12, 'SAGITARIO'), (13, 'SAGITARIO')]
pez [(7, 'LIBRA'), (30, 'LIBRA')]
plomo [(18, 'VIRGO'), (13, 'CANCRO')]
calcant [(10, 'VIRGO'), (11, 'VIRGO')]
aliaza [(23, 'TAURO'), (29, 'TAURO')]
parece en la mar [(15, 'SAGITARIO'), (15, 'TAURO'), (17, 'G\x83MINIS'), (17, 'ACUARIO')]
de la serpiente [(12, 'LIBRA'), (7, 'G\x83MINIS')]

e.g. “bezaar” is the 9th and the 11th stone in Gemini, “de la sepiente” is the 12th stone in Libra and the 7th in Gemini.

Turning to the Voynich Zodiac, I count 298 unique star labels of which 269 are unique to a sign. The labels that appear more than once are:

otal dar ['71r', '70v2'] Aries (Light) , Pisces , 
otal ['72r2', '73r'] Gemini , Scorpio , 
okeey ary ['72r1', '72r2'] Taurus (Dark) , Gemini , 
okal ['73v', '72r2', '72r2'] Sagittarius , Gemini , Gemini , 
okeos ['73v', '73r', '73r'] Sagittarius , Scorpio , Scorpio , 
okeoly ['70v2', '72v1'] Pisces , Libra , 
otaly ['70v2', '72v3', '73r'] Pisces , Leo , Scorpio , 
okaram ['70v2', '72r2'] Pisces , Gemini , 
okoly ['70v1', '72v3'] Aries (Dark) , Leo , 
okalar ['72r3', '72r2'] Cancer , Gemini , 
okary ['72v3', '73r'] Leo , Scorpio , 
okam ['72r2', '72v3'] Gemini , Leo , 
okeody ['73v', '73v', '73r', '72v2'] Sagittarius , Sagittarius , Scorpio , Virgo , 
ykey ['73v', '73v'] Sagittarius , Sagittarius , 
okaly ['70v2', '72r2', '72r2', '72v3'] Pisces , Gemini , Gemini , Leo , 
okaldy ['72r2', '72v3'] Gemini , Leo , 
otaraldy ['72r1', '72r2'] Taurus (Dark) , Gemini , 
otoly ['72v3', '73r'] Leo , Scorpio , 
oky ['73v', '72v3', '73r'] Sagittarius , Leo , Scorpio , 
oteody ['73v', '73v'] Sagittarius , Sagittarius , 
okedy ['72v1', '73r'] Libra , Scorpio ,

e.g. “otal dar” appears as a label on both the Aries(Light) and Pisces zodiac chart.

If the Voynich Zodiac charts are indeed showing stones (and the figure/star labels are their names), then there should be good matches between the two lists above.

One potential match is:

azarnech [(12, 'SAGITARIO'), (13, 'SAGITARIO')] 
ykey ['73v', '73v'] Sagittarius , Sagittarius ,

However, the two labels “ykey” on f73v are not adjacent, which they should be if they are stones 12 and 13.

Another:

azarnech [(12, 'SAGITARIO'), (13, 'SAGITARIO')] 
oteody ['73v', '73v'] Sagittarius , Sagittarius ,

in this case, the two labels “oteody” on f73v are adjacent to one another, but the figures/stars they label are in the group of four at the top of the folio: it’s a stretch to think their locations are 12th and 13th.

To be continued ….

 

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Runkelstein Castle and the Voynich Manuscript

June 10, 2011 4 comments

Runkelstein Castle

Runkelstein Castle , in the South Tyrol, dates from the 13th. century and contains a set of mural paintings / frescoes that contain some features that are reminiscent of some images in the Voynich Manuscript. See this link for a collection of photos from the Castle. (Images in this post are copies from there and from http://www.runkelstein.info)

History of the Castle

http://www.runkelstein.info/runkelstein_en/history.asp

In summary, it was built by the Lords of Wangen in 1237, then taken over by Count Meinhard II of Tyrol in 1277, then bought by the Vintlers in 1385, one of whom was the counsellor and financier of the Count of  Tyrol, Duke Leopold III of Austria. The Vintlers commissioned the frescos.  Then in 1407 it was besieged. It was bought sometime later by Archduke  Sigmund, who allowed George Hack Prince-Bishop of Trent to “take refuge” there in 1463. He left in 1465. In 1530 it was bought by  Emperor Maximilian I, who installed his coat of arms in two places (above a door and on top of a chimney). Actually the date of 1530 for this appears at odds with the rest of the history on the web  page, which talks of the Emperor giving it to his chancellor in 1493, then to Georg von Frundsberg. One of these dudes blew up  the tower accidentally in 1520.

Then it was neglected until 1530 when it was bestowed to Sigmund von Brandis. After that it went to the Church of Trent (again) and they gave it to the Counts of Lichenstein-Castlecorno as a feud in around 1154. The Count Hans Jacon’s arms are on top of the entrance.

Spreadeagle

Detail of VMs folio f46v

Detail of the root on f46v

Compare with the right hand crest on this fresco in the Castle:

Heraldic shields in a fresco at Castle Runkelstein

Compare the angled blue striped shield at the left with the VMs tub on the outer figures ring  at 10 o’clock on f71r (R.Sale’s Fieschi arms)

f71r

Compare the tubs in f71r with the bath tub depicted in another fresco at the Castle:

A crowned chap in a bathtub in one of the Castle frescos

Crossbowman and Huntsman

Compare the head gear of the crossbowman in the VMs with that of the huntsman in red on a fresco in the castle. Also note the general shape of the bow and arrow in both pictures.

Chap holding crossbow in the Voynich Manuscript

Huntsmen on a fresco in the Castle

Sun and Moon

Compare the Sun and Moon in the VMs with their depictions in the Castle’s bathroom.

VMs Sun

VMs Moon

Sun and Moon in the Castle bathroom

(Sun/Moon image from http://www.runkelstein.info/images_big/sonne_mond_en.html)

Symbol on f1r

Compare the “bird glyph” symbol on f1r with the shape of the crown being worn by the lady on a fresco at the Castle. (Note also the spreadeagle emblem of the Tyrol on the rug.)

"Bird glyph" on f1r

Unusually shaped crown being worn by a lady on one of the Castle frescos

Castles in the VMs

Compare the appearance of the three towers castle in the VMs Rosettes folio, and the Castle Runkelstein as depicted in its frescos:

Castle in the Rosettes folios

Detail of fresco at Castle Runkelstein

Now look at the shape of the VMs “Tower in a Hole” (as named by Rich Santa Coloma), and compare with the central tower in the above detail:

The VMs "Tower in a Hole"

Woman Holding Round Object

The interesting similarity here is the pose of the two women, which is almost identical. Also note they are both holding round objects, and wearing head dresses that have a central feature. The woman depicted on the Runkelstein fresco is Margarete Maultasch (“satchel-mouth”), countess and ruler of Tyrol (1318-1369) .

Naked lady holding object, wearing head dress

Woman holding a ball (playing a game) on one of the Castle frescos (note headdress)

Repeating Word Sequences

March 6, 2010 7 comments

There are a few multi word sequences that appear on more than one folio in the manuscript. Looking at those that occur on a single line of text and at least three times on different folios, the distribution is as follows:

(The repeating sequences on f57v do not appear, since they all occur on the same folio. There are 1006 two word sequences that appear on at least three folios.)

There no four or five or greater length sequences – why?

Why do the sequences often end with “am”?

Perhaps these three “word” sequences are dates?

Why are most of the sequences later on in the VMs? The earliest folio found is f16r, then f33r, f39v, f55v, f58r, f71r …

Now, loosening or simplifying the Voyn_101 transcription using the following table (top is the original character, bottom is the replacement):

Again, we infer that phrases of more than 3 words never repeat more than twice in the VMs:

Knox ran some comparison tests, using the EVA transcription, and found quite different results. These are available in detail here.

I am surprised at the difference in the transcriptions.

For the running text only, in EVA without respect for line wrapping.
I doubt any are wrapped but I'll check tomorrow and find the line descriptors.
Trying to match V-101 (in parenthesis). Might have missed one or more.
Only one trigram has "s" here. 

chedy qokeey qokeey   3 ()
chey qol chedy        4 (#12,3)
ol chedy qokain       3 ()
ol s aiin             4 (#3,4)
ol shedy qokedy       5 ()
ol shedy qokeey       3 ()
or aiin cheol         3 ()
or aiin okaiin        3 (#9,3)
or aiin ol            4 (#7,4)
or or aiin            3 (#11,3)
qokedy qokedy qokedy  3 ()
qol chedy qokain      3 ()
shedy qokedy qokeedy  3 ()*
shedy qokedy shedy    3 ()
sheedy qokedy chedy   3 ()

*Two of these:
ol shedy qokedy qokeedy