About wiggly lines

Fact 1: in the VM a peculiar type of wiggly line appears very frequently (either as an embelishment, or as part of a plant leaf or root).

Here are some example where the wiggle I’m refering to appears:

So either the illustrator lacked inspiration, or he/she really enjoyed that shape.

I do not know whether it is a frequent shape used at the time or not (perhaps it even has a name?). In the case it was common then perhaps it doesn’t say much, but if not then that could give a clue on who the author was.

Now, the only other XVth drawings where I have seen it so far are in the version of the De Spherae codex (a XIIIth century english text) done around 1472 by Milanese illustrator Cristoforo de Predis (a well-known artist, who happened to be deaf, and whose half brother became a pupil of Leonardo da Vinci).

According to this page, the way the zodiac and the additional small folks are depicted shows that de Predis was influenced by the Gothic International tradition, in particular the franco-flemish one.  But they don’t say if that includes or not that peculiar wiggly type of line.

In the de Predis illustrations it appears frequently too, for instance in the circles of the zodiac section (e.g. for march) as well as the moon (pictured as a naked lady; note also how on the opposite page there are naked people bathing like in the VM). It also appears in yet other places (e.g. near the hand here), as well as in the sky and water around the sun king (whose crown is quite reminiscent of those in the VM).

I am not at all, based on those few observations, claiming that de Predis is definitely the author of the VM, but perhaps he is a candidate.   It would be interesting to know first if such wiggle was common among illustrators of that era.  If it turns out to be rare, then it would be a good clue, but could still go either way: perhaps de Predis really is the author of the VM (and used some decades old vellum he found somewhere), or perhaps his use of that wiggle was in fact  inspired by the author of the VM (or directly the VM) in some way.

Having written the above, I’ve then done some google search for de Predis+Voynich. It brings a post of Nick Pelling on somebody’s videos in german where parallels between the VM and the work De Acqua by de Petridis are made. I’ll have to watch them and see if they also mentions the wiggle similarity (only looking at the final video #33 it doesn’t seem so).

There’s also a page in french out there where it is claimed that the VM is an “april fool’s day” kind of work by de Predis, but quite how this conclusion is reached is not explained clearly.

 

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8 Responses to About wiggly lines

  1. nickpelling says:

    The pattern is called wolkenband (singular) or wolkenbanden (plural). Places I’ve mentioned them are
    * http://www.ciphermysteries.com/2008/06/03/adam-mclean-and-voynich-baths
    * http://www.ciphermysteries.com/2009/05/29/is-this-the-way-to-armadillo
    * http://www.ciphermysteries.com/2009/12/16/voynich-palimpsest-hypothesis
    * http://www.ciphermysteries.com/the-voynich-manuscript/voynich-parallel-hatching

    Erla Rodakiewicz said in her letter to Leonell Strong (included here because voynichcentral.com has expired):-

    “The quality of the drawings also suggests an earlier date. the “Wolkenband” ([snaky line drawn here]) shown on Plate XXI appears over and over again in Italian XV century manuscripts. I believe it came down from the north, but I am unable to say when.”

  2. It’s called the volkenband in discussing European instances, though it is not European in origin, but Persian, deriving from a much older Mesopotamian tradition. By the fifteenth century, it is almost as common in Asian art. So of itself it doesn’t tell us very much.

    • Thomas Sauvaget says:

      Thanks for that. I had also found older eastern examples indeed, so ok, not a good lead.

      • nickpelling says:

        The fact that two separate art history strands use wolkenbanden isn’t any kind of problem: it just means that we have to decide carefully to which of the two strands we think it belongs.

        Personally, I don’t see any obvious reason why anyone would see Asian imagery in the Voynich – the clothes, the hair, the handwriting, the castles, the Latinistic lettering (4o, aiir, aiiv), they’re all basically European, surely? 🙂

      • hi Nick

        I’m perfectly comfortable with the idea that the Vms itself is a product inscribed, and even completely made in Europe. About the hands and script – I’m happy to accept what the people say who’ve studied those aspects of the ms. But on the imagery – different matter, I’m afraid.
        The ‘wiggly line’ habit might be called the ‘volkendand’ by German scholars; that doesn’t make it German. One finds it in French works too, and the motif’s origins and history have been widely recognised – sometimes are even described – as Persian. My favourite example is from a book of hours made in 15thC France – but I won’t go on.

  3. *wolkenband* I should say.

  4. also -sorry to be critical – i think it’s important to distinguish literal from meaningful ‘wiggles’. In your examples you have some from the plants (literal) and two different significators of ‘the margins’ one referring to the margin between sea-water and shore; the other to heavenly (upper regions) boundary with the lower world. If you look at them you’ll see these are drawn consistently, each in its own style. Love your blog, btw.

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