The rosettes pages of the Voynich Manuscript are filled with some of the most controversial illustrations of the entire book. Many of it’s elements seem close enough to real objects or places to excite a possible identification to some actual places and buildings. I don’t ascribe to the latter, of course, as I think this is simply a fantasy illustration. Inspired, yes… as I feel most or all of the Voynich is… inspired, altered, compiled from many sources, both real and literary… then imagined into what it is, whatever that is. Irregardless of this, I have felt it would be most helpful to create these illustrations in three dimensions. The original artist was clearly representing 3D terrain and structures, and gave enough clues to “reconstruct” those elements a bit closer to what must have been in their head when they did so.
As I wrote in the description of the youtube animation (embedded at the bottom of this post),
“My intention in creating this video is not to favor one theory over any other… only to attempt to visualize the rosettes page as the artist originally envisioned it… … do not use this image or video as any sort of study guide… I have not exactly recreated all the detail or textures, and have made simplified versions of some textured areas for clarity. So if you are interested in the manuscript, research it carefully, and download the high quality SID images from the Beinecke Library at Yale University.”
However, since this is a blog, and unlike youtube and facebook, I will give my opinion on this matter. Of course people will see thing in these pages differently from each other. Some believe they have seen real places, and actually visited them in person. Some believe that the center rosette is somewhere in Italy or Russia. But while describing the real place it evokes to them, they never describe the giant tubes radiating out from the plaza.
Nor, of course, the Tower in the Hole, amply discussed on it’s own page. But if this is not a real place, then is it a real place, altered? I don’t think so. It is not close enough to a real place to be any real place. Inspired? Yes I think it may be.
The castles of the walled city, above. I’ve created the relative heights of the upper rosettes based mostly on the artist’s use of terraces. The multi-tiered terraces leading from the two outer, upper, rosettes, to the center one, differ from the other connectors to the other rosettes. As for the generic cylinders which I have rendered their bases, I did so because there is no detail to be seen under the obscuring disks of decoration.
So the upper left rosette has giant tubes sticking out… the center rosette has more. What could this mean? Are they Cannon? Chimneys? Maybe. But I like the idea they may be used to carry sound. From Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis,
“We have all means to convey sounds in trunks and pipes, in strange lines and distances.”
This is probably a reference to the experiments of Della Porta, and the ancient Greeks in fact, and others… who noted that sound could be transmitted and projected through tubes. The New Atlantis has the “House of the Six Days Work” at the eye of Bensalem. It would be appropriate for this main center of power and information to stay in touch with its surrounding lands… and large, radiating sound tubes would do the trick.
The lower left rosette resembles closely the decorative look and features of the f85v2 image, which can be construed as an orchard or garden. There are four figures in this illustration, picking or holding some things… some are odd and unidentifiable, and others are clearly meant to be fruit or vegetables, and a grain or other plant.
So if the lower left rosette can be thought of as an overview of this orchard, then the odd “blob” might make sense as a rain/storm cloud. In my 3D image it is rendered twice… once by our late-great Voynich artist, and then by me, floating and in 3D. Interestingly it has a tube coming from it, projecting toward this rosette. I might point out here that Cornelis Drebbel, who greatly influenced The New Atlantis, was believed to be able to make artificial rain, thunder, and lightening. From The New Atlantis:
“We have also great and spacious houses, where we imitate and demonstrate meteors — as snow, hail, rain, some artificial rains of bodies and not of water, thunders, lightnings; also generations of bodies in air — as frogs, flies, and divers others.”
I had various ideas about the illustrations at the top of the lower right rosette. It was not until I was working up this model that I came to feel they represent (as others already have felt) two canopied, tasseled, columned buildings. Others have also felt that there is Jewish iconography in this rosette. This is interesting, as there was a Jewish community on the fictional island of Bensalem, from New Atlantis.
Of course these interpretations are subjective, and others be correct in their own assumptions. I also accept that there could be variations in modeling these pages in 3D. Rene Zandbergen has suggested to me that some of the rosettes, with radiating designs, are evocative of certain domed structures… and so, he suggested, I might like to create them as domes. He wrote,
“For the visual effect, I have some unsolicited comments: the central circle should probably be highest of all. It makes sense to have it as a plateau. It would be great to add the sky blanket in a transparent way, if possible. A few other circles could be domes.”
I like those ideas, and the many others I have received. And Elmar Vogt has a blog post, with some points of his own. So I hope that although I have my own interpretation of the images on the rosettes, and what they might mean, that these representations are still of use to others to draw their own conclusions. If anyone would like a high resolution rendering of any particular view, please write me.