A Closer Look at the Voynich Pisces

VoynichPisces

As I’ve often stated before, I don’t consider the colors in the Voynich Manuscript to be relevant. Except perhaps the yellow, and some of the red, I don’t see any evidence that the person who added them understood the text. The blues, intentionally or not, often hide details that the illustrator had taken the time to draw, especially in Q13, so I regard it as particularly suspect, and ignore blue completely. One day I’ll write a detailed post about my views on colors in the Voynich Manuscript, but for now, let’s just say I mostly ignore the colors.

The Voynich Pisces consists of two fish heading in opposite directions. So far, nothing unusual. Each fish has a tailed star connected to its mouth, and that’s very, very unusual.  It is frequently stated that another unusual feature of the Voynich Pisces is that the two fish are connected by a line, but that unlike in most representations of Pisces,this line runs outside, rather than in between the two fish. This is where I disagree.

There is no line connecting those fish.

Let’s take a closer look:

VoynichPisces (2)

The supposed line is an impression entirely created by the blue paint. I don’t see any evidence of a brown line drawn by the illustrator underneath it. The artist originally didn’t connect the two fish.

Let’s clean up the image and remove some of that distracting blue paint to see what the Voynich Pisces was originally designed to look like.

VoynichPiscesNoBlue

We are left with two unlinked fish, each connected to a star.

This process reveals two interesting bits of information. First it shows that the Voynich artist comes from a culture, or is copying from a model, where Pisces is represented as two fish that are not connected by a line. There are several examples of Pisces as two unconnected, long-snouted, head-to-tail fish, although these are rare. I have found them only in manuscripts from France and from the Lake Constance area. If we add the criteria of these fish being in a roundel, then 100% of the ones I’ve found so far are from the Germany/Austria/Switzerland region. These long-snouted, unconnected Pisces seem to be a very distinctive style, specific to that area.

 

It also suggests that the person who added the blue may not have shared this background, and thus may have attempted to correct what he may have seen as a mistake and tried to connect the fish to better reflect a version of Pisces he was familiar with. He may have used an outside line either to try to reflect the actual configuration in the sky, or because he didn’t have enough room in between the fish to draw the usual S-shaped line. The latter scenario raises the possibility that the blue paint was added after the “mars” label.

It’s also possible that the blue line is only supposed to indicate that the fish are in water, which would also explain why the painter added blue on top of the fish, to show them as underwater.

Even if we were to consider the blue line as valid, it is worth mentioning that it doesn’t actually connect the fish. It only sort of wraps around them. It is not connected at either end to the fish or to the stars or to the stars’ tails.

Therefore the misleading blue line is best ignored. If we are looking for a match for the Voynich Pisces, the fish should not be connected to each other at all.

In closing, I’d like to draw attention to some images which are not of Pisces but of stars in the constellation of Cetus, from a 15th Century German MS which the Warburg Iconographic Database unfortunately only references as “Vienna, Collection Gutmann, Calendarium“. It really does seem to be a fascinating manuscript, especially in relation to the Voynich Zodiac pages, and I wish I could find more information about it and better scans.

Here is Menkar, with an almost perfect match to the Voynich fish. Note the snout, scales, fins, tail, and of course the star (the nearby “nymphs” are also interesting):

CollectionGutmann f28v

On the same page there is another fish with a star, which is unnamed:

GutmannCalendarium, 28v

And a few pages later (32r), another star from Cetus, Deneb Kaitos:

GutmannCalendarium, 32r

 

 

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