The Greener Pasture
There are two zodiac “rings” or “wheels” devoted to Aries in the Voynich Manuscript. One has the ram painted a mossy green next to a very dark green bush, with the surrounding human characters mostly unpainted, the other has an unpainted ram by a roughly painted bush, surrounded by mostly painted figures.
There is much that can be said about both these folios, but I want to zero in on one small but potentially important detail.
First let’s look at the two rams. They may seem superficially different because of the paint and the extra hairs on the green Aries, but they are essentially the same—both of them with their noses in or in front of a bush, both standing on bumpy ground, both walking with the right leg forward and the right leg behind, both with relatively short tails, and both with curved horns with dots that may indicate texture.
We don’t know whether the original illustrator added the paint or if painting was done by someone else (or by more than one someone else), so let’s ignore the paint for now and look closely at the way the images are sketched. Notice anything unusual?
It’s hard to tell from such a small image, so I’ve zoomed in on the heads below so you can see them more clearly. Don’t worry about the fact that the ears are missing on the ram on the left, look at the other features:
The nose was drawn by someone else—someone more deft and skilled at drawing. It’s not only stylistically different, it’s anatomically different. Whoever drew the nose on the green Aries had a better sense of structure. Note how ill-defined the lines are in the Aries on the right in comparison.
Notice also the difference in the eye, but it’s the nose that’s really important. It’s also possible that the forehead and the outline of the bush were drawn by someone else but it’s harder to tell. The nose of the ram is not ambiguous, however. That’s a different hand and eye—a different artist. I’ve emphasized the strokes to make them easier to see in the following picture.
Note that quick-and-dirty colorizing of the above image to emphasize the nose has distorted the lines, they’re not as smooth as the original. The confidence and smoothness of the lines is one of the things that distinguishes the green Aries from the unpainted Aries, but you can look back at the previous picture above after looking at this one to see the parts that are distinctly different.
So what does this mean?
Was the green Aries left unfinished and someone added the nose? That seems unlikely since the other body parts are there but… the text around the inner circle is missing, as well (assuming it was intended to include text as in the other zodiacs), so perhaps it’s possible that the nose was left undrawn. Was the nose drawn first and the rest added later? That also seems unlikely although I suppose it’s not impossible, either
Were two people working on this project, one more skilled at drawing and visualizing structure than the other? Were the fuzzy hairs on the green Aries added by the person who drew the nose? They seem a bit more natural than the scalloped hairs on the Aries on the right.
Assuming the text on these illustrations was added after the drawings, did the person who added the nose know what kind of text would be added?
So many questions, but this folio does add weight to the argument that more than one person was involved in creating the VMS, and it makes you wonder if the illustrator had a mentor or elder who gave occasional assistance or advice.
© Copyright 2016 J.K. Petersen, All Rights Reserved