You may recall the page; it’s outstanding features are a column of individual words and individual letters next to the body of the text, and, near the bottom of the page, a little bit of marginalia:
- A string of Voynich words
- A reclining woman*)
- Some short words in what seems to be latin letters
- A few obscure items
Now, the latin letters have at times been interpreted as “der mus del”, meaning “der Mussteil” in contemporary German — supposedly a kind of minimum dowry or heritage. (Googling the term comes up with nothing, BTW.)
But let’s take a closer look at this part of the page…
You will notice that the “d” of the supposed “del”-word has overwritten a letter which had previously been there, and which could very well haven been an “m”.
If we accepted this reading, some things would start to fall into their place: “mus” also translates as “mush” or “porridge”, and “mel” (rather than “del”) means “flour” (cognate to “meal”),**) so at least we would have two words covering the same topic. It’s also not unreasonable (note the less-than bold phrasing) to assume the items lying around might be bread or cake, which would fit better in the context of food than dowry. (The thing on the bottom left looks suspiciously like a muffin to me, but it’s been some time since breakfast…)
Of course, this raises more questions:
- Why was the “m” erased and replaced with a “d”, rather than simply blotting out the “m”?
- What is the context of the reclining woman, the bread, and the VM in general?
One of the side benefits of this observation would be that, if it can be confirmed that the correct reading is “mus mel”, it would give us a hint to the handwriting used in the other marginalia, which in turn might enable us to finally read what’s written on f116v.
*) The figure has often been called “a dead or dying woman”, but to me that’s already a bit too much of an interpretation. That she’s stroking her belly doesn’t necessarily mean she’s in her last throes…
**) Pending confirmation that this would have been the spelling used in around 1450…