Notes on f116v's Michitonese

by Sean B. Palmer, 2004-12

The verso side of the Voynich Manuscript's 116th folio contains a series of words that appear to be mainly in a Latin script distorted to take on characteristics of Voynichese script, with a single Voynichese sequence beginning one of the lines, and a couple of diagrams of the sort found throughout the document. The autograph may not be unique to this page as a shorter but similar inscription appears on f17r, and the series of month labels on f70r-f73v is thought by some to be related.

As with all things Voynich, the text is not at all straightforward, and hasn't even yet been reliably tracked down to being in any single language. Not one word has been reliably identified, even though it's in Latin script. Hence, the section has whimsically come to be called "Michitonese" by Voynich scholars, after a possible reading of the first word of the section. The text is of interest due to the possibility of it bearing on the problem of deciphering the rest of the manuscript, but current consensus is that the text was added later as a very early decipherment attempt. Refutations of this are usually based on the fact that a Voynichese sequence is included, and therefore that its meaning may have been known to the writer of the Michitonese.

The Text

As well as Stolfi's fairly accurate pencil representation, there are some higher quality pictures available via, which I've been using in preparation for this document. Here is my attempt at a unicode transcription of the lines as they appear in the folio, with the standard VMS "OROR SHEEY" used for the Voynichese sequence beginning the last line:

poxlebef umon potifer

[hole] + anchiton oladabas + multo̭s + te + tav cere + portad + M +
ſix + marix + morix + vix + alka + ma+ria +
[<vms>oror.sheey</vms>] valoc vhren to num galmich o

Many of the characters are in question; @@ I should perhaps use shading to indicate the probability of each character's correct transcription. Compare how Jorge Stolfi gives the text in ASCII from one of his old notefiles:

michiton oladabad multod te tar terc portad (M)
six marix marix vix abta maria
(OROR SHEEY) valden ubrey o nim gas mich (o)

He's omitted the plusses, &c. Whatever the relationship to the rest of the text, the Michitonese has a number of highly intriguing features. Its indecipherability makes it somewhat of a Rorschach test for medievalist cryptographers. Consider the very first word of the text:


It's considered variously to be "michiton", "mchiton", "anchiton", "anchicon", or "nuchiton". The initial sequence of one or two letters is the most difficult to decipher: the author doesn't appear to have been all that consistent in his treatment of characters, so for example the "M" at the end of the line is unlike any other sequence that may be an "m" in the document (possibly due to it being upper case), and even the very distinctive m's of the month names—the "Marcese" labels. Moreover, if the sequence is "an", why does it so closely correlate with the initial sequence of the second word of line three?:


It's possible even that there's a space after the initial m, though the tendency appears to be that spaces are quite pronounced, in which case it could read "m chiton" (a chiton was a type of Greek tunic). @@ more

To Incorporate

Images derived from those of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Cf. "It is not necessary to seek the Library's permission to publish texts or images (unless the University is identified as the copyright holder.) The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library should, however, be cited as the source." - Beinecke FAQ. Voynich Manuscript Call Number: MS 408.