Nymphs and Ritual Bathing

  • Jules JanickEmail author
  • Arthur O. Tucker
Part of the Fascinating Life Sciences book series (FLS)


Illustrations of similar-appearing, curvaceous, petite women (or nymphs) with blonde hair in various styles, bathing or cavorting in green pools connected by tubes suggestive of plumbing or vascular systems, are among the most bizarre features of the Voynich Codex. The bathing images are reminiscent of both Western and Aztec art. The plumbing suggests gynecological allusions such a fallopian tubes or ovaries. The nymphs are often shown in an explicit frontal view. Rear views are not found. Often, they are depicted carrying various objects including a crucifix, a large metallic ring or collar with a knob or nub, a torpedo-like object, sticks, or balls. The large ring suggests the iron collar of subjugation used by the Spanish, and the oblong, torpedo-shaped object resembles the pear of anguish, a gruesome torture device. The bathing nymphs suggest a symbolic example of ritual bathing. There are many bathing images in Aztec illustrations and abundant archeological remains of baths and bathhouses in Aztec culture. The bathing scenes represent a fusion of European and Aztec customs, suggesting a Western-trained artist with Aztec sensibilities.


Aztec Iron collar Nudity Nymphs Pear of anguish Plumbing Pools Ritual bathing Voynich 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Horticulture & Landscape ArchitecturePurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.Department of Agriculture & Natural ResourcesDelaware State UniversityDoverUSA

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