Books inform us, teach us, and amuse us. We find solace when we read a book. We get to know many things from a book. But what if the book itself is a mystery! What if the content is full of confusion and unknown! There are some books which only puzzle us, the content of the books hints something extraterrestrial or something very strange.
Here is a list of some most mysterious books
This manuscript is an illustrated codex hand-written in an unknown writing. The manuscript dated to 15th century. This has been named after Wilfrid Voynich, a Polish book dealer who purchased it in 1912. Some of the pages are missing and only 240 pages remaining.
The text is written from left to right. Many professionals and cryptographers have studied the pages but no one is successful to decoding the text. The illustrations such as various plants, many astronomical and astrological charts as well as numerous female nudes which allude to some kind of reproductive processes, judging by their swollen bellies and interaction with interconnected tubes and capsules are also mysterious.
This could be a book of medicine from a galaxy far far away or a witch’s notebook. The manuscript had a rather illustrious history of ownership, which included alchemists and the 16th century Emperor Rudolph II of Germany (also a Holy Roman Emperor), who believed it to be the work of the English philosopher Roger Bacon.
The original manuscript is now in the Beinecke Library collection at Yale.
The Smithfield Decretals
It is officially known as the Decretals of Gregory IX. This is a collection of canonical law ordered in the 13th century by Pope Gregory IX. This type of collections was common at that time but the strangest thing is the illustrations that went along with it. The illustrations include homicidal giant rabbits, bears fighting unicorns, a medieval yoda and strange human and animal practices.
The decretals were created as an illuminated manuscript which was a style that combined illustrations and flowery calligraphy with the lettering.
This 30-page book was published in 1981. Italian artist, architect and industrial designer Luigi Serafini created the illustrations of an imaginary world. The book was written in a cipher alphabet in an imaginary language. Serafini said he wanted to recreate a feeling he remembered having as a little kid.
The illustrations of the book are often surreal parodies of the things in the real world like bleeding fruit, a lovemaking couple that metamorphoses into an alligator, a plant that grows into roughly the shape of a chair and is subsequently made into one etc. Others portray odd, apparently senseless machines, often with a delicate appearance, kept together by tiny filaments.
The Codex Mendoza
The Codex Mendoza is an Aztec Codex and was possibly commissioned by the Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza in 1616. It is an extraordinary document with a strange history. In contains a history of the Aztec rulers and their conquests. The Spaniards claimed their region of Mexico as the property of the Spanish King. Mandoza made many rules as a ruler and one of his acts was to commission a history of the Aztec people which he sent as via ship back to Spain.
On the way, French pirates attacked the ship and seized all treasures along with Codex Mandoza. In 1553, it was found by one of the king’s advisers. For the next hundred years, it was floated here and there in Europe. Finally, in 1831, the book was found in a storage room at the Bodleian Library.
The book is extraordinary as it was a book of Aztec people written by Aztec scribes and informers and the images were hand printed by the Aztec slaves. Some scholars say it is the first “autoethnography”, a biography of an entire people written by members of the group.
Everything about this manuscript is unknown. Rohonc Codex is an illustrated manuscript book by an unknown author in an unknown language. In the 19th century, this manuscript has been surfaced in Hungary. Many scholars and amateurs tried to decode origin and the meaning of the book but were not successful.
The illustrations in the book include military battles, religious symbolism reminiscent of Christianity, Islam and even possibly Hinduism. In its 448 pages, the manuscript has nearly 200 different symbols. Possibly the manuscript has been linked to India, Sumeria or ancient Hungary.
The Ripley Scrolls
The Ripley Scrolls named after George Ripley, a 15th-century Augustinian monk from Yorkshire who created some of the longest-lasting works on alchemy. For twenty years, he was travelling through Europe searching for the secrets of transmutation sand immortality. Some said much of the money he gave to the Knights of Malta and Rhodes to fund their war against the Turks, came from gold he had transferred from base metals.
The scrolls are a picture book instructions to create the philosopher’s stone, a fictional material which able to turn lead into gold. The original version of the Ripley Scrolls has been lost. But various artists of the 16th century created reproductions of the alchemical work and 23 of them remain. The largest scroll is 6 meters, with a dense patchwork of illustrations covering the majority of it.
The Book of Soyga
This 16th-century book is on magic which was first found by the Elizabethan mathematician John Dee. He was a firm believer of both science and magic. The book was lost for centuries until in 1994 a scholar discovered it in the British Library. Another copy of the book is in Oxford’s Bodleian Library.
The 200-page book contains spells and instructions for summoning demons, performing magic, astrological ideas and strange things. There are over 40,000 letters covered in its pages. The last 36 pages are more mysterious as each page was devoted to a table of letters that appeared to be some kind of code.
John Dee found it in 1551 and to understand the book he enlisted a medium so he could have a conversation with the Archangel Uriel about what the book meant. Uriel replied that the Book of Soyga had been given to Adam in the Garden of Eden. When Dee asked for help translating the tables, Uriel replied that he didn’t have the necessary clearance; only Archangel Michael knew the secret. But he never managed to reach Michael.
Prodigiorum Ac Ostentorum Chronicon
This strange book is also known as the Chronicle of Portents and Prophecies were written by the French humanist Conrad Lycosthenes in 1557. This book is a collection of omens and portents of the known Europe, from Greek and Roman times up to contemporary prophecies. It depicts various real and fantastical creatures.
It contained over 1,000 accurate woodcut illustrations of elephants, moose, camels and rhinoceros, also the collections of sea monsters and strange human-like creatures with no heads or faces on their chests. The book is also well-described about floods, disasters, meteor showers, Halley’s Comet, UFOs and different biblical themes.
The Story of the Vivian Girls
No one knew that Henry Darger, the American writer and artist working on the most bizarre and complicated storybooks of all time. After his death in 1973, Darger’s landlord found out a 15,000-page manuscript entitled The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion.
The book was composed over nine million words and more than 300 watercolour illustrations, most of which were made by juxtaposing images from magazines and newspapers and tracing over them. The illustrations of his work range from idyllic scenes in Edwardian interiors and tranquil flowered landscapes populated by children and fantastic creatures to scenes of horrific terror and carnage depicting young children being tortured and massacred.
Some of the illustrations were designed on enormous sheets of paper over 3 metres wide. Nobody has any idea how long he worked on the book. He lived in a cramped, single-room apartment for over 40 years. He never spoke a single word about his book to anyone.
The Rongorongo is not actually a book but it deserves a place on this list. The pieces of wood were shaped into staffs of statuettes. It is a system of glyphs discovered in the 19th century on Easter Island. Many experts tried to decipher the glyphs but failed. If rongorongo does prove to be writing and proves to be an independent invention, it would be one of the very few independent inventions of writing in human history.
Two dozen wooden objects have been found which have rongorongo inscriptions, some of them burned or heavily damaged. The arrival of the Chilean and Peruvian forces had a devastating effect on the people of the island. They killed almost 1,500 native and many were killed by epidemics introduced by traders. Others were forced to move to Tahiti as slaves. Within a decade, 97% of the population was gone. So there was no one left to decode the script.