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Specialised Sources & Academic Studies - Labyrinths in North & South America


The labyrinth symbol occurs amongst the native cultures of both North & South America. How, and more importantly when, it first appeared in these locations remains one of the greatest puzzles for labyrinth researchers. This question has been debated for over 100 years, since knowledge of labyrinth symbols in the region became known during the late 19th century. Ever since that time, those that have debated the question have been broadly split into two camps – those who presume it arrived as part of the baggage with Spanish colonists from the 16th century onwards, and those that prefer an independent discovery of the design by the native peoples of the region, prior to contact with European sources – diffusion or autogenesis? The jury remains undecided.


The Labyrinth in the American Southwest

Bahr, Donald (ed). O'Odham Creation & Related Events. Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona Press, 2001.

Bostwick, Todd W. Landscape of the Spirits - Hohokam Rock Art at South Mountain Park. Tucson, University of Arizona Press, 2002.

Breazeale, J.F. The Pima and His Basket. Tucson, Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society, 1923.

DeWald, Terry. The Papago Indians and Their Basketry. Tucson: Terry DeWald, 1979.

James, George Wharton. Indian Basketry. Pasadena, California: privately printed,1902; reprinted New York: Dover, 1972.

Kern, Hermann. Through the Labyrinth. ed. Robert Ferré & Jeff Saward. Munich: Prestel, 2000.

Kissell, Mary Lois. Basketry of the Papago and Pima. New York: Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, vol.17, no.4, 1916.

Saward, Jeff. Labyrinths & Mazes. London: Gaia Books, 2003 & New York: Lark Books, 2003, pp.68-77.

Saward, Jeff. "The House of Iitoi" Caerdroia 22 (1989), pp.30-38.

Saward, Jeff. "An Unusual Pima Labyrinth" Caerdroia 32 (2001), pp.4-7.

Saward, Jeff. "The Labyrinth in the American Southwest" Caerdroia 38 (2008), pp.29-53.

Schuster, Carl. Social Symbolism in Ancient & Tribal Art, Volume 3, Book 2, ed. Edmund Carpenter. New York: Rock Foundation, 1988.

Shaw, Anna Moore. Pima Indian Legends. Tucson: University of Arizona, 1968.

Slifer, Dennis. Signs of Life - rock art of the Upper Rio Grande. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Ancient City Press, 1998.

Tanner, Clara Lee. Indian Baskets of the Southwest. Tucson, University of Arizona, 1983.

Waters, Frank. Book of the Hopi. New York: Viking, 1963.


The Labyrinth in South America

Saward, Jeff. Labyrinths & Mazes. London: Gaia Books, 2003 & New York: Lark Books, 2003, pp.78-79.

Schuster, Carl. Social Symbolism in Ancient & Tribal Art, Volume 3, Book 2, ed. Edmund Carpenter. New York: Rock Foundation, 1988.