Labyrinths & Mazes Resource Centre, Photo Library & Archive
(also known as Baltic Wheel)
Found throughout Scandinavia and also in northern Germany, but principally around
the shorelines of the Baltic Sea, this labyrinth is also known as the "Baltic Wheel"
or "Wheel," after an important example in Hanover, Germany. A relatively simple reconnection
of the upper part of the classical seed pattern produces a double spiral at the centre
with separate entrance and exit paths. These labyrinths are ideal for continuous
processions and games where two or more walkers enter the labyrinth, and this purpose
is often reflected in associated traditions and folklore.
A Baltic type labyrinth cut in turf at Dransfeld, Germany (now destroyed). The double
spiral at the centre allows a quick exit from the labyrinth
An unusual development of the classical labyrinth, found primarily in India, is based
on a three-fold, rather than four-fold seed pattern and is consequenty drawn with
a spiral at the centre. It is referred to in Indian tradition as “Chakra-vyuha,”
a name derived from a magical troop formation employed by the magician Drona at the
battle of Kurukshetra, as recounted in the Mahabharata epic.
The stone labyrinth at Baire Gauni, Tamil Nadu, India, is laid out in the Chakra-vyuha
syle commonly encountered throughout India
“Jungfrudans” stone labyrinth (Baltic type), Vassa, Finland
Other labyrinths based on three-fold and occasionally on two-fold or five-fold seed
patterns are found in various locations. A unique five-fold classical labyrinth with
nine circuits recently discovered on a Pima basket from Arizona demonstrates the
many varieties of labyrinth that can be created with a full understanding of the
construction process. A number of labyrinths with curious designs, obviously based
on the classical form, or incorrectly drawn by unskilled hands, should also be included
in this category.
A Pima hand-woven basket, made c. 1920, decorated with an unusual nine-path variant
of the classical design created from a five-fold seed pattern
The Otfrid Labyrinth
An important though short-lived labyrinth variety, the Otfrid is based on the classical
seed pattern, but is drawn concentrically with an additional set of turns added to
create an eleven-circuit labyrinth. First found in Christian manuscripts from the
mid-ninth century CE, it probably provided the impetus for the development of the
much more influential medieval design.
The Otfrid labyrinth design, here the scene for battle between Theseus and the Minotaur,
in a late twelfth century manuscript from Regensburg, Germany