a Labyrinth vs a Maze: Difference and Comparison

Pathways or different paths lead us somewhere. Whether it be life or the road, we must choose a way to reach our goal or cross it. Different types of paths have their own unique characteristics.

Labyrinths and Maze are pathways that look the same but are very different if we compare them. Both are very complex and confusing.

Both are a type of passage. Both can be crossed using wit and intelligence. In history, we can find numerous examples of a labyrinth and a maze.

Key Takeaways

  1. Labyrinths contain a single, non-branching path that leads to a center or goal, making them easier to navigate.
  2. Mazes have multiple paths and dead ends, designed to challenge and confuse the navigator.
  3. Labyrinths serve spiritual or meditative purposes, while mazes provide entertainment and intellectual challenges.

Labyrinth vs Maze

The difference between a labyrinth and a maze is that Labyrinth is a type of Maze. A maze is a large structure that consists of different types of pathways. In Labyrinth, there is only one entry and exit point. While in a maze, there can be multiple entries and exit points. Paths are unicursal in a labyrinth. Paths are multicursal in a maze. In a labyrinth, the puzzle is to reach the centre or to get away from the centre. In a maze, a puzzle is to find the way from one side to another.

Labyrinth vs Maze

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A Labyrinth is an elaborate structure that the Greeks have built. Earlier, when it was made, its purpose was to capture Minotaur, i.e. it is a kind of beast. Its artificer made it so difficult that he couldn’t escape the labyrinth.

Labyrinths are unicursal, and even the antiques found have confirmed it is depicted on a coin. It has a classical design having ‘seven-course’.

In literature, Labyrinth is considered similar to a maze. However, there is a difference because of the complex branching found in a maze.

A Maze is a structure that is made to reach the goal. A maze is also used as a kind of puzzle where the solver must find the route and reach the end. Walls and paths inside a maze are fixed.

Various materials are used to construct the mazes. It includes turf, corn stalks, straw bales, brick, books, hedges, paving stones of contrasting colours and designs, or in fields of crops such as corn or maize.

Usually, rooms and walls are built to distinguish it. Indoor mazes are entirely different from where mirrors are kept. It forms a kind of imaginary illusion for the solvers.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonA LabyrinthA Maze
EtymologyPre-Greek originMiddle-English
PuzzleGet to Cente or away from it.Reach from one to another side.
Entry/Exit PointsOne Multiple
TypesBaltic labyrinth, the Chakra-Vyuha labyrinth, concentric, Roman, the chalice labyrinth, Santa Rose etc.Barnes maze, Oasis maze, radial arm maze, Morris water maze, elevated plus maze, and T-maze.
Significancegateway to the spiritual realm.Test the limits of our capacity, help in making choices and make us determined.

What is a Labyrinth?

The term ‘Labyrinth’ is of pre-Greek origin. It is believed to have originated from a Lydian word, ‘labrys’, meaning double-bladed axe. Labyrinths are known to exist since the Greco-roman period.

According to Greek mythology, Labyrinth was created by the artificer Dedalus to capture a monster named Minotaur. It is believed that when Daedalus made it even, he was confused about reaching its exit point.

The first known Labyrinth that was found in the world is Herodotus’ Egyptian labyrinth. This site was discovered in the 19th century. Believed to be about 4000 years old, it is even bigger than the pyramids.

This labyrinth consists of the names of pharaohs and kings of Egypt. The oldest Labriynh is Cretan Labyrinth. But no archaeological facts are found. It is mostly associated with the Greek myth of the Minotaur.

A labyrinth is a confusing pathway designed elaborately. It leads to the centre of the structure. Labyrinths are unicursal, meaning leading to only one path. They were used for spiritual purposes.

Like if someone walks on these, it gives them calm and peace. It is designed in such a way as to provide rest and a soothing atmosphere to the walkers.

The Classical Labriynth consist of a seven-course, also called the Cretan labyrinth, that was found to be inscribed on coins and dates back to the prehistoric Stone Age or Bronze Age.

In the modern world, again, people have become interested in labyrinths. There are 6000+ labyrinths registered, and they can be found in places like libraries, schools, gardens, recreational areas, famous temples, and cathedrals.

It can be symbolised as the path to enlightenment, salvation or pilgrimage.


What is a Maze?

Maze is a collection of different types of paths to reach the goal. Maze refers to both branchings as well as non-branching patterns that lead to an unambiguous goal.

Walls and paths are fixed in a maze. Earlier mazes were constructed in the fields for entertainment purposes. It was made especially for children.

The origin of Maze is unclear. However, the term ‘maze’ is believed to have originated from a Middle English word. Mazesbecxome was very popular in the 17th and 18th centuries in England. 

Some of the mazes of those times can still be found and are open to the public. The most famous maze in England is Hampton Court, where the walls are very much higher than any participant’s height.

Mazes are used for psychology and science experiments. In psychology, it is used for studying learning and spatial navigation. 

Different kinds of mazes include Logic Maze, Loops and Traps Maze, Block Maze, Picture Maze, Linear Maze, Fractal Maze, Railroad Maze, Hamilton Maze etc.

Mazes are a kind of puzzle. It symbolises an individual’s limit and capacity to practice determination, make a choice and then reflect on their choices.


Main Difference Between a Labyrinth and a Maze

  1. The etymology of the word ‘labyrinth’ is of Pre-Greek origin. Etymology of the word ‘maze’ in Middle English.
  2. In Labyrinth, the puzzle is to get to Cente or away from it. In Maze, the puzzle is to reach from one side to another.
  3. In a Labyrinth, there is only one entry and exit point. In a Maze, there are multiple entry and exit points.
  4. Types of a Labyrinth include the Chakra-Vyuha labyrinth, concentric, Roman, chalice labyrinth, Santa Rose, Baltic labyrinth etc. Types of mazes include the Morris water maze, Oasis maze, Barnes maze, radial arm maze, elevated plus maze, and T-maze.
  5. The significance of a labyrinth is a gateway to the spiritual realm. The significance of a maze is to test the limits of our capacity and help in making choices and determination.
Difference Between a Labyrinth and a Maze
  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=dQBXCgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA99&dq=Labyrinth+and+a+Maze&ots=xT0EPZdWA6&sig=ZHdbfI2MP-SvAnhWydQXzNAFJUs
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=YeVXAwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA245&dq=Labyrinth+and+a+Maze&ots=sMz2AopLjg&sig=JbXxy4ZU7MEBsx1iM4-klygumsY

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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