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Difference Between a Labyrinth and a Maze (With table)

Pathways or different paths lead us somewhere. Whether it be life or road we have to choose a way to reach our goal or to cross it. There are different types of paths that have ist 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 often 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.

Labyrinth vs Maze

The main 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.

A Labyrinth is an elaborate structure that has been built by the Greeks. Earlier when it was made, its purpose was to capture Minotaur i.e. it is a kind of beast. It was made so difficult by its artificer that he couldn’t escape the labyrinth. Labyrinths are unicursal and even the antiques found has 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. 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 generally 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 where mirrors are kept. It forms a kind of imaginary illusion for the solvers.

Comparison Table Between a Labriynth and a Maze

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.
PathsUnicursalMulticursal
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 to reach 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. 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 can be found in places like libraries, schools, gardens, recreational areas, as well as famous temples and cathedrals. It can be symbolised as the path for 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 usually 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, it is believed that the term ‘maze’ originated from a Middle English word. Mazesbecxome 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 participants’ height. Mazes are often used for psychology and science experiments. In psychology, it is used for studying learning and spatial navigation. 

There are different kinds of mazes like Logic Maze, Loops and Traps Maze, Block Maze, Picture Maze, Linear Maze, Fractal maze, Railroad maze, Hamilton Maze etc. Mazes are usually a kind of puzzle. It symbolises an individual’s limit and capacity, to practice determination, make a choice and then reflect the choices made by them.

Main Difference Between a Labyrinth and a Maze

  1. 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 to another side.
  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, the chalice labyrinth, Santa Rose, the Baltic labyrinth etc. Types of maze include 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, help in making choices and determination.

Conclusion

Both labyrinths and mazes are designed in such a way that solver or walker can find their way out of it. Both of them are elaborately designed. Labyrinth is a type of maze itself. But labyrinths are unicursal meaning that there is only one way. That is why walking inside a labyrinth is often found to be relaxing. AWhile Maze has many paths of exit and entry. So sometimes it becomes frustrating and confusing to reach the endpoint. Both of them look similar and have twisted ways. It is easier to solve a labyrinth because of its non-branching paths. While a maze has a branching path that makes it extremely difficult and complex.

References

  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
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