How to make two Chartres Labyrinths from one Chartres Labyrinth

The Chartres labyrinth occurs in many variations. Here I speak of the 11 circuit Chartres labyrinth as a type. Some elements of the original labyrinth in the Cathedral at Chartres, such as the six petals in the middle and the lunations  around the outermost perimeter, belong to the style Chartres.

For me the type Chartres exists above all in the layout of the paths.  One goes in quickly (on the 5th circuit) and one quickly approaches the middle (6th and 11th circuit). Then follows the wandering through all quadrants. The access of the centre happens from completely outside (1st circuit) quickly about the 6th and 7th circuit into the centre.

Theoretically there are lot of possibilities to build similar types to the Chartres labyrinth. They can be found worldwide. However, the original Chartres labyrinth owns many special qualities which make it an extraordinary example among the Medieval labyrinths. Among others, it is self-dual and symmetrical.

Layout of the 11 circuit Chartres labyrinth

Layout of the 11 circuit Chartres labyrinth

Hence, the original can be divided in labyrinthine mathematics (11:2=5) in two equal labyrinths. I cut it into two parts, by omitting the 6th circuit. Thereby I get two new, yet identical 5 circuit labyrinths in a Chartres-like layout: I quickly reach the middle and finally enter the centre directly from the outermost circuit. The way in between shows the labyrinthine pendular movement, that Hermann Kern describes as characteristic for a labyrinth.

Layout of the 5 circuit Chartres labyrinth (Demi-Chartres)

Layout of the 5 circuit Chartres labyrinth (Demi-Chartres)

How should we now name this type of labyrinth? To me the name 5 circuit Chartres labyrinth seems properly to differentiate it from other 5 circuit Medieval labyrinths with another layout for the paths.
I would like to call it Demi-Chartres.

Just now you may see a nice example for the practical realisation in Vienna on the Schwarzenbergplatz in the temporary plant labyrinth to the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018:

The temporary plant labyrinth on the Schwarzenbergplatz at Vienna © Lisa Rastl

The temporary plant labyrinth on the Schwarzenbergplatz at Vienna © Lisa Rastl

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10 thoughts on “How to make two Chartres Labyrinths from one Chartres Labyrinth

  1. Inner Chartres, Outer Chartres… I have named this type of labyrinth after the “limestone relief by an anonymous artist, probably dating from the 17th century”, from Compiègne (Kern, fig. 345) type Compiègne. If you would name it Demi Chartres, you could also name the type Saffron Walden as “Un-et-demi Chartres”.


  2. Pingback: How to make a 3 Circuit Chartres Labyrinth | blogmymaze

  3. Dear Erwin,
    It is always a pleasure finding a new issue in your brilliant blog (eventhough the issues follow each other so damn fast that it is difficult to digest everything, when so many duties scatter busy modern life…)

    Like for a number of instances in the past, this time again offers an opportunity to share a comment that might complement interestingly your work, although sometimes with a bit different definitions. And contrarily to another occasion a couple of months ago where I had to abandon the writing of such a comment due to a sudden incoming urgency–and hopefully I will be able to complete it some day…–this time I can immediately proceed :

    Using your search engine for ‘ samuel vebiese bridges “amazing labyrinths” ‘, please refer to a series of papers I presented at different Bridges conferences on arts & mathematics. I gave the title “Amazing labyrinths”, to these papers because in the kind of labyrinths I’m interested in, stemming from the CCC (Cnossos/Cretan/Classic), and namely including my (7-circuit) Mini-Chartres and (3-circuit) Micro-Chartres, the ‘walls’ are ‘mazes’ (‘multicursal’, i.e. with choices and dead-ends), which are ‘duals’ (in my definition of ‘labyrinth duality’) of such labyrinths (‘unicursal’, i.e. with a single dead-end in the middle, and no choices).

    So, in the initial “Amazing Labyrinths” paper at Bridges 2007, I mentioned the fact of your present issue that Chartres’ labyrinth is composed of two simpler ones you call ‘Demi-Chartres’, like Saffron Walden ‘turf maze’ has three (labyrinths are called ‘mazes’, in the UK, which confuses the newcomer in labyrinthology…), and the reason for this is that the ‘Mini-Chartres’ (that can be considered as an intermediate step from the ‘CCC’ to the ‘Chartres’, has the 4 points of its ‘seed’ doubled to 8 to form Chartres’ seed, a fabulous property which allows such chaining of ‘Demi-Chartres’, even up to an infinite number of them…

    Warm regards,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Sam,
      thank you for your kind remarks. It is always interesting to see similar ideas coming from different points of view.
      Have a good time


  4. Brilliant! This seems so obvious, but I’ve never heard or seen it before.. . what a great thing to understand about the design! I love the 5-Circuit variation and now I know why.. . It’s a half Chartres walk. And it makes sense as the 11-Circuit classical is really two 5-Circuit classicals combined. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The very first labyrinth that I walked, almost 30 years ago… was those inner six rings of the Chartres Labyrinth. There were three choices, as in your first design. I proved to be a very powerful and important first walk for me that forever changed the course of my life. Interesting article Erwin, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lea,
      thank you for the comment. Sometimes we are coming from different places and times to the same results. That’s what makes the labyrinth so fascinating.


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