Labyrinth Designs – Overview
Sigmund Gossembrot the Elder, humanist and mayor of Augsburg, had compiled a miscellany around 1480 (siehe below: literature 1). Into a text in Latin on the seven arts were included nine labyrinth drawings, all executed in brown ink on paper (Kern, p. 139 / 140, see literature 2). This manuscript is accessible online in an unprecedented quality (see below: further links 1) and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – NonCommercial – ShareAlike 4.0 International License (see below: further links 2).
The following figures have been obtained by copying and cropping the image files of the Münchener DigitalisierungsZentrum, Digitale Bibliothek. They can be found on sheets, folios (fol.) 51-54, each on the front-side r (= recto) and back side v (= verso). Here I first want to present a global overview. The links on the captions’ references to the folios directly lead to the corresponding pages of the online edition of the manuscript. Here you will be linked directly to a preview with miniatures of the pages. From there you can zoom in the pages or browse the manuscript. I strongly recommend to take a look at the manuscript, that is worth it!
Fig. 1 shows a five-arm labyrinth with seven circuits and a central pentagram.
Fig. 2 shows a circular, four-arm labyrinth with eight circuits.
In fig. 3 another circular, four-arm labyrinth with eight circuits and a somewhat differing course of the pathway is depicted.
Fig. 4 shows the upper, fig. 5 the lower of two square form labyrinths each with four arms and eight circuits. The uppper has the same course of the pathway as the labyrinth in fig. 3, the lower the same as the one in fig. 2.
In fig. 6 we see a circular one-arm labyrinth with nine circuits.
Fig. 7 shows an incomplete labyrinth that was crossed out with recognizably five arms and seven circuits.
In fig. 8 a complex labyrinth with 12 circuits can be found.
Finally, fig. 9 shows a circular one-arm labyrinth with 11 circuits.
Some of these labyrinth designs include types of labyrinths of their own, others are of existing types, some of which with unchanged course of the path, whereas in others the course of the path was modified to a multicursal maze. I will come back to this more in detail in the next posts.
- Gossembrot, Sigismundus: Sigismundi Gossembrot Augustani liber adversariorum, 15. Jh. München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 3941.
- Kern, Hermann: Through the Labyrinth: Designs and Meanings over 5000 years. London: Prestel 2000.