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Posts Tagged ‘Gossembrot’

The Four Labyrinths with 4 Arms und 8 Circuits

Four drawings by Gossembrot show labyrinths with 4 arms and 8 circuits. Among these, two each are on a circular and rectangular layout. Figure 1 shows these four figures compared. Figures a (circular) and c (rectangular) have the same course of the pathway (=). This is also true in figures b (circular) and d (rectangular). The two circular figures (a, b) as well as the two rectangular (c, d) have different courses of the path (≠).

Figure 1. The Four Designs Compared

All four figures bear inscriptions in their centers.

Figure a (fol. 51 v): „Laborintus inducens et educens“ – labyrinth leading in and leading out


Figure b (fol. 52 r): „Laborintus tamen educens nunquam intus perveniens fines“ – labyrinth leading out but nowhere arriving at the center

Figure c (fol. 52 v below): „Ibi introis et exis“ – here you enter and exit.

Figure d (fol. 52 v above): „Der Irrgang clausus est et numquam introibis“ the maze is closed and nowhere you enter.

From this we can see, that Gossembrot was engaged with the difference between labyrinth and maze. Figure 2 shows, using the lower, rectangular images, that the design of the side-arms in all four images is the same (areas within blue frames). The figures on the right side only differ with respect to the design of the main axis from those on the left side (areas within red frames). This becomes also clear from the patterns shown at the bottom of fig. 2. The left figures are labyrinths, the right figures are a special form of a simple maze. The pathway enters on the 6th circuit and there it branches. One branch continues to the first side-arm. There it turns to the 7th circuit, makes a full circuit and thereby traverses the main axis. It again turns at the first side-arm, leads back through the outer circuits 6 – 1 and arrives back in the other branch of the bifurcation. The innermost 8th circuit is completely isolated from the rest of the course of the pathway. It begins in a dead-end, does one round and ends in the center.

Figure 2. Labyrinth and Maze

So it seems, Gossembrot had derived a maze from the labyrinth. As a matter of fact, there exists a second historical labyrinth with the same pattern. This is sourced in a autograph (1456/63) of the Nuremberg physician and humanist Hartmann Schedel (see literature, below). The labyrinth drawn freehand was affixed to one of the last blank pages of the autograph. This autograph is accessible online in the same digital library as the manuscript by Gossembrot (further links, below). The original drawing of the labyrinth is oriented with the entrance to the left side. In fig. 3, for a better comparability, I have rotated it with the entrance to the bottom.

Figure 3. Type Schedel

Based on the earlier date (1456/63) of the publication by Schedel, I have named this type of labyrinth with „type Schedel“. Gossembrot was friends with Hermann Schedel, the uncle of Hartmann. The manuscript by Gossembrot dates from 1480. Having stated this, it has also to be considered that the labyrinth drawing of the Schedel autograph was affixed. Therefore it could also have been added later. Thus, it is well concievable that the drawings by Gossembrot were earlier and thus Gossembrot could have been the originator of this type of labyrinth.

Literature

  • Kern H. Through the Labyrinth: Designs and Meanings over 5000 years. London: Prestel 2000, p. 126, fig. 216.

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The Labyrinth on Folio 51 r

In the previous post I have presented the nine labyrinth designs by Gossembrot and gave references to the sources (see below: related posts 1). The first labyrinth on folio 51 r undoubtedly is the most important of all. It is the earliest preserved example of a five-arm labyrinth at all. Furthermore, it’s course of the pathway is unprecedented and deviates from every previous type of labyrinth. Here I will show the course of the pathway and it’s special features stage by stage. For this, I use the Ariadne’s Thread inscribed into the labyrinth and in parallel the pattern. This is the same approach I had applied with the labyrinth by Al Qazvini (related posts 2). As a baseline I always use a labyrinth with the entrance on bottom and in clockwise rotational direction. Gossembrot labyrinth fol. 51 r, however, rotates anti-clockwise. Therfore, in figure 1, I first mirror the labyrinth horizontally.

Figure 1. Labyrinth on Folio 51 r (left), horizontally mirrored (right)

The image on left shows the original labyrinth of fol. 51 r, the right image shows the same labyrinth mirrored. Mirroring does not affect the course of the pathway with the exception of the pathway traversing in the opposite direction.

Fig. 2 shows the first stage of the course when it enters the labyrinth. This is nothing special. The path fills the space left over by the pattern and continues to the innermost circuit as directly as possible.

Figure 2. Way into the Labyrinth

This circuit is then traversed in a forward direction through all five segments, as can be seen in fig. 3. This is also nothing special either.

Figure 3. Forward Direction on the 7th Circuit Through all Segments

The special characteristic of the course of the path starts after it has turned at the end of the fifth segment. Then it proceeds to a movement in backward direction, following a line that alternates between forming a curve wrapping and being wrapped and also marking the axes. This process continues to the first side-arm (fig 4).

Figure 4. Backward Direction Onset of Special Course

At this point the former course is interrupted. Again the path marks the axis (first side-arm), but then continues as a meander through segment 2, as shown in fig. 5.

Figure 5. Backward Direction, Interruption, Insertion of Meander

From there the original course is resumed. Still in a backward direction, the pathway fills the rest of segment 2 and segment 1 and finally turns from the 2nd to the 1st circuit (fig. 6).

Figure 6. Backward Direction, Resumption of Special Course

From here now it continues again in forward direction and takes it’s course through all segments until it reaches the opposite side of the main axis. In passing, it fills the inner space it had left over on its course in backward direction in segments 3 and 4 (fig. 7).

Figure 7. Forward Direction Through all Segments

From there it reaches the center after having filled the space left over in segment 5 (fig. 8).

Figure 8. Completion, Reaching the Center

This course of the pathway, like in some sector labyrinths, results in symmetric pairs of nested turns of the pathway at each side-arm. Unlike in sector labyrinths, however, the pathway does not complete one sector after another, but traverses through all sectors in each direction. First in forward direction on the innermost circuit, then in backward direction modulating through circuits 6 to 2, and finally again in forward direction on circuits 1, 4, and 5.

Related Posts:

  1. Sigmund Gossembrot / 1
  2. The Labyrinth by Al Qazvini

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A new labyrinth in an old design is the type Gossembrot.

It has 5 arms and 7 circuits with a completely different pattern than the related medieval types, like Chartres, Reims, Bayeux, Amiens etc.

Sigmund Gossembrot d.Ä. (1417 – 1493), humanist and councilman of Augsburg, compiled at 1480 nine labyrinth designs in a script. In Hermann Kerns definitive book Labyrinths the sketches are shown and described as illustrations 238-245.

Andreas Frei (Switzerland) is engaged in labyrinth theory and explains this type of labyrinth as one with interlocking paths.
You will find more details on his website (in German): Das Muster im Labyrinth.

In different editions of  Caerdroia (published by Jeff Saward) some articles of Andreas Frei are published about this type of labyrinth. He can take credit for having recognized and interpreted the pattern contained in it.

Type Gossembrot

Type Gossembrot

As far as I know this type of labyrinth was not ever built as a walkable labyrinth. Who begins?

Crucial for a good labyrinth design are balance, good proportions and according to my opinion also what I would like to name (perhaps somewhat highfalutin) dramaturgy of the way sequence. And that is common to the most different labyrinth types.

The first way leads into the middle of the labyrinth, circles after a few steps the centre, oscillates then outwards and inwards, approximates the centre possibly again and reaches then surprisingly from completely outside, again in few steps the centre.

In the classical labyrinth it is so rudimentarily, perfect in the type Chartres and likewise in the type Gossembrot.

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