Type or Style / 11

Choice of a Name

Giving adequate names to the types of labyrinths is an important step of its own in a typology.

Kern had identified the basic type and named it the Cretan Type.




presumed origin: Cretan Type





securely dated ca. 1200 v. BCE.: Pylos





probably 2500 – 1800 BCE.:  Galicia


This type was named after its presumed origin. The earliest examples of this type are from Pylos or Galicia (Spain).

The other types have their names from real existing labyrinth examples.





10th century manuscript labyrinth





Year 1076 manuscript labyrinth





ca. 1200 – 1220 Chartres cathedral: Type Chartres


There are several previous examples of the Chartres type. But only the labyrinth from Chartres cathedral gave name to this type.

Also of the Ravenna type there is an example of an earlier date with the same course of the pathway.


Rav Filarete




Year 1464 manuscript Filarete






16th century church San Vitale Ravenna: Type Ravenna


The earliest known example of this type was published in a manuscript by the Florentine architect Antonio Averlino alias Filarete.

The Reims type, on the other hand, was named after the earliest known example, the one that had been laid in Reims cathedral. The same applies a.o. to the Otfrid type.

But what has all this to do with our subject type or style?

The actual names are a source of misunderstandings and confusion.

Many think that the name „Cretan type“ is not appropriate. So instead, this type is often denominated „classical type“. However, this name is also used to capture other types of one-arm labyrinths with different courses of the pathway. This almost automatically leads to confusion of type and style.

Obviously in the Chartres type it was the example that originated the Chartres style that also gave name to the type.

A similar situation can be found in the Ravenna type. This was also named after a later example with an excellent design. However, in this case we would not speak of a Ravenna-style as this graphical design has not yet been adopted in other labyrinth examples.

We have now found three different principles how to give names to types of labyrinths: presumed origin, excellent example and earliest known example. In order to avoid confusion of type and style it is important to give appropriate names to the types of labyrinths.

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