Posts Tagged ‘seed pattern’

When I dealt with the Knossos labyrinth it has struck me that the seed pattern can be simplified very easily. It can be reduced to three lines and two dots. To draw the labyrinth they are connected just as we do it for the classical labyrinth. For more information please see the Related Posts below.

Now this seed pattern with the two turning points can be extended in a very simple way, just by adding more lines in pairs.
seed pattern

The bigger labyrinths have more circuits, however, maintain her basic structure. And, nevertheless, these are own types, because they have another path sequence than the 7-, 9-, 11-, 15- etc. circuit  classical labyrinths. But they are not known, neither among the historical, nor among the contemporary labyrinths. Because they are too easy? Besides, the lines have quite a special rhythm. A closer look can be worthwhile.
The 3 circuit labyrinth of this type first appeared about 400 B.C. on the silver coins of Knossos:

The Labyrinth Type Knossos

The Labyrinth Type Knossos

The circuits are numbered from the outside inwards from 1 to 3. The center is marked with 4. The blue digits labels the circuits inside out. The path sequence is 3-2-1-4, no matter which direction you take. Through that a special quality of this labyrinth is also indicated: It is self-dual.

What now shall be the special rhythm? To explain this, we look at a 5 circuit labyrinth of this type:

The 5 circuit Knossos Labyrinth in the Cretan Style

The 5 circuit Knossos Labyrinth in the Cretan Style

The path sequence is: 5-2-3-4-1-6. At first I circle around the center (6) on taking circuit 5. Then I go outwardly to round 2, from there via the circuits 3 and 4 again in direction to the center, at last make a jump completely outwards to circuit 1, from which I finally reach the center in 6.

Here a 7 circuit labyrinth in Knidos style:

7 circuit Labyrinth in Knidos style

7 circuit Labyrinth in Knidos style

The path sequence is: 7-2-5-4-3-6-1-8. It is also self-dual. The typical rhythm is maintained, the “steps” are wider: From 0 to 7, from 7 to 2, and finally from 1 to 8 (the center).

Here a 9 circuit labyrinth in circular style:

9 circuit Labyrinth in circular style

9 circuit Labyrinth in circular style

The path sequence is: 9-2-7-4-5-6-3-8-1-10. The step size is anew growing. This labyrinth is self-dual again.

This example exists as a real labyrinth since the year 2010 on a meadow at Ostheim vor der Rhön (Germany):

9 circuit Labyrinth in circular style at Ostheim vor der Rhön (Germany)

9 circuit Labyrinth in circular style at Ostheim vor der Rhön (Germany)

To finish we look at a 11 circuit labyrinth in square style:

11 circuit Labyrinth in square style

11 circuit Labyrinth in square style

The path sequence is: 11-2-9-4-7-6-5-8-3-10-1-12. And again self-dual.

I think, the method is clear: We add two more lines more and we will get two circuits more. So we could continue infinitely.
The shape of the labyrinth can be quite different, this makes up the style. The path sequence shows the type. And for that kind of labyrinth we always have only two turning points.

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In the last post I have introduced the eleven-circuit Cakra Vyuh Labyrinth. Even though the seed pattern has a central cross and also can be easily drawn freehand, it is not a labyrinth in the Classical style. In fig. 1 I show the seed pattern in different variants.


Figure 1. Variants of the Seed Pattern

Image a shows the original seed pattern, image b the seed pattern in the Classical style, image c in the Concentric style, and image d in the Man-in-the-Maze style.

This figure clearly shows that the original seed pattern deviates from the Classical style. It is true that this seed pattern has a central cross as for instance the Cretan labyrinth also. However in the Cakra Vyuh seed pattern, from this cross further junctions branch off.

This is different in the Classical style. The Classical style consists of verticals, horizontals, ankles and dots. For this, no central cross is required. This page illustrates well, what I mean (left figure of each pair). If a seed pattern includes ankles these lie between the cross arms and do not branch off from them.

The four images in fig. 1 in part look quite different one from each other. So how do I come to the assertion that they are four variants of the same seed pattern? Let us remember that these figures show seed patterns for the walls delimiting the pathway. Now let us inscribe the seed patterns for the Ariadne’s Thread into these figures (fig. 2).


Figure 2. With the Seed Pattern for the Ariadne’s Thread Inscribed

At first glance this looks even more complex. However, if we focus on the red figures, we will soon see what they have in common.


Figure 3. Seed Pattern for the Ariadne’s Thread

The seed pattern represents a section of the entire labyrinth. More exactly, it is the section along the axis of the labyrinth. The turning points of the pathway align to the axis. This can be better seen on the seed pattern for the Ariadne’s Thread compared with the seed pattern for the walls delimiting the pathway.

In all four seed patterns, turns of the pathway with single arcs interchange with turns made-up of two nested arcs. This constitutes the manner and sequence of the turns and is the basic information contained in the seed pattern. In the four seed patterns shown, the alignment of the turns may vary from circular (image a, image d) to longisch, vertical, slim (image b, image c). The shape of the arcs is adapted to the shape of the walls delimiting the pathway. However in all images it is a single turn in alternation with two nested turns.

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A very beautiful labyrinth example (fig. 1) named Cakra-vyuh can be found in Kern’s Book° (fig. 631, p. 294).

Andere 5

Figure 1: Cakra-Vyuh Labyrinth from an Indian Book of Rituals

The figure originates from a contemporary Indian book of rituals. In this, a custom of unknown age, still in practice today, was described, in which the idea of a labyrinth is used to magically facilitate birth-giving. To Kern this is a modified Cretan type labyrinth. I attribute it to a type of it’s own and name it after Kern’s denomination type Cakra-Vyuh (see Related Posts: Type or Style / 14).

The seed pattern is clearly recognizable. One can well figure out that this labyrinth was constructed based on the seed pattern. Despite this, I hesitate to attribute it to the Classical style. For this, the calligraphic looking design deviates too much from the traditional Classical style. The walls delimiting the pathway all lie to a mayor extent, i.e. with about 3/4 of their circumference on a grid of concentric circles. Therefore it has also elements of the concentric style. The labyrinth even somewhat reminds me of the Knidos style with its seamlessly fitting segments of arcs where the walls delimiting the path deviate from the circles and connect to the seed pattern.

Therefore I have not attributed this labyrinth to any one of the known styles, but grouped it to other labyrinths (Type or Style /9). However, I had also drawn this labyrinth type in the Man-in-the-Maze style already (How to Draw a Man-in-the-Maze Labyrinth / 5).


Figure 2: Composition of the Seed Pattern

Fig. 2 shows how the seed pattern is made-up. We begin with a central cross. Tho the arms of this cross are then attached half circles (2nd image). Next, four similar half circles are fitted into the remaining spaces in between. Thus the seed pattern includes now 8 half circles (3rd image). Finally, a bullet point is placed into the center of each half circle. We now have a seed pattern with 24 ends, that all lie on a circle.

In the pattern it can be clearly seen, that the labyrinth has an own course of the pathway. Therefore, to me it is a type of it’s own.

Typ Cakra Vyuh

Figure 3: Pattern

Furthermore it is a self-dual, even though, according to Tony Phillips, uninteresting labyrinth (Un- / interesting Labyrinths). This because it is made-up of a very interesting labyrinth with 9 circuits with one additional, trivial circuit on both, the inside and the outside.

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°Kern, Hermann. Through the Labyrinth – Designs and Meanings over 5000 Years. Munich: Prestel 2000.

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For this kind of labyrinth there is quite an easy basic pattern: Three dashes and two dots. Just as if it were written in our hand. That is what I say to the kindergarten children with whom I explore the labyrinth.

The seed pattern: 3 dashes, 2 dots

The seed pattern: 3 dashes, 2 dots

With it one can draw round or angular labyrinths, but also a square one.







An other nice exercise (not only) for children) is to lay a square labyrinth with matches, paper clips, drinking straws or similar objects similar in size. The center will be three units big, and with a total of 95 components one can make the labyrinth.

A square match labyrinth

A square match labyrinth

The two dots of the seed pattern are replaced by two elements placed horizontally: The left one below, the right one above the vertically arranged three objects.

The seed pattern

The seed pattern

Then we connect the elements with each other, as we already know it from the classical 7 circuit labyrinth. The distance between the lines corresponds to the length of an element.

Children want to trace the way in the labyrinth over and over again, even walk the path. This just succeeds for a width of 20 cm, however, the straws soon will get out of place.

Thus the desire arise to make something more firm. This can best be realized with adhesive tape on the floor. To get the labyrinth really square and rectangular, we need for that a method and a little scheme.

The drawing

The drawing

First we fix a base line. Then the third corner point should be defined. We intersect the diagonal and the side length of the square, outgoing from one end point of the base line. With the same technique the fourth corner point is build. The four sides of the square and both diagonals must have the correct length. So we have produced a figure at right angles.
Then best of all one fixes the end points of the inner lines with the help of the diagonals. After that one connects point for point and will get right-angled lines. The diagonal measurements should better be made by adults, the connection of the points could again be made by the children.

The drawing is designed as a prototype for a unit of 1 m. All specified dimensions are scaleable, so they can be used for labyrinths in different dimensions. For the above shown blue labyrinth all dimensions has been multiplied by the factor 0.21. This proves a path width of nearly 21 cm, an edge length of 1.89 m for the labyrinth, and a total of about 20 m for the lines (adhesive tape).

Here you may see, print, save or copy the PDF file of the drawing

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As is the case with the labyrinth itself and the seed pattern, there are also two representations of the rectangular form: this can be represented either with the walls or with the Ariadne’s Thread. In addition, there are two methods to obtain the rectangular form and therefore two versions of it. Ill. 1 summarizes this with the example of my demonstration labyrinth.

L:SP:P Rep

Illustration 1. Overview

This illustration shows on the first line the labyrinth (figures 1), on the second line the seed pattern (figures 2), on the third line the rectangular form obtained with method 1 (figures 3) and on the bottom line the rectangular form obtained with method 2 (figures 4). Each of these are shown in the representation with the walls (left figures a) and with the Ariadne’s Thread (right figures b).

  • When we speak of a „labyrinth“ we usually mean the labyrinth in its representation with the walls. This is shown in fig. 1 a. But also the representation with the Ariadne’s Thread is in widespread use and generally well known (fig. 1 b). This is usually simply referred to as the Ariadne’s Thread.
  • Fig. 2 a shows the seed pattern for the walls, fig. 2 b the seed pattern for the Ariadne’s Thread. As Erwin and I have written so much about this in recent posts, I don’t elaborate more on it here.
  • If we start from the labyrinth (fig. 1 a) or from the Ariadne’s Thread (fig. 1b) and apply method 1, we will as a result obtain the rectangular forms shown in line 3. Thus, there exists a rectangular form for the walls (fig. 3a) as well as for the Ariadne’s Thread (fig. 3b).
  • If we apply method 2 this results in the rectangular forms of line 4. These are the same as the figures on line 3, although rotated by half the arc of a circle.

For what I termed “rectangular form” here, in the literature we can find also the terms „compression diagram“ or „line diagram“ or else. And, most often, we will encounter rectangular forms for the walls obtained with method 1, i.e. figures like fig. 3 a.


Illustration 2. Figure 3a

I, however, always use the rectangular form for the Ariadne’s Thread. This is the simpler graphical representation. Furthermore, I use the version obtained with method 2, as the result can be read from top left to bottom right, what corresponds better with the way we are used to read. This figure (e.g. fig. 4 b), the rectangular form for the Ariadne’s Thread obtained with method 2, is what I refer to as the pattern.


Illustration 3. Figure 4b

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Method 1

In my last post I have shown how the seed pattern can be transformed into the pattern. The same result can be obtained by transforming the Ariadne’s Thread into the rectangular form.

Lage KS

Figure 1. Ariadne’s Thread and Situation of the Seed Pattern

Fig. 1 shows the Ariadne’s Thread of my demonstration labyrinth with the seed pattern highlighted. In addition the situation of the entrance (arrow) and of the center (bullet point) is indicated.


Figure 2. Rotating the Right Half of the Axis…

In fig. 2 we now fix the left half of the axis and rotate the right half anticlockwise a full turn along the circuits. By this, the circuits are continually shortened. Immediately before the right half reaches the left half of the seed pattern on its opposite side, the circuits have reduced to very short lines. But, as can be seen, it is really the circuits of the labyrinth, that connect the ends of both halves of the seed pattern.


Figure 3. … Until it Meets the Left from the Other Side

At the point where both halves meet each other, these remaining pieces of the circuits disappear. In lieu of them the straight of the meander appears. This is composed of the outer vertical lines of the original auxiliary figure of the seed pattern.

Therefore, it is absolutely justified to straighten-out the meander at the point where it intersects with the vertical straight. The lines that connect the ends of the seed pattern really represent the circuits of the labyrinth.

In fig. 3 we have now generated the meander starting from the Ariadne’s Thread, fixing one half of the seed pattern and rotating the other by a full turn. I refer to this way of generating the pattern as method 1. I had fixed the left half and rotated the right half.

Muster Meth1b

Figure 4. Rotating the Left Half of the Axis by a Full Turn

Fig. 4 shows that we could also fix the right half and rotate the left. In the result, this makes no difference.

Muster Erg1

Figure 5. Result: Pattern with Entrance on Below Right and Center on Top Left

The result of this method is in both cases the same meander that is straightened-out to the pattern as described previously.

Important: Please notice, that after this transformation, in the pattern the entrance lies on the bottom right and the center on top left. This result is against our spontaneous intuition and also contradicts with how we are used to read. It is a result of the applied method 1.

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In several previous posts I have shown, that different variants can exist for a certain labyrinth or seed pattern.


Illustration 1. Variants of the Same Seed Pattern

In Ill. 1 I again show some variants of the seed pattern for the Ariadne’s Thread of my demonstration labyrinth. This same seed pattern can be drawn e.g. with a circular, elliptic, petal-shaped or rectangular outline. The outline figure is only an auxiliary figure. The seed pattern itself is formed by the system of lines within this outline figure. Depending on the shape of the outline figure, also the orientation and rounding of the seeds may somewhat differ. However, they are always ordered the same way. On top left one (not-nested) turn, on bottom left two nested and on the right three nested turns. Which variant of the seed pattern is best suited depends on the purpose for which it is used.

In this post I want to show the relationship between the seed pattern and the pattern. For this purpose, the rectangular variant is best suited. The seed pattern can be transformed to the pattern in a few steps.

KS Umf1

Illustration 2. From Seed Pattern to Meander

The left figure of ill. 2 shows the rectangular variant of the seed pattern. This is also shown as baseline in grey in the right figure. As a first step, the right half of the seed pattern is shifted against the left (shown in red), until it comes to lie on the other side of the left half.

KS Umf2

Illustration 3. From Meander to Pattern

The result of this shift is a meander. It is one of Arnol’d’s figures. This meander is in a next step straightened-out, as has already been shown here. For this, the right half of the seed pattern is shifted somewhat further to the left. The ends opposite each other are then connected with lines.

KS Muster

Illustration 4. Pattern

The result of this process is shown in ill. 4. Apparently, in transforming the meander to the pattern, the first and most important step is the horizontal straightening-out. By this the situation of the circuits in the pattern are made apparent. Next, one can easily straighten-out the axial segments and finalize the pattern.

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