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Recently I became aware of this illustration:

The Rauner Library from Hanover (USA) acquired recently a specially remarkable manuscript. The manuscript is a copy of the Taj Torah produced in Yemen c. 1400-1450. This is one of only three known Hebrew manuscripts with illustrated carpet pages.

The labyrinth in the Taj Torah

The labyrinth in the Taj Torah (Illustration with kind permission of © Rauner Library)

It is a 6 circuit Jericho labyrinth. The walls are drawn with a thick red line and with a black double line. The way into the middle (Ariadne’s thread) is indicated through a banner. With this the structure of the labyrinth is revealed very well. The entrance is on top.

In a great number of manuscripts the city of Jericho is shown as a labyrinth or in the center of a labyrinth. This tradition is proved in different cultural spheres from the 9th up to the 19th century. The labyrinth type used for the Jericho Labyrinth is from the Classical 7 circuit (Cretan) on to the Chartres labyrinth.

Under them are also some 6 circuit labyrinths with 7 walls which are probably based on the Jewish tradition of the seven walls around the city of Jericho. They show an advancement of the labyrinth form.

The oldest known Jericho labyrinth with the same alignment as in the Taj Torah can be seen on a page of a Hebrew Old Testament which was completed by Josef von Xanten in 1294.

That is the reason why Andreas Frei name this type as “von Xanten”.

The Jericho Labyrinth (type von Xanten) in a Hebrew Bible

The Jericho Labyrinth (type von Xanten) in a Hebrew Bible from 1294 / Source: Hermann Kern, Labyrinths, fig. 225

In the book of Hermann Kern one can find other examples of this type. One is found in the Farhi Bible from the 14th century.

The Jericho Labyrinth (type von Xanten) in the Farhi Bible

The Jericho Labyrinth (type von Xanten) in the Farhi Bible from 1366-1383 / Source: Hermann Kern, Labyrinths, fig. 227

On a Hebrew scroll from the 17th century is this drawing. Here, as well as in the upper labyrinth, the entrance is at the bottom. The first turn goes to the right.

The Jericho Labyrinth (type von Xanten) on a Hebrew scroll

The Jericho Labyrinth (type von Xanten) on a Hebrew scroll from the 17th century / Source: Hermann Kern, Labyrinths, fig. 229

The essential of a labyrinth figure can be shown through a geometrical construction in  a drawing.

The Jericho Labyrinth type von Xanten

The Jericho Labyrinth type von Xanten

On the following drawings the labyrinth is mirrored, the path first turns to the left. The path sequence, numbered from the outside inwards (in green), is 0-3-4-5-2-1-6-7. If one numbers the paths from the inside outwardly (in blue) the path sequence will be 0-1-6-5-2-3-4-7.

The original Jericho Labyrinth type von Xanten

The original Jericho Labyrinth type von Xanten

If one draws a labyrinth according to this order, one receives the dual labyrinth. This looks here differently than the original one. This shows that this type of labyrinth is not selfdual as for example the Cretan 7 circuit labyrinth. One obtains a new labyrinth with another structure.

For more information about that context I recommend the website of my co-author Andreas Frei about the pattern (in German). Link >

The dual Jericho Labyrinth type von Xanten

The dual Jericho Labyrinth type von Xanten

Here is the alignment of the original Labyrinth depicted as a rectangular diagram:

The pattern of the Jericho Labyrinth (type von Xanten) as diagram

The pattern of the Jericho Labyrinth (type von Xanten) as diagram

In this diagram with the entrance below on the right, and the center on the top on the right too, the path structure can also be presented very nicely. It is simply Ariadne’s thread as an uninterrupted line in angular form. Andreas calls this the pattern, and shows it a little bit differently. However, the essential things are identical.

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