Difference Between Maze and Labyrinth

Main Difference

The main difference between maze and labyrinth is that maze is a multicursal puzzle, and the labyrinth is a unicursal puzzle.

Maze vs. Labyrinth

A maze is a complex branching so-called multicursal puzzle that includes choices of path and direction. A labyrinth has only a single, non-branching path, so it is called unicursal. The maze may have multiple entrances, exits, and dead ends. Labyrinth leads to the center then back out the same way, with only one entry or exit point. The maze has multiple paths created by branches which start from the initial path into the maze. The labyrinth is typically a maze which has no branches. In this way, the maze is difficult as it is a multicursal path, and the participant is lost in it. A labyrinth is an easier puzzle path. There are unique features in mazes that are created by the different ways the path can branch. A path resulting in a dead-end is referred to as a blind alley. An area of the maze that has no walls and is not connected to the external wall of the maze is referred to as a detached wall. A labyrinth usually does not have these features as it contains only a single path. Mazes and labyrinths have different symbolism and meaning attached to them. Mazes are puzzles which exist to challenge and puzzle individuals and to test the limits of their capacity and determination. They represent the choices we make and the subsequent effects of those choices. A labyrinth is seen as a gateway to the spiritual realm. They symbolize the unseen pathway that celebrates life, success, rebirth, and the triumph of good over evil.

Comparison Chart

MazeLabyrinth
A complex branching puzzle pathA single, non-branching puzzle path
Path
MulticursalUnicursal
Puzzle
Have to get from one side to the otherHave to get to the center or from the center out
Entry/Exit
Multiple entries or exit pointsOne path with one entry and exit point
Level of Difficulty
More difficultLess difficult

What is Maze?

A maze is a network of hedges and paths. It is designed as a puzzle through which one has to find a way. It is a complex network of twisty and complicated paths or passages that fascinate someone. The main characteristic of a maze is that it is a multicursal puzzle path. Multicursal path means that the maze has so many different paths that join or separate in a branch like a network. The maze may have more than one entry and exit to the maze, making more than one possible route between the center and the outside. It is a confusing pathway traditionally made of walls or tall hedges that has many choices of the path, branches, and dead-ends. The maze is meant to confuse, perplex, and sometimes instill panic and fear. It symbolizes various meanings and has a spiritual significance as well. A maze challenge and puzzle individuals and to test the limits of their capacity and determination. It represents the choices we make and the subsequent effects of those choices. The multicursal mazes became popular in England in the 17th and 18th century. Many of the mazes which are currently open to the public are still found in England. The most famous of them is maze-Hampton Court. There are different types of mazes that have been developed to be used in psychological experiments.

Types of Maze

  • Morris water maze
  • Barnes maze
  • Oasis maze
  • Radial arm maze
  • Elevated plus maze
  • Linear or railroad maze
  • Logic mazes
  • Loops and traps maze
  • Number maze
  • Picture maze
  • Delta maze
  • Braid maze

What is Labyrinth?

A labyrinth is a complicated network of passages or paths in which it is difficult to find one’s way. The labyrinth is unicursal (single pathway) leading to the center, usually in a circum-ambulatory fashion. It is traditionally made from small hedges, stones, or lines drawn on the ground. A labyrinth has only one entrance and the exit, so it is easier to escape. The word labyrinth has a connotative meaning of being impossible to get out of, unsolvable. The origin of the labyrinth is in Greek mythology. It was a maze constructed for King Minos in Crete by Daedalus to cease the Minotaur (who ate people, specifically young Athenians). The purpose was to prevent the Minotaur from ever finding his way out, or the Athenian sacrifices from escaping, he hired the best minds to design increasingly complex labyrinths. Labyrinth also has spiritual significance. They are the representations of the path that is inside of us. They also signify the complex and long path to reach God. There are many different types of labyrinths. The significant groups of labyrinths include; the classical seed patterns, circuits, medieval group of labyrinths, contemporary medieval group, outside the medieval group labyrinths.

Labyrinths in their Groups

  • Classical 11 circuits, classical seven circuits, concentric, and Roman.
  • The proposed Nasca labyrinth seed pattern, the Baltic labyrinth
  • The Chakra-Vyuha labyrinth, Penti seed pattern, Chartres
  • Chalice labyrinth, the Santa Rose
  • Miscellaneous, Vesica Pisces motif-the meander, the three-dimensional labyrinth

Key Differences

  1. The maze is a complex branching puzzle that includes choices of path and direction, whereas labyrinth has only a single, non-branching path.
  2. The maze is a multicursal path conversely labyrinth is unicursal puzzle path.
  3. The maze has multiple entrances, exits, and dead ends on the flip side labyrinth is typically a maze which has no branches.
  4. The mazes are puzzles which exist to challenge and puzzle individuals and to test the limits of their capacity and determination on the flip side the labyrinths are a gateway to the spiritual realm
  5. Mazes symbolize the choices we make, and the subsequent effects of that choices and labyrinths symbolize the unseen pathway that celebrates life, success, rebirth, and the triumph of good over evil.

Conclusion

Maze and labyrinths are two different types of complex and puzzle ways or paths. Both have their historical, spiritual, and fictional importance with a difference of history, and features between them.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

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