Sunday, February 22, 2009

Maze History

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Mazes go back in history at least 4,000 years For the first 3,000 years they
consisted of a single, convoluted path without junctions, or unicursal
Labyrinths. These labyrinths were not puzzles, but were for ritual walking,
running and processions.
In Greek mythology, the Minotaur lived within the Cretan Labyrinth and was
finally killed by Theseus to break the domination of King Minos of Knossos
over the city of Athens. The Romans used the labyrinth motif in mosaic
pavements throughout the Roman Empire, often using the image of Theseus
slaying the Minotaur at the centre.
Different labyrinth traditions have developed elsewhere in Europe. Over 600
stone labyrinths line the Scandinavian shores of the Baltic Sea, with over half
of them in Sweden. Many are said to have been built by fishermen who
walked through them in the hope of a good catch and a safe return. Others
have names that link them to courtship, fertility and the birth of new life, such
as Julian's Bower, Maiden's Bower and Trojaborg.
England contains many unicursal turf mazes, some dating back to the Dark
Ages when they may have been created by Nordic invaders and settlers. In
Germany, unicursal turf mazes were used for ritual procession by young men
as they reached adulthood.
In 13,h century France, Medieval Christian pavement mazes were laid in the
floors of cathedrals, with names such as Chemin de Jerusalem, reflecting
recent journeys of the Crusadesniper maze 001s. The design was cruciform an
d had 13 rings
of paths. During the walk along its path, the supplicant would contemplate the
thread of time and the Path of Life through death to salvation. Many English
turf mazes are thought to have been re-cut later to this design, to banish their
earlier Pagan connections.
During the Middle Ages, formal gardens became established throughout
Europe, Puzzle hedge mazes became an amusement of kings and princes,
and to start with were found only at the wealthiest palaces. The Renaissance
movement began in Italy in the 16"1 century and its influence spread across
Europe. This included the use of formal hedges within gardens, with clipped
topiary and hedge mazes. The Dutch became especially keen on hedge
mazes, and William II built the famous 1690 hedge maze at Hampton Court
Palace in England. Several mazes were built in Germany, where they are
called Irrgarten, literally "Error Garden".
0 200 I Copynfihl Adrian FisSor I
The Victorians built many new hedge mazes in both parks for general public
amusement and in private gardens. During the 20th century, the two world
wars meant many gardens throughout Europe got neglected and many mazes
were lost forever.
Today, more mazes are being built than at any time in their history,
particularly in Britain, Japan and the United States. Britain now has over 125
mazes open to the public, compared with just 42 in 1980. British mazes
reflect the country's strong landscape and gardening tradition and are
remarkably diverse.
Hedge mazes are particularly distinctive to Britain, whilst other mazes are
made of turf, brick, stone, wood and water. Indoor mosaic, marble, stained-
glass and mirror mazes can be found. Symbolism in maze design has been
pioneered in Britain and many mazes portray images in various ways. Often
there are hidden meanings to find, as well as the goal of the puzzle to
discover. The Archbishop's Maze at Greys Court abounds in Christian
symbolism, with stone inscriptions, emblematic crosses and meaningful
proportions. The Bath Festival Maze has a magnificent central mosaic full of
allusions to the city of Bath.
Britain's most notable hedge maze is probably the Leeds Castle Maze near
Maidstone in Kent, complete with central mound, underground grotto and 90
foot exit tunnel. The Darwin Maze at Edinburgh Zoo uses hedges, Foaming
Fountain Gates, Bridges, decorative paving and other effects to convey
mazes picture for close up maze of eyes
Darwin's Theory of Evolution in a highly imaginative way.
In the Netherlands, the giant hedge maze at Three Lands Point near Vaals
contains 3 bridges and 9 foaming fountain gates to make a remarkable three-
dimensional puzzle.
Britain's finest mirror maze is the Magical Mirror Maze at Wookey Hole Caves,
near Wells in Somerset. At the goal, one hundred fountain jets dance to the
tonal variations in the music and musical effects add to the experience. The
Labyrinthe des Dragons, the Egyptian themed Mirror Maze at Peaugres Safari
Park near Lyons, France, contains live crocodiles, pythons, scorpions and
bats, as well as walls of aquarium fish.
Lord Bath's personal enthusiasm for mazes has made Longleat House in
Wiltshire the maze mecca of England. His giant hedge maze was opened in
1978 and has since been followed by a Labyrinth of Love, a Sun Maze and a
Moon Maze. Other mazes are planned for the estate.
The Jersey Water Maze at St Helier in the Channel Islands is another British
maze innovation, with over 200 water jets changing the design of the maze
from second to second.
America has a long and extensive maze tradition and its most famous hedge
maze is at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, planted in the grounds of the
Governor's Palace in 1935 as part of the historic recreation.
The Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida has one of Americas
finest decorative brick pavement mazes, entitled "Theseus Slaying the
Minotaur". It measures 64 x 44 ft and formed part of Adrian Fisher's one-man
maze exhibition held at the Norton Museum in 1997.
America has several elaborate mirror mazes and wooden fence mazes. Most
distinctively, America has been the startingmazes picture for close up maze of eyes point for a completely new form of
maze - the cornfield Maize Maze. Three of these, each designed by Adrian
Fisher, have successively broken the record for the world's largest maze as
recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records - in 1993 at Annville,
Pennsylvania, in 1995 at Shippensburg, Pennsylvania and in 1996 in
Dearborn, Michigan. From the first one in 1993, there have been more new
Maize Mazes each summer, each surviving for just one season and allowing
their wonderful and elaborate designs to decorate the landscape on an
unprecedented scale.

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