THE CHARTRES LABYRINTH
Most popular with churches is the Chartres labyrinth pattern. It originated in the early Middle Ages specifically to incorporate Christian meaning and symbolism. The most elegant and best-known version of the Medieval pattern is the one found in Chartres Cathedral, France. It was built in 1201 and still going strong. Other Gothic cathedrals had labyrinths, but they were generally removed when the floors were renovated. Because of the high quality of the dense limestone found near Chartres, the floor is still in excellent condition.
The best-known Chartres labyrinths may be the ones located at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Their design, however, is a slight departure from the "pure" Chartres in two respects. First, the distace between the labryses (back-to-back 180-degree turns) is narrow in the pure version (the thickness of the line) but wide in the variation (the thickness of the path). The purpose of the wider labryses is to give a place for people to step out of the "traffic" if they want to rest or meditate for a while. It also makes the turns easier to see in low light or for the visually impaired. Secondly, on the variation, to balance the larger labryses, the space between the petals is painted (in the center). In the pure version, the petals are just lines. Below are illustrations of the two types, with the pure on the left and the variation on the right.
Due to its size, the canvas Chartres labyrinth is divided into three sections which are connected by Velcro. For ease of transport, each can be carried in its own canvas bag. The outer sections weigh about 30 pounds each, while the center section is about 40 pounds. One or two people can unfold and connect the Chartres labyrinth in ten minutes. The Velcro only fits together in one way, with the lines of the pattern showing the proper alignment.
Our standard labyrinth has horizontal seams (shown below). We can make vertical seams upo request.
Our trademark is to make the labyrinth 12-sided (shown below). This is because the number 12 is very significant to the geometry of the Chartres labyrinth. Of course we can make it octagonal (8-sided) or any other shape.
PAINTING AND COLOR
The first choice is whether we will paint it or whether you will do it yourself. If we do it, then you must send us your choice of color. You can enclose a color chip (slip of paper of the designated color) with your order, or simply write the name of the color and the manufacturer. We frequently use Behr and Glidden paints, from Home Depot, but we can match any color from any widely distributed company, such as Benjamin Moore, Sherman Williams, etc. For the Chartres labyrinth our most popular color is purple (for liturgical reasons). You can specify "generic purple" if you wish, which comes closest to being our "standard" color.Click here to see a Chartres labyrinth in rainbow colors.
To order a Chartres labyrinth, please click on the following link: Order form.. (We don't have a shopping cart, so you are free to look around without obligation.)
If you have any questions, see our contact information.