Native American Symbol – Man in the Maze

Man in the Maze

Stanley Gene  Navajo Sterling Silver Belt Buckle

The figure known as the “Man in the Maze,” depicts a man entering or exiting a labyrinth. It is a theme seen on baskets from as far back as the nineteenth century and in Hopi silver art. Such depictions of labyrinths are also found in ancient petroglyphs (Native American rock art).

The symbol can represent a person’s journey through life. The maze contains many twists and turns, meant to represent choices made in life. The center is round and dark, so the journey can be from darkness to light or vice versa depending on which way you are headed!

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Some interpret the center as a representation of a person’s dreams and goals. When you reach the center, you have reached your goals and the sun god there blesses you and helps you pass into the next world.

Another interpretation of this symbol is that the man represents the human seed and the maze is the womb. As the man enters the maze, he creates new life which represents reincarnation or eternal life.

Hopi Man in the Maze items range from bracelets to belt buckles to earrings and more. They are characterized by a cutout overlay of the pattern with a dark oxidized background that traditionally is textured with hashmarks.

Navajo artists make Hopi style overlay pieces with the main difference being that the background is oxidized but not texturized.

Man in the Maze Navajo pendant

Man in the Maze Navajo pendant



6 thoughts on “Native American Symbol – Man in the Maze

  1. Interesting piece! Your explanation/suggestions about its meaning are food for thought! BTW your site is mahhhhhhhvelous~ Love the photos and makes me want to dust off the old checkbook! Thanks for all the effort you make to help us find these answers to our questions.

    • Thanks ! That Man in the Maze (or woman in the maze as the case might be!) is one of my go-to items on a stressful day. It helps me ferry myself through a big town day and its provocative simplicity makes me calm down every time I glance down at my bracelet. Thanks for visiting and please come back often !

  2. My eyes some times play tricks on me. When I first read this title, I thought it said, “Man in the Maize,” and read with interest, looking for the connection with corn.

    This is a beautiful symbol, and I never knew before what it meant. Is corn also used as a symbol in jewelry or art by native Americans?


  3. What is the meaning of the warrior kneeling in the corn field? Is he petitioning God for assistance as he embarks upon his journey into the light .

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