Why do masons wear aprons?
Masons, also known as freemasons, are a fraternal organization originally founded in America but which later spread all over the world. They have their origins in the stonemason local organizations that existed in the fourteenth century. Like all organization, the freemasons have traditional garbs and one of the necessary parts of their garb includes a white apron, which has been part of the mason tradition since time out of mind.
Masonic aprons originated from aprons used by actual stonemasons in earlier times, in order to protect their clothes when doing masonry. These aprons were typically very large and covered the front of the body from chin to ankles. They were usually made of leather. When the freemasons arose, they also adopted the garment. Over time it has evolved from a long garment to a much shorter one. The bib, or the upper part of the apron, is no longer worn and is usually either absent or folded down.
A major feature of masonic aprons is the design on them. A novice is given a pure white apron, which can then be embellished with designs that signify his or her progress in the hierarchy. These designs include rosettes embroidered on, which signify rank. Further embellishment can be achieved using tassels, and sometimes the apron is edged with ribbon. The color of the edging ribbon depends on the lodge precedents as well as tradition, although it has now been standardized as a blue color.
The mason’s apron has several symbolic meanings attached to it. For example, even the simple, plain white novice’s apron can be said to have symbolic implication. The four right angles of the square shape signify Purity, Truth, Sincerity and Honesty. Then the four sides signify four cardinal virtues – temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice. In a similar way, other aspects of the apron are imbued with significance.
As with any group symbol, the apron holds immense importance for masons. It is considered an essential piece of clothing, the bestowal and wearing of which cannot be taken lightly.
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