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The masonic apron is one of the most well-known masonic symbols and has been around for over 300 years. It encompasses all that masonry stands for, whilst embodying its origins in practicality.
Traditionally aprons were worn by stonemasons throughout the world to protect their clothing from dirt while they work at a building site or on other tasks such as bricklaying, carpentry, stonemasonry and many others.
There are three main aprons here in the UK for “Craft Freemasons”, the Entered Apprentice apron, the Fellow Craft apron and the Master Mason apron. Each of these represents the first 3 degrees in Freemasonry, every Mason will go through these degrees in order to progress within the fraternity.
Aprons are worn in the lodge and during Masonic ceremonies, where they symbolise the progress a member is making within the organisation.
The first three degrees in freemasonry are called the “craft degrees” these aprons are the most commonly seen.
The EA apron is the simplest apron and in the UK is usually plain white with no adornments other than a plain triangular flap at the front.
The fellow craft apron is very similar although two blue rosettes have been added to signify the progress to the second degree.
The third degree master masons apron is similar to the fellow craft but with the addition of an additional rosette, making three in total, a light blue ribbon around the edges of the apron, and two tassels each with 7 silver chains adorning the front of the apron.
These three craft aprons, “develop” in their complexity as the wearer progresses through each of these degrees, which symbolises the development of the individual and the knowledge learned from each of the degrees as his progresses within the fraternity.
Appendant Bodies / Side Orders.
After the first three degrees, freemasons have the option to join various appendant bodies or “side orders” each of these have different designs for their aprons. The most common side orders in the UK include the Holy Royal Arch, Mark Master Masons and Royal Ark Mariner.
In the UK, Royal Arch Masons (Chapter) wear a dark blue and crimson apron, the design of this apron is very similar to the Master Mason’s apron however the colours and metal chains are different, gold chains rather than silver.
Mark Master Mason aprons are also similar to the Master Mason apron although there are no chains, and the ribbon is a light blue and crimson. There are also 3 rosettes in light blue with a crimson edge.
The Royal Ark Mariner apron is slightly different in design to these previously mentioned masonic aprons, although the main colour of the apron is still based around a white lamb skin the triangular flap has been replaced with a curved flap and the colours of the ribbons and rosettes are for want of a better word “rainbow” rather than a singular or two coloured ribbon.
As with the “craft” degrees, the aprons of the appendant bodies also change slightly in design as the wearer progresses through the different “ranks” in each of these side degrees.