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The Lodge 32 "Tracing Cloth"

This is our "tracing-cloth". All lodges have tracing cloths or tracing boards, which are a "modern" evolution of the process whereby ancient stonemasons would have traced out the shape or design of the stonework they were engaged upon. They would have drawn the pattern on the ground, often with chalk, made their measurements and "seen" what it was they were going to carve. When "speculative" Masonry evolved in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the "tracing board" evolved into a sort of teaching aid, used in lodges to illustrate to new Masons the moral lessons taught by Masonry and in particular the themes and stories used in our ceremonies.

Our tracing cloth is extremely old, and painted on fragile canvas, so it is carefully conserved (though on public display) at the Museum of Freemasonry in London. We use a reproduction of it in our ceremonies in Liverpool. Most tracing boards come in sets of three: one for each of our principal ceremonies. Our single cloth combines images from the whole ritual, which are alluded to during the course of each "degree". Among the more familiar images are those of ascending the ladder or steps of life and work, the all-seeing eye of our creator, and a reminder of our inevitable destiny, which are issues Masonic ritual invites candidates to contemplate during their ceremonies.

32 tracing cloth

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