Masonic Tracing Boards are training devices. In the earliest days of speculative Masonry, the Master used to sketch designs on the floor of the Lodge before the meeting using chalk. Then he would talk about the drawing during the meeting. (It may be that early in the history of the Masonic Order all meetings were “Masonic Education”) . . . However, this sort of preparation was a time-consuming, laborious and difficult task; and in time it appears that the hand drawn diagram was replaced by a floor cloth on which the “standard designs” were available ready to be talked about. Floor cloths (which are sometimes referred to as “the Master’s Carpet”) occupied significant space in the Lodge, however; and as the ritual became increasingly better developed and more important during the course of the 18th century the standardized drawings seem to have been transferred (at least in England) to the “Tracing Boards,” one Board for each Degree, which are pictures that encapsulate the symbols of each of the Degrees.
- W. Kirk MacNulty (Masonic Tracing Boards and the Western Metaphysical Tradition, 1996)
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