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The Material Culture of Freemasonry

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Chapter Summary

Freemasons describe their fraternity as being concerned with moral and spiritual values, but it quickly becomes apparent that there is a dimension to this in the material world. Freemasonry requires material culture to function at its full potential as an organisation whose ceremonies are "veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. The creation of material culture is of importance in evidencing unwritten norms of behaviour and in transmitting these across time. The lodge (or chapter, preceptory, etc.) is the basic unit of Freemasonry; within its ritual space the full regalia, 'props' and symbolism of Freemasonry are exhibited. The external relations of masonic bodies vary in different parts of the world. In the UK the white table and the ladies' nights and masonic balls from which it derived were all occasions to show regalia until this was suppressed by Grand Lodge at the end of the nineteenth century.

Keywords: Freemasonry; Grand Lodge; material culture; spiritual values

10.1163/9789004273122_032
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