Masonic symbols in plaster moldings and sculpture
The Brotherhood of Free Masons (Masons) is perhaps one of the most famous, ancient and mysterious secret societies in world history. Scientists still have not come to a consensus on the origin of Freemasonry. Most of them are inclined to the version connecting this fraternity with the ancient order of the Templars. Symbols of this secret society can be found in the works of famous masters of gypsum stucco molding and sculpture around the world, including Russia.
The influence of Freemasonry on plaster and sculptural art
A characteristic feature of Freemasonry is an allegorical expression of the principles of a secret brotherhood through symbols in art. Masons considered enlightenment and development of the spiritual values of humanity as their goal. Given this, it becomes obvious why the smartest people in different centuries were members of the secret Masonic lodge.
Despite the fact that there is little reliable information about Freemasonry, their symbols can be found in the masterpieces of world painting and sculpture. When studying the plaster moldings of many famous masters, we come across ancient Masonic signs. Such mysterious symbols adorn the facades and interiors of royal palaces, tombs and even temples. Russia was no exception in this regard. It is enough just to look at the facades of historical buildings in Moscow and St. Petersburg to understand how much influence Freemasonry had on the development of sculptural and architectural art in our country.
Among the most famous Freemasons such great names as Napoleon, Voltaire, Goethe, Conan Doyle, Washington, Bryullov, Kutuzov. Many famous sculptors were also associated with Freemasonry. Among them are Antonio Canova, Jean Antoine Goodon, Frederic Auguste Bartholdy, Gutson Borglum. In their works, Masonic symbols are carefully encrypted from the uninitiated.
Masonic symbols were used in past centuries not so much because of Masonic secrets (as many believe), but because most of the world’s population was illiterate. In the Middle Ages, classical knowledge was lost. This happened due to numerous wars, bloodshed and riots, during which the opposing forces burned most of the old manuscript scrolls, papyri and books.
In the Middle Ages, only a limited small circle of people had the education to read the written text. Masons themselves associate these times with the destruction of the temple of King Solomon. Illiteracy did not make the first Masons stupid. They were noble, working masons, caring for their families. Acting masons created their signs, just as artists and other masters “signed” their works for centuries. It was then that a large system of signs and symbols developed that the fraternity continues to use to this day.
Masonic Symbol Meanings
Most often in gypsum stucco and sculpture you can find such signs of Masons:
The compass and the square. This is a well-known symbol of Freemasonry. Architect’s tools symbolize the rapprochement of matter and spirit, the unification of earthly and spiritual values. The compass represents the kingdom of spiritual eternity, associated with heaven. This tool is used to represent a circle as a symbol of infinity. The square is a symbol of the earth and the kingdom of matter. The square, which is represented with the help of this tool, means justice, balance, stability. Between the compass and the square, the letter “G” is often depicted, which simultaneously means the word “geometry” and the English word “God” – translated by God. Faith in God is considered the main requirement for entry into the Masonic fraternity. At the same time, the main deity of the Masons is called the Great Architect of the Universe.
Temple of Solomon. Another important symbolic sign in Freemasonry. It is a temple of enlightenment, knowledge and perfection. The Temple of Solomon is considered the connecting link between the earthly and the divine. Moreover, in Freemasonry it is believed that there is a difference between the material and the spiritual temple, which must be built in our heart and becomes the dwelling place of God.
The all-seeing eye or the radiant delta. It is a powerful symbol that has been used for hundreds of years, if not longer. Some scholars associate the history of this sign with Ancient Egypt and the Eye of Horus. The symbol is also recognized in the Christian tradition, and therefore is often found on stained glass windows of churches. The all-seeing eye is a reminder that the thoughts and actions of mankind are always under the supervision of God. It is also a symbol of awareness and attention of the members of the fraternity to each other. The Masonic Eye of Providence is often enclosed in a triangle. Among proponents of conspiracy theory, the Eye of Providence is often associated with a secret world government, the Illuminati, the Vatican.
Masonic zapon (apron). This is the most iconic symbolic emblem of Freemasonry. They say that he is more noble than the Roman eagle or the golden fleece. There is no reliable data on the ritual of joining the fraternity.