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2006-08-03

Evolution of the Temple Apron

WARNING - There are photos of LDS Temple Aprons further down in this post (not being worn) for historic and educational purposes, so if you are offended by that sort of thing (which you shouldn't be, because they are frequently displayed in the open to non-members during funeral services), please skip this post:

For Context, a Masonic Apron (Officer's Apron) from around 1800, and...

An Apron from around 1840. Joseph most likely would have been familiar with this style of Masonic Officer's Apron. Brethren are issued a plain Lambskin apron during their initiation, however, they are harder to find and date because they are often buried with the Mason, or destroyed after his death.

Here is a modern Masonic Lambskin Apron from 2003:

The size of the Masonic Aprons have been kept relatively uniform since early on, as the United Grand Lodge of England set a measurement standard for them.

Here is a vintage LDS Temple Apron from around 1930, placed over the top of the Masonic Apron in order to compare the size:

As you can see, the width has remained nearly identical. The height of the Temple Apron is slightly longer, most probably to accomodate a complete set of leaves. One will instantly notice that the color of this Apron is very different from that used presently in the Temple, but I assure you, the fabric is not faded (I checked under the wrinkled hems). It was indeed olive-green, almost gray, colored fabric, with green thread. Perhaps our American culture could not accept this olive color, and the thirst for greenery closer to our own heart caused us to ultimately select more beautiful (to us) fabric. The two colors compared side by side:

The 1930's apron compared to a modern LDS fig-leaf apron. I should note here that there are currently two styles, one with the leaf-edges cut, the other with the apron perfectly squared. However, the cut version is now different than the older pattern (the bottom corners are more "curved" rather than sticking down) The new Apron has deviated from the standard width, and is about an inch or more wider than the older variety. This particular straight-edge apron is also flawed as the fig-leaf pattern is not centered on the fabric, but off at least a half inch to one side:

The tie-strings have also been replaced with an elastic band and a hook, a change that has also occured in parallel in the development of modern Masonic officer's aprons.

The Apron, has several Biblical precedents:
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
-Genesis 3:7

Also:
¶ And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work.
-Exodus 28:6

One understanding of the Ephod is that it was similar to a "cobbler's apron," and it was worn as part of the ceremonial clothing of the High Priest as he worked in Moses' Tabernacle.

Acknowledging the Biblical similarities in our modern Temple ceremony can help us realize the thread of truth that has existed throughout all history. Think twice when you ever hear anyone suggest that the LDS Temple has nothing to do with the Old Testament Temple, because that idea is wrong: It has everything to do with it. Look forward to more posts to help build testimonies through the customs of the Temple, instead of in spite of it.

2 comments:

RyanMercer said...

Wow, you must have spent a pretty penny or two buying those older aprons.

Jeff said...

Ryan,

The two older aprons are not owned by me, but I merely grabbed the pictures to demonstrate the style. :) However, our local Lodge here does have a few old aprons of its own, which I could have photographed as well.