Purple is the appropriate color of those Degrees which, in the American Rite, have been interpolated between the Royal Arch and Ancient Craft Masonry, namely, the Mark, Past, and Most Excellent Masters.
It is in Freemasonry a symbol of fraternal union, because, being compounded of blue, the color of the Ancient Craft, and red, which is that of the Royal Arch, it is intended to signify the close connection and harmony which should ever exist between those two portions of the Masonic system. It may be observed that this allusion to the union and harmony between blue and red Masonry is singularly carried out in the Hebrew word which signifies purple.
This word, which is argamun, is derived from ragam or rehem, one of whose significations is "a friend." But Portal (Comparison of Egyptian Symbols with Those of the Hebrews) says that purple, in the profane language of colors, signifies constancy in spiritual combats, because blue denotes fidelity, and red, war.
In the religious services of the Jews we find purple employed on various occasions. It was one of the colors of the curtains of the Tabernacle, where, Josephus says, it was symbolic of the element of water, of the veils, and of the curtain over the great entrance; it was also used in the construction of the ephod and girdle of the Heigh Priest, and the cloths for Divine Service. Among the Gentile nations of antiquity purple was considered rather as a color of dignity than of veneration, and was deemed an emblem of exalted office Hence Homer mentions it as peculiarly appropriated to royalty, and Vergil speaks of purpura regum, or the purple of Kings. Pliny says it was the color of the vestments worn by the early kings of Rome; and it has ever since, even to the present time, been con ridered as the becoming insignia of regal or supreme authority.
In American Freemasonry, the purple color seerns to be confined to the intermediate Degrees between the Master and the Royal Arch, except that it is sometimes employed in the vestments of officers representing either kings or men of eminent authority --such, for instance, as the Scribe in a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons.
In the Grand Lodge of England, Grated Officers and Provincial Grand Officers wear purple collars anal aprons. As the symbolic color of the Past Master's Degree, to which all Grand Officers should have attained, it is also considered in the United States as the appropriate color for the collars of officers of a Grand Lodge.
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