What is a Tracing Board?

Written by Bro. Robert Swanson, Lodge Education Officer

The Tracing Board

The genesis of the Tracing Board is at the heart of Freemasonry’s humble beginnings.  Before our structures and places of meeting became more permanent, lodges would meet in Taverns and other public places.

“so it was the practice to draw the lodge on the floor, that is, to mark it off on the floor with chalk or charcoal showing the various stations, representation of furniture , and symbols necessary to illustrate the lecture.”[i]

The symbolic drawings which once were drawn every meeting to “create” the lodge became works of art that evolved into the “Floor-Cloth” and then later became “Tracing Boards.”

What is a Tracing Board? According to Mackey a Tracing Board, otherwise known as Floor-Cloth[ii] is:

“A framework of board or canvas on which the emblems of any particular Degree are inscribed, for the assistance of the Master in giving a lecture. It is so called because formerly it was the custom to inscribe these designs on the floor of the Lodge-room in chalk, which were  wiped out when the Lodge was closed. It is the same as the Carpet or Tracing-Board” [iii] 

Brother Dimitar Gueorguiev Mavrov was commissioned in 2008 by the Brothers of AW-22 for the production of 3 Tracing boards, in accordance to traditions and customs of our Craft. In total the creation of these beautiful works of art by Brother Dimitar Mavrov took 9 months. However, in 2022 all three of the Tracing Boards were given improvements, and/or redesigns including additional “Masonic Symbols, Virtues and Knowledge.”[iv]

Entered Apprentice Tracing Board

“This tracing board is designed with the idea to ignite spiritual seekers in their quest for Knowledge and Light. The young apprentice will learn the symbols of the First Degree, building the foundation for further improvement. The Four Cardinal Virtues, the mysterious Ladder of Jacob, the lights and furniture of the Lodge, the Holy Saints John, and various tenets are shown.”[v] Designed on a Medium of “Oil on Canvas”[vi]



[i] Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia page 119

[ii] Mackey’s Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry Volume 2 Page 1045

[iii] Mackey’s Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry Volume 1 Page 359

[iv] Mavrov-Tracing-Boards

[v] IBID

[vi] IBID