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Masonic Quilt
Mary Amanda Brown
USA: North Carolina, Alamance, near Snow Camp
overall: 68-1/2"h x 80"w
Museum Purchase

Masonic Quilt; blue and pumpkin colored pieced and appliqued quilt with Masonic symbols; nine blue sashed blocks composed of alternating blue seven-branch candlesticks "lit" with dark maroon flames, with square and compasses and blue five pointed stars with square and compasses; center square in pumpkin with letter "G" (reversed); Jacob's Ladder with corner squares and compasses. Pieced and appliqued by hand. The nine blocks are roughly 17 3/4" square. Hand-quilted with seven stitches to the inch. Single border. Straight-applied binding; medium cotton batting. The backing is a very coarsely woven cotton (or blend with linen?).

Mary Amanda Brown's quilt tells of her creativity. Its primary elements-the five-pointed stars with hearts and the candelabras with heart-shaped bases-appear to be her own design. They may have held personal relevance for her, but this meaning is now lost. Mrs. Brown also used some Masonic symbols, such as levels and compasses, the letter G, and a ladder (which in Masonic iconography represented Jacob's ladder or the theological ladder of faith, hope, and charity). Why she highlighted these elements is unclear since records do not indicate that her close male relations were Masons.