John Larsen wrote:
Someone more versed on Masonry than I can respond, but it seems like the cut across the knee is a Masonic thing also.
While not as obvious as the other Masonic marks on the garment, the knee mark is probably related to Freemasonry. During the Masonic ritual, covering and uncovering of the knee is important.
In the Entered Apprentice degree the candidate is dressed to expose the left knee and caused to kneel at the alter of Masonry on his "naked left knee." The left knee is exposed during the Entered Apprentice degree because it is the lowest degree, and in Freemasonry the left side is always considered inferior.http://www.sacred-texts.com/mas/dun/img/03100.jpghttp://www.sacred-texts.com/mas/dun/img/03300.jpg
During the Fellow Craft degree the brother is caused to expose his right knee and when kneeling at the alter he kneels on his right knee.http://www.sacred-texts.com/mas/dun/img/05900.jpghttp://www.sacred-texts.com/mas/dun/img/06400.jpg
During the Master Mason degree both knees are uncovered and the brother takes his Masonic oath kneeling on both knees. Thus the knee and kneeling are important in Freemasonry.http://www.sacred-texts.com/mas/dun/img/08900.jpghttp://www.sacred-texts.com/mas/dun/img/09400.jpg
It was mentioned that there was actually an incision in the garment that could, from time to time, wound the initiate. This wounding is probably also related to Freemasonry. According Bernard's expose, Light on Masonry
, the following occurred when the candidate entered the lodge.
Bernard, Light on Masonry p. 18 wrote:
The candidate then enters, the Junior Deacon at the same time pressing his naked left breast with the point of a compass, and asks the candidate, 'Did you feel any thing?' Ans. 'I did;' Junior Deacon to candidate, 'what was it?' Ans. 'A torture.' The Junior Deacon then says, 'as this is a torture to your flesh, so may it be to your mind and conscience, if ever you should attempt to reveal the secrets of Masonry unlawfully.'
Similar events happen in the Fellow Craft and Master Mason degree according to Bernard. It is probable, at least in part, that these Masonic ritual elements acted as inspiration for this portion of the endowment ceremony. (NOTE
: The Masonic ceremony is not meant to cause a scar on the candidate. I suspect the same is true of the Mormon ceremony.)
p.s. Would it be possible for John Larsen to give us a reference for the picture provided. I ran across that same picture in Google Books three months ago and I forgot to jot down the reference.