As a young man I grew up eating spaghetti and meatballs, and pizza. As a young adult I watched Rocky, Rita Pavone’s Little Rita of the West and Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti western movies. I learned about Roman mythology in high school and university; and I even studied Roman military tactics for my Master’s in Military History. In essence, I readily admit my interest for everything Italian. So it should not come as a surprise to any reader of this blog when I praise the comic drawings of Masonic Brother Sergio Sarri from Italy.
I actually saw his drawings on the internet over the past several years, but became more interested in his comics when I stumbled upon his twitter site @. I became one of his followers, and within a few days he responded and became a follower of mine. We eventually corresponded through a few tweets, which led me to purchasing his three books, Piccolo Dizionario Massonico Illustrato: Prontuario Per Neofiti O Profani, loosely translated, Masonic Dictionary Illustrated. Checklist for Newbies or Uninitiated (2013); Abracadabra, Le Vignette Di Fratel Pisquano, loosely translated, Abracadabra: Masonic Cartoons of Sergio Sarri (2013); and Antologia Di Fumetti Di Fratel Pisquano, loosely translated, Comic Anthology of Brother Pisquano (2014).
Here is my disclosure statement: I paid full retail price for three signed copies of his books, plus shipping from Italy. In fact, this product review of his books was my idea, and I received no reciprocation for doing it. The only thing Sarri offered me was his time in answering my questions, which was greatly appreciated. I know his books can be purchased on various online books sites; however, if you are going to buy any of them, I highly recommend you contact Brother Sarri directly in order to get it or them signed. In my opinion, It makes no sense to pay for his comic drawings and not have a signed copy or copies for your personal library.
Upon receiving the books in the mail, I was pleased to see them well packaged, which protected them from damage. I have a growing Masonic library myself, thus I appreciate them even more because they were received in good condition. As such, adding Sarri’s works to my personal library gave me a great deal of pleasure.
At first I did the usual quick glance through the books to get a general feel for them. I was overwhelmed with the countless comical illustrations. Most of the drawings that had comments were self explanatory, and did not require me to use Google translator, a tool I often use when communicating with Brethren around the globe. Nevertheless, I was told that Brother Sarri is currently working on English language versions of his books, which will certainly help his sales in this part of the Masonic world. So you can wait for an English version of his comic book drawings or contact him directly and get his Spanish and Italian versions right now; the choice is yours to make.
In short, Brother Sarri’s comic drawings are reminiscent of 18th and early 19th century Masonic postcards, which can still be seen on the internet today. These old postcards poked fun at the Craft, similar to Sarri’s more contemporary works. It is actually a good thing to step back from our more serious side and laugh at ourselves from time to time; and who better to make fun of Masonry than a Brother of the Craft.
Brother Sarri is a member of “R.L.Zamboni- de Rolandis – Alma Mater Studiorum nr 651 Or. di Bologna – Grande Oriente d’Italia” since 1981, and has attained the 30th degree within the Italian Scottish Rite Order, AASR. Keep in mind, Masonry is a little different in each country, just like it is a little different in each of our own states and jurisdictions. Although, the basic tenants of the Craft remain the same, which are Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
In conclusion, if your looking for a unique addition to your Masonic library, I highly recommend Brother Sarri’s books, Piccolo Dizionario Massonico Illustrato: Prontuario Per Neofiti O Profani (2013); Abracadabra, Le Vignette Di Fratel Pisquano (2013); and Antologia Di Fumetti Di Fratel Pisquano (2014). If you have to select just one, my first recommendation is to purchase, Piccolo Dizionario Massonico Illustrato: Prontuario Per Neofiti O Profani (2013), which is perhaps his nicest looking and well produced piece. In any case, no matter which book you buy, his illustrations will most certainly bring a great many smiles to your face, and continuous laughter to your heart.
So Mote It Be!!!
PS: In the first 24 hours of this blog posting, a record amount of people from 18 different countries read about Brother Sergio Sarri. This is a new single day record for visitors and countries to this blog. From highest to lowest, these countries include, United States, Italy, Great Britain, Canada, Spain, Brazil, France, Portugal, Switzerland, Norway, Greece, Turkey, Mexico, Germany, Austria, Serbia, Ecuador and Poland; and even several visitors from the European Union, which I don’t think is a country yet (*Smile*)? Here are a few more Sarri drawings since the writing of this posting:
Recently I decided to allegorically breakdown the following illustration (drawing). It was drawn by L. Leslie Brooks, who illustrated the 1904 book, The Story of the Three Little Pigs. This is the only picture that I included in my upcoming book, Masonry and the Three Little Pigs (2016). The allegorical breakdown below will not be included in the book itself; it can only be found here on this blog.
Please remember, this is only an exercise for an advanced Mason. Not everyone will agree with my assessment, but that’s OK, it was done for my own benefit; and I am not alone in this belief, “Masonry is a personal journey that leads us through the journey of knowing ourselves…” In short, it was done to further confirm my theory that The Story of the Three Little Pigs was based on Masonic principles, and written by an unknown Mason to teach and remind informed Masons, through allegory, about the oaths they took upon becoming a Mason.
Furthermore, Albert Pike mentioned the topic of interpreting allegory in Morals and Dogma (1872) when he wrote,
“He who would become an accomplished Mason must not be content merely to hear, or even to understand, the lectures; he must, aided by them, and they having, as it were, marked out the way for him, study, interpret, and develop these symbols for himself” (p. 22-23).
He also wrote,
“EACH of us makes such applications to his own faith and creed, of the symbols and ceremonies of this Degree, as seems to him proper. With these special interpretations we have here nothing to do. Like the legend of the Master Khūrūm [Hiram], in which some see figured the condemnation and sufferings of Christ; others those of the unfortunate Grand Master of the Templars; others those of the first Charles, King of England; and others still the annual descent of the Sun at the winter Solstice to the regions of darkness, the basis of many an ancient legend; so the ceremonies of this Degree receive different explanations; each interpreting them for himself, and being offended at the interpretation of no other(p. 276).
Therefore, Masons are actually encouraged to interpret the signs, tokens and symbols within Masonry and our culture. This is how Masons have communicated throughout the ages. So don’t be “offended” by my interpretation if your disagree, but rather seek out your own understanding based on your Masonic knowledge and views.
Here are the results on my allegorical exercise.
1. First and foremost is the keystone, which is clearly visible under the fireplace mantel; a keystone is a Masonic symbol of the York Rite Order, as well as other Masonic Orders.
2. The next symbol is the fire under the pot; fire is a symbol for God and his judgment. In this case, the fire of God is burning/cooking the wolf, like a man’s soul will be judged by God, another Masonic belief.
3. The third pig sitting in a chair is a symbol of his authority, like a Worshipful Master has authority over his Lodge, or a Master’s chair is a symbol of a King’s throne.
4. The third pig has his foot (leg crossed over the leg) on top of what looks like a Rough Ashlar. This is perhaps representative of his efforts to smooth the stone into a Perfect Ashlar, a lesson every Mason is taught.
5. There are also two small shaped pyramids above the two memorial pictures of the first and second pigs. Interestingly, the Great Pyramid at Giza sits between the two smaller pyramids, and the sphinx is guarded by two pyramids, similar to the two pyramids that sit between, or guards, the apple tree above the mantel, which signifies their submission to the influence of the apple tree.
6. The apple tree above the mantel is emblematic of the first man, Adam, from the biblical story of Adam and Eve. Interestingly enough, contemporary English Masonry can date its formation to Apple-Tree Tavern in 1716 (Ancient English Masonry was formed in 926 AD), no coincidence here. The apple tree has a clear Masonic link.
7. Holding the pot in place are two chains; the chain is emblematic of the “golden chain let down into the well of truth” or “invisible chain that binds the ranks of mankind together” (Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, 1874, p. 31). Simply stated, the chain denotes the chain of union between Brothers. Therefore, we can postulate the two chains are holding the smoldering pot (fire), which contains the wolf who failed as a Mason.
8. Near the bottom of the fireplace, left side, is a sharp instrument, which is used in the degrees of Masonry, or “upon the point of a sharp instrument.” A sharp instrument is used to remind the Mason of his oath and the lessons from each degree. Therefore, its non-use and placement near the bottom indicates the wolf failed to uphold his Masonic oath.
9. Above the mantel are two photos of the first and second pigs, which are memorials of failed Brothers. Reflection is an attribute of an Enlightened Mason, a lesson taught early by way of the Reflection Chamber. Therefore, these two pictures denote the third pig spent a great deal of time reflecting upon his failed Brothers, and how he should act in the future.
10. Furthermore, at the bottom of the illustration is the skin/carpet of the defeated wolf; this too is a reflection memorial (Reflection Chamber) of the third pig’s battle against the wolf.
11. Near the bottom of the illustration is a stool with three legs, or pillars, which denotes Wisdom, Strength and Beauty; or “For there should be Wisdom to contrive, Strength to support and Beauty to adorn all great and important undertakings.” Therefore, we can surmise the stool is emblematic of the Masonic lessons of Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, which the third pig accomplished successfully.
12. On the other side of the illustration is a table with four legs, or four pillars; the four pillars represent the four cardinal virtues of Masonry, Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice,
“Temperance is that due restraint upon our affections and passions which renders the body tame and governable, and frees the mind from the allurements of vice… Fortitude is that noble and steady purpose of mind, whereby we are enabled to undergo any pain, peril, or danger, when prudentially deemed expedient… Prudence teaches us to regulate our lives and actions agreeably to the dictate of reason, and is that habit by which we wisely judge, and prudentially determine, on all things relative to our present, as well as our future happiness… Justice is that standard, or boundary of right, which enables us to render to every man his just due, without distinction.”
Therefore, the table with four legs, or pillars, is emblematic of the third pig’s adherence to these four virtues, which is further supported by the book on the table.
13. The book on the table is emblematic of Masonic knowledge. Masonry uses countless books to instill knowledge, from the Holy Bible, to The Book of Constitutions, to Morals and Dogma, as well as countless other books. Therefore, the book on the table represents the third pig’s attained Masonic knowledge.
14. At the bottom of the illustration is the defeated Wolf, which is displayed as a carpet, but it also looks like a Masonic Canvas with handles that is used in the Third Degree. This denotes a reminder of the wolf’s inability to fulfill his Masonic vows from the third degree.
15. On the lower left hand side of the illustration is a four pointed star, which is sometimes called a Natal Star. A four pointed star is emblematic of the sun, or the sun star (Shamash, the Mesopotamian solar god). As every Mason already knows, the sun sites in the east, and the “Worshipful Master rules and governs his lodge as truly as the sun and noon rule the day and night.” Therefore, this would lead this interpretation to the obvious conclusion that the third pig was a Worshipful Master at some point.
16. Within the sun star is a crown, which has traditionally been a symbol of authority and sovereignty. However, the crown is also a head covering, which is a symbol for victory, like one would see with the use of a wreath or a garland. Therefore, we can postulate the crown is emblematic of the third pig’s victory over the wolf.
17. Below the crown is what looks like an acacia plant, which denotes both innocence and immortality of the soul. Therefore, we can postulate that the third pig had proven his innocence, and continued in his quest to purify his soul in an effort to gain immortality, a Masonic principle.
18. In the center of the fireplace is a pot, or a potful; in Masonic allegory the pot is emblematic of the Pot of Manna from the Ark of the Covenant; and Manna is considered a symbol of life, not the transitory life here on earth, but the enduring one of a future world. Therefore, the fact that the wolf was being cooked within the pot represents his failure to attain a future life, or his failure as a Mason.
I know I have left out other topics and related allegorical points that could have been included; however, as this is only a simple blog posting, I thought it best to keep my overall views direct and on point. Nevertheless, I think I proved and qualified my point with the above format, despite its weaknesses. If nothing else, the allegorical analysis surely made the reader reflect upon the illustration, rather than to just simple gaze upon a picture or drawing like most people do.
I hope you enjoyed reading my allegorical breakdown of the 1904 illustration from The Story of the Three Little Pigs book. Maybe you learned something new, or better yet, perhaps you simply reinforced your previously learned knowledge and understanding.
So Mote It Be!!!