Degree banners were employed inside the lodge to indicate which degree was being performed and to remind the participants of its lessons. They were carried and placed by the banner bearers during the degree work. The Odd Fellows confer their initiatory degree and then the three subsequent degrees in the subordinate, or local, lodges. In 1827 the group created the Encampment, which conferred three additional degrees: the Patriarchal Degree, the Golden Rule Degree, and the Royal Purple Degree.
This group of banners represents five of the six symbols taught in the Encampment Degrees. The Patriarch’s tent on the pink banner symbolizes that hospitality is always offered to someone in distress. The pilgrim’s scrip, staff, and sandals on the blue banner signify that life is a journey. The altar of sacrifice on the red banner reminds members that selfish purposes and ungenerous impulses must be restrained. The tables of stone, cross, and crescent on the yellow banner represent moral law and toleration. The altar of incense on the purple banner suggests that we owe praise and thanksgiving to the Almighty. The sixth symbol for the degree is three pillars, indicating faith, hope, and charity.
Stacy C. Hollander, "Independent Order of Odd Fellows Encampment Banner," exhibition label for Mystery and Benevolence: Masonic and Odd Fellows Folk Art from the Kendra and Allan Daniel Collection. Stacy C. Hollander, curator. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2016.