Second, only to the Masonic apron, the Scottish Rite cap is undoubtedly one of Freemasonry's most distinctive items of regalia. But, while we as speculative Masons inherit the Masonic apron from the operative craft of the medieval stonemasons, the Scottish Rite cap comes down to us from the medieval chivalric tradition. When Master Mason receives the Thirty-Second Degree and dons the black satin headgear of the Scottish Rite, the Masonic craftsman is elevated to an order of Masonic knighthood.
The Scottish Rite cap is a vestige of the dress regalia more commonly associated with orders of European knighthood. Aside from their distinctive caps, the full-dress regalia of the various orders include other accouterments such as sashes or cordons, swords, and sword belts, cloaks or capes, and jewels, badges and other decorations denoting their rank or office within their respective orders.
Today, most Masonic historians look to the mid-1700s for the introduction of the chivalric tradition in Freemasonry. Masonic rituals published before that are concerned purely with the legends and implements of the operative Mason. But, beginning in the mid-1740s, additional Degrees appeared that conferred orders of knighthood upon enthusiastic Brethren eager to add to and to embroider, if you will, their Masonic experience.