The Qajar Dynasty


The Grand Order of the Sun

Fath Ali Shah founded the Order of the Sun in 1807 and intended it as a decoration of honour for foreigners only. The order had three classes, the first class equivalent to the Grand Cordon of a French order of merit. The second class, equivalent to that of Commander. The third class, equivalent to Knight. The colour of the ribbon, its method of wear and certain features of the badge resembled the recently founded Legion d'honneur.

Because of its relatively short life and the lack of surviving statutes or firmans, several authorities have confused this order with the Order of the Lion and Sun. It is quite clear from the surviving insignia, as pictured in the article by Commissary-General Stiot, in the Revue Belge d'Histoire Militaire XVI-7/8, Bruxelles (1966), that it was clearly a separate order. The order gradually fell into disuse. However, there are one or two reports in the memoirs of officers who served under Crown Prince Abbas Mirza, which mention awards during the 1820s.

First class, or Grand Cordon:

The insignia consisted of a breast star and a badge worn suspended from a broad sash. The sash was made of red Persian silk, interwoven with pearls of different size, and worn over the right shoulder and across the breast, the badge resting on the left hip.

The gold star is eight pointed with plain loop rays grouped in threes, the centre rays of each group being of the same length. In the centre a disk, fully enamelled in natural colours. Thereon, a miniature of a sun in splendour, with a human (male) face in natural colours, rising above the horizon of a desert landscape, with a sunburst of straight and dotted rays emanating outward from the circumference of the sun. The disk surrounded by a circlet in a rope-like design, in plain gold.

The badge is a round gold disk, identical to the star, but smaller and surrounded by three small circlets of plain gold. The first circlet is in a rope like design, the second plain and the last also a rope like design. The disk rests on a fully enamelled star of eight narrow points, in the form of the petals of a flower, with six gold circles of decreasing size down the centre of each petal. The ends of the petals capped by gold ball finials. The petals themselves rest on an elaborate wreath of laurel, enamelled in green and facing clockwise. The uppermost petal attached to a simple, un-enamelled gold crownin relief, with three full and two half points ending in gold ball finials. The crown is without arches and the central point attaches to a simple circular suspension ring.

Known early recipients (Sahib-i-Nishan-i-Kurshid) of the first class, included:

Lieutenant-General H.E. Claude-Mathieu, Count de Gardane - December 1807.
H.I.M. Napoleon I, Emperor of the French - 1808.
H.S.H. Charles-Maurice (de Telleyrand-Perigord), Duc de Telleyrand, Duc de Dino, Prince de Benevento and Grandee of the first class of Spain - 4th September 1808.
H.E. Hughes-Bernard (Maret), Duc de Bassano - 4th September 1808.

Second and Third classes:

Although a number of foreigners received the second and third classes of the order, descriptions of the insignia cannot be given due to the absence of any surviving examples.
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Copyright(c)Christopher Buyers, August 2002