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Megan

Ethiopia: The Imperial Order of the Ethiopian Lion

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Instituted: March 1996.

Grades: 5 (Knight Grand Cordon, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer, Member).

Commander:

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Officer:

Edited by Megan

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Is this an official state award or a pretender-in-exile award? With contemporary Ethiopia, you need to be careful.

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'Pretender' as you like to put it, established by the Emperor in exile & awarded for distinguished & meritorious service to the Crown Council.

Here's the Member badge:

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'Pretender' as you like to put it, established by the Emperor in exile & awarded for distinguished & meritorious service to the Crown Council.

Fair enough. But I think it is important to distinguish between what is real and what is fanciful.

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There is, however, a difference between genuine Royal houses in exile and the really fanciful made-up nations and orders, though.

The term 'Pretender' has a technical meaning which you as an historian will understand, but which can sound derogatory to those who are not familiar with it. There's a very narrow line of legitimacy between House Orders handed around by Royals who still happen to reign in their country (like the plethora of Malaysian Federation ones) and those maintained by Royals who have been kicked out of their country by republicans.

I guess it just means even more different sections on my website!!!!

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It is hard to know exactly how to deal with these. As what we study extends from the highest awards for gallantry to school good attendance medals, we need to make room for all. But, in the interest of historical accuracy, we need to make it clear what is a State-awarded decoration and what is private (or worse) doo-dad. To ignore these pretender awards would miss an important historical and sociological aspect of what we study, but to include them in reverential ahistorical equality without comment (as the Sainty and Heydel-Mankoo volume comes dangerously close to doing) is to engage in (or indulge?) unhealthy fantasy.

The simple historical fact that many previously-imperial or -royal dynasties have been chucked into the historical dustbin during the 20th (and 21st?) century has left a large number of unemployed 'royal' descendants or variable legitimacy who now need some way to support their lavish lifestyles. It is a fact of great historical and phaleristic interest that these pretenders (for such they are) have discovered that they can concoct new orders or retain defunct orders that are now available against payment -- oops, for 'charitable contributions.' I think we need to (must!) study these things, but we also need to be very clear about what they are and about the fantasy existence of the 'dynasty' that awards them. While the term 'pretender' may sound pejorative (and, to be honest, I am not sure that bothers me), it is historically and legally accurate. Charles II was, in fact, a pretender from 1649 to 1661 as the line had been, literally, cut off.

And how different are they, say, from fantasy awards of fantasy countries? Isn't the Empire of Ethiopia today really as much a fantasy entity as the Grand Duchy of Avram?

Edited by Ed_Haynes

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Interesting point of view. But there is no comparison between a fantasy like the Grand Duchy of Avram and the legimate descendants of a former ruling house. Avram was made up. The Empire of Ethiopia had a genuine historical existance - and would still be there, like many other former states, if it wasn't for a bunch of opportunists siezing power and kicking the former rulers out.

After all, she says tongue in cheek, you live in such a nation - a bunch of opportunists decided that being ruled by us lot across the pond wasn't really on. Fortunately our Royals didn't end up homeless as a result.

So I regard former Royal Houses as being kind of semi-legitimate. They aren't nation-states any more, but as many Royal Houses, ruling or deposed, have their own 'household' orders which they pass around amongst themselves, those are still legitimate in a sense because of historical precedent... which would not be the case if I decide to make up an Order of Medal Collectors and award it to you lot (which is pretty much what the guy who invented Avram has done). No legitimacy whatsoever there, it's just a made-up fantasy.

Just how to reflect it in a logical manner, though, is an interesting question. Probably a separate entry under the overall 'Ethiopia' section for 'Royal House in Exile' along with the various stages in the country's history (Empire, Italian Rule, People's Democratic Republic, a short-lived state & the current Federal Democratic Republic, if memory serves...). Those orders which are continuations of ones awarded during the Empire period can link back to them - just as orders in, say, present-day Estonia all hark back to ones during the period 1918 - World War 2, when it was an independent state before it got gobbled up by the USSR.

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After all, she says tongue in cheek, you live in such a nation - a bunch of opportunists decided that being ruled by us lot across the pond wasn't really on. Fortunately our Royals didn't end up homeless as a result.

Actually, :off topic: , I think the French or Russians had the right approach to their 'royals'. :P

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The main advantage of a monarchy is that you don't have a politician as your head of state!

But we've strayed a bit far from 'gongs'...

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But we've strayed a bit far from 'gongs'...

Right-oh.

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Actually, :off topic: , I think the French or Russians had the right approach to their 'royals'. :P

Hmmm-you think? Now why is that exactly?

Actually, may I point your eyes towards a JOMSA article written by one Rick Lundstrom many years ago regarding these awards. He seemed to feel, as I do, that they are legit-perhaps even more so than those handed out by the Stalinist thugs who replaced the monarchies. After all, there is a reason Mengistu today lives in "exile" (in Zimbabwe).

Today the Crown Council has abandoned their efforts to return to the imperium and instead work for cultural, charitable and historical causes-and they are the only Ethiopian group actually doing anything noteworthy in those fields. i have been urging them to engrave the backs of the awards.

Edited by Ulsterman

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It's Medal of Order f Ethipian Lion ?

Nice, though more likely something real. Do you have a wider shot (with ribbon)? Reliable resources on legitimate, pre-revolutionary, Ethiopian ODM are very sparse.

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One book is Greg Copley's "Ethiopia Lifts her Hands To God". Available directly from him in Washington D.C.. It's a bit long winded though on "geopolitical symbols..blah,blah...".

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Nice, though more likely something real. Do you have a wider shot (with ribbon)? Reliable resources on legitimate, pre-revolutionary, Ethiopian ODM are very sparse.

This medal without original ribon .

But my another medals with original ribbons

PATRIOTIC MEDAL

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I think you have the Menelaik coronation medal (without ribbon). The rest are a good -indeed great selection of British made WW2 medals-the last one is sweet indeed.

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This post is ages late and the thread has morphed since the original post by Megan, but some new information on this that may be relevant.

Lij Iyasu, who succeeded Menelik II and was deposed in 1916, instituted several decorations during his brief reign 1913-1916. Unfortunately, very little is know about them.

The only one that I have been able to find any information on is the Order of the Lion of Judah. Instituted ca 1914, lapsed 1916. It had either 4 or 5 classes. The badge was very similar to the Order of the Seal of Solomon, based on the Star of David, but with the Ethiopian "Lion of Judah" carrying its cross in it's paw.

The only extant example of the GC is the one presented to Friedrich-Wilhelm von Syburg, German Minister at the Court of Iyasu V 1914-1918, now in the collection of Jürgen Otto, who purchased it from the estate of Syburg's childless son. The insignia are depicted on page 72 of  Wolbert G.C. Smidt, “Photos as Historical Witnesses: The First Ethiopians in Germany and the First Germans in Ethiopia, the History of a Complex Relationship (Afrika Visuell Book 2)”. LIT Verlag (Mul edition), 2015. ISBN-13: 978-3643101952; ISBN-10: 3643101953.

The breast star is often seen in old photographs of senior noblemen and officials who survived the Iyasu era into the early years of the reign of Haile Selassie I, but usually misidentified as the Order of Solomon. However, the tell tale signs are that the Judah star's points are a little elongated and usually worn in a relatively junior position. See the portrait of  H.E. Bitwodad Makonnen Demissie attached.

 The riband appears to have been worn over the left shoulder, with the badge resting on the right hip. The colour must have been red or crimson (the extant sash is now faded to a sort of soft pink). I also seem to vaguely remember a blue stripe, but cannot now recall if it went down the centre or towards each edge.

To my horror I had a good image of this same insignia for several years, then foolishly deleted it sometime later believing the decoration to be a fantasy. The best I can now find is a lower class (4th or 5th) - attached below. 

I am afraid that the "Crown Council" came up with the new creation (depicted above by Megen) for the US and Iberian gong-hunting market, completely misunderstanding the history of the Order of the Lion of Judah. Most likely the title of "Ethiopian Lion" comes from a misreading of a German reference. Their website speaks of the order being derived from the Order of Emperor Menelik II and a good deal of other eye wash. 

 

Order of the Lion 4.jpg

H.E. Bitwodad Makonnen Demissie.jpg

Edited by James Hoard

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So, exactly one verified example in captivity?  Wow.  I suspect that " Photos as Historical Witnesses: The First Ethiopians in Germany and the First Germans in Ethiopia, the History of a Complex Relationship " is hardly a household item either.  Thank you for sharing that, James.  Ethiopia is on my bucket list, with a num,ber of other African nations I've never seen.

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On 12/2/2016 at 00:16, peter monahan said:

So, exactly one verified example in captivity?  Wow.  I suspect that " Photos as Historical Witnesses: The First Ethiopians in Germany and the First Germans in Ethiopia, the History of a Complex Relationship " is hardly a household item either.  Thank you for sharing that, James.  Ethiopia is on my bucket list, with a num,ber of other African nations I've never seen.

Yes Peter, I am afraid the publication is an academic one. However, for the really interested I thought I would give the full reference in case they had a mind to chase it up.

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17 hours ago, James Hoard said:

Yes Peter, I am afraid the publication is an academic one. However, for the really interested I thought I would give the full reference in case they had a mind to chase it up.

I guessed that but couldn't resist.  I am/was a librarian and one not infrequently comes across truly bizarre titles, most often on books which began life as Phd theses. ;) 

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As a follow up-this Order seems to not be widely awarded by the Royal House in Exile- but where it is, it has some prestiege- examples are to a number of prominent Ethiopian business people in the USA, General Westmorland, and including one to a pilot who got the Red Star in the Somalian war under the Derg! I doubt there were more than 300 of these made. 

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