Order of Merit, c. 1888

Established by King Marie I of the Sedang


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The Order of Merit was one of three orders established by French adventurer David de Mayréna barely two months after he was crowned King of the Sédang and assumed the regnal name Marie Ier. Founded on 05 August 1888 at Kon-Jeri, the kingdom’s capital, the order comprised five classes. Its purpose was “to reward literature, arts, sciences, industry and dedication to the royal household,” according to its charter. 

The Chevalier’s Cross features an uncrowned red enamelled ball-tipped Maltese cross with a gilded border. At its center is a circular blue enamelled disk encircled by a white enamelled border, with gilded inscriptions. On the obverse, the blue disk presents an M surmounted by the royal crown of Sedang, and on the reverse, the inscription MERITE SEDANG. The encircling white band is inscribed MARIE IER ROI DE SEDANG on the obverse, and GUNG DEH SEDANG 1888 on the reverse. The rose-colored ribbon has a vertical white band along each side, with a final rose layer on the edges.

The Kingdom of the Sedang was a short-lived, unrecognized state in Indochina. It was established in 1888 when de Mayréna was elected King by the Bahnar, Rengao and Sedang tribal chiefs who were resisting foreign encroachment. Mayréna labored for Sedang’s independence, creating a constitution, flag and chivalric orders to reward supporters. Caught between France and Thailand, Mayréna embarked on a failed international tour to gain support for Sedang. Incensed, the French banned him from returning. To prevent a proposed German protectorate, France conquered Sedang and pursued Mayréna, who fled to Malaya, where he died in 1890 on Tioman Island—thus ending the kingdom’s official story. Eventually, Sedang was added to French Indochina, in today’s Vietnam.

Medium & Techniques

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Enamelled and gilded metal; ribbon


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38 mm

People involved

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  • Acquired from Jeffrey Floyd of Floyd’s Medals (Alexandria, VA)