The most ‘Bling’ sounding historic decoration: The Order of the Brilliant Star of Zanzibar

When my reading features royalty and statesmen I occasionally encounter a name with abbreviations of some honours after it, most commonly in British history one finds OBE, MBE, VC and so forth. Occasionally I encounter some rather amusing and exotic ones with wonderful names and history behind them, this is definitely my favourite.

The Order of the Brilliant Star of Zanzibar was a decoration awarded by the Sultan of Zanzibar. It was in use from its foundation on 22 December 1875 by Sultan Barghash bin Said to the overthrow of the Sultanate by the native African population in the Zanzibar Revolution on 12 January 1964 which saw Sultan Jamshid bin Abdullah deposed and the end of the Sultanate in Zanzibar. The decoration had two grades, the first of which was usually awarded to foreign heads of state and the second which was further subdivided into five hierarchical classes. These classes were (in decreasing order of precedence): Grand Cross, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer and Member. The second grade was the most awarded and was used to reward those who had provided assistance to the Sultan, and I think it’s the one I like the sound of most.
Both classes awarded neck medals in medallion form to be worn around the neck on formal occasions and breast badges, smaller awards which could be worn on the left breast like conventional medals. The neck medal was made of silver gilt, enamel and gold with a five pointed star surrounded by a wreath. The centre of the medal featured a portrait of the awarding Sultan for the first grade medals and the Sultan's monogram in gold on a red background for the second grade.


The breast order was an eight pointed star in silver, again featuring the Sultan's portrait for the first grade and a monogram for the second. Never mind an OBE ill take a Grand Officer of the Order of the Brilliant Star of Zanzibar any day, imagine that on your Facebook profile, you wouldn’t be being pretentious just ‘Bling’ . . . . I suppose.

 Sultan Ibrahim II of Johor 
One of the few recipients of the first grade of the Brilliant Star