Ba Beta Kristiyan Haile Selassie I
Abuna Foxe
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Copyright © 2003-2004 The Church of Haile Selassie I, Inc. ~ All rights reserved.
The Church of Haile Selassie I, Inc.
The Church of Haile Selassie I, Inc.
Ba Beta Kristiyan Haile Selassie I
                       The Order of the Star of Ethiopia

The Order of the Star of Ethiopia was founded by Emperor Menelik II in 1884-85,
in his capacity as Negus of Shoa, and before he became Emperor of Ethiopia (in
1889). It is one of the older awards in the Imperial pantheon. It was originally
awarded, according to Montandon, in five levels, plus une catégorie speciale.
However, at that time, it was listed as being in three classes, with two sub-grades.
The First Class was the Grand Cross; the Second Class grade of Grand Officer was
Second Class avec plaque; the Second Class grade of Commander, was without the
plaque; the Third Class grade of Officer was with rosette; the Third Class grade of
Chevalier (or Member, in the English parlance) was without the rosette. It would
seem that there was a conscious effort at the time to emulate the French structure as
indicated by the Legion d’Honneur.
Domenico Guadagnini, in his Storia degli Ordini Vigenti ed Estinti, noted that the five
gradesof the Order were named as: Negus (Knight Grand Cross, for sovereigns);
Ras (Knight Grand Officer, for princes); Dje Asmache (Knight Commander); Kague
Asmache (Knight Officer); and Gra Asmache(Knight) [Guadagnini’s spellings]. He
also noted that the insignia of a Knight Officer, worn on the breast, showed a five-
pointed star, joined across the bottom, similar to the emblem in the medal of the rank
of Member of the Order today, but without the circular medal surrounding it. The
insignia for Knight Officer was suspended from what he called “a characteristic
Ethiopian coronet” which was, in fact, a Europeanised coronet, with the riband
attached through a loop atop the coronet. The insignia of a Knight
Commander, suspended from a neck riband, showed an eight-pointed star in white
gold, again surmounted by the coronet and a loop for the riband.27 It seems likely
that the Order was originally given to Ethiopian recipients in the ranks suggested by
Guadagnini, although the protocol and the insignia have changed somewhat today.
The medal for the grade of Member of the Order of the Star (shown below) is far
more simple than before. The Knight Grand Cross version, shown below, which was
the one awarded to the Duke of Harar, is, although now Westernised, far more
elaborate, of a pattern similar to the original design. The Grand Cross level uses the
much more complex star as its motif.

Star of Ethiopia: rank of Commander. (right)









The Order of the Star, sometimes referred to as the Order of the Star of Honour of
Ethiopia, has been awarded sparingly, but to notable Imperial and military figures,
such as HH Prince Ras Kassa Hailu, a lifelong friend of Emperor Haile Selassie and
a key figure in the Imperial Ethiopian Army, who was presented the Order in its
highest form of Knight Grand Cross and Collar; and HH Prince Ras Asserate
Kassa, who served as a Colonel in the Imperial Army, as governor-general of
various regions, and as Vice-President and President of the Senate (awarded the
Order of Knight Grand Cross of the Star of Honour)









The Cordon (Sash) and Star of the Order of the Star of Honour of Ethiopia. This
example (right) was presented to HIH the First Duke of Harar.











Recipients of the Grand Cross of the Order included Ambassador Phaidon Anninos-
Kavallieratos, the Greek Chief of Protocol, and Amb. Panayotis Rellas, Greek
Ambassador to Addis Ababa, during the visit by Emperor Haile Selassie to Greece
in 1959.29 Earlier, in 1955, four Greek officials, three of them from the Army, were
made Officer, Commander and Knights, respectively of the Order.

In recent years, since the revolution, the Order of the Star has continued to be
awarded, including the Award to Maj.-Gen. Stanhope S. Spears, for example, of
the United States, for his efforts to aid the cause of the Crown.
The Order still comprises five grades: Knight Grand Cross, Grand Officer,
Commander,Officer and Member. It is no longer awarded with Collar. In its earlier
incarnations, under Emperors Menelik and Haile Selassie, some Grand Crosses
were jewel embellished when given to foreign dignitaries.

Arthus-Bertrand, in Paris, currently makes the Order.

The design of the Order is in the Ethiopian traditional filigree pattern, based on the
shield. The Order has never been enamelled, and some original pieces were solid
gold. The Order was originally made in Ethiopia by B. A. Sevadjian of Addis
Ababa. During the Emperor’s exile in England, the Order was made by Mappin &
Webb (1936-41) in London. The riband of the Order is in equal thirds of the
tricolour: (from right) red, yellow and green. The original riband, when the order was
created, was in equal vertical stripes of blue, yellow, green and red, but were
replaced, probably before the turn of the century, by the national tricolour.

Sir Wilfred Thesiger received the Order with the rank of Commander from Emperor
Haile Selassie in 1930, when he attended the coronation.
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