Established in 1889, the Sanayi Medal was a merit medal for arts and sciences, but it appears to have been awarded in a much broader context than that description implies. The name of this medal was originally "Iftihar Madalyasi", which is the same name used earlier for the General Service Medal, but it was later changed to "Sanay-i Nefise Madalyasi" which translates roughly as "Medal of Beautiful Arts." It was generally referred to simply as the Sanayi Medal.
Used primarily as a civilian medal for general merit, it was sometimes awarded to military personnel as well. In some cases, the Sanayi medal being is known to have been awarded as a substitute for the Liyakat medal. Most of the recipients were artists and artisans such as personnel of the Yildiz porcelain factory, or performers at the private theater of Sultan Abdulhamid II at the palace. The medal came in two classes, gold and silver. The obverse contains an Ottoman trophy of arms, and the reverse bears a laurel wreath with a space in the center for recipients to have their names engraved. The ribbon is half red, half white.