The Order of Maria Anna instituted by the King Friedrich August on May 15, 1906 has become the second decoration of the Kingdom of Saxony reserved exclusively for award to females. The first one had been the Order of Sidonia (Sidonien-Orden) founded on December 31, 1870 and issued to women for voluntary charitable services. As its name indicates, the Order was established to commemorate late mother of the ruling monarch, Maria Anna Fernanda Leopoldina Micaela Rafaela Gabriela Carlota Antónia Júlia Vitória Praxedes Francisca de Assis Gonzaga (21.07.1843-05.02.1884).
The Order was bestowed upon married women or maidens who distinguished themselves in public service, at the Royal Court or at any institution of public charity. It was also awarded to those who contributed conspicuously to improvement of the general welfare. The right of its bestowal remained exclusively with the Kings of Saxony.
Initially two classes of the Maria Anna-Orden were instituted, as well as the Cross of Maria Anna (Maria Anna-Kreuz).
Maria Anna-Orden had the shape of an equilateral blue enameled cross with fancy curved endings of cross arms. Circular medallion framed with wide white enameled ring was superimposed on the centre of the cross. Medallion had two semi-circular ornaments placed above and below and separated with two dots at the sides. Obverse of medallion showed raised portrait of the Queen Maria Anna facing left (or right in heraldic perspective); its reverse had two capital letters “МА”. Order of the 1st Class had gilt royal crown attached above the upper arm of the cross.
Orders were manufactured of gilt silver with application of blue and white enamel. Order of the 2nd Class measured 40,1x36,8 mm and weighed 18,43 g.
Cross of Maria Anna with wide polished border and pebbled surface was made of pure silver. Central medallion was framed with raised border without any ornament, images on its obverse and reverse corresponded to those of the Maria Anna-Orden. Cross measuring 34,2x32,4 mm weighed 11,8 g and had no maker's mark.
Amendment to the Statute dated January 21, 1913 introduced 3rd Class of the Maria Anna-Orden that was placed between Order 2nd Class and Maria Anna-Kreuz and was intended to be awarded to female senior supervisors, midwives and teachers. Its shape and size were similar to those of the Maria Anna-Kreuz, with the exception of cross arms that were covered with blue enamel. It weighed either ca. 13 g without bow or 15,9 g with bow. Order of Maria Anna 3rd Class without maker’s mark was manufactured by the Dresden-based Court jeweler Georg Scharffenberg. Pieces hallmarked “G” on the end portion of the lower arm were produced by “Dresdner Medaillenmünze Glaser & Sohn”. The latter was founded on January 01, 1868 by Moritz Glaser and his son Richard and still operates today. Order of Maria Anna 3rd Class was presented in blue case measuring 75x55x9,3 mm and bearing golden foil-stamped abbreviation “M.A.O.3.” on its cover.
Like all other female decorations, Maria Anna-Orden was worn on the left breast suspended from a traditional bow made of light blue ribbon with two white stripes at edges. According to the order of precedence, it was worn after the Sidonien-Orden, but before the Carola-Medaille. Bow without Order was allowed to be worn as well. Second amendment to the Statute issued on October 30, 1915 stipulated that Order of Maria Anna 1st Class had to be worn on a wide sash over the shoulder.
Maria Anna-Orden was presented together with award certificate (Verleihungsurkunde) bearing signatures of the King and the Order Chancellor, as well as copy of the Statute.
Females bestowed with higher class of the Order had to return badges of lower class to the Order Chancellery. The latter also collected Orders upon demise of their holders.
The regulations regarding forfeiture of Saxon orders and decorations applied to Maria Anna-Order.
Orders and Crosses of Maria Anna were awarded until abolition of monarchy in Saxony. Totally 10 pieces of the Order 1st Class; 49 pieces of the 2nd Class and 78 pieces of the 3rd Class were presented. As for the Maria Anna-Kreuz, it was bestowed upon 205 females.