Liyakat Madalyasi

Medal of Merit, a.k.a. Liyakat Medal

Liyakat Medal was instituted in 1890 in two classes (gold and silver medal) by the 34th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire Abdul Hamid II (22.09.1842-10.02.1918) who reigned from 31.08.1876 to 27.04.1909. Initially it was awarded to men only, Ottoman subjects as well as foreigners for military and civil merits for the benefit of the Empire. In 1905 the statute of the Liyakat Medal was amended and since then women were allowed to receive the decoration for charitable work, service to mosques and schools as well as other noble deeds.

Liyakat Madalyasi was one of the lowest ranking decorations of the Ottoman Empire, preceded only by the “War Medal” during the Great War. A general list of precedence of Ottoman decorations is given below, from low to high. However, these rules were not strictly followed and numerous exceptions existed during times of war. 

- War Medal (a.k.a. Iron Half Moon, Gallipoli Star)
- Liyakat Medal, 2nd class or Sanayi Medal, 2nd class
- Imtiyaz Medal, 2nd class
- Liyakat Medal, 1st class
- Imtiyaz Medal, 1st class.

An obverse bore the Ottoman military coat of arms topped with a tughra, i.e. calligraphic monogram of Sultan Abdul Hamid II.

A reverse had an inscription “Medal of Merit Specially for Those Who Have Shown Loyalty and Bravery” and the year the medal was instituted, “1309” (1890) below.

Liyakat Madalyasi had a circular shape, 25 mm in diameter and was made of gold, silver and white metal. It was worn suspended from a silk red ribbon with two thin green stripes at its edges. Miniatures of the Liyakat Medal were manufactured as well. Women recipients wore Medal of Merit on a traditional bow.

After decease of the holder, Liyakat Medal was kept in the family. Moreover, heirs of recipient were even allowed to wear it upon official approval as a token of appreciation of the merits rendered to the Ottoman Empire.

Liyakat Madalyasi was one of the most widely awarded Ottoman decorations during the Great War, including German allies.

When presented for combat merits, a special combat clasp in a shape of two crossed sabers and a bar bearing the date “1333” (1915) made from the same material as the medal itself was awarded.

Liyakat Medal was manufactured not only in the Ottoman Empire, but in Germany and Austro-Hungary as well. Post-war production continued in the Austrian Republic. European-struck decorations were sometimes of a lesser diameter and lacked combat clasps.

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