A Croatian Order of Merit; Moslem Version; Lady's 1st Class
A Croatian Order of Merit; Moslem Version; Lady's 1st Class; "Moslem version" in shape of lily, as issued to Moslem recipient (of Bosnia Herzegovina); star measures 75mm x 75mm, center appliqué measures 24.5mm(w) x 27.5mm(h), marked on the pin BK (for Braća Knaus, Zagreb), along with a "lobster" hallmark; in extremely fine condition and extremely rare. Footnote: Man's version of the same award has center appliqué considerably larger. The Croatian Order of Merit, instituted in 1942, have some unique features amongst WWII period awards, most notably, there are two versions: for Christian and Moslem recipients; as well, awards issued to men and women differ in some classes (in appearance/size and method of wear). Background of this extremely rare award is very intriguing; as Bosnia and Herzegovina was incorporated into Independent State of Croatia in 1941, with a sizable Moslem population, Moslem traditions, military contingent and influence, it must have become apparent to a Croatian leadership that awarding insignia featuring a cross to Moslems is not an option. Therefore, a decision must have been made by a Croatian leadership to design and produce a distinctively Moslem version of the Order of Merit. No Statutes (or amendments of the Statutes) outline this decision, however, the Circulars of "the Miniatures of the Croatian National Awards" from October 10, 1943, do describe and illustrate two distinct version of the Order of Merit, for Christians "in form of the cross of Prince Višeslav", and for the Moslems "in the form of the Bosnian lily". The only known manufacturer of this award (both versions) was Zagreb's foundry Braća Knaus. While Christian version is not common, the Moslem version of the Merit Order is extremely rare in all classes.