For other uses, see Sash (disambiguation).
A painting of Captain Kidd with a red sash around his waist.

A sash is a large and usually colorful ribbon or band of material worn around the body, draping from one shoulder to the opposing hip, or else running around the waist. The sash around the waist may be worn in daily attire, but the sash from shoulder to hip is worn on ceremonial occasions only. Ceremonial sashes are also found in a V-shaped format, draping from both shoulders to the stomach like a large necklace.

Aristocratic and republican use

Prince Louis, Duke of Nemours wearing a red sash (Legion of Honour) as part of a ceremonial military uniform. Date 1840s.

In Latin America and some countries of Africa, a special presidential sash indicates a president's authority. In France and Italy, sashes, featuring the national flag tricolours and worn on the right shoulder, are used by public authorities and local officials, such as legislators, in public ceremonial events.

Sashes traditionally form part of formal military attire (compare the sword-belt known as a baldric, and the cummerbund). Most of the European Royal families wear sashes as a part of their royal (and/or military) regalia. Some orders such as the Légion d'honneur include sashes as part of the seniormost grades' insignia. Likewise Italian military officers wear light blue sashes over the right shoulder on ceremonial occasions.

Military use

The sashes of the French Foreign Legion are blue.

Sashes are a distinctive feature of some regiments of the modern French Army for parade dress. They are worn around the waist in either dark blue or red by corps such as the Foreign Legion, the Spahis, the Chasseurs d' Afrique and the Tirailleurs which were originally raised in North Africa during the period of French colonial rule. In its traditional Franco-Algerian or zouave form the sash ("ceinture de laine") was four metres in length and forty centimetres in width. In the historic French Army of Africa, sashes were worn around the waist in either blue for European or red for indigenous troops.[1]

Elaborately emboroidered sash from 1635-1642.

At the time of the American Civil War (1861–65) silk sashes in crimson were authorized for officers and red woolen sashes for non-commissioned officers of the regular US Army (Army Regulations of 1861). U.S. Generals continued to wear buff silk sashes in full dress until 1917. In the Confederate Army of the Civil War period sash colour indicated the corps or status of the wearer. For example: gold for cavalry, burgundy for infantry, black for chaplains, red for sergeants, green or blue for medics, and grey or cream for general officers. With the exception of the West Point Band Drum Major, today the West Point cadet officer is the only person in the US Army who wears a sword and sash, the sole guardian of the tradition.[2][3]

The modern British Army retains a scarlet sash for wear in certain orders of dress by sergeants and above serving in infantry regiments, over the right shoulder to the left hip. A similar crimson silk net sash is worn around the waist by officers of the Foot Guards in scarlet full dress and officers of line infantry in dark blue "Number 1" dress. The same practice is followed in some Commonwealth armies.

The present day armies of India and Pakistan both make extensive use of waist-sashes for ceremonial wear. The colours vary widely according to regiment or branch and match those of the turbans where worn. Typically two or more colours are incorporated in the sash, in vertical stripes. One end hangs loose at the side and may have an ornamental fringe. The practice of wearing distinctive regimental sashes or cummerbunds goes back to the late nineteenth century.[4]

In addition to those detailed above, several other modern armies retain waist-sashes for wear by officers in ceremonial uniforms. These include the armies of Norway (crimson sashes), Sweden (yellow and blue), Greece (light blue and white), the Netherlands (orange), Portugal (crimson) and Spain (red and gold for generals, light blue for general staff and crimson for infantry officers).[5] The Spanish Regulares (infantry descended from colonial regiments formerly recruited in Spanish Morocco) retain their historic waist-sashes for all ranks in colours that vary according to the unit.[6]

Until 1914 waist-sashes in distinctive national colours were worn as a peace-time mark of rank by officers of the Imperial German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian armies, amongst others. Japanese officers continued the practice in full dress uniform until 1940.[7]

Cross-belts resembling sashes are worn by Drum Majors in the Dutch, British and some Commonwealth armies. These carry scrolls bearing the names of battle honours.

Modern civilian and cultural use

Winner of a beauty pageant wearing a two sashes
President of Republic of Suriname wearing a ceremonial V-style sash

In the United States, the sash has picked up a more ceremonial and less practical purpose. Sashes are used at higher education commencement ceremonies, by high school homecoming parade nominees, in beauty pageants, as well as by corporations to acknowledge high achievement.

In Canada, hand-woven sashes (called ceintures fléchées and sometimes "L'Assomption sash" after a town in which they were mass-produced) were derived from Iroquoiuan carrying belts sometime in the 18th century. As a powerful multi-use tool this sash found use in the fur trade which brought it into the North West. In this period the weave got tighter and size expanded, with some examples more than four metres in length. Coloured thread was widely used. Today it is considered to be primarily a symbol of the 1837 Lower Canada Rebellion Patriotes and the Métis peoples.

In Ireland, especially Northern Ireland, the sash is a symbol of the Orange Order. Orange Order sashes were originally of the ceremonial shoulder-to-hip variety as worn by the British military. Over the 20th century the sash has been mostly replaced by V-shaped collarettes, which are still generally referred to as sashes. The item is celebrated in the song 'The Sash my Father Wore'.

Sashes are also worn by Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Beauty Pageant Participants. Badges are sewn onto the sash, to indicate achievements of the Scout.

Many modern schools of Chinese martial arts use sashes of various colors to denote rank as a reflection of the Japanese ranking system using belts.

The Japanese equivalent of a sash, obi, serves to hold a kimono or yukata together.

Honorific orders

Sashes are indicative of holding the class of Grand Cross or Grand Cordon in an Order of Chivalry or Order of Merit. The sash is usually worn from the right shoulder to the left hip. A few orders do the contrary, according to their traditional statute.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge wearing Garter Riband and Star.
1720s Garter sash.

Orders with the sash worn on the left shoulder

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.

Europe :

Asia :

Malaysia :

Malaysia Federation of Malaysia
Decorations Post-nominal Grade Ribbon Sources
The Most Exalted and Most Illustrious Royal Family Order of Malaysia
Darjah Kerabat Diraja Malaysia
DKM Recipient [18][19]
The Most Exalted Order of the Crown of the Realm
Darjah Utama Seri Mahkota Negara
DMN Recipient [19][20]
Kedah Sultanate of Kedah
The Most Illustrious Royal Family Order of Kedah
Darjah Kerabat Yang Amat Mulia Kedah
DK Member [21]
Kelantan Sultanate of Kelantan
The Most Esteemed Royal Family Order (Kelantan) (Al-Yunusi Star)
Darjah Kerabat Yang Amat di-Hormati (Bintang al-Yunusi)
DK Recipient [22][23]
Negeri Sembilan Sultanate of Negeri Sembilan
The Most Illustrious Royal Family Order of Negeri Sembilan
Darjah Kerabat Neegri Sembilan Yang Amat di-Mulia
DKNS Member [24]
The Order of Negeri Sembilan - Darjah Negeri Sembilan
Darjah Tertinggi Negeri Sembilan DTNS Paramount [25]
Darjah Mulia Negeri Sembilan DMNS Illustrious
Pahang Sultanate of Pahang
The Most Illustrious Royal Family Order of Pahang
Darjah Kerabat Yang Maha Mulia Utama Kerabat di-Raja Pahang
DKP Member (Ahli) [26][27]
The Most Esteemed Family Order of the Crown of Indra of Pahang
Darjah Kerabat Sri Indra Mahkota Pahang Yang Amat di-Hormati
DK I Member 1st class
Perak Sultanate of Perak
The Most Esteemed Royal Family Order of Perak
Darjah Kerabat di-Raja Yang Amat di-Hormati
DK Member (Ahli)
(before 2001)

(after 2001)
The Most Esteemed Perak Family Order of Sultan Azlan Shah
Darjah Kerabat Sultan Azlan Shah Perak Yang Amat di-Hormati
DKSA Superior class [31][32]
The Most Esteemed Azlanii Royal Family Order
Darjah Yang Teramat Mulia Darjah Kerabat Azlanii
DKA I Member First Class [33]
Perlis Sultanate of Perlis
The Most Esteemed Royal Family Order of Perlis
Darjah Kerabat di-Raja Perlis Yang Amat Amat di-Hormati
DKP Recipient [34]
The M. Est. Perlis Family Order of the Gallant Prince Syed Putra Jamalullail
Darjah Kerabat Perlis Baginda Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail Yang Amat Amat di-Hormati
DK Recipient [35]
Selangor Sultanate of Selangor
The Most Esteemed Royal Family Order of Selangor - Darjah Kerabat Selangor Yang Amat di-Hormati
Darjah Kerabat Selangor Pertama DK I First Class [36][37]
Darjah Kerabat Selangor Kedua DK II Second Class [38]
Terengganu Sultanate of Terengganu
The Most Exalted Supreme Royal Family Order of Terengganu (10/03/1981)
Darjah Utama Kerabat di-Raja Terengganu Yang Amat di-Hormati
DKT Member (Ahli) [39]
The Most Distinguished Family Order of Terengganu (19/06/1962)
Darjah Kebesaran Kerabat Terengganu Yang Amat Mulia
DK I Member 1st class
Ahli Yang Pertama

Classified examples of current orders' sash

Colours classified in
the order of the rainbow :
White Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet Black
Order of the Dannebrog
Order of Grimaldi
Order of Vytautas the Great
/ (Spain)
Order of Isabella the Catholic
Order of Liberty
Order of the Golden Fleece
Order of Christ
Order of the Legion of Honour
Order of the Lion of Finland
Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria
Order of Saint-Charles
Order of May
(Czech Republic)
Order of the White Lion
Order of the Crown of Tonga
Royal Order of Pouono
Order of St. Olav
Royal Order of King Sobhuza II
Military Order of Swaziland
Royal Order of Cambodia
Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
/ (Papua New Guinea)
Order of Logohu
Order of the White Elephant
Order of the Golden Heart
Order of the Burning Spear
Order of the Chrysanthemum
/ (Liechtenstein)
Order of Merit of the Principality of Liechtenstein
Order of the Star of Romania
(Holy See)
Order of Saint Gregory the Great
(Holy See)
Order of the Golden Spur
(United Kingdom)
Order of the Bath
Order of the Crown
Order of the White Star
(Kingdom of Italy)
Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation
Order of Chula Chom Klao
Order of the Phoenix
Order of the House of Orange
Order for Loyalty and Merit
Order of the Dragon King
National Order of Merit
Order of the Precious Crown
Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas
Order of Orange-Nassau
Order of the Crown
Order of the Phoenix
Order of the Aztec Eagle
Order of the Royal House of Chakri
Royal Order of the Great She-Elephant
Medal of Victory of the Thunder Dragon
Order of Moniseraphon
Royal Household Order of Tonga
Order of the Rajamitrabhorn
National Order of Mali
Order of Merit
Royal Household Order of Swaziland
Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau
Order of Beneficence
(United Kingdom)
Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II
Order of the Golden Heart
Order of Public Instruction
(United Kingdom)
Order of the Thistle
Order of Aviz
Order of the Condor of the Andes
Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus
Order of the Lion
Order of the Crown
Order of Merit of the Italian Republic
Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary
Order of the Direkgunabhorn
Order of the Star of Jordan
Royal Norwegian Order of Merit
Order of the White Rose of Finland
Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana
Order of the Tower and Sword
Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland
Ordre national du Mérite
Order of the Merit of Chile
(United Kingdom)
Order of the Garter
Order of the Holy Spirit
Order of the White Eagle
Royal Order of the Seraphim
Order of Queen Salote Tupou III
Order of the Elephant
Order of the Southern Cross
Most Dignified Order of Moshoeshoe
Order of Rio Branco
Order of the Redeemer
Order of the Liberator General San Martín
/ (Spain)
Order of Civil Merit
/ (Spain)
Order of Charles III
Order of Faithful Service
(Belgium-Congo Free State)
Order of the African Star
Order of the Falcon
(United Kingdom)
Royal Victorian Order
/ (Thailand)
Order of the Crown of Thailand
/ (Malaysia)
Order of the Defender of the Realm
/ (Malaysia)
Order of Loyalty to the Crown of Malaysia
(United Kingdom)
Order of St Michael and St George
Order of the White Double Cross
(Holy See)
Order of Pius IX
Order of Adolphe of Nassau
Order of Honour
Order of the Netherlands Lion
Order of the Three Stars
Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise
Order of the Polar Star
Order of Leopold II
Order of the Crown of the Realm
Royal Norwegian Order of Merit
Order of the Nile
Order of Saint James of the Sword
Order of Leopold
Order of the Sun
Order of al-Hussein bin Ali
Order of Queen Maria Luisa
Order of Independence
Order of Vasco Núñez de Balboa
(Belgium-Congo Free State)
Royal Order of the Lion
Order of Culture
(United States)
Legion of Merit
(Holy See)
Order of the Holy Sepulchre
(Sovereign Military Order of Malta)
Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Order of Rama
Order of Merit
(Holy See)
Order of Saint Sylvester
(Papua New Guinea)
Order of the Star of Melanesia
Order of Prince Henry
(Solomon Islands)
Star of the Solomon Islands
Order of the Crown
Royal Order of Bhutan
Supreme Order of the Renaissance
Grand Order of King Tomislav
Grand Order of Queen Jelena
Order of Liberty
Most Meritorious Order of Mohlomi

See also


  1. André Jouineau, pages 45-63, "The French Army in 1914", ISBN 978-2-352-50104-6
  2. Fredrick Todd Col USAR Cadet Gray page 40
  3. West Point Band
  4. John Gaylor, "Sons of John Company - the Indian and Pakistan Armies", ISBN 0-946771-98-7
  5. Rinaldo D'Ami, "World Uniforms in Colour - the European Nations", ISBN 0-85059-031-0
  6. José Bueno, Ejército Español, Uniformes Contemporáneos",ISBN 84-7140-186-X
  7. Ritta Nakanishi, "Japanese Military Uniforms 1930-1945, 1991 Dai Nippon Kaiga
  8. Photo, King Albert II of Belgium, Queen Sofia of Spain and Queen Paola of Belgium wearing the order
  9. Royal Swedish Family during a State visit in Iceland
  10. "Noblesse et Royautés" blog, Victoria of Sweden's wedding, June 2010, Prince Alexander wearing it on left shoulder
  11. Photo of Princess Anne wearing the Thistle at King Harald V's 70th birthday in 02/2007
  12. South Korea's honour System, click on "Methods of Wear"
  13. Royal Cabinet Website
  14. Royal Cabinet Website
  15. State visit of Sweden in Thailand, 2003, Gala dinner
  16. Royal Cabinet Website, Order of the White Elephant
  17. Royal Cabinet Website, Order of the Crown of Thailand
  18. "Noblesse et Royautés", article showing photos of guests invited to Prince William's wedding. A photo shows the king wearing it on the left shoulder
  19. 1 2 General visual table of decorations
  20. Photo on a royal news forum showing the King and Queen of Sweden wearing it on left shoulder
  21. Photo of Sultan Abdul Halim and Sultanah Haminah
  22. The Royal Ark, Late Sultan Ismail Petra's photograph
  23. The Royal Ark, Sultan Muhammad V's photograph
  24. The Royal Ark, Late Sultan Jaafar's photograph
  25. Besar of Tampin and his wife wearing respectively the DTNS and the DMNS
  26. Group photo : DKP & DK I : left shoulder - DK II : right shoulder
  27. Sultanah wearing DK I
  28. The Royal Ark, Sultan of Perak wearing former DK sash
  29. Sultanah of Perak wearing former DK sash
  30. Raja di Hilir wearing nowadays DK sash
  31. Heir Apparent of Kedah wearing DKSA
  32. Crown Princess of Kedah wearing DKSA
  33. The Admire Hunkz, Photo of Crown Princess wearing DKA I
  34. Sultan with DKP
  35. The Royal Ark, Sultan Sirajuddin
  36. Sultan of Selangor's photograph
  37. Selangor Official Website, DK I
  38. Selangor Official Website, DK II
  39. The Royal Ark, late Sultan Mahmud's photograph and Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin's photograph
  40. Photo of the Heir Apparent of Terengganu


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