The Order of Mapungubwe

This Order is awarded to South African citizens for excellence and exceptional achievement.


This Order can be awarded in three Classes:

  • Class 1 = The Platinum Order of Mapungubwe (Platinum)
  • Class 2 = The Gold Order of Mapungubwe (Gold)
  • Class 3 = The Bronze Order of Mapungubwe (Bronze).

Symbolism / Design Elements

Central Motif / Symbolism

Mapungubwe: The Mapungubwe Kingdom existed in the northern corner of our country a millennium ago. The Kingdom had a sophisticated state system and developed agriculture. It also developed a mining and metallurgy industry. The Kingdom traded with countries as far as China. During its time, it represented excellence of human thought and ingenuity.


1. Four corners of the globe - symbolise the achievements of South Africans all over the world.
2. Rising sun - the new dawn emerging from Africa.
3. Mapungubwe Hill - forms the background, a sandstone hill on mudstone deposit in an arid subtropical area with erratic summer rains. Excavations showed that excellence grew out of the most difficult natural circumstances.
4. Mapungubwe rhino - the now most well-known artefact found in a grave at the excavation site, a gold-plated figurine formed around a soft core, probably sculpted wood, testimony to the excellence of human resourcefulness present in the Kingdom.

Neck badge


5. Mapungubwe scepter - emerging from the gold melting pot on either side; another of the artefacts found in a grave at the excavation site.
6. Decorated gold melting pot - the basic symmetric forms on the overflowing gold melting pot symbolise the abundance of excellence, science and creativity, testimony to the earliest achievements in metallurgy.
7. Furnace - the purifying and life-sustaining properties of fire, employed since the Iron Age, to advance development and excellence in societies and communities.


Updated June 2008