South Asian Studies, Vol 27, No 1 (2012)

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Labor Class of Women in Mughal India

Rukhsana Iftikhar


Karl Marx defined the labor class or proletariat as individuals who sell their labor power for wages. He asserted that labor class physically build bridges, craft furniture, grow food and nurse children. Women were always considered second grade citizens. They were seen as just adjuncts to men. The traditional view often praised the role of the women as wives and mothers. But as individuals they were assigned of a very low social position. They are not identified as labor class who could bear the hard ships of this labor class. The study of women as apart of economic life especially in medieval India is the topic yet to explore. This paper highlights the contribution of working women class in medieval India.The source material, in the political history of sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had just passing references reflect social and economic life of women. Even though, some information is available in respect of the kinds of work that women did. A considerable amount of such literature has been addressed in Abul-Fazal’s Ain-i-Akbari (1595). Almost every traveler commented on the daily life of women in India. The reliability of this material is still questionable but these accounts considered an important source of medieval Indian history. The pictorial evidence offered by illustrations and miniatures of the Mughal School of fifteenth and sixteenth centuries portrayed the economic contribution of women.

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