Women during the Satvahana period were founders of the Chetiyagharas at Nasik and Kuda. Men and Women stood equal in the construction of the Chaitya cave the most excellent mansion in Jambudvipa at Karla. The base to the right of the central door of the mansion carved with rail pattern, and the similar piece on the left were the gift of two nuns. A belt of rail pattern on the inner face of the gallery was also a bhikkhuni's gift. The remaining pillar on the open screen in front of the verandah was the gift of a housewife. These examples without a doubt reveal that women were allowed to possess property of their own.
Women even got the titles of their husbands, such as, Mahabhoji, Maharathini, Bhojiki, Kutumbini, Gahini, Vaniyini, and so on. Research on the sculptures from Amaravati disclose that women worshipped Buddhist emblems, took part in assemblies, played instruments, enjoying music and dance and entertaining guests along with their husbands. In one of the panels of an outer rail pillar, we find depicted a disputation between a chief and another and the audience consists mostly of women who are represented as taking keen interest in what is going on. In some panels they are represented as watching processions. Widows were to shun ornaments, to be bent on self control and restraint and penance (Nasik inscription).
The Amaravati stone sculptures furnish ample information on dress and ornaments, of the women in those days. Except in some minor details, the dress and ornaments m vogue on both sides of the Deccan are the same. The most striking item of the dress of women and men is the headdress as in the Indus Valley. The former have their hair divided in front and running down to a knot at the back. Hung on the knot is a cord of twisted cloth or hair drawn in two or four rows. Sometimes we come across two strings in four rows ending in tassels. Some women have their hair done in the pointed knot sideways. In some the knot is done near the forehead with a string of beads.
Western Deccan women sometimes covered their head with a piece of cloth. Sometimes a thick cloth runs round the head. At Kuda, a woman wears a long cap, conical in shape. Perhaps it is the combing done in that shape. Generally a string or strings of beads adorn the forehead and the knots. Men wore a high headdress. The general custom was to have the hair knotted in front and covered to a great extent by a twisted cloth running down. The knot was adorned in front by a horseshoe shaped or chaitya-arch shaped ornament. Some Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda men wear knots unadorned by ornaments. Lay disciples and even servants have hair done in knots. In one of the Amaravati sculptures a groom has let the hair run down and secured it by bands at three places. One of the male figures in the facade of the Chaitya cave at Kanheri has a very low turban fully ornamented, the ornaments even hiding the knot of hair on the left.
Women were scantily dressed like men. Twisted cloth running in two or three rows below the waist and knotted at the right, the ends, however, hanging from the knots, and sometimes also four of five strings of beads held together by a clasp, constituted the main part of their dress. Men wore underclothes. There is only one instance among the sculptures of a woman covering her breast.
Both Men and women wore ornaments. Heavy rings, sometimes two in each ear, sometimes rows of beads joined together, constituted their ear ornaments. Even kings wore ear ornaments. The representation of Vasithiputa Siri - Satakani and Siri - Yajna Satakani on their silver coins show us well-punched ears. They wore bracelets and bangles with this difference, sometimes women wore bracelets covering the whole of the upper arm, and bangles running up to the elbow. Sometimes the anklets were heavy rings two for each leg, while in other cases; each is a spiral of many columns.
The noses of women were unadorned, as it seems to have been at the Indus Valley. In this connection it is interesting to note a description of some of the Bhattiprolu remains given by Rea in his South Indian Buddhist Antiquities. They are coral beads beryl drops, yellow crystal beads, double hollow beads, garnet, trinacrias, pierced pearls, coiled gold rings and gold flowers of varying sizes.
From the inscription of Nayanika, the widow of Siri - Satakarni, son of Simuka in Naneghat in western Deccan, shows the power enjoyed by royal women. She governed the kingdom during the minority of Vedisiri. The Naneghat inscription of queen Nayanika describes the dakshina (gift) given on occasion of various sacrifices performed by the queen and her husband. They are 1700 cows and 10 elephants, 11,000 cows, 1000 horses, 17 silver pots and 14,000 karshapanas one horse chariot, silver ornaments and dresses - evidencing royal opulence and belief in charity.
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