Assess the role played by women of the imperial household in the Mughal Empire.

The domestic world of the Mughals was termed as the ‘harem’. The origin of the word ‘harem’ lay in the Persian language where it meant a sacred place. The Mughal household consisted of the following:

1. Wives and concubines of the emperor.

2. The near and distant relatives of the emperor such as mother, step-mothers, sisters, daughters, daughter-in-law, aunts and children.

3. Slaves and female servants.

Two Kinds of wives: Mughal rulers had two kinds of wives. Begums and Aghas. The Begums came from royal and aristocratic families. On the other hand, the Aghas were those wives who were not noble by birth. Begums enjoyed a higher status than Aghas.

Control over financial resources and architectural projects: The Mughals queens and princesses exercised a significant control over financial resources. Jahanara and Roshanara, daughters of Shah Jahan, earned an annual income that of Mansabdars. Jahanara also got revenue from the port city of Surat. They also designed many architectural projects. For example Jahanara designed the bazaar of Chandini Chowk in Delhi.

Contribution in writing of history: Gulbadan Begum, the daughter of Barber wrote a book entitled ‘Humayunama’. It gives a glimpse into the domestic world of the Mughals.

Role of Elderly Women: They played the role of mediation. They resolved the conflicts that existed between princess and the kings.