It was odd to see amongst all this gorgeousness a woman's covered litter pass and I asked the salmon gentleman why it was there, and what it could be. He said that this was from the State of Bhopal, the only State in India ruled by a woman; and then began to talk to me about this woman ruler. It appears that wherever she goes the preparations for screening her from the vulgar gaze are most elaborate. If she attends an evening party a space is always cleared round about her; and a native never dreams of passing the Zenana save in a crouched position. Her husband has no social standing at all: he is almost like the drone in the bee-hive: even the sons are of more consequence than he. The daughter, curiously enough, occupies the same secondary position that a girl would in any native State: she is never mentioned. My informant was a most intelligent man, and as the procession passed I asked him questions about the wives of some of the native rulers. He told me how strict the etiquette was, and how careful one has to be in talking to men of their women-folk. For example, one could never dream of asking a Mogul if his wife were better when she had been ill: that would be considered too intimate, too personal. You should say, "I hope things are getting better in your house?" To mention the word wife is considered coarse and vulgar in the extreme. [81-82]

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Menpes, Mortimer. The Durbar. Text by Dorothy Menpes. London: Adam & Charles Black, 1903. Internet Archive version of a copy in the University of California at Los Angeles Library. Web. 27 May 2017.

Last modified 30 May 2017