Social Differentiation in Harappan Society

The Harappan society appears to have been matriarchal in nature. This view is base on the popularity of the mother goddess as indicated by the finding of a large number of terracotta female figurines in Punjab and Sind region.

As Harappan script has not been deciphered till now, we have to satisfy ourselves with this limited information on this issue.

The Harappan Society comprised of people following diverse professions. These included the priests, the warriors, peasants, traders and artisans (masons, weavers, gold-smith, potters, etc.) The structural remains at sites such as Harappa and Lothal show that different types of buildings that were used as residence by different classes. The presence of a class of workmen is proved by workmen quarters near the granary at Harappa.

Similarly, the workshops and houses meant for coppersmiths and beadmakers have been discovered at Lothal. Those who lived in larger houses belonged to the rich class whereas those living in the barracks like workmen quarters were from the class of labourers.

Our limited knowledge about their dress styles comes from the terracotta figurines and stone sculptures of the period. Men are mostly shown wearing a dress wrapped round the lower half of the body with one end worn over the left shoulder and under the right arm.

The other garment was a skirt like dress to cover the lower portion. They used cotton and woollen clothes. A piece of woven cloth has been found at Mohenjodaro. Spindles and needles discovered at many sites attest to the practice of spinning and weaving.

Harappan people loved to decorate themselves. Hair dressing by both, men and women, is evident from figurines found at different sites. The men as well as women arranged their hair in different styles.

The people were also fond of ornaments. These mainly included necklaces, armlets, earrings, beads, bangles, etc., used by both the sexes. Rich people appear to have used the ornaments of gold, silver and semi-precious stones while the poor satisfied themselves with those of terracotta.