Gupta homes: In the
villages and towns, homes were mostly one room huts made of wood or
bamboo, with thatched roofs. Even the palaces were made of wood! Larger
homes had several rooms and balconies.
villages: Streets between the homes were narrow and
twisted. Stalls for selling things were located on both sides of the
street. People mostly walked where they wanted to go inside their village.
Villages were very noisy places. Not only were they full of happy,
busy people, they were full of animals. A monkey might sneak up and steal
food right out of your hand! Imagine coming home from the market, and
telling your mother that the monkeys stole the food you bought, again!
craftsmen worked with iron and copper. Their iron work, especially, was
outstanding. Even today, statues exist from this period, made of iron,
that show very little rust!
worked on roads and other public works, but, (as they were in ancient
Egypt), they were paid for their work. In the Gupta Empire, wheat
was the main crop, and they kept cows for milk. This civilization produced
great works of literature and marvelous works of art. Sculpture was their
thing, though. They were very good at it.
They were also very smart scientists. They
believed the earth was a sphere, and rotated around the sun. They also
figured out that the solar year had 365.358 days. (Today, our scientists
think it's probably more like 365.242, which means they only missed by 3
hours!) They were great with math. Ancient India gave us the number
system we use today - 9 digits, the zero, and the decimal!
What did they eat? The
concept of breakfast did not exist. In earlier times, meals were both
vegetarian and non-vegetarian, depending upon your religious beliefs.
After the coming of Buddhism, Jainism and other pacifist religion and
reforms in Hinduism, vegetarian food (strictly excluding animal and fish
meat) became the norm for as much as half of the population. In the Gupta
Empire, they mostly ate vegetables, cereals, fruits, breads, and drank
School: Older kids,
who went to school, lived at school. School (ashram) life was tough.
You had to do everything yourself. There were no servants. Even princes
had to wash their clothes, cook their food, and follow a rigorous course
of studies. They had a lot to learn. They studied math, science,
engineering, literature, art, music and religion.
Marriage: In ancient
India, the most popular form of marriage was called Swayamvara. In this type
of marriage, potential grooms assembled at the bride's house and the bride
selected her spouse. Instances of Swayamvara ceremony are found in India's
national epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata. There were other types of
marriage as well, such as Gandharva Vivaha (love marriage) and Asura
Viviha (marriage by abduction).
Sports and Games: Ancient
Indians invented many of the games we play today, like chess, polo,
and playing cards (which are said to have gone from India to the other
parts of our globe). They practiced martial arts, wrestling, and fencing.
Hunting was also a favorite pastime of the nobility.
What kind of pets did they have? The
pets were mainly birds like parrots. The royals had peacocks. (Monkeys
were not usually pets. Monkeys were mostly a nuisance, but cute!)
India: In the north, Ancient Indians
wore (some still wear) an unstitched garment called dhoti. This was a
9 meter long cloth that was draped around the legs and tied at the
abdomen. Both sexes wore it the same way. Women wore bright colours.
Men wore either white or dark colors.
Ancient Indians did not use banks, so the family "fortune"
was worn by the Vaishnav women in the northern half of India. In the
north, they wore lots of jewelry. It was used both by men and women.
Jewelry included armbands, waist belts, leg and ankle bangles for both
sexes, ear rings, nose rings, rings on fingers and toes, crowns and
other hair adornments.
In 326 BCE, Alexander the Great (that great Greek!) invaded northwest
India. Here's his account: They use parasols as a screen from the
heat! They wear shoes made of white leather and these are elaborately
trimmed, while the soles are variegated, and made of great thickness,
to make the wearer seem so much taller.
the south, however, ancient scriptures describe women as wearing
saris. A sari is a single cloth wrapped around the body. It covers the
woman from head to toe. A dhoti is less modest. In ancient
times, it was considered very important for women to be covered from
the neck down to the feet. The southern half of India has been almost
exclusively Shaivite for thousands of years. Shaivites typically have
very, very few possessions. A Shaivite woman would not have worn such
jewelry. Shaivite men have typically worn only a loin cloth and
perhaps a cloth on the head to protect from the sun, never jewelry.