World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Prince or noble visiting the zenana or women's quarters

Zenana (Persian: زنانه‎‎, Urdu: زنانہ‎, Hindi: ज़नाना). The literal meaning of the word zenana is "of the women" or "pertaining to women".[1] It contextually refers to the part of a house belonging to a Hindu or Muslim family in South Asia which is reserved for the women of the household.[2][3] The Zenana are the inner apartments of a house in which the women of the family live. The outer apartments for guests and men are called the Mardana. Conceptually in those that practise purdah it is the South Asian equivalent of the harem.

Christian missionaries were able to gain access to the zenanas through the zenana missions; female missionaries who had been trained as doctors and nurses were able to provide these women with health care and also evangelise them in their own homes.


  1. ^ Sharmila Rege (2003). Sociology of Gender: the challenge of feminist sociological knowledge. Sage Publications. pp. 312 ff.  
  2. ^ Weitbrecht, Mary (1875). The Women of India and Christian Work in the Zenana. James Nisbet. p. 93. Retrieved 24 November 2012. And to turn from native testimony to a missionary's sketch, we add—"Hindu ladies spend their lives in the interior of the zenana or women's apartments. Very early marriage often commits a little girl of five years to the wholly unsympathetic companionship of a man of fifty, sixty, or eighty; married life to her means little more than sorrowful submission to the tyranny of a step-mother and the amusement of a husband, who, if he be kind, treats her as a toy; and when he dies, she enters on a widowhood in which the fires, which, if British law had not forbidden it, would have consumed her with the corpse of her husband, are transmuted into the lingering woe of a social penal servitude, only to terminate with death." 
  3. ^ Khan, Mazhar-ul-Haq (1972). Purdah and Polygamy: a study in the social pathology of the Muslim society. Nashiran-e-Ilm-o-Taraqiyet. p. 68. The zenana or female portion of a Muslim house 

External links

The dictionary definition of zenana at Wiktionary

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.