In this last stage of the rebellion, Lakshmibai, now in open revolt, emerged as one of India’s most skilled military leaders……Portrayed as wearing trousers or a sari pulled up between her legs to allow her to ride effectively, she also (according to legend rather than fact) was reputed to ride into battle with the reins in her teeth so both hands were free to wield her sword. Skilled in military strategy as well as combat techniques, she devised plans that if followed by her male colleagues, might have led to victory rather than defeat of the rebellion - at least in that area of India. Women and War: A Historical Encyclopedia from Antiquity to the Present, Bernard A. Cook. 

Without doubt the most famous of India’s women rulers - the “best and the bravest of the rebel leaders” according to the British commander who fought her -  is Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi.  Often portrayed as a virangana, she was not more than 30 when she died in battle during the Rebellion of 1857.

In pic 1 the Rani as a young girl in the television serial on the Rani’s life and in pic 2, the Rani as a young widow in Bharat Ek Khoj. Both the crescent shape and the horizontal line were traditional “bindis” in Maharashtra. 

The accomplishments of India’s women rulers - Razia, Chand Bibi, Ahilyabai Holkar, the Kittur Rani, the Bhopal Begum, Lakshmibai to name a few - were many. And importantly almost all were able administrators. 

Notes

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