The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes The Characteristics of Women which is chapter 37 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the thirty-seventh chapter of the Purvardha of the Kashi-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 37 - The Characteristics of Women

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: Ancient Indians believed in prognosis by external bodily characteristics. Jainas called it Aṅga Vidyā. The present chapter gives a list of auspicious and inauspicious characteristics found on the 66 parts of women’s body.

Skanda said:

1. If wife is endowed with good characteristics, a householder always enjoys happiness. Hence, for the sake of happiness and prosperity, a man should look for the characteristic features.

2. The bases of characteristics have been mentioned by scholars as eight: (1) Vapus (limbs), (2) Āvarta (curls), (3) Gandha (odour), (4) Chāyā (splendour), (5) Sattva (mental stability), (6) Svara (modulation of voice), (7) Gati (gait) and (8) Varṇa (complexion).

3. Beginning with the sole of the foot and ending with the hair, O sage, I shall state the auspicious and inauspicious characteristics. Listen.

4-9. The following sixty-six are the parts of the body of a woman, the base of characteristics: The sole of the foot is the first, then the lines thereon, big toe, other toes, nails, the instep, two heels, two ankles, calves, hairs, knees, thighs, lips, buttocks, front of the loins, vagina, portion beneath the navel, navel, two sections of the stomach, sides, side of the belly, three curls of hair in the middle, row of hairs, heart, chest, two breasts, nipples, Jatru (joint of the shoulders), shoulders, root of the arms, hand, two wrists, back of the hand, palm, lines in the palm, thumb, fingers, nails, back, nape of the neck, chin, lower part of lips, two parts of the chin, cheeks, mouth, lower lip, upper lip, teeth, tongue, lower part of the tongue, palate, laughter, nose, sneeze, eyes, eyelashes, eyebrows, ears, forehead, head, middle part of the head and tresses of hair.

10. The sole of the foot of women should be glossy, fleshy, soft and even. It should not perspire but be warm and it should be pink in colour. These characteristics are fit to give much enjoyment.

11. If the sole is hard, rough, discoloured, dried up, having the imprint broken up (here and there) and is of the form of a winnowing basket it indicates misfortune.

12. If the lines on the sole are in the form of a wheel, Svastika (a trianqular figure—Comm.), conch-shell, banner, fish or umbrella, the girl shall become wife of a king.

13. If a line moves up and joins the middle toe, it is conducive to unbroken enjoyment. A line resembling a mouse, a serpent or a crow indicates misery and poverty.

14. If the big toe is lifted up, fleshy and round, it accords incomparable enjoyment. If it is crooked, short and flattened, it destroys happiness and good fortune.

15. One with a wide big toe shall become a widow and with a long, big toe full of misfortune. Soft, close-set, round and lifted up toes are praiseworthy.

16. If a girl has long toes, she will become a wanton woman; if she has lean toes, she will be utterly penniless; if the toes are very short, she will be short-lived; if the toes are curved, she will be crooked in her behaviour.

17-22. If the toes are flattened, she will become a slave girl. If the toes leave spaces in between them, she will become poor.

If the toes, as it were, are riding on one another, the woman will kill many husbands and then become one dependent on others.

If dust particles are raised up when a woman walks on the road, she will become a whore destructive of the three families (of father, mother and husband).

If the small toe does not touch the ground when the woman walks, she will kill her husband and take another man as her husband.

If the Anāmikā (i.e., one between middle toe and small toe like the ring finger of the hand) and the middle toe do not touch the ground, two husbands will be killed by the former and three husbands by the latter.

If these two toes are missing or defective, they cause the absence of a husband (i.e., widowhood or spinsterhood).

If the Pradeśinī (the toe between the big toe and the middle toe like the index finger of the hand) is inseparable from the big toe, it is certain that she will become wanton and remain unmarried.

23. The nails of the foot are auspicious, if they are glossy, lifted up, round and copper-coloured (otherwise inauspicious).

24. If the instep of a woman is upraised or elevated, does not perspire, has no sinews (visible), is fleshy, soft and glossy, it indicates queenship.

25. If the instep is depressed in the middle the woman becomes poor; if it is sinewy, she will be incessant traveller; if it is full of hairs she will become a slave; if it is devoid of flesh, she will be unfortunate.

26. Hidden ankles are said to be conducive to welfare if they are not sinewy and are perfectly round. If they are visible, loose and uneven, they indicate misfortune.

27. A level-heeled woman is auspicious; a woman with broad heels is unfortunate. If the heels are lifted up (raised), the woman becomes a whore; one with long heels experiences misery.

28. If the calves are devoid of hair, similar, glossy, gradually circular in shape, devoid of sinews and very pleasing, she will become wife of a king.

29. One with a single hair in the hair cavity becomes wife of a king; one with two hairs becomes happy; and one with three hairs in the cavities of the hair will experience the misery of widowhood.

30. The pair of knees are praiseworthy, if they are fleshy and round in shape; if they are devoid of flesh, the woman will become a wanton; if they are not firm, the woman will become a destitute.[1]

31. With thighs resembling the trunk of an elephant, glossy, dense, perfectly round and devoid of hairs, a woman will become beloved of kings.

32. Widowhood is indicated by thighs full of hairs; if they are flattened, it indicates misfortune; if there are depressions in the middle, there is great misery; if the skin is rough and hard, it indicates poverty.

33. The hips of a fawn-eyed woman are praiseworthy if they are rectangular, lifted up and possessing fleshy back portion. A perfect hip measures twenty-four Aṅgulas.

34. If the hip is bent down, flattened, large, devoid of flesh, contracted, short and full of hairs, it indicates misery and widowhood.

35. If the Nitaṃba (back of the hip) of a woman is raised up, fleshy and large, it is conducive to great enjoyment of pleasures. The reverse thereof is considered to be conducive to misery.

36. If the Sphiks (buttocks) are round like wood-apple, soft, fleshy, dense and free from curls, they cause increase in the happiness of love-play.

37. If the vulva is like the back of a tortoise (dense and firm) or elevated like the shoulders of an elephant, it is auspicious. If its elevation is tilted to the left, it indicates that the woman will give birth to daughters; if it is tilted above to the right, it indicates that a son will be born to her.

38. An auspicious vulva has also the following characteristics: It has tawny hairs like those of a mouse. The clitoris is hidden. It is very dense, firm and large. It is lifted up. It is like a lotus leaf or like a leaf of the holy fig tree.

39. That vulva which is in the form of the hoof of a deer, that which resembles the inner part of an oven, that which is hairy, that which has open mouth and that the Nāsā (central portion of the hymen that is intact) of which is visible—the vulva of these characteristics indicates misery and misfortune.

40. She whose vulva is curled like a conch-shell does not wish to conceive (i.e, is barren). The vulva that has the shape of a potsherd, and is flattened, accords the position of a servant maid.

41. So also the vulva of these characteristics is inauspicious: if it resembles a leaf of bamboo or reed; if it has hairs like those of an elephant; if the Nāsā is elevated and long; if it is hideous and ugly and if it is crooked in shape. If the lower part of its opening is long, it is inauspicious.

42. Jaghana (front part of body above the vulva) is the forehead, as it were of the vulva. If it is wide and ample, if it is elevated and fleshy, if it is soft with soft hairs curling to the right, then it is auspicious.

43. If the Jaghana has hairs curling to the left, if it is devoid of flesh or if it is crooked, it is an indication of widowhood. If it is contracted, if it is unevenly elevated and depressed and if it is rough, it always brings misery.

44. The lower belly below the navel (Basti or Vasti) is praiseworthy, if it is ample, soft, a bit raised. If it is hairy, sinewy or marked with lines, it is not good.

45. The navel shall be conducive to happiness and prosperity, if it is deep and curling to the right with the lines or hairs. If the curling is towards the left, if it is raised a little or if the central spot is prominent, then it does not forebode good.[2]

46. A woman with a large belly experiences happiness. She gives birth to many sons. A woman with a belly resembling that of a frog, gives birth to a son who will become a king.

47. If the belly is raised up or elevated, the woman will become barren. If it has folds, she will become a recluse woman. If it has curls due to looseness of skin, she will become a servant maid.

48. Undoubtedly a woman shall have good fortune and happiness, if she has fleshy level sides of great softness with bones well-ensconced.

49. If the sinews are visible in the sides, if they are lifted up and hairy, the woman shall bear no child. She will have bad manners. She will be a storehouse of misery.

50. If the lower belly or the side of the belly is very small, free from sinews and the skin is soft, the woman becomes one enjoying all pleasures and consuming delicacies of food everyday.

51. The side of the belly in the form of a pot or Mṛdaṅga (drum) indicates that the woman will be extremely poor. So also if it is like ash-gourd, or barley, it is difficult to be filled.

52. A woman of very ample side belly has no issues and becomes unfortunate. If the same is hanging loose, the woman is sure to slay her father-in-law and brother-in-law.

53. A woman of slender waist is very fortunate. One having three Valis (folds) enjoys pleasures. If the cluster of hairs is straight and slender, the woman enjoys pleasure and is jovial in temperament.

54. If the cluster of hairs is tawny in colour, crooked, stout and broken in the middle, the woman will take to theft, become widowed or become unfortunate.

55. If the bosom is devoid of hairs, level and free from depressed state, the woman will have prosperity and enjoy the love of her husband. She will not become a widow.

56. A woman of wide bosom becomes a lustful wanton without kindness. A woman with hairs growing on the front of bosom, certainly kills her husband.

57. A bosom elevated and stout, extending to eighteen Aṅgulas, is conducive to happiness. If it is hairy, uneven and large it is conducive to misery.

58. If the two breasts are equal, supple, round, firm and stout, they are praiseworthy. If the tips are stout and the breasts are not close together but leave space in the middle and if they are dry, they are not conducive to happiness.

59. If the right breast is (more) lifted up, the woman gives birth to sons. She stands at the head of women. A woman with the left side breast lifted up, gives birth to a girl who will be beautiful and enjoy conjugal bliss.

60. Breasts resembling a pot in the water-raising wheel indicate evil habits. Breasts with mouths stout and the sides very large are not splendid. If there is space between the breasts, it is not beautiful.

61. If the breasts are plump at the root and gradually become thinner with the tips pointed, they are conducive to happiness initially but later they accord misery.

62. Dark, circular and firm nipples are praiseworthy. If they are depressed within, long and lean they are conducive to distress.[3]

63. With stout clavicles a woman becomes a storehouse of grain and wealth. If they are depressed, uneven and looseboned, the woman becomes poverty-stricken.

64. The shoulders are splendid if they are unbound, bent and neither long nor lean. If they are crooked, stout and hairy, they indicate slavery and widowhood.

65. If the upper part of the shoulders keeps the joint hidden and the tips are loose, if the upper portion of the shoulders is well knit, it indicates good. If the tips are lifted up, the woman shall become a widow; if they are devoid of flesh, they cause great misery.

66. If the armpits are high with fine delicate hairs, if they are glossy and fleshy, they are praiseworthy. If they are deep, sinewy, with profuse perspiration, they bode no good.

67. The arms are completely devoid of faults if the bones and the joints are hidden and the arms are hence tender. The arms of fawn-eyed women should not be sinewy and hairy.

68. If the arms are hairy, they indicate widowhood. If short, they indicate misfortune. If the sinews are visible in the arms, they tend to the distress of women.

69. If the pair of hands of fawn-eyed women has the shape of a lotus-bud and if the thumb and the fingers face each other, it indicates enjoyment of much pleasure.

70. If the palm is red and soft with the centre raised up, if it is devoid of holes, it is praiseworthy. It shall have praiseworthy lines. Very few lines indicate splendid glory.

71. With the palm having many lines, a woman becomes a widow; if the palm has no lines, she becomes destitute and if the palm is sinewy, she becomes a Bhikṣukī (female mendicant).

72. The back of the hand that is devoid of hairs and sinews and that is raised up is praiseworthy. That which is full of hairs and sinews and devoid of flesh should be abandoned (i.e., not good).

73. If the lines in the hand of a woman are red, clear, deep, glossy, full and circular, they are splendid and they favour good fortune.

74. If the lines form a fish-like figure, the woman enjoys conjungal [conjugal?] bliss; if a Svastika figure, the woman bestows wealth on others; if a lotus-like figure, she becomes wife of a king and gives birth to a son destined to be a king.

75. In the palm of the wife of an emperor, there shall be the figure of Nandyāvarta (a kind of building where rich men live) in clockwise form. The figures of conch, umbrella and tortoise indicate mothership of a king.

76-77. Two lines in the form of a balance indicate status of the wife of a merchant. The lines in the form of elephant, horse, bull, palace or thunderbolt in the left hand, point out that the son shall be a Tīrthakara (a pilgrim or a writer of philosophical treatises—Comm.). If there are lines making the figure of a cart or a yoke, she will be the wife of a farmer.

78-79. If the lines form figures of chowries, goad and bow, the woman shall certainly become wife of a king. If a line starts from the root of the thumb and goes to the small finger, the woman will be murderess of her husband. A sensible man should abandon her outright. With the lines forming the figures of a trident, sword, mace, Śakti, spear and war, drum the woman shall become famous all over the earth for her renunciation.

80. Lines forming the figures of a heron, jackal, frog, wolf, scorpion or serpent, donkey, camel and cat on the palm, accord misery to the woman.

81. A thumb that is straight and round with circular nail bestows auspiciousness.

82. Fingers with excellent joints, long, round, and gradually tapering are auspicious.

Flattened, unevenly elevated and depressed and rough fingers with hairs on the back are inauspicious.

83. Very short, lean, crooked fingers leaving spaces in between cause sickness. Fingers of women with large joints are conducive to misery.

84. High, pink-coloured finger-nails with crests are auspicious to women. Depressed ones, yellow or discoloured ones resembling oyster shells accord poverty.

85. In the nails of wanton-like women, there will be white dots. Even men become miserable with such dotted nails.

86. The back of the hand with bone in the shape of bamboo, depressed and sunk beneath, and fleshy too, is auspicious. If the back of the hand is hairy, the woman certainly becomes a widow.

87. If the back of the hand is bent and depressed and is also sinewy, the woman becomes miserable.

If the back of the neck is straight, fleshy and lifted up, it is excellent.

88. If it is dry, sinewy, hairy, wide and crooked, it is inauspicious. A neck that measures four Aṅgulas and that is circular and fleshy is excellent.

89-90. A neck that is marked with three lines and that is compact is praiseworthy. The bone shall not be prominently visible. A heck without flesh, that is flattened, long and unevenly elevated does not accord auspiciousness.

A woman with a stout neck becomes a widow; with a crooked neck becomes a servant maid; one with flattened neck is a barren woman and one with a short neck does not give birth to a son.

91. A chin measuring two Aṅgulas is praiseworthy. It shall be round, thick and tender.

That which is very stout, long, hairy and divided into two should be abandoned (i.e., that woman is not worthy of marriage).

92. A Hanu (lower part of the lips) adhering to the chin and very compact is praiseworthy. It should be without hairs. If it is crooked, very stout or lean and short with hairs, it is not auspicious.

93. The cheeks of a woman are praiseworthy, if they are plump and fleshy, round and raised up.

One should avoid hairy, rough, depressed, fleshless cheeks. A woman with such cheeks is not fit for marriage.

94. A face fleshy, glossy, fragrant, round and level is praiseworthy. Only blessed people have such face resembling that of the father.

95. The lower lip of a woman becomes endearing to a king if it has the colour of a Pāṭala flower, if it is round and glossy and has the central part adorned with lines.

96. A lean, suspended, rough and cloven lip indicates misfortune. The lip that is dark brown in colour and very stout accords widowhood and quarrelsomeness.

97. The upper lip of a woman if glossy, has its central (part) raised a little and free from hairs bestows enjoyment of pleasures.

98. All the thirty-two teeth shall be glossy and have the colour of cow’s milk. They should be equally set in the upper and the lower rows. They should be slightly raised. Such teeth, thus, forebode good.

99. If the teeth are yellow or dark, brown, big, long and have two rows, if they are like oyster shells with spaces in between, they cause misery and misfortune.

100. If there are more teeth in the lower row, the woman will eat up her mother. If the teeth are hideous, she will be bereft of her husband. If there are teeth deficient in number, the woman shall become a wanton.

101. If the tongue is red in colour and soft, the woman shall enjoy what is pleasing and delicious. If it is dark, narrow in the middle and wide in front, it is conducive to misery.

102. If the tongue is white, it indicates watery grave; if it is black, the woman will be fond of quarrels. If it is fleshy, the woman will be poor; if it is hanging down, the woman will eat what should not be eaten.

103. With a wide tongue, the woman becomes one who (habitually) commits mistakes.

The palate that is glossy and tender, having the lustre of a red lotus is praiseworthy.

104. If the palate is white, it indicates widowhood; if it is yellow, the woman will renounce the world and become a recluse; if it is black, she will be separated from her children and be distressed; if it is rough and hard, she will have a large family.

105. The Ghaṇṭī (lower part of the tongue) should be thick at its neck; it shall be perfectly round, very red and sharper towards the end. It should not hang down. Then it is splendid. If it is very thick and black in colour, it accords misery.

106. The smile of splendid-eyed women is praiseworthy when the teeth are slightly not visible and slightly the cheeks become blown up and the eyes are not closed.

107. If the nostrils are symmetrical and round and the hollow portion is small, then it is splendid. If the tip is thick and the nose is lifted up and the middle is depressed it is inauspicious.

108. If the tip (of the nose) is bent and pink in colour, it accords widowhood and distress. If it is flattened, the woman becomes a slave unto others. If it is very short or very long, the woman becomes fond of quarrel.

109. If the sneeze is long and is repeated twice or thrice at the same time, it accords long life.

The eyes of women are praiseworthy if the extremities are red and the pupils are dark in colour.

110. If a woman has bulging eyes with dark eyelashes, very glossy, clear, and coloured like cow’s milk, she does not live long. A woman with circular eyes shall be a wanton.

111. A sheep-eyed, buffalo-eyed and squint-eyed woman is not good. One with tawny eyes like those of a cow is greedy and lustful. She is also ill-behaved.

112. The conduct of a woman with eyes like those of a dove is not good; a red-eyed woman kills her husband. A woman with eyes like the hollow in a tree is wicked. A woman with eyes like those of an elephant is no good.

113. A woman blind in the left eye is libidinous and one blind in the right eye is barren. A woman with honey-tawny eyes enjoys plenty of wealth and grains.

114. If the eyelashes are well-knit, glossy, dark-coloured and subtle, the woman is fortunate. If they are brown-coloured, thick and sparse, the woman is worthy of censure.[4]

115. If the eyebrows are circular, glossy, dark and not closely knit, they are praiseworthy. The hairs should be soft and the eyebrows should have the shape of a bow.

116. They are not praise-worthy, if the hairs are rough, large, scattered or straight, if they group together or if the hairs are long and tawny-coloured.

117. Long ears with splendid circular curls bestow happiness and auspiciousness. Those without curls, those that are sinewy, crooked and thin are worthy of censure.

118. The forehead should be three Aṅgulas broad in a woman. There should not be sinews or hairs. It should resemble the crescent moon. It should not be depressed. Such a forehead is the cause of good health.

119. If the lines like Svastika are clear in the forehead, the woman will enjoy the prosperity of a kingdom. If the forehead is prominent, the woman certainly kills her husband’s brother.

120. If it is hairy and sinewy and very high the woman is sickly.

121. The middle part of the head should be straight. It is praiseworthy then.

The head lifted up is praiseworthy. If a woman has a head resembling the forehead of an elephant, it indicates conjugal bliss and prosperity as evidenced by her behaviour.

122. A woman with very big head becomes a widow. One with a long head becomes a whore. One with a broad and big head becomes the victim of misfortune.

123. Hairs having the lustre of a swarm of bees, subtle, glossy and tender, curled and bent slightly at the tips are very splendid.

124. Rough hairs, hairs split at the tips, sparesly grown hairs, tawny-coloured, light and rough hairs cause misery, poverty and bondage[5].

125. A mosquito-like freckle between the eyebrows or on the forehead indicates acquisition of a kingdom. Such a freckle on the left check, red in colour insures delicious food to the woman.

126-129. A mole or a spot on the bosom is the cause of conjugal bliss.

If there are red moles or spots on the right breast of a woman, she gives birth to four girls and three sons.

If there is a red mole or spot on the left breast of a woman, she gives birth to a son and then becomes a widow.

If there is a mole on the right side of the private parts of a woman she will become wife of a king or she will give birth to a son who will become a king.

A mosquito-like red freckle at the tip of the nose occurs only in a queen.

130. The same, black in colour, occurs in an unchaste woman who kills her husband. A mole, freckle or spot beneath the navel is auspicious.

131-134. A freckle, mole or spot around the ankle causes poverty.

If one of these three occurs on the hand, ear, cheek or neck on the left side, it bestows a son in the womb.

Due to a trident-like mark on the forehead caused by the creator himself, a woman shall be the leader of thousands of women.

If a woman in sleep gnashes her teeth noisily, she is not praiseworthy even if she has all good features. A woman who babbles something in sleep is also like that.

A clockwise curl on the hand is righteous. An anticlockwise one is not splendid.

135. A clockwise curl of hairs round the navel, ear, or chest is praised. A clockwise curl to the right of the backbone is conducive to happiness.

136. A clockwise circular curl like that in the navel, in the middle of the back, causes increase in long-lived sons. A clockwise curl can be seen above the vulva of the wife of a king.

137. If the curl resembles a cart, it accords many children and happiness.

If that curl goes up to the tip skirting the private parts, it causes death of children.

138. Two clockwise curls on the back skirting the side of the belly, are not splendid. With one of them the woman kills her husband, with the other she becomes a libidinous wanton.

139. A clockwise curl on the neck is the cause of misery and widowhood. The same on the parting of the hair or on the forehead should be cautiously avoided.

140. If there is a curl of hairs, clockwise or anticlockwise, in the middle of the back of the neck, the woman will kill the husband within a year.

141. If there is one anticlockwise curl on the head or two on the left side, the woman will kill the husband within ten days. That is to be avoided by sensible persons.

142. A woman with a curl of hair on the hip becomes a whore. A woman with a curl of hair in the navel is very chaste. One with a curl on the back becomes the murderess of her husband or a prostitute.

Skanda said:

143. A woman of bad conduct is the worst of persons of evil characteristics, even if she may possess good marks.

A chaste woman is one with all good marks, even if she has none (on her person).

144. It is only due to the blessings of Viśveśa, that one gets a wife of excellent characteristics, good manners and conduct and one who is under one’s control or one who considers her husband as her deity.

145. Those women by whom Suvāsinīs (women with husbands alive) were adorned in the previous birth with various ornaments, become beautiful (in this birth).

146. Those by whom (their) bodies were destroyed or abandoned in excellent Tīrthas are reborn with excellent marks and perfect beauty.

147. Those by whom the Mother of the worlds was adored, become good-conducted women with husbands under control like the wife of Mṛḍa (i.e., Goddess Umā).

148. To the fawn-eyed women of good conduct, having their husbands under their control, heaven and salvation are here alone. It is the result of the excellent characteristics.

149. Young women, through their good conduct and excellent characteristics, make their husbands long-lived and cause of delight, even if they were originally destined to be shortlived.

150. Hence wise people should marry only women of excellent characteristics after carefully examining all the characteristics at the outset, after rejecting women of evil characteristics.

151. Characteristics have been described by me for the happiness of householders. O Pot-born One, I shall describe the various types of marriages also.

Footnotes and references:


So far twelve limbs have been described—Comm.


Twenty limbs covered—Comm.


Thirty limbs described—Comm.


Sixty limbs covered—Comm.


Sixty-six limbs described—Comm.

Let's grow together!

I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased sources, definitions and images. Your donation direclty influences the quality and quantity of knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight the world is exposed to.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: