It didn't have the significance as being in the lineup of those standing atop Lenin's tomb. But a major sign of status at yesterday's inaugural ceremonies was a seat on the presidential stand.

In Moscow, ceremonial state occasions are an opportunity for Kremlin watchers to scan the dignitaries assigned places on Lenin's tomb for signs of who's up and who's down in the Soviet political hierachy.

However, the prizes at stake in Washington yesterday were not political but social - the chance to be seen seeing the festivities in the company of President Carter. And, the list of those who made it onto the presidential stand was dictated largely by protocol and family considerations.

Actually, there were two presidential stands: one at the Capitol east portico, where Carter and Vice President Mondale were sworn in and one opposite the White House, where they later reviewed the inaugural parade.

The stand at the Capitol had 104 seats. Carter and Mondale were placed in the center directly behind the podium, flanked by outgoing President Ford and Vice President Rockefeller.

Of the remaining places, most were reserved for those who made it into the guest list by virtue of tradition and the offices they hold: congressional leaders of both parties, Supreme Court justices, the families of former Presidents, participants in the ceremony and the ever present agents of the Secret Service.

Those seats left over are disposed of according to the wishes of the new President, and it is in their allocation that social historians can observe some nuances in the style and priorities of different Presidents.

Four years ago, for example, then-President Nixon reserved some of the Capitol stand seats for governors of various states. As a result, anyone looking at photos of the 1973 inaugural ceremony can see in one of the rear rows the then-governor of Georgia - a fellow named Jimmy Carter.

Yesterday, though, the accent was on making the Capitol ceremony a family affair. Thirty-two seats were reserved for relatives of Carter and Mondale.

Even more select was the company that assembled later at the White House reviewing stand. That contained only 61 seats; and two of them - located directly behind Carter - were kept empty to enable notables who didn't get a regular seat on the stand to stop by for a brief chat with the President.

The remaining seats were occupied by what amounted to a stripped-down list of those who had been on the Capitol inaugural stand. Among those not in evidence on the reviewing stand were Ford and Rockefeller, the associate justices of the Supreme Court, and the more distant of the assorted Carter and Mondale kin.

Carter and his wife Rosalynn, and Mondale and his wife Joan, occupied the front row. Directly behind them were Chief Justice Warren Burger and Mrs. Burger, the President's mother, Lillian Carter and Rosalynn Carter's mother, Allie Smith.

The third row was taken by the Carter children: Jack Carter and wife Judy, Chip Carter and wife Caron, Jeff Carter and wife Annette.

Behind them were the Mondale children, William, Eleanor and Theodore; Mrs. Mondale's parents, Dr. and Mrs. John Adams; General of the Army Omar Bradley and his wife, and Charles L. Schultze, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

The reviewing stand had three additional rows of seats on each side. These were occupied by the 11 members of the Carter Cabinet, those members of the new administration who are regarded as holding Cabinet level rank - Thomas B. (Bert) Lance, James R. Schlesinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Andrew Young - and the heads of the armed forces.

Congress was respresented by Speaker of the House Thomas P. O'Neill (D-Mass.), Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va), the parade grand marshal, Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D-Minn.) and the members of the congressioanl Joint Inaugural Committee: chairman Sen. Howard W. Cannon (D-Nev.), Sen. Mark O. Hatfield (R-Ore.), Rep. Jim Wright (D-Tex.) and Rep. John J. Rhodes (R-Ariz.). All the congressional guests were accompanied by their wives.