The yazhi - A motif story !

The yazhi - A motif story !

One of the unique features of hand-woven sarees is that embellishments can be woven into the fabric using either gold or silver. The motifs used in sarees have been influenced heavily by history and culture and carry significance. We have previously discussed about the significance of the peacock and their influence in weaving. Another such motif is the yazhi (pronounced 'yali') .


What is the yazhi ?

The yazhi is an ancient mythical creature which is a combination of a lion, an elephant and a snake. It is believed to possess the masculinity of a lion, perception of an elephant and decorum of a snake. It has the face and claws of a lion with the body of an elephant and tail and fangs of a snake. This mythical creature can be seen in the architecture of Hindu temples and is known for its strength and ferocity.


Variations of the yazhi :

The yazhi is also described as Vyala in Sanskrit and is often sculpted into the pillars of temples and other landmark structures. It is also called as leograph in English. There are various types of the yazhi in ancient history and the commonly seen yazhis are the simma vyala, ashva vyala and nirv vyala.


Simma vyala :

Simma yazhi is known as a fierce protector. It has the head of the lion and body of an elephant. This is most commonly seen yaazhi in Hindu architecture. The lion yazhi is often used as motifs in Kanjivaram weaves and is considered to be a protector of the weavers.


Ashva vyala :

Ashva yazhi is known for its courageous spirit. Its a combination of horse and elephant. It also has a protective nature and is most commonly used as a motif in silks.


Gaja vyala:

Gaja vyala represents intelligence and power. With elephant's head and body of the lion, it is most commonly used as a motif in silk with a prominent trunk and tusk. This is the most commonly used yazhi motif in Kanjivaram silks.

Yazhi's are most commonly found in Hindu temples, especially in the south. Different forms of Yazhis are intricately carved into the pillars and walls of the historical temples.


Explore our collection of Kanjivaram silks featuring different varieties of the yazhi motif!

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