What is a Yazhi?
A Yazhi or Yali (Pronounced yA lee or yA zhi) is a mythical animal that is a has the features of a lion, elephant and a snake. They could have a lion face, fangs of a snake, body, hind legs and trunk of an elephant. In ancient times, these mythical creatures were apparently the guards of temples, and that's why, to this day, we see the Yaali motifs on temple entrances or pillars.
The importance of Yaali
Not only were the Yaalis just temple guardians, but also represented the everchanging aspect of nature. The Yaali showcases a co-existence of different animals as one - and so many wonder whether this is a metaphor of making the most of different strengths - both physical and mental.
Yaali in traditional weaving
From the ancient temples, the Yaali motifs gradually transcended into weaving traditions in Kanchipuram - and since they are guardians of the temples, are considered auspicious when woven on sarees.
Today, many sarees in Kanchipuram feature these mythical animals woven as Zari motifs on the body or the border.
So, if you find these impeccably woven Zari motifs on Kanjivaram sarees, you now know what they signify!
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