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Revisiting Motifs- Yali

Yali,  also known as Vyala or Sarabham or Vidala in Sanskrit, is a mythical creature seen in many Hindu temples, often sculpted onto the pillars. It is called as Leogryph in English. Yali is a motif in Indian art and it has been widely used in south Indian sculpture. Descriptions of and references to yalis are very old, but they became prominent in south Indian sculpture in the 16th century. Yalis are believed to be more powerful than the lion/Tiger or the elephant.

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In the skilled hands of a Kanjivaram weaver, even the ferocious Yali, a mythical beast sculpted on Hindu temple pillars, takes on an appearance of grace and majesty! Along with other traditional motifs inspired by temple art, that we have already shared with you, like the annapakshi (swan) and peacock, the Yali is one of the oldest designs to grace Kanjivaram’s iconic silk saris.


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