The Yaazhi riders of Tanjore

After a series of serious posts, felt we need something light to relax. Plus Prasad said the last post had only few photos and satheesh said i wasn’t publishing enough of his photo contributions. ( same apology to chandra as well). Been quite occupied with work n travel, plus sometimes the story need to fit – dont want to just exhibit some photos – you can go to flickr / picasa for that. So this post is a conscious effort to redress the above, but combining with my favorites…tajore, yaazhi, sculpture.

Yaazhi’s are most probably the least viewed and discussed sculptures. Despite this they find prominent position in almost all major temples. In fact in tanjore there are two rows of Yaali’s which run almost right around the vimana base.

These kind of artistically border the great edicts ( inscriptions ) of my beloved Raja Raja Chola. Being there, standing amidst the massive edifice often leaves me under a spell,the air brings in many familiar scents, to be able to see the words, to be able to read them ( standing for a 1000 years) – its doesnt inspire a sense of awe, but more a feeling of returning to ones home, as though i once belonged there!

Back to the post, we are going to see the top row of impressive Yaazhi riders in this post. there is another row down below, which we will see later ( one thousand thanks to Satheesh for patiently taking these and sending over to me)

At first glance they do look similar, the symmetry is mesmerizing. What you must also notice is that these are action frames, the riders, the prancing yaazhis, the fighters emerging from the mouths are all full of live, frozen in time.

But are they symmetrical, r they just repetitive depictions of the same.

To give you an idea of the size of these beauties, as usual we place a common object..a mineral water bottle

The riders on their part come in a myriad of forms and poses.

The corners of this row of yaazhi riders are interesting as well. An unique mythological animal – a yaazhi as well is shown framing two fighters inside its open mouth – sometimes two yaazhi riders emerge as well. This concept is also seen in various early chola temples ( Chandra and Satheesh – will showcase them as well shortly)

What beautiful miniatures, next time please do not miss them.

19 thoughts on “The Yaazhi riders of Tanjore

  1. நன்றி விஜய்,

    யாம் பெற்ற இன்பம் பெறுக வையகம் என்றுதான் புகார் கூறினேன். பாருங்கள் சொன்ன உடனே ஒரு பதிவை கொடுத்து விட்டீர்கள்…

    இந்த யாளி வீரர்கள், அதன் வரிசை யாவற்றையும் எனக்கு விளக்கியது தாங்கள்தான், மேலும் இந்த படங்கள் எடுக்கப் பட்டதும் தங்கள் வழிகாட்டுதலின் பேரில்தான்.

    படத்தில் பார்ப்பதை விட நேரில் பார்க்க வேண்டும், ஒவ்வொரு யாளியும் ஒவ்வொரு விதமாய் இருக்கும். அதன் கண்கள், வாய் அமைப்பு, அதன் மீது இருக்கும் வீரர்களின் செய்கைகள் ஒவ்வொன்றும் ஒவ்வொரு விதமாய் இருக்கும். அத்தனையும் கொள்ளை அழகு. இதே போன்று புள்ளமங்கை, தாராசுரம், கங்கைகொண்ட சோழபுரம், திருவையாறு…என்று ஏராளமான கோயில்களில் இந்த யாளிகளைப் பார்க்கலாம்.

  2. To my mind, the finest Yazhis I’ve seen were at the earlier temples of Narttamalai, Kodumbalur and Srinivasanallur

  3. Dear VJ,

    A story about Raja Raja is that while his artisans were busy working, chiseling and carving in the scorching son, whenever they would they would pause to wipe their sweat, a person at hand would promptly give them a cloth or a think towel to wipe their brow. Similarly after a deep bout of concentration and finishing part work of a sculpture, the artisan under the same scorching sun will feel like having a glass of water or in those days thin buttermilk which is still popular in Tamil country (half water half curd mixed to form butter milk or moar as we call in Tamil), the same person at hand will immediately offer them the glass of water or butter milk. Do you all know who that person was? It was none other than Raja Raja Chola I himself!!!!!! No wonder for such a dedicated king, which artist will not like to give off his best.. naturally the result shows even in the miniatures brought forth by you. A very good effort pls, keep it up.


  4. hi satheesh…very few have the patience to do this, am thankful to have your support.

    hi kathie, yes, those are the ones already submitted by chandra and satheesh already. but wanted to take the big temple to start with…

    dear cheenu

    there are many such regarding RRC and the big temple, how many of them are true , how many are myth, how to find out. comes back to the main question – the outside is embellished with such beauty, while the inside is left halfdone..


  5. These Yaazhis look pretty similar to the Dragons which are also mythical. I wonder how did ppl from totally different places have such similar imagiations!
    Were they really mythical or did they actually exist?

  6. hi VJ,
    All the pictures are very nice. I went to the temple 3times in my school days . Before reading PS i am not much intrested in it.But after reading the novel and joining in this group i learned very much about the history and i am very eager to see these sculptures.


  7. The Yaazhis are really awesome!!!
    Olden days people are very great especially for their great sculptures


  8. யாளியாய்த் தெரியலை, அற்புத சிற்பங்கள். யாளி இல்லைனு தேவ் அவர்களும் சொல்லி இருக்கார் போல! யாளிக்கு திறந்த வாயிலிருந்து வரும் தும்பிக்கையைக் காணோமே??? என்றாலும் ரொம்ப உழைத்து அருமையான சிற்பங்களைத் தேடிப் பிடித்து வெளிச்சத்திற்குக் கொண்டு வரீங்க. நன்றி.

  9. I am really thankful to you for having introduced me to the South Indian temple art. I was obsessed by what I found in the North but Chola and Pallava arts are splendid.

  10. It is really interesting, the yalis are the hallmark of Indian traditional architecture. As stated by Sateesh, the Yalis are plently in our temples. All are laughing,sleeping, walking and jumping etc., for thousands of years.The cocept, philosophy and iconology of Yalis shoud be known. Many of the scholars as well as historians are totally unfolded it so far. Mathan a popular cartoonist and writer wrongly mentioned in one his Q&A that the concept of Yali (he says it is Lion),had borrowed by Indian from Egept.

  11. hi VJ,
    i’m a student of sastra,who had(ofcourse not now,since i’m dumped in hstl) the oppurtunity of visiting big temple atleast thrice a month…..but not even once i observed these yaalis….amazing post….nice pics to differentiate each yazhi 4m other….i’m now awaiting 4 the day to meet them…..

  12. wow nice name, and thanks for leaving your comments. there are many more chola beauties – yazhi’s seem to be the flavor of the month. will try and post a few more beauties in the coming days


  13. that’s a lovely story, Cheenu. How kind of him!
    I just wish that all themurthis had that wonderful early-Chozha quality. . . .

  14. நிச்சயம் அற்புதமான படங்களும் உங்களின் விளக்கமும் எல்லோரையும் மகிழ்விக்கும்

  15. நிச்சயம் அற்புதமான சிற்பங்கள், யாளி வீரர்கள் நேரில் பார்க்க வேண்டும், ஒவ்வொரு யாளியும் ஒவ்வொரு விதமாய் இருக்கும். அதன் கண்கள், வாய் அமைப்பு, அதன் மீது இருக்கும் வீரர்களின் செய்கைகள் ஒவ்வொன்றும் ஒவ்வொரு விதமாய் இருக்கும். அத்தனையும் கொள்ளை அழகு. I LIKE ALL THING, I LOVE IT.

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