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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Yazh (Ancient Indian Instrument)

The yazh (yaaḻ) is an harp used in ancient Tamil music which was the ancestor of modern day veena. It was named so, because the tip of stem of this instrument was carved into the head of the mythological animal Yali. The yazh was an open-stringed polyphonous instrument, with gut strings (narambu) with a wooden boat-shaped skin-covered resonator and an ebony stem.

Thiruvalluvar, the 200 BC Tamil poet, mentions yazh in his work Thirukkural. Many major Tamil classical literary masterpieces written during Sangam period dating back 200 BC have mentioned the yazh. Silappatikaram, written by a Tamil king Ilango Adigal, mentions four kinds of yazhs:
• Periyazh, 21 strings
• Makarayazh, 19 strings
• Cakotayazh, 14 strings
• Cenkottiyazh, 7 strings
Other types of yazh are:
• Mayil Yazh - resembling a peacock
• Vil Yazh - resembling a bow

The Tamil literature Perumpāṇāṟṟuppaṭai says the strings of a yazh should not have any twists in them. Silappatikaram mentions four types of defects in yazh. Other Tamil literature which have mentions on yazh are Seevaga Sindhamani and Periya Puranam.[7] Yazh are seen in sculptures in the Darasuram and Thirumayam temples in Tamil Nadu and also in Amaravathi village, Guntur district.[8] Swami Vipulananda has written a book of scientific research in Tamil called the Yal Nool
This particular instrument has a great history in Indian literatures but in today's world hardly people learn and play it. Yazh is called as Royal Harp which is famous in western countries. It is more and more becoming a western instrument than Indian instrument. In many cases we are loosing grip on our culture and tradition. One day others will claim the proprietorship of all Indian tradition. Indians are becoming more aliens to their culture and tradition.