The Yali is an incredibly recurrent motif in Hindu temple architecture. Most often the Yali is portrayed as part lion and part elephant- sometimes also part horse. The Yali sculpted on the outer pillars of the Airavatesvara temple at Darasuram caught my eye because of how exquisitely the sculptors had carved the tail of the creature- yes the tail!
It is normal and natural for sculptors (especially when carving pillars) to pay more attention to the front rather than the back part. However these sculptors took nothing for granted. I love how the tail swirls and curves before settling back down on the creature’s back.
The profile of the Yali is no less exquisite- you can see the fierceness of the lion’s teeth and its exquisite mane- but note the almost gentle fold of the trunk.
It was a bright day so apologies for the slightly washed out look of my photos but I hope you get a sense of what I’m talking about.
If you’re interested you can also look at my earlier post about the pillared hall in this temple.