The Fiddle Player (“Yazh Paadi” in Tamil Language/யாழ் பாடி)


Jaffna is the Capital city of the Sri-Lanka’s Northern Province. Jaffna is called as Yazhpanam (யாழ்ப்பாணம்) in Tamil Language. Yazh (யாழ்) means Fiddle/Harp like musical instrument which originates from Tamil Nadu, India. Panam (பாணம்) means city. Simply the meaning as, the City of Fiddle Players. The Jaffna Kingdom existed at the time of 1215-1624 CE.

Yazhini is common name, among Tamil girls which derives from Yazh, means sweet voice.

Yazh is a Fiddle like musical instrument. It was mentioned in “Thirrukkural” as well. The tip of the Dandi or the stem of this instrument was carved into the head of the weird animal Yali(Yali is a mythological creature), it was named Yazhi or Yazh. Yazh is held in a vertical position while playing it. The Yazh had many limitations. Only straight notes could be played on this instrument & it takes a long time to tune the instrument.

Peri Yazh had 21 strings; Makara Yazh had 17 strings; Sakota Yazh had 16 strings; Senkotti Yazh had 7 strings. Seeri Yazh, Maruththuva Yazh and Adi Yazh are other varieties which are mentioned in ancient Tamil Literature.

There is a very interesting true story, existing behind this name Yazhpanam. The people of Jaffna believe that their ancestor came from South India. His name is unknown, but some stories refer his name as Ragavan. There is no evidence regarding his name. Most of the time, he is referred as Yazh Paadi. He was a blind person, but plays Yazh very well. His wife used to scold him, that he is blind & useless. One day he had an argument with his wife & he left his house with his Musical instrument. As his house was near to beach, he managed to get into the boat. Not knowing where to go his boat was carried away by the sea waves. He ended up in Northern Coast of Sri-Lanka. The Kings soldiers caught him in the sea shore & took him to the King. When the King heard that he was a musician, he wanted him to play the Yazh. He played Yazh for the King. King was amazed by his talent & presented him the dry land which existed under his Kingdom. Yazh Paadi was very happy he went back to South India & brought his wife, children & relatives to that land which he earned. Since that land was known as Yazhpanam.

The Yazh is played in this song

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