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Panchaloha (also called Panchaloham or Panchaloha - literally, five metals) is a term for traditional five-metal alloys of sacred significance used for making Hindu temple icons (Murti). Making Panchaloha images were a well kept secret for a long time and their color changing properties added to the mysticism. The most famous Panchaloha statue , that of Nataraja (The Dancing Lord) was confiscated during British Colonial rule.

The composition is laid down in the Shilpa shastras, an ancient Sanskrit text on icon making. It is traditionally described as an alloy of gold, silver, copper, brass and iron, but copper is the major constituent, making Panchaloga generically a cast brass or bronze.

Practical compositions are Cu, Au, Ag, Pb and Zn; Cu, Ag, Pb, Fe and Sn; and Sn, Cu, Fe, Pb, and brass. Because of the cost, Au and Ag are now omitted from general-purpose icons, where copper, brass, and lead in the ratio 29:2:1 are used.



    Further reading

    • The Lost-Wax Casting of Icons, Utensils, Bells, and Other Items in South India, R.M. Pillai, S.G.K. Pillai, and A.D. Damodaran, October 2002, JOM.
    This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Panchaloga". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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