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Example of a Panchaloha murti.

Panchaloha (Sanskrit: पञ्चलोह; Tamil: பஞ்சலோகம், ஐம்பொன்(aimpon); IAST: pañcaloha; Tibetan: ལྕགས་རིགས་སྣ་ལྔWylie: lcags rigs sna lnga) (also called Panchaloham (malayalam: പഞ്ചലോഹം) or Panchadhatu (Sanskrit: पञ्चधातु, lit. five metals) is a term for traditional five-metal alloys of sacred significance, used for making Hindu temple idols (Murti). The method for making Panchaloha images was a well-kept secret for a long period.


The composition is laid down in the Shilpa shastras, an ancient text on idol making. It is traditionally described as an alloy of gold(Au), silver(Ag), copper(Cu), Brass and lead(Pb) as the major constituent. Instead of lead, some use tin (Sn) or zinc (Zn). It is widely believed that wearing jewellery made of Panchaloha / Panchdhatu brings balance in life, self-confidence, good health, fortune, prosperity, and peace of mind.

In some traditions, particularly Tibetan, it was considered auspicious to use thokcha (meteoric iron) either as a component of the alloy in general or for a specific object or purpose. The amount used could vary, depending upon the material's availability and suitability, among other considerations. A small, largely symbolic quantity of "sky-iron" might be added, or it might be included as a significant part of the alloy-recipe.

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, gold and silver are now omitted from the manufacture of general-purpose icons, where copper, brass, and lead in the ratios 29:2:1 are used[citation needed].

See also

Media related to Panchaloha at Wikimedia Commons


Further reading