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 their mysticism. The most famous Panchaloha statue, that of Nataraja (The Dancing Lord) was removed 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, brass, and iron with copper as the major constituent; this makes 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, gold and silver are now omitted from the manufacture of general-purpose icons, where copper, brass, and lead in the ratio 29:2:1 are used.
- 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.ml:പഞ്ചലോഹം