What is the percentage composition of metals in panchaloha (also known as Pancha dhatu)?

4 Answers

  • sb
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    Silpasastras prescribe the composition of the alloy to be chosen for casting sacred icons. Archaeologists have excavated icons and idols proving that for the last 3,000 years, panchaloha (literally meaning an alloy of five metals) has been most widely used for making icons and idols. This five-metal combination of Cu, Au, Ag, Pb, and Zn was considered to be a highly auspicious composition and is still used for icons cast for worship. The important sources of information on making panchaloha are recorded in ancient Sanskrit and regional literature, with artisans from South India perfecting the technology. Other compositions of panchaloha cited include Au, Cu, Ag, Pb, Fe, and Sn as well as the combination of Sn, Cu, Fe, Pb, and brass.16 However, because of their high cost, gold and silver are no longer used in general-purpose icons. An alloy made by mixing copper, brass, and lead in the ratio 29:2:1 is commonly utilized for general-purpose icons. In some cases, tin is added in an amount equal to the lead content. Lead is added to make the alloy more malleable so that chiseling and engraving of the icon will be easy. The artisans believe that if the icon is made with copper alone, it will not have a lasting shine, whereas adding a little brass to copper results in a lasting shine and a lower melting point. It may be noted that brass is added as a master alloy to introduce zinc. The artisans calculate the weight of the alloy required to occupy the mold at eight times the weight of the wax model. Melting is carried out in a coke/charcoal-fired furnace using either a commercially available clay graphite crucible or a crucible made of clay by the artisans. When the alloy is being melted, the hollow mold is heated to red hot to drive away air bubbles from the inside of the mold cavity as well as to prevent sudden cooling of the molten metal, which could lead to an uneven surface finish. Heating the mold also prevents the mold from exploding because of the high heat of the liquid metal.

    When the temperatures of the metal and the mold have reached the levels required by the artisan for casting, the red-hot mold is firmly placed or buried in the ground so that only the sprue portion protrudes out. A cloth-wound metal ring is placed on the sprue top to support the hot crucible containing molten metal as well as to prevent overflow of the metal as it is poured into the mold. Care is also exercised that the metal stream does not cover more than half of the sprue opening to allow displaced air to escape from the mold cavity. In order to prevent the entry of any impurities floating on the surface of the molten metal, a piece of knitted jute cloth is used to cover the mouth of the crucible while pouring. The filled mold is allowed to cool slowly, which normally takes a day or more depending on the size of the icon. However, if immediate cooling is necessary, it can be doused with water after 2–3 hours of casting.

    The breaking of the mold to remove the icon is of great significance to the craftsman, since it is not merely an object but a transcendental entity. The fettling of the casting or breaking of the mold is initiated only when the mold has sufficiently cooled. The mold portion holding the icon head is always broken first followed by remaining portions. The iron rods and wires used as reinforcements are separated and preserved for reuse. The clay sticking to the icon is scrapped and then the connecting rods used as support in complicated icons are removed by chiseling. The fettled castings of the child Krishna and a banyan tree leaf are shown in Figure 4. The contours and details of the original wax pattern are recaptured by smoothing the uneven surfaces and then by chiseling. The details of dress and ornaments as well as other final touches are engraved into the icon. The icon surface is smoothed by rubbing it with fine-grade emery paper, and then it is cleaned with tamarind and a soap-nut-water mix and scrubbed with a wire brush. Finally, the piece is brushed with polishing sand and water. The well-finished icon is shown in Figure 5 after the two individually cast parts have been riveted.

    The icon of the child Krishna on a banyan tree leaf (Aal elai krishna in Tamil) was made by Swamimalai artisans. Generally, they use 80% copper, 20% brass, and 5% lead for general-purpose icons. However, for icons to be installed in temples for worship, panchaloha containing 50% Cu, 16% Au, 8% Ag, 10% brass, and 16% Pb is used.

  • 6 years ago

    The composition is laid down in the Shilpa shastras, an ancient Sanskrit text on idol making. It is traditionally described as an alloy of gold(Au), silver(Ag), copper(Cu), iron(Fe) 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, meteorite 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 ratio 29:2:1 are used.

  • 5 years ago

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  • 5 years ago

    what is composition percentage panchaloha

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