Last October Fiona and I were in Tamil Nadu, inspecting hotels and developing new itinerary ideas. In particular we were looking for local craft workshops that could be visited and in the temple town of Tanjore we found a community workshop weaving wonderful saris and also a small backyard bronze foundry where we bought a delicate statue of the Goddess Parvati, wife of Lord Shiva and mother of Ganesha. But the bronze had an unusual colour  and on enquiry we discovered that it was the five metal bronze known as Pancha Loha.

Pancha means five and Loha means metal. Panchaloha idols are found in many Hindu temples in India especially in South India. The Panchaloha alloy consists of gold, silver, lead, copper and iron. The percentage of metals used is 4 portions of silver, 1 portion of gold, 8 portions of lead, 8 portions of copper and a small quantity of iron, though this percentage might vary from region to region.

Our lovely Parvati has pride of place on our mantelpiece and she receives our daily puja.

The 'panchaloha' bronze Parvati

The ‘panchaloha’ bronze Parvati