BRONZE: The Mirror of the Form

Bronze Age Weapons and Tools - photo by Monaghan County Council

Bronze sculptures can be a stunning work of art with a strong impression. Bronze works are a classic, and make fine collections with various interesting figurines; they have also been known to be quite valuable.

Bronze has been used for centuries to make vital basic implements, platters, parts of furniture, figurines, axes, coins and medals, musical instruments, plaques, and other artefacts, while at some point in history, bronze figurines were melted and used to make ammunition and weapons for war.

Museums have housed many bronze artefacts up until now, and antique collectors usually find them to be a worthy collectable.


Ancient Bronze Dagger Sword, 2nd millennium B.C, Western Asiatic, South Caspian Sea region, Azerbaijan – photo by Antique Sword

The history of Bronze and the Bronze Age dates back to the 4th Millennium BC, starting in India and West Eurasia. The use of Bronze continued through the 3rd and 2nd Millennia BC in China and was sustained through different ages in other parts of Asia, Europe and beyond.

In 704BC – 681BC, Monumental Bronze Statues (30 tonnes big) were made with two-part mould, by King Sennacherib of Assyria. He claimed to be the first one to apply monumental bronze cast in this way rather than using the lost-wax technique, which was what was used in that era.

The Indians also used the lost-wax technique to build statues in very complicated and stylish patterns. The Hindu artists in the Chola Empire practised this technique, producing well-decorated statues that represented their deities. These works have been preserved up until now.

An Egyptian Bronze Toilet Mirror, 18th Dynasty, ca.1539-1292 B.C. – photo by Sands of Time Ancient Art

The Ancient Greek were known for their huge Bronze Sculptures which were their most valuable works of art, although not many of them were preserved past the Medieval Periods when Bronze was seen as very valuable and in high demand and low supply. After that, many of the Bronze statues were melted and used for items that were more valuable to them like coins, armours and the likes. The only memories of these statues were preserved in their duplicates in Marble Statues by the Romans.

The Egyptians were known for Bronze Mirrors around 2040 BC–1750 BC. Bronze Mirrors were also made in Europe in the 6th Century BC, by the Etruscans. The Romans and the Greek and the Japanese (18th Century AD) also made these Bronze Mirrors.

Bronze Antiques

Bronze Antiques thrive for their durability, and are highly priced and valued collectables that are associated with prestige. They are made into various materials like works of art and different types of functional tools.

Greek Spartan Corinthian Armour – photo by Etsy

The Greek in ancient times made their Ships and Armour out of Bronze; they also made Bronze Statues representing Greek gods.

Bronze Mirrors were commonly in use in the Roman and Egyptian Empires and later other parts of the world before the advent of Glass Mirrors. Because of its convex shape, a small mirror could reflect a lot.

Struck Idiophones made of Bronze like Bronze Bells (3,600BC), Bronze Singing Bowls (16th – 18th Centuries), Cymbals, Stringed Instruments like Harpsichord, Guitar, Piano, Gongs and so on, are Bronze Musical Instruments over the Centuries. Some other Bronze Musical Instruments included Bronze Drums (2,000 years), and Bronze Flat Plates. Some Saxophones are also made of Bronze.

Bronze being quite valuable were used to make Coins and Medals from earlier centuries. Bronze Medals are given to the Third Place Winners at competitions after Gold and Silver for the first and second place winners; this started from the Summer Olympics in 1904, but before that, in 1896, Bronze Medals were given to second place winners while silver was given to first place winners.

Types of Bronze

Bronze exists in different compositions and consistencies, thus there are different types of Bronze:

Silicon Bronze – A mixture of Si, Mn, Fe, Zn, Pb, and Cu.

Plastic Bronze – is predominantly made of Lead used for constructing ships (by the Greek).

Bismuth Bronze – made of copper, nickel, zinc, lead and bismuth, and is used mostly for items like mirrors and reflectors.

Commercial Bronze – made of copper, lead, and zinc, and used for architectural applications.

Phosphor Bronze – used for making propellers of ships, electrical contacts and some (parts of) musical instruments like piano strings and guitar strings.

Aluminium Bronze – used for making machine tool ways and making bearings due to its toughness and durability.

Some other types of Bronze include Giltz Bronze, Artemision Bronze, Chola Bronze, and other types used for various works of art and tools.

Bronze Suitability

Antique bronze horse statue, Italian – photo by Antiques Plus

Bronze being tougher than other formerly used materials like copper and stone was a better choice for sculptors, builders, armour makers and bronze smiths. Bronze was also preferred for many different reasons:

Generally, Bronze contains materials that enable friction, and so are preferred to be used for making bearings and the likes. However, other metals against bronze are exhibiting lower levels of friction, making it ideal for cannons, where a bronze cannon can roll out a cannonball of a different metal without the ball being stuck in the cannon. Bronze is further preferred for bushings and automobile transmission pilot bearings.

Bronze is preferred for tools like wrenches and hammers because it can be used against other metals and hard surfaces without producing sparks, unlike other metals to metal or stone would.

For making Sculptures, Bronze is preferable, as it has the ability to expand over and into crannies of a mould, and taking every single detail of the form, and shrinks after cooling enabling cast to detach from the mould, producing a very fine and detailed piece of art. It is also more suitable for figurines in action forms.

Statue of Zeus in Artemision Bronze – photo by Wikipedia

Some Notable Bronze Statues and Sculptures

The Bronze Statue of Liberty, The Bronze Statue of Zeus/ Poseidon (c.460BC), The Victorious Youth (4th – 2nd Centuries BC), Chinese Ritual Bronze, Bronze Snail Shell, Bronze Heads of Benin Royals (from Nigeria), Bronze Statue of Queen Sembiyan Mahadevi as the goddess of Parvati; among many others.



Avoiding contact with some yeast species that can result in microbial degradation (and treating them altogether) is a basic way of preserving Bronze Antiques.


Bronze Antiques have been collectables of high value, from Large Bronze Statues to little Bronze Coins. Having Bronze Antiques is a thing of pride even for elites and royals. Many art and antiques collectors crave these kinds of collections that can be kept and valued for another couple of centuries; preserving the histories of Africa (Benin Kingdom Bronze Heads), Europe (Greek Bronze Statues), East Asia (Chinese Ritual Bronzes), and other parts of the world.