The designs of alponas are intrinsically linked to folk rituals such as bratas. They often represent fertility and prosperity rites in many communities. Bidhan Biswas’s exhibition, Alpona of Bengal, at Chhobi-o-Ghor gallery explored the dynamic relationship between bratas and alponas.
The intricately patterned alponas were painted on handmade paper washed with coats of soil and dung to evoke the coarse, dark texture of the courtyards of huts in rural Bengal that compliments the flowing designs of alpona. The detailing of the singular thats or motifs notwithstanding, the composite designs of brata-oriented alponas, such as Punyi Pukur, Poush Parbon, Bhaduli Brata, and Magh Mandal, stood out given their aesthetic appeal. The delicate brush strokes of the mandalas, starkly contrasted with the bolder and more dramatic thats, made each alpona retain its individualism.
Some of the smaller pieces were not as magnetic due to the poor balance between frame space and motifs.