Alpona – The Art Form of a Bengal

Brenda T. Weitzman

In many ways, Bengal may be seen as the focal point from which the Indian renaissance actually started spreading its waves. From very early times, Bengal has prospered in a number of art forms and cultural events most of which have been reflected in its traditional rituals and festivities. The art form that is popularly referred to as the ‘alpona’ (‘alpana’ alternately), is originally a decorative art found in common households of rural Bengal that has evolved over time.

The ‘alpona’ is one of Bengal’s most cherished imaginative expressions and is a graphic art. It was primarily painted on the borders of doors and windows and around the mud huts by village women to welcome the blessings of the Almighty and ward off evil at the same time. It was also painted as a decoration on earthen pottery, cookware and on other terracotta work. The basic alpona patterns use common motifs in a number of variations. Usually the feet of Goddess Lakshmi, the lotus flower, paddy leafs and other familiar symbols of prosperity are used but the art has been perfected by incorporating a lot of innovative elements in the design.

The authentic alpona is a pattern in white as the main ingredient used to paint is a mixture of powdered rice in water. The consistency has to be such that it is neither too runny nor too stiff. The women do not use a brush and use their fingers expertly to form designs on the chosen surface. In the modern version of the alpona several other ingredients are being used for the sake of convenience. Also, if the patterns are being drawn on cemented or tiled floors, the rice powder mixture does not leave a very prominent mark behind. Therefore, acrylic colours, zinc oxide, paste of chalks, poster and fabric colours are better options in that case. Also the stark white look is modified at times by the use of different colours. The designs too have seen lot of innovations and alterations.

In other parts of India, the related art form is referred to as the ‘rangoli’, the word being derived from ‘rang’ which means colour. Unlike the typical alpona, rangoli traditionally is a riot of colours and the authentic designs are mostly floral. Also, it normally uses colours in a powdered form or coloured flower petals as in South India.

Next Post

Sam and Lily Nottleman Decoy Makers

Behind every quality decoy is a quality sculptor. Two of the industry’s leading craftsmen are Sam and Lily Nottleman. If you’ve begun collecting decoys then you should definitely know these names. They form a team that creates some of the top decoy pieces available. Here are some fascinating details that […]

You May Like