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RICKSHAW ART dhaka bangladesh


RICKSHAW ART dhaka bangladesh

The rickshaws, which originated in Japan in the 19th century, were originally built as two wheelers and pulled by human beings in a highly physical way. Today the threewheeled pedal and chain models are the most used in Dhaka and have surprisingly given rise to a popular form of visual folk art. Rickshaw art is inspired by movie posters and cinema culture that is widespread in the region. Most of the rickshaw artists have their creative roots in Bengali folk art and base their visual art on colorful depictions of actors and movie scenes. Striking colours such as reds, blues and greens are combined with distinctive patterns and motifs taken from nature, including plants, flowers, birds and other animals. Local village scenes are also often depicted through this

form of visual art. The rickshaw artists are commonly referred to as “tools man” (“mistry” in Bengali, which means a man who works with tools) and their status in society is far from being that of a fine artist. They remain associated to the realities of street life. In that respect, rickshaw art has never been considered a form of “high art” (placed in museums or galleries) but rather a popular form of cultural expression that took shape on the streets of Dhaka. It is at the core of the city life that the art became infused with local character. In 1998, a few young college students brought rickshaw art to a new level. High street boutiques and fashion businesses such as Jatra explored new interpretations for the rickshaw style and saw its application within fashion and interior design: dresses,


accessories, lamps, mirrors, chairs and tables were created amongst other things. More recently, fine art galleries have even organized exhibitions showcasing rickshaw art as a local form of pop art. Despite the growing popularity of this practice and its first footsteps in the fine art world, the “mistrys� remain for the most part anonymous and stay away from the spotlights. They are dedicated to hard work and quietly perfect their art with

a few brushes, some enamel paints while mastering their unique craftsmanship skills. This article was written with the help of Mir Shariful Karim who collected images and information from different local sources including Mr. Maruf and Mr. Liton Saha. Written by Sali Sasaki Photographs by Mir Shariful Karim

RICKSHAW ART dhaka bangladesh


Rickshaw Art - Dhaka, Bangladesh  

The rickshaws, which originated in Japan in the 19th century, were originally built as two wheelers and pulled by human beings in a highly p...

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