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Dhaka Tribune

Unesco recognizes rickshaws and rickshaw paintings in Bangladesh as intangible cultural heritage

  • Recognized as fifth intangible cultural heritage of Bangladesh
  • The global recognition given at the ongoing 18th session
Update : 06 Dec 2023, 10:28 PM

Rickshaw and rickshaw painting in Dhaka has been recognized as an intangible cultural heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).

The global recognition was given at the ongoing 18th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Botswana's Kasane on Wednesday. 

Dhaka's rickshaw and rickshaw painting has been recognized as the fifth intangible cultural heritage of Bangladesh in a gap of about six years after Jamdani and Shital Pati weaving industries, Baul songs and Mongol Shobhajatra.

File image of Rickshaw painting. Photo: Dhaka Tribune

State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid and Secretary Khalil Ahmad termed this achievement as a rare honour for Bangladesh. 

He also congratulated the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangla Academy, National Museum and Bangladesh Embassy in Paris for playing a leading role in the registration and recognition process.

Through this achievement, another feather has been added to the crown of Bangladesh's continuous success in Unesco. 

File image of Rickshaw painting. Photo: Dhaka Tribune

The rickshaw is a small, three-wheeled passenger vehicle that is pulled by one person. It is a recognized feature of Dhaka and Bangladesh as a whole. Traditionally made by hand by a small group of craftsmen, almost every part of a rickshaw is painted with colourful floral patterns, natural imagery, birds and animals, creative depictions of historical events, fables, national heroes, movie stars and text. Rickshaws are also decorated extensively with tassels, plastic flowers and tinsel, said a statement of Unesco. 

“As they are slow-moving vehicles, the paintings and decorations are easily visible to onlookers, thus becoming a roving exhibition. Decorated rickshaws are emblematic of urban life in Dhaka, resulting in exhibitions and festive events and often featuring in films and other artworks. The traditional process of fashioning rickshaws is transmitted by craftsmen in rickshaw workshops, orally and through hands-on training.”

File image of Rickshaw painting. Photo: Dhaka Tribune

Rickshaw painting artists work on commission and usually pass on their knowledge and skills to their children and close relatives. While all rickshaw craftsmen are men, painters include men and women. Rickshaws and rickshaw painting are viewed as a key part of the city’s cultural tradition and a dynamic form of urban folk art, providing inhabitants with a sense of shared identity and continuity,” the statement further added. 

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