To delve into the world of rickshaw art and its mysticism, this Boishakh, Avenue t has sat down in conversation with the faces behind Biskut Factory, the e-platform selling various everyday objects that tell a story.
Do you believe rickshaw art is a wholesome representation of the culture of Bangladesh? How so?
The rickshaw for Bangladesh has turned out to be one of the most important transports for the masses. There are more than one million rickshaws in the country and the number is expanding every day. What’s more, each one of them is brilliant, dynamic and decorated with colourful and vibrant tassels, tinsel, plastic and artwork. This is what you generally refer to as rickshaw art—a workmanship or genre of art that is totally unique to the Bengali culture. Themes incorporate distinctive geometric shapes, blossoms, film stars, creatures, provincial towns, rural scenery and town fairs! Indeed, you shouldn't be surprised if you see for example, the Liberation War, the national monument or the Doyel Chottor plastered at the back of a rickshaw. At whatever point the general public looks at a rickshaw—they can instantly relate to the disposition of traditions we enjoy as a collective identity. Rickshaw resembles a painted deed that speaks to us and our way of life.
[caption id="attachment_258720" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Photo: Courtesy
Which patterns are your favourite; geometric designs, flowers, birds or popular actresses?
It’s hard to choose from all these beautiful subjects. We don’t have any personal favourite. We love all of them. Each of them has its own bold meaning. It is a work of the colours and shades that are teasers and eye-catching. Most of the people in our country use rickshaw for their regular transportation.
Why do you think rickshaw art is so popular in our country?
Rickshaws account for more than half of the vehicles on Dhaka’s streets. In fact, the rickshaw business has a tremendous impact on the urban economy. Did you know that half a million people are related to the rickshaw industry?
What we are getting at is that once you are on a rickshaw, you simply cannot get bored. Art on passing rickshaws makes you enjoy the ride to the fullest. Therefore it’s that popular.
[caption id="attachment_258722" align="aligncenter" width="801"] Photo: Courtesy
To what extent do you think the government and the art industry are responsible to preserve this art form?
A large number of our customers are from abroad and they appear to be intrigued by the rickshaw craftsmanship. A few countries are actually employing rickshaw painters all the way from ours to paint abroad. Some rickshaw artists have been awarded globally. Rickshaw art has picked up a considerable measure of global appreciation but further exposure will spread the magic at a faster pace. Along these lines, we're working and endeavouring to spread this artistic expression everywhere throughout the world.
Where else can you use rickshaw art other than on an actual rickshaw?
You’d be surprised to know the number of merchandises that can sport rickshaw art. From daily accessories to your furniture sets or even on a frame in your room, it can be anything literally. Call us crazy but sometimes we feel like covering the entire city with rickshaw paint. Imagine how mesmerizing it would feel to live in a city that bright.
[caption id="attachment_258723" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Photo: Courtesy
Rickshaw artists are freelance informal artists; how do you think they managed to learn this art form?
I’m sure that those who are in this trade are either self taught or they learn it from other more experienced artists within their reach. Some of them simply inherit the talent from the previous generation and that’s how it goes on.
When was the first time you realized the true beauty of rickshaw art?
We were born and brought up in this city. Rickshaw rides have always been a favourite part of the day, from childhood. We found it fascinating since then. We wondered how they do it! How do they make such beautiful creations? This fascination never quite ceased to exist and that’s how it all started.
Tell us about the Biskut Factory team.
We’re five people in total working together at Biskut Factory currently. But there are also some others who join us periodically. We’re just trying to have fun with our beloved art while spreading something unique across the globe.