Dhaka’s rickshaws on UNESCO cultural heritage list


News Desk :
UNESCO has put the rickshaws and rickshaw paintings of Dhaka on its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The ongoing convention on safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in Botswana made the decision on Wednesday, reports bdnews24.com

The three-wheeled passenger cart pedalled by rickshaw-pullers, and the colourful paintings are the fifth from Bangladesh to make it to the list.

The Shital Pati weaving of Sylhet was the last to be added to the list in 2017 after the Managal Shobhajatra on Pahela Baishakh, the traditional art of Jamdani weaving, and the Baul songs.

State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid described the listing of rickshaws on the list as a rare honour, according to a statement from the ministry.

It thanked the foreign ministry, Bangla Academy, the National Museum and the Bangladesh Embassy in Paris for the achievement after failed bids in the past six years.


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.

As they are slow-moving vehicles, the paintings and decorations are easily visible to onlookers, thus becoming a roving exhibition.
The UNESCO said 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.

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 UN culture agency said.