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Rickshaws and Rickshaw Paintings were Recognized by UNESCO

Sometimes the village’s nature – the river, the fields of the pre-harvest season, the blue sky of autumn; sometimes children are going to school with books in hand, farmers are working in the fields; sometimes the tiger’s footprint, scenes from a movie – all these come to life in rickshaw art. The unique tradition of Bengal enlivens these rickshaw paintings in the small markets of the villages or on the busy streets of the capital.

Finally, Dhaka’s rickshaw and rickshaw art has been recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage. This approval was given at the 18th session of the International Council held in Botswana, an African country, on Wednesday. After the traditional Jamdani weaving, Shitalpati weaving, Baul songs, and Mangal Shobhajatra, the fifth intangible cultural heritage of the country, ‘Dhaka’s Rickshaw and Rickshaw Art,’ was recognized during the last six years.

The UNESCO committee’s session began in Kasane city on Monday. The three-hour session on Wednesday presented diverse cultural heritages from various countries worldwide. At this time, representatives of the respective countries made brief statements. Bangladesh was represented by Khandaker Muhammad Talha, the newly appointed Ambassador of Bangladesh to Paris, and Waliul bin Kashem, the first secretary at the Embassy.

The session was broadcast live on UNESCO’s YouTube account. Bangladesh’s session began at 1:30 pm local time. At this time, information graphics were presented about Bangladesh’s rickshaws and rickshaw art. It was stated that the three-wheeled vehicles in Dhaka city have various colors and diversity. As a means of transportation, the rickshaw ranks first in the list of people’s preferences in the city. It is mentioned that rickshaw art is not just a craft; it is a contemporary narrative of human life. Through rickshaw art, stories are told about various subjects, starting from nature in Bangladesh to contemporary life, and even actors’ facial expressions in movies.

Although the registration and recognition process of this artwork has been ongoing for the last six years, the first attempt was unsuccessful. When the opportunity to submit a new proposal came up in 2022, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, with the assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Bangladesh in Paris, prepared the entire document anew. State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid and Secretary Khalil Ahmed have congratulated the achievement, describing it as a rare honor for Bangladesh. In addition to praising the achievement, they congratulated the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Bangla Academy, the National Museum, and the Embassy of Bangladesh in Paris for their cooperation in the registration and recognition process.

Representatives, ministers, and ambassadors from more than a hundred countries present at the UNESCO General Assembly congratulated Bangladesh’s ambassador to UNESCO for the country’s success. Through the diverse external expression of this artwork, they expressed satisfaction. With this recognition, Bangladesh has added another feather to its cap of continuous success in UNESCO.

On November 15, during the 42nd session of the General Assembly, Bangladesh’s representative was elected as a member of the Executive Council of UNESCO. Describing the continuous success of Bangladesh in the field of intangible heritage, the dignitaries of the member countries, ministers, and ambassadors present at the General Assembly congratulated the Ambassador of Bangladesh to UNESCO. This artwork, which started with the slogan ‘Preserving the Intangible Heritage,’ has now received further recognition at this UNESCO assembly. In addition to the pride of India, the heritage of several other countries, including Cuba and Mexico, has also been recognized worldwide.

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