St. Gallen

Swiss Embassy

Bengal Art Gallery

"Art for Artists"

St. Gallen





Rickshaws: a museum full of folk arts

St.Gallen Rickshaws



In Bangladesh, you hardly need to walk. Once you reach a street or road, one or more rickshaws will appear, with the little silver bell tinkling to get your attention. It takes a little practice to climb into the seat gracefully, but once your are ensconced and your destination is settled, the driver (commonly known as Rickshawwala, usually rural migrants) steps up from the seat, and the journey begins. 

But a Rickshaw itself is a piece of art. When it moves from one place to another, it not only moves with the passenger and other load, but it moves with a museum full of folk arts.  Every inch of the Rickshaw is well decorated with paintings, tassels, tinsel and colourful plastic and hood works. Rickshaw hoods, foot holds, seats and in the back side, even in frame and in chassis there is a sign of art. A charismatically painted rectangular metal board at the backside, between the two wheels, leaves a trail of passion that the Rickshaw artist puts in his creations.  In a word a Rickshaw of Bangladesh is  a blaze of colours. 

Art moving by on wheels needs to be bold and eye-catching. Rickshaw artists aim to decorate the vehicles with as much drama and colour as possible, and paint images that are both simple and memorable. The motifs of the Rickshaw paintings are varied and changing. They range from scenery relating to the realities of their life to nature in Bangladesh, scenes from films, futuristic cities, exotic birds, villages of Bangladesh, War of Liberation, Gulf War of 1990, War against Terror (Aghan war, Iraq war) and so on. In most cases artists depend on poster of films and calendars, but they also use their own imaginations to do Rickshaw paintings. 

The advent of technology and faster life has had its impact on Rickshaw and Rickshaw paintings, too. Screen prints with the use of digitally mastered pictures are increasingly replacing the traditional hand paintings. Screen printing is fast and cheap, and the output is photogenic. Therefore the Rickshaw owners now a days prefer to use these screen prints, leaving behind the once-popular hand paints. Many of the Rickshaw artists are now shifting to alternative professions simply for the sake of survival.  

The Government is also imposing restrictions on the plying of Rickshaw in main roads and streets (particularly in the capital city of Dhaka) because these slow-moving non-mechanical vehicles are one of the prime reasons for traffic jams in the overcrowded urban areas. 

This exhibition offers for our viewers a display of a brand new fancy Rickshaw, an old out-of-the-street Rickshaw and an old Rickshaw Van that is used for carrying loads. Also available are a number of Rickshaw paintings with many different motifs, some of them are new and some are old ones collected directly from Rickshaws of the street.

We hope that you will enjoy watching the exhibition.


St. Gallen Rickshaws:


The St. Gallen Rickshaws




Rickshwa Painting


65 x 25 cm


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