The most popular means of transportation in Bangladesh and the some of Southeast Asia is the rickshaw. A mode of human powered transport, in Dhaka (the capital of Bangladesh) there are over 600,000, and this makes for some stiff competition for business. One of the main tools in this competition for customers has become the use of decor and artwork on the rickshaw.
Rickshaws in Bangladesh are decorated from bumper to bell with paintings, engravings, tassels, embroidery and even gold leaf in an attempt to attract customers. Incredibly diverse the rickshaw owners, the 'maliks', commission 'mistris' to paint the rickshaws and each have their own tastes and budgets for their fleet. The most important aspect of the art is that it be eye-catching.
The backboards of the rickshaw serve as the focal point of the artwork. The largest blank canvas available, paintings on backboards usually depict rural scenes, animals, the rich and the famous, great monuments and religious symbols. The best time to view the Rickshaw artwork is during rush hour in Dhaka. Just lean back and appreciate the visions of thousands of maliks and the expressions of thousands of mistris as you sit in standstill traffic.
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