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Transports of Delight. The Ricksha Arts of Bangladesh. A CD-ROM.

Author and Producer: Joanna Kirkpatrick.
Design/Development: Cap Petschulat.
Publisher: Indiana University Press, 2003.

Publisher ended distribution Dec. 2013.
Available from author

Transports of Delight
The Ricksha Arts of Bangladesh. A (CD-ROM)

Joanna Kirkpatrick

Combining more than 1,000 brilliantly colored photographs, videos, music: a modern Bengali theme song and two sung poems of Bengali mystic Lalon Shah Fakir, and text, this CD-ROM documents a distinctive folk art of urban Bangladesh. The owners of rickshas (conventionally known as "rickshaws" in English) personalize their vehicles with elaborate paintings that incorporate floral and geometric motifs, animals as satire on human foibles or as themselves in combat, and religious themes, village landscapes and urban themes, and pictures of movie stars. There is also a separate file on comparative conveyance arts found outside Bangladesh. Ricksha art is an expression of the fondest desires in men's hearts-for wealth, sex, power, one's village home, religious blessings, and consumer goods.

Joanna Kirkpatrick has photographed these vehicles for more than 20 years, cataloging styles and motifs. Her study becomes a window on Bangladesh culture and religion, as she examines the questions posed by pictorial representation in a Muslim society. Thanks to Transports of Delight, general audiences interested in South Asian folk art and aficionados of pedicabs around the world will join scholars and students of South Asia and Bangladesh on an enjoyable and informative journey.

System requirements: PC system with display set for 16 bit color at 800x600 resolution, 4x or better CD-ROM drive, Apple QuickTime 4 or better, Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher. Video segments require Pentium II Processor.

Mac computers with Windows can run this CDR.
Joanna Kirkpatrick retired in 1994 as Professor of Anthropology from
Bennington College, where she taught for 27 years. Author of The
Sociology of an Indian Hospital Ward
, articles and reviews, she has
conducted fieldwork in South Asia on folk art, gender studies, popular
culture, and medical anthropology.


A movie banner artist touches up his masterpiece--the lush, enticing, and gigantic face of a beautiful woman, a film star, a heroine of movie nights in squalid theaters and the daydreams of ordinary men of the streets.  Shadowed in blue, they penetrate the heart. She is the representative metaphor of this collection of ricksha art images, a popular medium which represents the heart's desires of ordinary men, as manifested in the objects of their gaze.

 Contents of the CD: 

Opening animation screens with title, author, banner artist, and theme song, followed by the Main Menu, which presents the four main sections of the CD: 

      Ricksha Arts: A General Introduction [continues the theme song, Boro shundor duti chok tomar..., referenced in the text in this section]

Ricksha Art Images [contains the bulk of the photos; interpretation and analysis] 

 Streets and Views [contains four video clips of rickshas in context, with natural sound plus two songs by famous Bengali spiritual minstrel, Lalon Shah Fakir]

       Readings [contains three interpretive articles by the author; a reprint of the first scholarly article on Pakistani truck art; and a reprinted article on ricksha art by the author, translated into Bangla. These articles are all illustrated.]  This section also includes Selected Bibliography and Glossary.

 Organization of the section,  Ricksha Art Images:

 Setting the Scene, Ricksha Imagery

Comparisons and Precedents, Chronology

            Ricksha Imagery files: Gorgeous Rickshas; Artists and Mistris; Regional Styles: Chittagong and Comilla;Dhaka; Pabna; Rajshahi; Animals: Animal Frolics, Icons of Power, Waterhole Variations, Combats, Peaceful Encounters, Animal-Human Interactions, Animal Heralds, Birds; City Scenes; People Pictures; Piety; Village and Country; Hoods; Baby Taxis 1983-97; Baby Taxis 1998; Rickshas, Dhaka, 1998; Tempos; Poster Prints; Advertising.

 Video titles in Streets and Views:

  Dhaka Streets, 5:58; Country Roads, 6:15; Riverside, 6:23; Artists and Mistris, 6:32 

 Article titles from Readings

 Life Is Short, the Art Long: Reflections on Fieldwork and Interpretation, by J. Kirkpatrick

   Metaphor and Motive in Bangladeshi Ricksha Art. A Burkean Reading, by J. Kirkpatrick 

    Peaceable Kingdoms, or, the Cosmic Waterhole. A Comparison of Popular Images from the USA, Pakistan, and Thailand, by J.Kirkpatrick

Bedford Painting in Pakistan: The Aesthetics and Organization of an Artisan Trade, by George W. Rich and Shahid Khan

   Mobile Fantasy --- an article on ricksha art by J. Kirkpatrick translated into Bangla [Bengali language]; from the original English version.

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