Staff Correspondent // The area of the folk-arts of Bangladesh is very wide. The multifarious world of the folk-arts of Bangladesh is made with designed cake, Patachitra (designed frame), Nakshi Pakha (designed fan), Shital Pati (fancy mats), Nakshi Kantha (embroidered quilt), designed shika, fancy fans, baskets, flower vases of bamboo and reed, folk ornaments, folk-musical instruments etc. Different folk-paintings are made in various religious rites and celebration in the village areas of Bangladesh. Folk art generally includes those articles that are traditionally made by communities of people to satisfy their religious, social and aesthetic needs.
In one-way, folk art is a genre of art of unknown origin that reflects the traditional values of a society, but in another side, folk art is not usually in the form of paintings. So, folk art is a result of ordinary people expressing themselves through their creation and construction of utilitarian objects that convey meaning and value to themselves or others within their culture. Typically, the patterns, motifs, techniques and materials have special significance and can reveal a great deal about a cultural society. Because the construction and everything involved in folk art reveals much about the essential values or characteristics of a society.
In Mangal Shobhajatra, the traditional style of folk art in Bangladesh is reintroduced in a different manner. If we recall the history of Bangladesh, we can realize that people started protesting for their language, identity, freedom, culture, human rights and for many other things. And Mangal shobhajatra was the continuation of those protest. They used art as a weapon which created a language against sinister forces. There was no aggressive written placard, no disturbing caricature against government, their way of celebrating New year,started people rethink about problem which would be solved together. It was not only a protest against government, it was also a way to acknowledge people about their culture.
Tiger as a symbol of Bangladeshi identity reflecting in Mangal shobhajatra
The Royal Bengal Tiger is considered the national animal of Bangladesh. Tigers can be seen to the forests of the Sundarban and the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Tiger represent royalty, fearlessness and wrath. But this is not the only reason of making Tiger sculpture in Mangal Shobhajatra. For naturalists, the Sundarbans have always held an irresistible charm. In Sundarban where thousands of islands dot this unique realm between the dry land of the Subcontinent and the Bay of Bengal, the most extensive mangrove forest on Earth. A dwindling population of Bengal tigers roam the land in the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers. The estuarine crocodile, the Irrawaddy and Ganges dolphins and the Indian python are also at home there. “The Rampal coal power plant was becoming a threat to the existence of the Sundarbans ecosystem and its inhabitants. The plant would also release 220 tons of toxic air pollutants daily and wreak havoc on the climate with vast amounts of carbon dioxide that could effect mostly animals including tiger. The Bengal Tigers are decreasing by ongoing dredging in the area and they would gradually disappear if building of coal plants continue around Rampal. As a protest they made this huge sculpture in 2016 as a representation of Sundarban.
Moreover the making of Tiger sculpture is also very ancient in Bangladesh. In village fair, the local sculptors used to make these form which attract mostly children because of its color. Mainly two types of color are used, yellow and orange. Sometime tiger can be seen with buck where buck is removing fishbone from the mouth of tiger which has ben taken from the popular story of buck and tiger. In 2018 one sculpture was made by focusing on this story where the buck was decorated with blue leaf like pattern in white background. In 2018 two huge tiger sculpture were made where the face of tiger were painted with traditional mask pattern in black background. The portrait is little similar with the elephant sculpture where the full body is decorated in black background.
On the other hand hundreds of tiger mask is made for mangal shobhajatra where students of fine arts use their academic skills to renovate the traditional mask style and the implementation of color is mostly influenced by rickshaw painting and Sara painting where a lot of vibrant color are used…
A paper by Pallab Saha Studying Art History and Aesthetics in MSU of Baroda, Gujarat, India.