Bangladeshi Arts

Bangladeshi Arts

Bangladeshi art, the art of East Bengal, which has existed in these borders since 1971, which geographically forms the connection between South and Southeast Asia with its extensive delta region of the Ganges and Brahmaputra.

Artistically, this area was based exclusively on India (Indian art), with Bengal having certain regional peculiarities.

In the four centuries before the beginning of our Common Era, maritime trade developed, especially with Southeast Asia. In the course of the prosperity that set in, there were early artistic expressions in the form of terracotta figures and plaques with figurative representations, mostly female figures, presumably representing deities (for example relief tablets from Mahasthan, 2nd – 1st century BC). The most important archaeological sites in Bangladesh that can be traced back to this time are Mahasthan in the northwest and Wari-Bateshwar not far from Dhaka. Mahasthan, the old Pundranagara, served various great empires (including Maurya, Gupta) as the seat of the provincial administration and provides finds from the 3rd century BC. BC to the 12th century AD While references to art and architecture in Bengal remain rather sparse until the middle of the 8th century, artistic production reached its peak during the period of Palakunst (9th – 12th centuries). In the phase of the beginning boom, in the early Pala period, towards the end of the 8th century, the construction of what is probably the largest Buddhist monastery and temple complex in India, the Somapura Mahavihara in Paharpur, falls.

According to, the Salvan Vihara in Mainamati forms a similar, but smaller, complex at about the same time. Both monasteries existed until the 12th century.

Polished slate slabs with strong sculptural reliefs are typical of Pala art, with numerous secondary figures grouped around a central figure. Expression and proportion are still reminiscent of the classical period; the forms are fluid, but show a solidification and stylization over time, especially in the ensuing Sena art (12th – 13th centuries). Buddhist and Hindu themes are presented. Significant book illumination also developed during the Pala period.

The traditional stone temple architecture of the Hindus and Jainas (9th – 15th centuries; among others in Charra, Telkupi) is closely linked to that of Orissa in India. An early phase of the brick temple falls in the 12th – 13th centuries. Century (Deulghata, 12th century). Ornamental or figurative terracotta panels are a popular form of decoration on pre-Mughal mosques (including in Bagherhat, 15th century, and Bagha, 1523) and mausoleums as well as on later Hindu temples (Kantanagar near Dinajpur, 1752).

A local design, originally derived from the hut and used by both religions, the “Bangla” (bungalow) or “Chala”, is characterized by the curved eaves line of the roof and a massive brick construction with relatively small openings for doors and windows. In Hindu temples there are turrets with pointed crowns, in mosques there are domes on the roofs. Since the Mughal period, stucco ornamentation replaced terracotta ornamentation in Islamic architecture. The most magnificent monument of the Mughal period is the tomb of Bibi Pari (late 17th century) in Dhaka, located in the middle of a garden, with marble work in the interior.

An important building of the following colonial period is the Curzon Hall in Dhaka, built in the Indo-Aracen style in the early 20th century. It was there that L. Kahn completed a successful example of contemporary architecture in 1982 with the »Jatiya Sangsad Bhavan« parliament building.

Zainul Abedin (* 1914, † 1976) is considered the most important representative of modern Bangladeshi painting. He became known for his famine sketches (“Famine Sketches”, 1943) and headed the art institute founded in Dhaka in 1948. His predominantly academic style with a tendency towards expressiveness initially included elements of traditional painting (geometric shapes, use of basic colors, renunciation of perspective) and also influenced art in what was then West Pakistan (Pakistani art).

Bangladeshi Arts