Cultural Heritage of Bangladesh

Cultural Heritage of Bangladesh

Shahid Hussain Shamim, CEO, AJIYER fair trade tourism.

Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts  and intangible attributes of a group or society that     are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations.

What is Intangible Cultural Heritage?

The term ‘cultural heritage’ has changed content considerably in recent decades, partially owing to the instruments developed by UNESCO. Cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects. It also includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.

Cultural tradition of Bangladesh. That is, as a land, Bangladesh is enriched from the ancient time. The ancient literary work Charyapada stated various traditional cultures in this region. The collective works Charyapada was written from 650AD to 1200AD. In these times archeologically enriched land ‘Shompur Bihar’ in Paharpur was installed. Some of Charyapada writers stayed at the place and taught Buddhist learners. According to a research, it is found that teachers, devotees-poets were influenced by ancient Bengal culture. For these reasons, the works of then period, the entire cultural works like song, dance, drama and other cultural presentations represented cultural heritage of Bangle region. Even terracotta works of Paharpur buddist temple portrayed the social activities of ancient Bengal inhabitants. Therefore, based on these cultural works, it is very easy to testify that the cultural heritage in Bangladesh is much enriched and primordial.

Some inventory of ICH

‘Jaari Marsia’: which have been practicing at four districts in Shylet division. ‘Jaari Marsia’ is a play of memory of Imam Hasan and on Karbala tragedy.

Kushan Gaan: this form is very popular in the northern districts of Bangladesh namely Kurigram and lalmonirhat.

Potgaan :         Potgaan is a combination of tangible and intangible tradition. It is based on paintings. The performers describe the paintings in their songs. The performers describe the paintings in their songs. The performers may narrate their own paintings or may have the painting done by other painters.

Astokgaan :      Astokgaan is performed across the southern districts of Bangladesh as an inevitable part of traditional Chaitra Sngkranti festival.

Buddhakirtan: Buddha culture is old traditional identity of Bangladesh. Performing Buddhanatok based on ancient Charyapada.

What is Tangible Cultural Heritage?

Tangible heritage includes buildings and historic places, monuments, artifacts, etc., which are considered worthy of preservation for the future.  These include objects significant to the archaeology, architecture, science or technology of a specific culture.

The area of the folk-arts of Bangladesh is very wide. The multifarious world of the folk-arts of Bangladesh is made with Alpana (floor painting), 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, Jamdani, Tangail Sari, Potter, paper craft, Indigenous textile, etc.

Possible Threats


The threats are diverse. They may include:

  • freezing of the Intangible Cultural Heritage ( ICH ) loss of variation  and consequent loss of opportunities for creativity and change
  • cannot keep pace with mass production of same type of products
  • Availability of same type of products in low cost.

Institutional initiative:


Bangla Academy publishing folk works collection based on the subject and region basis. Bangla Academy already published a series works in 45 volumes of folklore collection.

Asiatic Society’s ‘Survey of Culture’ is notable. Very recently Shilpakala Acadcemy and Bangla Academy under Ministry of Cultural Affairs of Bangladesh Government funded project tittle ‘Lokojo Sangskritir Bikash’ was successfully launched.


  • Training activities involving simple and efficient techniques for safeguarding objects, with a special emphasis on the creation of pedagogical tools
  • Museum development by strengthening professional networks and partnerships
  • Improving educational content and access to knowledge through awareness-raising and educational activities
  • Promoting the return, restitution, and improved access to cultural objects by means of awareness-raising and advisory activities and innovative partnerships
  • Linking tourism



UNESCO cultural sector

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A Case Study on Folk Arts And Crafts of Bangladesh: Their Uniqueness in ‘Naksha’ (Design Motif)  Md. Nawrose Fatemi Assistant Professor , University of Asia Pacific.

Inventory on Cultural Heritage of Bangladesh and a statement of a research quarry

Saymon Zakaria


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