Overview for The Art Heritage of Bangladesh
This book at the initial stage was planned primarily to introduce the ordinary reader to the broad spectrum of the art heritage of Bangladesh. But on a subsequent realization of its possible future use as a hand-book representing the noteworthy facets of the arts of all ages, its scope was slightly modified to make it useful to the scholars as well without overburdening it with diacritic marks, arguments, references and foot-notes. Therefore, instead of an album of illustrations with cryptic captions, the book endeavored to become a cultural history of Bangladesh, the first ever to be published with an emphasis on art heritage, representing mainly the visual arts. The author attempts to present the subject in a form that is a balance between the art object and the historical milieu. This offering may therefore be appealing to the art historian, historical scholar and lay reader alike. This is a pioneer attempt to organize a huge corpus of material evidence of the many splendored art of Bangladesh. Included in this volume are many objects previously unpublished and no pain has been spared to refer to new research on specified subjects and their art-historical relevance. The survival of purity in art, geographically or nationally, is becoming an ever shrinking phenomenon. Whether in painting or architecture or fashion, the demarcating line between the indigenous and alien is fast disappearing. The spread of education, industrialization, urbanization and an unimaginable development in international communications are bound to have their mark on the mind and hand of the artists, architects and craftsmen. Therefore, the art heritage of Bangladesh, so far for the past, is recognizable without difficulty for its distinctive forms and features. It may be more strenuous to do so in the future. Finally, with the establishment of Bangladesh, the art, whether traditional or modern, was naturally striving for an increasingly national identity. A strong urge to return to the roots was simultaneously accompanied by a rush to grasp the international idioms. The waves of globalization, like in many other spheres of life, were continuously striking at the arena of artistic activities. The future will decide how much of a national heritage of Bangladesh can hold on to its inherited strength and distinctiveness without giving up its inherent capacity to assimilate and change.
Enamul Haque (Author)
Professor Enamul Haque had his M.A. in History (Archaeology Group) from Dhaka (1960), Diploma in Museology from London (1964) and Doctorate in South Asian Art from Oxford (1973). For three decades since 1962 he served the Dhaka Museum and rose to be the Founder Director General of the Bangladesh National Museum, developing it to be the largest Museum in the Third World. He was for a year (1990) Secretary-in-charge of the Ministry of Culture of Bangladesh. He also taught Art History, Museology and National Heritage in the universities of Dhaka and Jahangirnagar, Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology, and the Independent University at Dhaka. An organizer of exceptional ability, he is the Founder Chairman (since 1995) and Academic Director of The International Centre for Study of Bengal Art (ICSBA) at Dhaka, convened four International Congresses on Bengal Art (1976, 1997, 1999 and 2001) and edits the Journal of Bengal Art. He was honoured by the Asiatic Society of Calcutta with the award of the Rama Prasad Chanda Birth Centenary Medal (1993) for his "conspicuous contribution in art and archaeology of Bengal". Earlier, the Asia Society of New York honoured him by electing as their Honorary International Councilor (1986-92). He served as the President of the International Council of Museum (ICOM) Asia Pacific Organization (1983-86). Among his publications, notables are Islamic Art Heritage of Bangladesh (1983) and Bengal Sculptures: Hindu Iconography (1992), the latter being a quantitative assessment of nearly two thousand sculptures now preserved in different parts of the world.