chapter  8
Popular expressions and matters of faith Safia Azim
Pages 12

Walking down the streets of Dhaka – or anywhere in Bangladesh for that matter – popular expressions of matters of faith, specifically Islam, strike the eye. Painted on public transport vehicles such as trucks, three-wheeled auto taxis or bicycle rickshaws, inscribed on walls and minarets of mosques, paintings and calligraphy dot the landscape. While Islamic expressions are normally associated with high art forms that reflect deep spirituality and faith, or more recently with the growing politicization which is often seen as extremism or fanaticism, these popular images reflect an everyday and comfortable coexistence with the faith. Eschewing the high art forms of the Mughal and Sultanate traditions of the 15th to the 18th centuries, these images reflect a more folk tradition, and an easy accommodation with religion and culture. Contemporaneously, they add kitschy cinematic styles, associating it with pop art and culture.