The key to understanding a people is in its art: its writing, painting, sculpture.
– Louis L’Amour
As L’Amour stated, you can understand and tell a lot of things about people and their culture through their adaptation of art. In that sense, we are very sentimental when it comes to engaging in patriotic acts through our culture. In Bangladesh, a large portion of our culture is heavily influenced by its bloody history of the liberation war, language, and other social movements. That is to say, our material traits, customary beliefs, and other human phenomena are also more or less intertwined with the same ghastly experiences. This is why the inspiration behind most of the country’s artworks such as sculptures in Dhaka are full of historical significance and mostly depicts a straightforward message.
A lot of sculptures have been created over time, mostly as a way of paying tribute to events that are significant or individuals who played a vital role in changing the course of history in Bangladesh. That said, freedom and language movements become a huge source of inspiration for sculptors in Bangladesh. And because of the historic importance that they hold, these sculptures have become very popular in Bangladesh.
This is one of the most popular and famous sculptures not only in Bangladesh but also across the world. Found at the Dhaka University campus, the Aparajeyo Bangla project was started in 1973. Throughout the making of the sculpture, he faced multiple backlashes from the opposition. But that didn’t stop Syed Abdullah Khalid, a young teacher at the Department of Fine Arts, Chittagong University at that time. However, On August 15, 1975, the work suddenly came to a halt because of the heinous murder of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Political instability and other incidents such as the arrest of the then Vice-chancellor of Dhaka University, Abdul Matin Chowdhury, also disrupted the work.
This famous sculptures in Dhaka is a reflection of Bengali’s eternal vigilance and indomitable yearning for freedom. The sculpture has three dynamic statue figures. The left side sculpture depicts a female nurse while the middle one is a farmer carrying a rifle on his shoulder. The right one is of a student holding a rifle in his hand.
Finally, the project was finished on December 16, 1979 and was inaugurated by wounded freedom fighters.
One of the most moving sculptures in Dhaka is “Shongshoptok”. It stands 28- feet high, including the base. It is constructed of steel armature and brass. The work of art stands in front of the Central Library, Jahangirnagar University. It depicts a freedom fighter with a hand missing, yet ready to fight against the Pakistani forces. The fighter carries a rifle. It is a sign of the freedom fighters’ valour and their dedication to the country.
Check out this video to know more about The Picturesque Kingdom of Jahangirnagar
Hamiduzzaman Khan is one of the country’s greatest sculptors. Throughout his career, he has created a number of notable sculptures including the Dorja, Bird Family, Steps (which was installed in 1988 in the Olympic Park in Seoul, South Korea) and won multiple awards including Ekushe Padak. The most interesting thing about his work is that he always mixes architectural or geometrical shapes with local materials found in his surroundings. His prime concerns are form and theme. In his form-oriented works, one finds a Western influence.
Located at the intersection of TSC and Rokeya Hall at the University of Dhaka, Shoparjito Shadhinota depicts the horrific mass killing of intellectuals, freedom fighters and ordinary people – and how they prevailed and united against tyranny. This is one of the most famous sculptures in Dhaka done by renowned sculptor Shamim Sikder in memory of the Liberation War.
The sculpture is the perfect representation of the Liberation War demonstrating the brutality from every angle and it captures a perfect representation of how we emerged victorious at the end. In 2000, Shamim Sikdar was awarded Ekushe Padak for her contribution.
Raju Memorial Sculpture
No artwork in Bangladesh is as recognizable as the Raju Memorial Sculpture. It is located at the TSC intersection at Dhaka University, one of the most popular places in Dhaka. This structure is considered one of the best sculptures in Dhaka and also in Bangladesh. The sculpture was created by Shaymol Chowdhury in 1997 and is dedicated to the memory of Moin Hossain Raju, an activist of the Bangladesh Students Union who was killed while protesting against Terrorism.
In 1992, a clash broke out between two groups of people. Violence and gunfire spread panic in the area, however, Raju demonstrated that he wouldn’t be intimidated by campus violence. Woefully Raju was shot dead during the protest and the sculpture lives on in his memory. The concrete sculpture depicts a group of students with their arms linked and marching in defiance.
This masterpiece was also done by the eminent sculptor Shamim Sikdar. Located on the turn of Fuller Road, between Jagannath Hall and SM Hall, Swadhinata Sangram is one of the most complex sculptures in Dhaka. The sculpture is the embodiment of the Bengali’s consciousness and struggle, and represents the aftermath of the freedom movement by showing the National flag on the top.
Inaugurated in 1999, Shamim Sikder built the first, and one of the largest, sculpture gardens in the country. The huge statue shows the faces of several historical persons. The artisan has also created one hundred and three small sculptures around the liberation memorial sculpture. Images of prominent individuals and different scenes of Bengali culture have also been included in the garden.
Inaugurated by the Chief Adviser Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed in 2007, Moder Gorob was the center of attraction at that year’s Amar Ekushey Book Fair. This 17-feet structure was designed by the artist Mofidul Alam Khan. This is one of the sculptures in Dhaka that is located in front of the Bangla Academy building and is dedicated to the martyrs who were shot and killed during the language movement on 21st February 1952.
The sculpture is divided into multiple parts. The base holds the metal sculptures of Abdus Salam, Rafiq Uddin Ahmed, Abdul Jabbar, Sofiur Rahman, and Abul Barkat. There is a long wall rising in the back of the base. Of which both sides and other brick-made parts are ornamented by frescoes of the Language Movement of 1952.
It represents the sequence of events that took place on that day and in effect, it changed Bangladesh’s course of history. In a remark on the sculpture, Mofidul Alam Khan, who also works as a retoucher at Bangla Academy, stated that “We have the Shaheed Minar, but I thought we need a sculpture like this to tell the present generation about our glorious past”.
The Amar Ekush elucidates a protesting student and a child, killed by gunfire, lying on his mother’s lap as symbolic images of the Language Movement in 1952. Amar Ekush perfectly depicts the disturbing event. The sculpture was designed by eminent sculptor Jahanara Parvinin and inaugurated in 1991 but sadly after the 26 years of its inauguration, the sculpture remained unfinished. The repairing work of the sculpture, however, started in October 2017 and finished in the first quarter of 2018.
The sculpture represents Bengalis the unstoppable craving for independence and also exhibits the horror and violence of the event where many people were killed including Salam, Rafiq, Barkat, Jabbar, Safiur. It was installed adjacent to the central cafeteria of the university to commemorate the protests and sacrifices of the language martyrs.
Janani O Gorbito Bornomala
To commemorate the martyrs who were brutally killed during the language movement in 1952, multiple structures were built around the city. Janani O Gorbito Bornomala is one such monument that depicts a mother carrying her dead son, who was shot and killed during the language movement, in her laps. The statue is the perfect delineation of the glory and sacrifice upon which we gained our victory.
The sculpture is designed by Mrinal Haque, a renowned sculptor of Bangladesh. Located in the Poribagh area, near the Bangla Motor Mor, this memorial statue is embellished with Bengali Scripts attached to the rings it is surrounded by. On 20th February 2016, Mohammad Sayeed Khokon, our esteemed mayor of Dhaka South inaugurated the sculpture.
Apart from these, there are a lot of sculptures in Dhaka and monuments representing different aspects of our history or something that is significant to it. However, the sculptures that are mentioned here were the most significant ones as they were built to commemorate the most important events in our country.
Many of these sculptures have been created and influenced by the contemporary art style. It also results in forming unique pieces that depict various messages to those who visit these sculptures.