This paper examines the connection between the arts and the construction of cultural identity among the Chakma indigenous people who live in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of the southeastern part of Bangladesh. The Chakma indigenous people, about 500,000, are distinct in respect to language, culture, religion and ethnicity from the majority Bengali population of Bangladesh. They follow Theravada Buddhism and traditionally practice slash and burn agriculture. Two types of artistic productions among the Chakma that have particular cultural and ethnic significance in their society are bain (hand-woven textiles) and bamboo handicrafts. Due to cultural, social and political changes in the region since the emergence of Bangladesh in 1971, the arts and crafts of the Chakma people have lost much of their importance. The large-scale adoption of Bengali culture and modernization caused many to abandon traditional crafts in favour of ready-made mass produced products. This research examines the socio-cultural changes that led to the decline in traditional crafts as well as the current revival of crafts that promote and celebrate indigenous heritage like traditional woven textiles.
|Keywords:||Indigenous Arts, Cultural and Ethnic Identity, Chakma Indigenous Peoples, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh|
Doctoral Candidate, Faculty of Education, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Faculty, Sociology and Anthropology, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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