Preserving Bangladesh’s boat-building heritage for future generations.
SAVING BANGLADESH’S BOAT-BUILDING HERITAGE FROM EXTINCTION
Bangladesh has a rich boat-building heritage but the skills passed down over thousands of years are on the verge of extinction. The introduction of cheap diesel engines resulted in the motorization of river boats replacing traditional masts and sails. Steel welded sheets replaced wood as the principal raw material. Once revered for their services, carpenters, sail-makers, blacksmiths and rope-makers are no longer in demand. We strive to preserve Bangladesh’s irreplaceable boat-building heritage before it is lost forever and help to create a sustainable livelihood for the boat-builders.
Video by National Geographic. In 2006, Rolex Awards for Enterprise selected Runa Khan as Associate Laureate for her contribution to Bangladesh’s cultural heritage.
How we work
Recording boat-building skills for posterity
Bangladesh’s boat-building skills are passed down orally from one generation to the next. There are no written records documenting these ancient techniques. We work with the last remaining carpenters able to transmit their ancestral technical skills, with the aim of documenting and preserving this national heritage.
Helping boat-builders earn a better living
We aim to help develop a sustainable business model for boat-builders (carpenters, sail-makers, rope-makers…) giving them new ways of earning income as their skills become ever less in demand.
Organising exhibitions around the world
We organise exhibitions worldwide promoting Bangladesh’s rich boat-building heritage in order to raise awareness and save it from extinction. We have held exhibitions in countries including Luxembourg, France and Japan.
Creating handcrafted replica model boats
Handcrafted by our skilled carpenters using traditional techniques and materials, this variety of model boats are replicas of the full size working boats. They serve as a record of ancient boat-building techniques. Should you wish to purchase one, please contact us.
Establishing a museum to house our heritage
We are establishing a museum in Bangladesh where our team of carpenters will work demonstrating ancestral techniques and teach these skills to future generations. The model boats that they build will also be exhibited here. The museum will serve as testimony to our cultural legacy.