Allahabad’s cycle-rickshaws were special: rural landscapes and Bollywood starlets, as well as animals and symbols of luck were hand-painted onto the carriages. The armrests were carved in the shape of fish, and occasionally the whole carriage had been carved – hollowed out to more closely resemble an animal, or sculpted at the edges in decorative waves and columns. Heavy brass bells dangled from the rickshaws’ bottoms and tinsel was stuck in patterns to the canopies. The attention to form made these cycle-rickshaws – industrial objects by definition – seem pre-industrial. Although only a tool, to be used for hard, low-paid work, every rickshaw was unique, hand-crafted and, in its way, beautiful.
From Rickshaw Art in a City Settled by God, by Iain