Chasing Rickshaws

Chasing Rickshaws

Words by Tony Wheeler, Photographs by Richard I’Anson
Hardcover with jacket
240mm x 270mm
192 pp, 224 colour photographs
Lonely Planet Publications, 1998
Out of print, limited copies available, send request by email

Rickshaws are a fascinating means of transport and human activity that in some cities is disappearing fast; they are also wonderfully varied examples of technical ingenuity and are often beautiful examples of folk art. Richard has been riding around Asia in them for years so jumped at the chance to take the photographs for such an interesting, ambitious and photogenic project.

Tony and Richard visited 12 Asian cities – Yogyakarta, Singapore, Penang, Dhaka, Calcutta, Agra, Rangoon, Manila, Hanoi, Beijing, Hong Kong and Macau – each one selected because their rickshaws are either unique or are representative of their region. The primary focus was on bicycle rickshaws but they also included the man pulled rickshaws of Calcutta and Hong Kong to provide a historical context to the development of the cycle rickshaw.

The result of there efforts is a book which looks at every aspect of the rickshaw business including the different styles of rickshaws, the factories where they’re made and restored, the mechanics who keep them on the road, the shops that sell the components, the artists who paint them, the riders and their bosses, the history, the economics and the politics. As Tony writes in his introduction, the machines, their riders and their customers have been studied by engineers, evaluated by transport economists and analysed by sociologists. They’re celebrated in Chasing Rickshaws.

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