Have you ever heard about art on a mode of transportation? If not then learn about the interesting culture and history of Pakistani truck art. Read our guide for more facts and information…
Few have heard about art on four wheels but it is quite common and pervasive across Pakistan. Truck art is a popular art form which has been recognized worldwide for its uniqueness and cultural significance. The art form transforms ordinary trucks and buses into colorful and vibrant rides with interesting designs painted on them.
History of Pakistani truck art
The history of truck art dates back to the early 1950s when Pakistan was newly born. What we know today as truck art was a source of entertainment for the truck drivers who embarked on long, boring cross-country journeys. Painting trucks gave the drivers a source of amusement and a medium to express themselves.
In addition transportation companies hired craftsmen to decorate their vehicles, believing that the most attractive rides would attract more passengers. This belief led to the spread of this art form and soon enough there were dozens of beautifully adorned trucks and buses on the roads. Years later the trucks are not decorated to get customers but has become an integral part of Pakistani culture. Tourists and foreigners are quick to admire the colorful vehicles seen across the country.
The truck artists express their cultural identity through the use of motifs, quotes, pictures and designs that are unique to Pakistan. The truck artists include painters, truck drivers, truck owners and gallery artists. Majority of the truck artists learnt to paint through informal mediums and come from lower class backgrounds with little or no education.
Truck art design and decor
Pakistani trucks are different from those found around the world due to their décor and distinct style. The themes of this art form include personal, political and national lives of the people which are represented by the use of trinkets, ornaments as well as cultural and religious symbols.
These customized vehicles are known as moving or jingle art. The decoration is done using floral patterns, carvings, calligraphy, paintings of actors and actresses, ornamental décor and intricately designed motifs of famous personalities, animals, birds and quotations. The materials used are cheap and utilitarian including metal, wood, plastic sheet, steel, tape etc.
You will also find mirror work on the front and back of the vehicles as well as decorative chains attached to the bottom which create a jangling noise when the truck moves. The most fascinating and elaborate décor pieces are the 3D animals and birds which are found on the sides of the truck.
Today the owners get their trucks professionally decorated according to their own likes and dislikes. While many leave the designing to the artist’s discretion, some opt to get portraits of their family members or favorite celebrities painted at the back of the vehicle.
Truck art across Pakistan
The designing and decoration also varies according to the region as every city has its own unique decor. Every province brings something new to the art and in a way ties the entire country with this art form.
The majority of the trucks are found in Karachi while other hubs include Lahore, Quetta, Rawalpindi and Swat. It has been noted that the trucks in Peshawar and Balochistan are heavily trimmed with wood whereas the ones in Islamabad display plastic work more prominently. Distinctively in the province of Sindh, the artists use camel bone ornamentation on the trucks.
Nowadays truck art can be found in other countries in Central Asia and South Asia however the art is still most pervasive in Pakistan. Even though the per capita income in Pakistan is low even then the tradition of truck decoration continues. The financial constraints have led to cheaper alternatives such as the use of stickers instead of paint.
The traditional artists are keen on preserving this art form in Pakistan which is known as the largest form of representational art in the country. It is the art form that originated from Pakistan and helps the people express their originality, creativity and stories though an art form that is truly their own.