Truck Art of Pakistan by Ibrahim Munir


Pakistan is a country known for its indigenous art, culture and heritage. Just like the billboard paintings and calligraphy on walls of historic sites, there is another native form of arts known around the globe but performed in Pakistan is Truck Art. Eye popping landscapes, colorful floral patterns, beads, portraits of national heroes, famous heroines Pakistani film of industry, poetic and calligraphic poetry, religious verses are painted on transport trucks which take goods from city to city mostly. These highly adorned vehicles are moving art and known for their beauty around the world. Truck art is considered rightly as a part of Pakistani transport custom and expression of traditional culture of Pakistan. Truckart is one of our national heritage.

Truck Art is rooted in traditions that come from the truck drivers, and painters community. Truck Art encompasses a range of decorative elements ,such as wood ,metal , steel ,reflective tape , luminous plastic sheet etc .Truck Art is made by painters whose creative skills convey their community`s authentic cultural identity rather than an individual artistic identity .Truck artists learn to paint through apprenticeships in informal community settings , with very little, or no education. Karachi is a major bedecking center for such trucks, though there are other hubs in Rawalpindi, Swat, Peshawar, Quetta and Lahore. Nearly every city in Pakistan has a unique décor. The Balochistani and Peshawari trucks are heavily trimmed with wood. Rawalpindi and Islamabadi trucks have prominently featured plastic work. Camel bone ornamentation is commonly seen in trucks decorated by Sindh artists. Thus these trucks are also representative of different historical and cultural regions of Pakistan.

The surprising tradition of truck art started in 1920’s and has its roots in the days of Raj when craftsmen used to make glorious horse carriages. The trucks and busses at those times were painted and decorated with paint, metal, wood work, tinsel which were later embellished with lightening system for luminosity at night. When the artists initially started it, they had not the slight idea that it would be transformed into the greatest representational form of art in the country and all over the world. Truck  Art is one the greatest artistic talents, our neighbor India called painters from Pakistan for decoration of durga pooja. Truck art of Pakistan is famous all around the world. Tourists who come to visit Pakistan love this art, and they cannot find such art anywhere in the616063-image-1381352500-988-640x480 world. Almost every truck on roads of any city, no matter what it is transporting, is decorated and painted in a unique style. A number of documentaries have been made on this art. Many intra-city passenger buses are also decorated in the same way. In October 2011, Ghulam Sarwar, an artist who hails from Peshawar but works mostly in Karachi, visited Bethesda, Maryland, in the suburbs of the Washington DC. He practiced his craft on several US vehicles (the exact number is not mentioned in any of the articles), homes, and buildings, including the door of Honest Tea, a local beverage producer. Though he notes in this interview that the motivation among his American clients is different than Pakistani truckers, he does not seem to mind. So next time whenever you are on highway, search for these trucks look the art and feel proud you belong to country with such great talent!


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