Truck art travels back to the 1940’s subcontinent where Sikh transporters started out painting portraits of Sikh Gurus on their buses, trucks, and lorries. That tradition transgressed into post-independence Pakistan when Muslim transporters penned down portraits of Sufis on their trucks and buses.
As time progressed, so did the art embellished on these trucks. Accessories became more and more conventional, while the slogans became more and more controversial. Bells, mirrors, chains, embellishments, fancy LEDs, 3D stickers, and everything imaginable. Drenched in bright and vibrant colors, these trucks more or less reflect the Pakistani vibrant culture and the diversity that comes along with it. All the vivid colors of these trucks symbolize the liveliness of Pakistani people and truck art becomes a souvenir to all the places it goes to from Northern areas to the southmost corners of Pakistan.
To a passer-by, this might just merely be a visual form of art. But to these truckers, their truck art is a part of their pride and they wear their pride with immense dignity. Let’s look at it this way like everyone is eager to decorate their houses during the holiday season, our truckers put all kinds of decorations on their beautiful trucks. The only difference is that every day is Christmas day to them. And the sky’s the limit to them when it comes to Christmas ornaments. Be it jingles or chains or motifs, you will find it on these trucks. One would often come across couplets as well, couplets that leave a mark on your heart and mind. If you dive into this art of poetry jumbled up with visual arts, you would often find how this art reflects the hidden meanings attached to these notations. Notations like:
“Mera mazhab ishq ka mazhab jisme koi tafriq nahi
Mere halke me aate hayn Tulsi bhi aur Jami bhi”
With witty slogans and controversial poetry, truck art is no less than competition within the trucker community. Everyone wants to have the best truck art in town with perfect colors that complement the embellishment that come along with it.
Believe it or not, this art sometimes even becomes a form of political rivalry as well. Amusing banter slogans are inscribed on these trucks against the opposition parties. Hefty sums of amounts are spent on portraits of local politicians also. Bottom line is, this truck art is a lot more than just art, it’s a form of expression for the rich traditions of Pakistanis.