Love for local culture and traditions are a natural phenomenon and the role of Pakistani truck drivers in promotion of the culture from one corner to the other of the country, is great significance.

Pakistani Truck art has immense appreciation at international level for its attraction and unique sense of artistic taste. Foreigners took much interest in the adorned trucks due to painting work on it. Trucks are decorated with paintings all over its bodies, which depicts not only Pakistani culture but also satisfies the drivers’ aesthetic sense and love for the country.

Renowned Historian and Presidential Award winner, Shakir Hussain Shakir, recalling the artwork on vehicle, informed that current practice of Pakistani truck art has its origin in the decorations of horse driven chariots for Mughul Kings who ruled over the sub-continent. Since the Kings always wanted something of value and colour for themselves, therefore they took to ordering the decoration of their carriages with this art.

The artistic designs painted on the carriages were approved and deemed to be befitted the Kings and Queens’ lifestyle and grandeur. “The situation today isn’t much different because the art is still being used to decorate modern day, engine powered carriages,” said Shakir.

Noted poet, intellectual and head of “Adbi Baithak” (Literary Sitting) Raziuddin Razi also commented. In ancient times, when camels were used for the transportation, they were decorated with brilliant and contrasted colours. The history continues as the culture advances and so as the mode of transportation. Starting from the early 20th Century competing transportation companies hired craftsmen to adorn their buses in the hopes that these moving canvases would attract more passengers. However, acknowledging the role of truck owners and drivers in promotion of culture, Raziuddin Razi lamented that the role of Truck Art Industry and drivers was never appreciated although they were adding superb contribution in the promotion of culture. About truck art, he observed: “There are three parts to truck-art decoration; decoration on front side, one the both sides and towards the back of truck.”

Interestingly, the upper front side is reserved for religious symbols and texts while lower front side represents popular couplet relating to the culture. One can observe the whole culture of country on Highways after witnessing trucks.

“Side’s spaces of trucks are commonly used to serve marketing purposes as it is painted with name of company, city and origin. The catchiest decoration is done at the rears of trucks, which includes giant size painting of personalities, colourful pictures of animals and other general moods of society changes,” remarked Razi.

Kehakshan Kiran, a teacher at Multan College of Arts, Bahauddin Zakariya University while commenting on the truck art stated that it was biggest form of representational art in the country. “Use of multiple colour schemes is the hallmark of Pakistani truck art and good choice of colour scheme creates a positive image in the eyes of the onlookers,” Kiran added.

There is a variety in the way that artistic designs are painted over trucks in Pakistan. Although they may seemingly look familiar, a closer look reveals the differences between either the forms. Digging deeper into the roots, it can be ascertained that each province in Pakistan has its own unique style of trucks painting. Because this is an art that is done nationwide in every province of the country and therefore each of the provinces has developed its own style and taste of executing it.

Local Painter Danish informed that different variants of Pakistani truck art depend on a number of factors. One is the area to which the truck driver belongs to and the second is the caste of truck owner or driver. Both of these factors reflect in the art painted on the truck owned by any individual. Every truck owner likes his local tradition to be flashed in the form of a painting on his vehicle. For instance, if the truck is owned by an individual from Multan, then he would like things like shrines of noted saints, especially Hazrat Shah Ruknuddin Alam. Similarly, caste of a driver also has an impact in the sense that if a driver is “Pathan” then he would like celebrities such as Shahid Khan Afridi, AQ Khan, Ayub Khan or other Pashtun celebrities to be painted on his truck.

Truck Driver Muhammad Hussain observed that he always tried to drive trucks which are beautifully adorned with jingles and having attractive paintings. About cost of routine paintings and other decoration, he said that they had to pay Rs300,000 to Rs500,000 for making trucks look like bride. He also claimed that catchy trucks are also helpful in generating more revenue as customers demand such trucks considering it more fit for transportation of goods.

Muhammad Hussain stated another strange thing about the artwork at trucks and informed that the colours used in the decoration of trucks have a special effect of keeping evil spirits away from the truck. This means that the decoration also translates into good luck for the business of drivers, apart from, the other benefits, he added.