A Moving Riot of Colors
Truck art has become a popular representation of Pakistani culture around the world. Beneath the bright colors is the language of symbolism and storytelling.
Pakistan’s truck art is a language of symbolism and storytelling.
One of the most interesting features of Pakistani culture is the vision of trucks and buses covered in a riot of color and design. The vehicles may spit out diesel fumes and occupy the major part of the road, with drivers appearing to have a death wish but they certainly stand out due to the intricate artwork they are decked with.
Artwork on commercial vehicles is common in Pakistan as well as in many other countries, such as the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh and parts of Central and South America. In fact, the techniques and materials used to decorate vehicles are more or less similar in almost all these countries. Pakistani truck art, however, is distinct because of the pervasiveness of vehicle decoration - from trucks and buses to vans, taxis, animal carts and even juice vendors’ pushcarts ( shared only by Afghanistan).
The process of decorating one’s vehicle is an expensive one. It costs up to Rs. 500,000 and around six to 10 weeks to complete on a truck. Since most vehicles belong to fleets, it is customary for the fleet owners to ask the driver to get the truck decorated at the coachwork shop at company expense as per his liking, even though most trucks and buses have similar colors and typography. Given that the owner as well as the driver does not stand to reap any economic benefits from decorating their vehicle and the art form is pervasive, it is safe to assume that every privately owned truck in Pakistan is decorated. It is also obvi-