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Pakistani Truck art

Although one can recognise these flamboyant and intricately ornate trucks all over South Asia, this unique form of decorative art is most popular and prevalent in Pakistan. This art is indeed a huge source of pride for Pakistani truck and lorry drivers. They decorate trucks and lorries and other smaller parts of the vehicle, such as the rims, bumpers, and even splash boards. Many trucks have an enlarged rooftop whose only "practical" purpose is to create additional space for decoration.

Colourful paintings cover trucks with plenty of ornaments, calligraphy, floral patterns, pictures, and even bas-reliefs (Relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material ) of birds and other creatures. Due to the sound made by tassels, fringes, chains, bells, or bands attached to the vehicle body, these mobile masterpieces came to be known as "jingle trucks."

The story of truck art in Pakistan began in the 1920s, when many heavy trucks, imported from England, appeared on the streets. Every company designed a unique logotype and attached it to the trucks. Over time, the logos became more embellished, so the trucks started to serve as mobile trademarks or ads. Companies were competing with each other about the 'prettiest trucks' in the business, assuming that it may translate into an economic success.

However, truck art became a Pakistani national specialty in the 1950s, when Haji Hussein, a famous painter, moved to Karachi. Since there were no more palaces left to be painted, Hussein decided to switch to the trucks. Using the patterns and aesthetics similar to his frescoes, he ultimately established a specific genre of truck art, which is still in force. Following Hussein's footsteps, many Pakistani painters found decorating tracks as the central area of their artistic expression.

In 2002 Haider Ali, who learnt the ropes from his father, performed a truck-painting show at the Smithsonian Folk Live Festiwal in Washington D.C. In 2006 a team of Pakistani artists was invited to Melbourne to decorate one of the city trams.

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