When travelling the on the highways of Pakistan you will notice the beautifully decorated trucks that pass by. The trucks are colourful, decorated with paintings, woodwork and metalwork. I went to a truck workshop in Peshawar were artists and mechanics decorate these moving pieces of art and I witnessed extensive labour that goes into these moving pieces of art. The artists were paining, creating metalwork, carved wood and decorated parts of the trucks with stickers. Often the workers were under age. Young boys not going to school but working 10, 12 hours a day to make some money for their families.
Each region in Pakistan has their own style when it comes down to truck decoration. The Peshawar school is known for their woodwork. The photo’s below display the craftsmanship.
Professor of Religion Jamal J. Elias has been conducting research on vehicular art in Pakistan. He categorized the motifs displayed on the trucks in 5 categories.
1. Idealized elements of life, such as the romanticized village, landscapes or women
2. Elements from modern life, such as pictures of political figures or patriotic symbols
3. Talismanic and fetish objects, such as horns, yak tails and items of clothing
4. Talismanically or religiously loaded symbols, such as eyes and fish
5. Obvious religious symbols and images, such as Buraq (a celestial horse that is
believed to have carried the Prophet Muhammad on a spiritual journey to heaven)
Here a photo that displays a romantic landscape with a bird.
The whole operation takes six to ten weeks. The costs differ of course depending on the extend of the makeover. But it is not uncommon for a owner to spend 15000 dollar on a new truck. Often more than a owner would spend on his house.