13 June | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

With folk art, Pakistan’s jingle trucks continue to move on roads, highways

Artist Ejaz Mughal says drivers hope people will look at their truck with love | Phool Patti CEO Haider Ali says truck art basically represents Pakistanis

LAHORE: Truck art is somehow a depiction of Pakistan’s culture and a unique form of what artists and experts call it a folk art. It includes decorating trucks and other vehicles that move on roads with intricate designs and patterns that often consist of flowers, birds, calligraphy, quotations, poetry, and portraits of famous personalities.

“When we decorate it, we hope people on both sides of the roads will look at our truck with love,” said Muhammad Ejaz Mughal, a truck artist who learned this art from his father. It is no surprise that today truck art is a thriving industry in Pakistan and almost 50,000 people are earning from this craft.

According to some of truck drivers, potential clients are more inclined to hire a vehicle that is nicely painted. Therefore, this folk art is viewed as a commercial investment to them. The truck art has a long but fascinating history. It all began in the 1920s when the British rulers of that time introduced trucks and other heavy vehicles to this region.

The drivers said that they wanted their trucks to stand out among other trucks, and that’s why they started adorning their vehicles with different styles or patterns. That simple form of the truck art that included a logo and simple designs evolves and becomes more intricate and elaborative over time.

‘Many pieces of truck art depict messages of peace, peaceful coexistence, love, and care, reflecting a desire for unity’

Pakistan’s truck art has received global acclaim and continues to inspire young artists and designers’ worldwide. Also, it is showcased in many exhibitions and museums around the world. The truck art was introduced to the international market in 2002, and since then, many companies in Pakistan and Europe have begun producing clothing, and other items based on this trend.

In west London, Chai Adda is a restaurant where utensils, furniture, and walls are decorated with the truck art theme. The truck art is not only about aesthetics; it is a cultural expression that reflects beliefs, values, and aspirations of Pakistani society. Many pieces of truck art depict messages of peace, peaceful coexistence, love, and care, reflecting a desire for unity and harmony among people of various backgrounds and religions.

An artist said that the truck art has evolved into a symbol of national pride and identity. Many truck drivers decorate their trucks with the pictures of national heroes, such as Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, or with the crescent or star that show their patriotism and devotion for their motherland.

“For my understanding this truck art basically represents Pakistan and Pakistanis. We have mastered the art, and it depicts a positive image of our country and our people before the world,” said Haider Ali, who is one of the most famous truck artists and CEO of the Phool Patti – an organization promoting truck art internationally.

“We will continue with the tradition forever,” he said. However, converting a simple mode of transportation into a work of art is not affordable; truck drivers usually spend a huge amount of money to decorate their vehicles. For many drivers, their vehicle is like a home, as they usually stay out of their homes on roads while delivering goods from one area to another.

The truck art can also be seen on the trucks of other regions like India, Iran, and Afghanistan, but Pakistan’s truck art is on a whole new level of creativity and serves as a sign of national pride. It has become an industry that provides jobs to many artists and craftsmen while also promoting the Pakistan’s image and heritage.

Truck drivers are buying expensive art work on high rates from artists.
Truck drivers are buying expensive art work on high rates from artists.

With attractive colors and bold graphics, trucks continue to move on the roads and highways of Pakistan, making the jingle on each bump. “This form of folk art is also contributing to national pride and representing our arts and culture by gaining world recognition,” the artists said. On his Flicker account, photographer Mujahid-ur-Rehman wrote that the truck – for a driver – was his ‘princess’.

“I don’t know what is the exact ‘gender’ can be? But truck is considered as a ‘she’ in Pakistan. To decorate his ‘princess’ is not only the most important thing for a driver, but it helps him run his business.” He wrote that the painting, lights, and wood work on doors and inside the truck cabin were the specialty of various artists. We can easily observe that truck drivers are buying this expensive art work on high rates,” he wrote.