Friday, June 3, 2011

Decorated Vehicles in Pakistan

Pakistan, the country today is known for terrorism and extremism but it has beautiful culture and lovely people. In this post we are discussing wondorous truck and bus decoration of art of Pakistan. This extraordinary tradition has it’s routes in the days of the Raj when craftsmen made glorious horse draw carriages for the gentry. In the 1920′s the Kohistan bus company asked the local Michaelangelo, Ustad Elahi Buksh, a master craftsmen to decorate their buses to attract passengers. Buksh employed a community of artists from the Punjab town of Chiniot, who’s ancestors had worked on many great palaces and temples dating back to the Mogal Empire. It was not long before truck owners followed suite with their own designs. Through the years the materials used have developed from wood and paint to metal, tinsel, plastic and reflective tape. Within the last few years trucks and buses have been further embellished with full lighting systems.

This art is so Pakistani, that the freight trucks which are built by Ford, General Motors, Hino Pak etc in beautiful aerodynamic shapes are first retro-fitted with very Pakistani stlye bodies and a special ‘viewing deck’ at the top of Driver’s cab. The ‘viewing deck’ is a very multipurpose extra space. It is used by ‘cleaners’ to sleep at night and also to load extra luggage when needed.
Viewing deck of a truck with colorful painting.
Driver cabin is also custom designed and very colourful.
Customized design of front bumper of Hino truck.
Paintings are common at rear side of trucks.
Truck Painting
An artisan painting a truck.
Americans got a tiny taste of Pakistani truck painting in the summer of 2002 at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, when Ali and bodywork expert Jamil ud-Din brought a truck from Karachi to Washington, D.C. They decorated it right there on the National Mall, as outdoor artists-in-residence. As a talent scout for the festival’s Silk Road theme, truck aficionado Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, an anthropology professor at the University of Michigan and a top us scholar of Pakistani culture, chose the pair for their versatility in incorporating the country’s disparate styles of truck art. Their finished masterpiece, a 1976 Bedford, is now part of the Smithsonian’s permanent collection.
In next post we will discover buses and other decorated vehicles, so stay tuned.


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