Pakistani decorated trucks servicing Afghanistan came to be known as jingle trucks by American troops and contractors.
The term jingle truck comes from United States military slang, coined by servicemen in Afghanistan, although it may date to the British colonial period. The term came to be because of the "jingle" sound that the trucks make due to the chains hanging from the bumpers of the vehicles.
Many trucks and buses are highly customized and decorated by their owners. External truck decoration can cost thousands of dollars. The decoration often contains elements that remind the truck drivers of home, since they may be away from home for months at a time. Decoration may include structural changes, paintings, calligraphy, and ornamental decor like mirror work on the front and back of vehicles and wooden carvings on the truck doors. Depictions of various historical scenes and poetic verses are also common. Outfitting is often completed at a coach workshop. Chains and pendants often dangle off the front bumper.
One of the most prominent truck artists is Haider Ali. Trained by his father from his youth, he first came to international attention in 2002 when he painted an authentic Pakistani truck as part of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
In Pakistan, Karachi is a major city center for truck art, though there are other hubs in Rawalpindi, Swat, Peshawar, Quetta and Lahore. Trucks from Balochistan and Peshawar are often heavily trimmed with wood, while trucks from Rawalpindi and Islamabad often feature plastic work. Camel bone ornamentation and predominance of red colours is commonly seen on trucks decorated in Sindh.
In India, the Delhi-based artist Tilak Raj Dhir states that the slogans he adds to his truck art, which is prevalent throughout the National Capital Region, often change with the socio-political atmosphere.
Truck art has extended beyond the decoration and ornamentation of trucks into other forms and media.
Though cars are not traditionally decorated in South Asia, there are examples of cars embellished in a truck art style. In 2009, The Foxy Shahzadi, a 1974 VW Beetle decordated in a truck art style, traveled from Pakistan to France over a 25-day journey. In the Indian city of Mumbai, some drivers decorate their taxis in a truck art style.
The lively colors of Pakistani trucks have inspired multiple fashion designers. The Italian fashion company Dolce & Gabbana used truck art-inspired displays in a 2015 campaign. Although used more often on women's fashion, some men's clothing have been inspired by South Asian truck art.
Largely a domestic art in its early years especially in North India and Pakistan, the ideation of beautifying trucks, lorries, and rickshaws with multifaceted patterns and calligraphy was common.
For truckers in India, that means a kaleidoscope of colors, slogans, and intricately painted symbols that are as much about bling -- as shrewd business sense. ..."A better looking truck attracts more business," says Shantanu Suman, graphic designer and filmmaker behind 2013 documentary "Horn Please," which explores India's spectacular truck art tradition.