Truck art in South Asia

This page was last edited on 25 November 2017, at 14:49.

Truck art is a popular form of regional decoration in South Asia, with Pakistani and Indian trucks featuring elaborate floral patterns and calligraphy.[1][2][3]

Pakistani buses have art on them too

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Most Pakistani trucks have an augmented rooftop to increase space for decoration.
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A decorated truck in India, showing black jutti and nazar battu
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The backs of Pakistani trucks are often intricately decorated.


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.[4]


Many trucks and buses are highly customized and decorated by their owners. External truck decoration can cost thousands of dollars.[5] The decoration often contains elements that remind the truck drivers of home, since they may be away from home for months at a time.[6] 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.[7] Outfitting is often completed at a coach workshop.[8] Chains and pendants often dangle off the front bumper.[9]


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.[10]

Regional styles

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.[7]

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.[11]


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Truck art decorates the façade of a business in Peshawar, Pakistan.

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.[12][13] In the Indian city of Mumbai, some drivers decorate their taxis in a truck art style.[14]


The lively colors of Pakistani trucks have inspired multiple fashion designers.[15] The Italian fashion company Dolce & Gabbana used truck art-inspired displays in a 2015 campaign.[16] Although used more often on women's fashion, some men's clothing have been inspired by South Asian truck art.[17]


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Decorations can be highly detailed.

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All parts of the truck are highly embellished.

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Wood-paneling is often carved in high detail.

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Intricately designed truck cab.

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Decorated trucks can be found in even the most remote corners of Pakistan.

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Truck beds are also sometimes decorated.

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Up close view of artwork.

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Truck being painted in Cochin.


A decorated truck on Pakistan's M-1 Motorway.


A decorated truck in the wood-paneled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa style.


The phrase "Horn Please" is used extensively in the designs of South Asian truck art.[3]

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Decorated truck in Afghanistan.

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A public transport bus in El Gouna, Egypt customised and highly decorated in Pakistani style

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A Pakistani-decorated bus on Euston Road, London.

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The Karachi to Melbourne Tram, decorated by Pakistani truck artists, during the 2006 Commonwealth Games


  1. ^ Mughal, Owais (June 18, 2008). "Pakistan's Indigenous Art of Truck Painting". All Things Pakistan. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  2. ^ "Tracing Truck Art beyond 'Horn OK Please': India and Pakistan's Truck Art tradition". Creative Yatra. 16 November 2016. Retrieved 31 July 2017. 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.
  3. ^ a b McKenzie, Sheena (5 August 2015). "Pimp my ride: The psychedelic world of Indian truck art". CNN. Retrieved 31 July 2017. 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.
  4. ^ Barrett, Grant. "A Way With Words". Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  5. ^ Elias, Jamal (2005). "On Wings of Diesel: The Decorated Trucks of Pakistan". Amherst Magazine. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  6. ^ "Pakistan's truck art inspires catwalk fashion range - BBC News". Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  7. ^ a b Covington, Richard (Spring 2005). "Masterpieces to Go: The Trucks of Pakistan". Saudi Aramco World. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  8. ^ Nyland, Tim (October 19, 2006). "The Painted Trucks of Pakistan". Penn Current. University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  9. ^ Pakistan's Dazzling 'Jingle Trucks' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty ( June 14, 2017. Retrieved on 2017-06-19.
  10. ^ Hart, Hugh (14 November 2014). "A Jingle Truck Artist Brings The Mobile Art Of Pakistan To America". Fast Company. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  11. ^ Sharma, Manoj (20 April 2015). "Meet the men who convert trucks into colourful canvases". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  12. ^ "Foxy Shahzadi running away for good". The Dawn. 24 December 2010. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  13. ^ Walsh, Declan (9 November 2010). "From Pakistan to Paris, by VW Beetle". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  14. ^ Kinsella, Eileen (5 August 2015). "Indian Truck Art and Taxi Design-artnet News". Artnet. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  15. ^ "Pakistan's truck art inspires catwalk fashion range". BBC. 17 August 2012. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  16. ^ Sheikh, Ibriz (30 May 2015). "Pakistani truck art takes over streets of Milan". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  17. ^ "Truck art and fashion". Retrieved 16 October 2015.

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