Truck art in South Asia

Afghan truck

Truck painting is a popular form of indigenous art in Pakistan and other South Asian countries, featuring floral patterns and poetic calligraphy.[1] Such trucks are also known by the slang term jingle truck.

General practice of truck decor

Customised truck in Pakistan

Many trucks and buses are highly customized and decorated by their owners. External truck decoration can cost from $3,000 to $5,000.[2] The decoration often contains elements that remind the truck drivers of home, since they can be away from home for two months.[3] 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.[4] Outfitting is often completed at a coach workshop.[5] Chains and pendants often dangle off the front bumper.

Decor style of major regions

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 is commonly seen in trucks decorated by artists from Sindh.[4]

Origin of term "jingle truck"

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

The term 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.

The influence of truck art

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.[6][7]


The lively colors of Pakistani trucks have inspired multiple fashion designers.[8] The Italian fashion company Dolce & Gabbana used truck art-inspired displays in a 2015 campaign.[9] Although used more often on women's fashion, some men's clothing have been inspired by South Asian truck art.[10]


  1. Mughal, Owais (June 18, 2008). "Pakistan's Indigenous Art of Truck Painting". All Things Pakistan. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  2. Elias, Jamal (2005). "On Wings of Diesel: The Decorated Trucks of Pakistan". Amherst Magazine. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  3. "Pakistan's truck art inspires catwalk fashion range - BBC News". Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  4. 1 2 Covington, Richard (Spring 2005). "Masterpieces to Go: The Trucks of Pakistan". Saudi Aramco World. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  5. Nyland, Tim (October 19, 2006). "The Painted Trucks of Pakistan". Penn Current. University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  6. "Foxy Shahzadi running away for good". The Dawn. 24 December 2010. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  7. Walsh, Declan (9 November 2010). "From Pakistan to Paris, by VW Beetle". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  8. "Pakistan's truck art inspires catwalk fashion range". BBC. 17 August 2012. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  9. Sheikh, Ibriz (30 May 2015). "Pakistani truck art takes over streets of Milan". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  10. "Truck art and fashion". Retrieved 16 October 2015.
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