I was as flabbergasted as you when I saw these images of Pakistani truck art. Popular in the Indus valley region, it began prior to the Partition, according to Peter Grant, the photographer.
This extraordinary tradition has it's routes in the days of the Raj when craftsmen made glorious horse drawn 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.
A new undecorated bus costs around £3000 afterwhich owners can expect to pay a further £5000 for a complete decoration which can take up to three months. The cost of decorating a truck is around £3000 on top of the £1500 paid for a new vehicle. Artists are paid between £1.50 and £3 per day.
The photographs were were brought to my attention by ace videoblogger Soumyadeep Paul, who also has a fascinating photoblog on India, featuring many stills from Rajasthan, my homeland.
whoa! pretty cool...