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Art

Art on Wheels

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Afghanistan, India, Iran, Pakistan...
 
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Life is full contradictions. What could be more of paradox than the local version of the common truck? Often a menace on the road, breathing free and smoke, and scattering all before it, It is Afghanistan's, Pakistan's and India's answer to the erstwhile dragon. But though a menace, it is at the same time disarming one, for it is also in its own way a work of art. No vehicle will be out of use. Their wagon will be changed with wooden one and will be painted: Truck, mini-dragon, notorious auto-rickshaw, rickshaw, taxies and buses, old or new, add colors and gaiety to the cities.

All these nations revel in color and decoration. No occasion is necessary, it is part of normal everyday life. Nothing is left ascetically cold or aesthetically pure; from head to toe, mud hut to palace, they always love to embellish and enliven their surroundings.

It is not surprising, therefore, that trucks and rickshaws are such delightfully decorative objects. The most attractively got up vehicles are the owner driven. All the wealth, taste and status of the owner is reflected in their appearance, as opposed to cars, whose drivers, rich or poor, are not really very different from each other.

When it comes to trucks and buses, it is usually those that travel over long distant routes, particularly up-country with low speed, which are the most richly decorated. Flowers, in vases or bouquets, or pretty little landscapes arte the most common motifs. The lettering, whether Urdu, India, Pashtu, Persian or English, is always ornate. The finest pure Victoriana! Every part of the truck is decorated, flaps, under-carriage and hub. Front fenders are chromium-plated steel (sometimes wood, in old cars in Afghanistan), but with elaborate cut-work. The style, primitive, native and full of inventiveness, has about it rare uncontrived quality.

The idea is simple: To make it pretty. Open the door to driver's seat and look in, the pride and joy of the driver really reaches its peak here: Veritable fairy-tale glitter meets the eye; the surface is richly patterned like good brocade, lights glow everywhere. it is absolute sensation.

Rickshaws Have less scope. Owners are usually poorer. Nevertheless, they produce some pretty exotic work. Body is painted in bright fluorescent colors, again embellished with flowers or fanciful landscapes, not to mention the messages, greeting and prayers.

Dragon is in the decoration of the plastic canopy that the best ones excel. Appliquéd with gold leaves, diamonds, stars, the work is like gota (tinsel) or lace, an intricate, yet bold pattern meticulously stitched together.

The best landscapes appear on the back of petrol or water tankers. They are nearly always of picturesque lakes and mountains, with winding roads. Little trucks go up and down, and rose-covered cottages complete the picture. Scenes have great charm, oddly enough enhanced by the limitations of the tanker's oval shape. The oval frame belongs to another era and landscapes are right in tune with it.

In Iran, these decorations are different. Paintings are seldom seen. Mostly, lettering are speaking to the viewer: Letters of Gray Life!

Trucks, vans, buses, Taxis have always written on their body, glass ,and of course surely on their back: Persian words, poems and proverbs, which are sometimes wrote in English letters. Religious is one of the most subjects, especially on buses; other subjects are too vast, but mostly are related to the depressed people of the last years of 2oth century of Iran; also, lyric poems, Persian proverbs,... to jokes, mostly with monotone colors.
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Photos: Masoud

 

Art

Painting in Pakistan

Afghanistan; Iran; Pakistan

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