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Truck Art in India: A motley of colors

Truck Art

"Blow Horn"
"Horn Ok Please"
"Use Dipper at night"

Yes, we know, all the images might have just flashed in your mind right now. All of us know what these slogans are and where do we mostly find them. In fact, as an Indian, we have grown up seeing these slogans on the colorful trucks while traveling on roads. There is no denying the fact that India is a land of rich heritage and culture that is filled with colors. Take a walk across any street in the country and you will find colors in almost everything. Be it juice center hoarding or a banner of any political party or the clothes that people wear and the list goes on, you will find an array of vibrant colors in all directions.  Indian trucks are also a part.

HISTORY OF TRUCKS

Approximately 8.5 millions of trucks run on roads in India and one thing that all of them have in common is the way these trucks are decorated. Trucks were introduced in India in the 1940s during World war II. That time they were used to carry the arms and ammunition. Post Independence trucks are being used in the transportation business and are an integral part of the Indian economy. But now they are more than just being a medium of transportation and business.

WHY DO THE DRIVERS DESIGN THEIR TRUCKS?

They drive for long hours and commute across the long distances of the country, as a result, they end up spending a lot of time in their trucks only so much so that they even sleep in their trucks. They are visiting their homes at regular intervals but do not always live there. Hence trucks serve as their home away from home. This is the reason that the drivers treat their trucks as their homes as well as the place of worship.  They decorate them as newlywed Indian Brides.

DESIGNS AND THEIR MEANINGS

Trucks in India are a psychedelic display of interesting slogans, colors, decorative articles, and countless convoluted symbols. They serve as a 3-dimensional canvas. Truck designs are an amalgamation of the influences of different religious beliefs and cultures. 
We usually see a melange of color schemes, fonts, and symbols on display. As the years have unfolded, truck art has evolved and concluded with a set of unspoken rules. 
First, they are painted with the base color. The colors are usually bright and saturated like yellow, orange, red and the likes. You won't see any dark colors there. Then there are fonts. Different slogans are written at the back or sometimes even sides of the truck. The back slogans are usually safety-oriented slogans depicting the use of a horn or the use of dipper lights at night. At last, they paint the icons or symbols. These symbols are usually made to embellish the trucks. There are business name or logos and the numbers of the trucks as well. What we mostly see is the eagle painted on the trucks. Now, there are various versions of the explanation of the eagle being painted on the trucks. Some say that it symbolizes speed and precision. Some say that it is inspired by the hawk of Guru Govind Ji. We also see different visual motifs from our culture, history, and beliefs. There are also some divine figurines which are portable mini shrines. This gives them a sense of peace, protection, and safety. Also, being Indians, the belief in superstitions run in our DNA. No matter how much one disagrees of being superstitious but subconsciously he/ she believes in one superstition or the other. Hence we also witness the lemon-green chilly hangings or the black thread on the trucks.

           

Though they vary in different parts of the country, Punjab is the main hub of truck art. There is a whole industry dedicated to this art form. The generations of families have been working dedicatedly in this field. In fact, their livelihood comes from it. These trucks are an atypical blend of arts and business. They indeed make drives on road in India a fascinating visual experience making mundane trucks into an extravaganza of art and culture.

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