India’s trucks are works of art

India’s trucks are works of art


Drive through India and you are sure to see this. These are India’s trucks. Most goods in India are transported by truck. And as India’s economy has grown trucks have
become central to how the country does business. But since they were introduced
to India in the 1940s, these trucks have become more than just commercial
transportation, they’ve become a canvas. This is truck art. We are all about these colors, about these
symbols, about these fun elements about our superstitions, about the evil eye, all
that stuff, and these things still matter to us. Truck art is an Indian art form. It’s
a sort of mash up of visual motifs from Indian culture, language, beliefs, and
history. This assortment of color schemes typefaces and symbols is on display all
over India’s highways making long drives through India a sort of artistic experience. They’re also very
personal. An expression of individual tastes, values, and beliefs of those who
spend thousands of hours behind the wheel. I went to India and drove all over
the country looking for these trucks. I wanted to understand what’s behind this
peculiar art form, what motivates these drivers and artists to turn something as
functional and mundane as freight trucks into a spectacle of culture and beauty. This truck. It first came to British
India during World War II. The original brand of the truck was Bedford and they
were originally designed to carry military cargo, but after the British
left they stuck around. This same basic design inspired many of the commercial trucks that are on the road today in India. There are now millions of these
trucks on Indian roads. For the millions of drivers who spend weeks away from
home, the truck is their workspace, their home, their place of worship as they
traverse India’s vast distances. You know that a truck guy is actually
spending a phenomenal amount of time on the road, so for him this has to be his
comfort zone, his kind of space where he is comfortable and he can probably just feel at peace. There’s a whole industry dedicated to
this art form. Painters, many from the northern state of
Punjab, have become experts at the style. Punjab is one of the main centers of truck art. They have a distinctive style that is hard for others to replicate. I think the calligraphy that they use, the way that they write, what they write,
and the fact that it has come so beautifully to become a 3d expression.
I’ve had a bunch of students try to replicate it. It’s not the easiest thing
to do. Over the years truck art has naturally
developed a set of unspoken style rules. First, you have color. Truck art almost always features bright, saturated colors. You rarely see darks or neutrals. They’ll be a red on a blue, there will be a yellow, that is a constant and if you look at the color palette that you usually use,
you’ll hardly find any black except for shadow and fall over, you know highlighting certain areas, so they seem like they’re elevated. Next, you’ve got the typeface or the font, which for prominent words is always put in English and rendered in this blocky 3d style, always hand-painted. Most of the messages you see on the back of these trucks are messages of safety. The most common counsel on the back of trucks admonishes drivers to honk their horn. For truckers whose massive rigs have high blind spots, it’s a good safety practice to honk your horn if you plan to pass a truck on the road but the car horn is also just how people communicate on the road here. On the roads and in the cities, the car horn is a part of the landscape. Yeah, they really take this horn mantra
really seriously here. Another important message you see is use dipper at night. The dipper is kind of the low beam headlights and because these trucks are
so up high the high beam headlights go straight into their eyes and make it
very dangerous. And finally you’ve got the iconography, the symbols that adorn these vehicles. Every truck is totally unique. A lot of the markings are
functional, so you’ll have the number of the truck, you’ll have different
identifiers for the business, but then the driver gets a say in the way it
looks and so because of that you get this medley of different styles. Some are
religious some are national, but a lot of these are symbols that the drivers just
think look cool. There’s this eagle I keep seeing on all of the trucks and
have asked a dozen of these truck drivers whose trucks on this eagle and
they can’t really tell me what it means or what it’s for they just know that the
other guy had it and it looks really cool. And so it’s good to remember that
while a lot of this has deep symbolism, some of it is just a cool trend and
people are expressing themselves with their truck in whatever way they want.
Some experts think that this eagle might represent speed and precision, but the
trucker’s in India’s northern state of Punjab think of this as a falcon
alluding to their religious history, A major theme here is religious symbolism. These
truck drivers will put religious symbols of different gods or gurus or important
figures and there’s a reason behind this. Truck driving is not a safe profession.
The truck drivers here are telling me that sometimes they drive 24 hours straight
without stopping. This is dangerous stuff and these religious symbols can give
them a sense of peace and safety while they’re away from their families and on
the road for days or weeks on end. They also have the cow and a calf,
which is about fertility, it’s about prosperity. These are symbols that will be there on almost all of them. A well decorated
truck can mean a sense of pride for these drivers. You see, it’s just like a
bride. They really put lots of flowers, balloons, the works, all of it.
Truck art can also represent a sense of community and common culture for these
workers, who are constantly moving around. Truck art is an amalgam of different
influences, old and new, religious and secular, meaningful and trendy. It’s an
unlikely fusion of economics and art, business and aesthetic. Trucks are the
core of India’s economy, but they’re also where some of the most beautiful art
lives and moves.


100 thoughts on “India’s trucks are works of art

  1. Thanks for watching Ep4! If you want a deeper dive into truck art, check out this amazing documentary on the topic. https://vimeo.com/158847126
    the creators of this film helped us in our research and sources for this episode, and we're very grateful. See you next week for the last episode of Borders India!

  2. You should make an episode about Rickshaw paint of Bangladesh, the plight of the rickshaw pullers, and the slow disappearance of the art

  3. All this time, I thought Dipper was the flashing of headlights to indicate the truck driver that you're going to overtake him during nights

  4. The "eagle" images shown in the video likely are inspired by the Hindu God Lord Garuda who often appears as a bird, and various folk images of him are similar to those on the trucks. My Mom was an Indian Religion and Folk Art scholar so we spent quite a bit of time in India visiting Hindu temples and on the streets looking for religious iconography in everyday life.

  5. This is Nothing in front of Pakistani Truck Art. If you want to see real Truck Art YOu must Visit Pakistan

  6. Indian truck art is nothing as compared to that of pakistans check it out if you don't believe me

  7. Correct me if i am wrong.
    Dipper means signaling with your headlights. Theres an option to dipper. Dipper is not low beam

  8. you should do an episode on Dakar's Transports en commun ! they have similar masterpieces and a whole truck/bus painting culture too in Sénégal

  9. You r liar reporter you all replying is totally on liar database. You r lia on India, you r Lia about Hindus, you r Lia about our relationship. You r a such a lair. Same on you. Study before reporting check database right or wrong. Give same genuine person database. Study proper Aklak kase go on cort study the kase what actually Aklak done. Same on you & your channel

  10. This was something a lot of people like me free up with living in India. And I'm glad it's observed and appreciated as a part of our culture and an effort to understand it has been made. Brings me such Joy.

  11. they use the car horn instead of a turning signal as well as just to go, "I'm here" everywhere in asia (esp. Vietnam and India)

  12. This isn’t unique to India. Go to Haiti and you’ll see/learn that we’ve been doing this since forever! The most common form of this in Haiti is the “kamyonèt” … it’s truly a way of life. Much love and respect to the people of India 💪🏾

  13. Come to Indonesia, we have similar but different styles of truck art. Here we opt to wrote down funny saying or some painting of actress LOL

  14. DON'T TRUST WHITE LIBERALS! LOOK AT HOW WHITE LIBERALS TREATED BLACK AMERICA! THEY WILL DO THE SAME TO INDIA! GET THE WHITE LIBERAL OUT OF YOUR COUNTRY!

  15. Hello all. I would like to bring this to your attention. I love this video because it delves into such a colorful and expressionistic side of India. Sadly Pakistan is left from all of this. Pakistani truck art is way more Colorful, extravagant, expressive, bold and overlooked. The beauty of those trucks cannot be overstated. From cargo trucks to people carriers. All of them have their own personality and identity. Each truck is basically a person and no two of them are alike. Please look into Pakistani truck art and expand your mind. Hopefully thats a door to realizing how beautiful and vibrant pakistan is. Thank you

  16. The extra space in the truck that looks like a bed is also used to transport people in places where there's no other form of travel. I travel with them pretty often. It's about 20 bucks for a 45 minute journey which is exceptionally cheap. And they're usually friendly people 🙂

  17. Hello this is Drrew from Microsoft we noticed that your truck has computer virus please give us your credit card info to help get rid of virus

  18. "Horn culture" is also present in Sri Lanka and their trucks are also similar to those running in India, both are big, old, creative and colorful.

  19. People on Pakistani side of Punjab has the same taste for there trucks too. Good to see both sides are maintaining there traditional norms ❤❤❤❤❤

  20. Considering the category “Boarders” this information is not very useful. We are expecting information such as controversies and problems between countries. So far your videos are very informative and i am a regular follower of this channel. Thank you and all the best for all the future videos.

  21. This is awesome. I think you'd like the colorful and artistic jeepneys in the Philippines as well. It's very much like this in some parts of the country.

  22. You're not being inclusive by only mentioning one country, if you search truck art on Google, Pakistan repeatedly comes up because it's extremely common there and dates back centuries. Thanks anyway, I love truck art and have seen them in the UK in Pakistani communities.

  23. Great video.! I didn't think someone can make a vlog on these trucks and that too interesting!! You missed out the trucks in south India though.! They are even more artistic, gaudy, colourful and decorated!! 😀

  24. Please create an Arabic translation in all videos that publish to your channel because I can not understand all you say in English

  25. So do these truck drivers own their trucks? Or do whoever owns them let them decorate them?

    Here in the UK lorry drivers are allowed to decorate the inside of their cab but are not allowed to make any external or permanent alterations. That is because no-one can afford to buy a lorry so they are either rented or owned by a company.

    Here long haul drivers also work very long dangerous hours; there are so many similarities all over the world.

  26. the best home for cows where they just chill at roadside or even in the middle of the road. nothing scares them off here.

  27. Since you guys are making so many videos with India related you might also want to make a video about Bangladesh and it's mosque
    Like my area mosque my area has like 8 mosque all within walking distance
    It's just mental

  28. I'm an Indian and still I hadn't seen truck art in this way.. this was something very usual to me..but now I got to know that there's an industry of truck painters..this really is fascinating..
    I would like to point out one more thing – there is always some fun message written on the truck which brings smile to your face..
    Thanks for the video. 🙂

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