Pimped out Garbage truck
The tricked out ‘Jingle Trucks’ of Pakistan
Across Pakistan it is common to see things with wheels ornately painted and adorned. The port city of Karachi, is the epicenter of this long-practiced tradition.
Practically every vehicle, from a garbage truck to a rickshaw, is opulently decked out with everything from colorful murals to historic or symbolic images. Sometime around 1920, the tradition of decorating a truck prior to it heading out on a long trip was born. Known as “Jingle Trucks, ” Pakistan’s love affair with the Bedford, the heavy-duty truck that started the craze, came to Pakistan from UK automaker Vauxhall Motors after the first World War. To this day, the vintage vehicle is is still a vibrant part of Pakistani culture.
University of Karachi professor and artist Durriya Kazi who has studied truck art for several decades, believes that the age-old practice can be connected to Sufism; a mystical side of Islam that focuses on spirituality and body purification. Kazi says decorating the trucks is a way to obtain “religious merit, ” such as the Sufi practice of embellishing a shrine or religiously significant site. In other words, by paying tribute to the truck by adorning it, the owner is ensuring that the truck will reward them by not breaking down along the highway, so to speak. Looking at photos of what may be best described as a mobile art installation, it’s not difficult to conceive that Jingle Truck owners spend a lot of cash tricking out their sweet rides.
As the years pass, things change and evolve with the times. This is especially the case when it comes to the decoration of the rear end of a Jingle Truck. Professor Kazi noted that in the past, mostly political figures would adorn the back of the truck. Now it is more common to see a portrait of a “Pashto” (a genre of popular music) pop-star or a family member on the back of a vehicle driven by a more progressive-minded Jingle Truck owner. Some folks even speculate that “Dekotora” the truck decorating craze in Japan that started back in 1975, is loosely inspired by Jingle Trucks. Except for the fact that Japanese Dekotora trucks are lit up like the Las Vegas strip at midnight.