The Origins of Pakistani Truck Art – پاکستانی ٹرک آرٹ

The Origins of Pakistani Truck Art – پاکستانی ٹرک آرٹ


My name is Muhammad Ejaz Ahmed Mughal and I am a truck artist Truck art came into existence in 1952 and since 1956, my father, Haji Abdul Rehman along with four maestros starting working on it. At first truck art used to be very simple No flower designs or patterns Just a number plate design and the name of the goods So the four maestros whose names are very important Two were brothers First Master Azam who was the eldest then it was Master Waseem Although they were board painters and they were from Jehlum They were so motivated that in the old times, as they were board painters and they did not have much work but they worked so hard they put day and night into it Passion and motivation takes a man higher In the old times, artists used to suffer as there were not many oppurtunities and they are sensitive aswell They even walked from Jehlum to Pindi So here they decided to do Truck work At that time there was a Master for calligraphy Master Rafiq who was from Taxila And then there was a Master from India Ram Badhiyay Dolta He was a master in Flowers and Petals So he used to do small work here and there Besides this, when the brothers arrived they saw more guys have arrived so lets expand our work Little by little and doing small work as there we no trucks at that time So what they did that they competed against each other like you can say in jealousy Watched each other’s work and got motivated into making their own better For example someone made a number plate so they made flowers with it or something attractive So when they other Masters saw that they enhanced it by making an ornament around it or a landscape So by doing this over and over the art started becoming bigger Since 1956, my father had a very religious background My grandmother was very strict and when she found out that her son is going into this field she tried to stop him sternly. She said that now you will make bird etc then at the day of judgement, you will be asked to breathe life into it. So he faced a lot of resistance My grandfather was very stern himself so he wasent supportive of this work either But my grandmother being his mother, melted so she gave permission to him to follow his dreams Then at his house everyone protested that what sort of work has Haji started as it is not considered good work as wel belong to an Islamic background and people used to come to us to learn Quran (the Holy Book ) and look what he started doing Anyways his mother gave him permission hesitantly but he got the permission Then with the four Masters he started working, So he became the Fifth. Slowly slowly more people started coming in the circle Then some people after learning the craft went other cities In no way am I saying that truck art started from Rawalpindi But the truck art of Pindi that I am telling about evolved in other cities and then through their own experience evolved accordingly So for instance If you see some people say it started from Karachi some say it was from Taxila Mianwali, Shinwari Peshawari this is Quettas work so there are different names and work now Like our work from Rawalpindi is called Disco The one who does Disco work can do almost all types of evolved work Hence So as I was talking about Haji Sahib So he kept on working and working then he went to Saudia He got employed by a company there He was promised a lot that we will support you there etc So when he arrived there, look at this brush. This is maximum 10 grams and the person who works with this 10 gram brush was given a shovel or a hammer he cannot survive So they said that in Saudia you would have to do this sort of work He was given nothing. No water, he could not visit So he was very worried. His passion was to keep creating something So one day at their living quaters where they used to cook coal, he created art with coal etc His employer saw that and concluded that his guy is very skilled His employer was french but he used to live in Saudia So he employed him for his launch (boat) My father put a whole year on that boat Half day was just consumed in travel but he put a whole year in that Then his employer gave him a free hand as he was so happy with his services So he kept on working then he became really old he could not climb stairs So he wondered what to do next He came into the market and as you know there are good and bad people in the market Some people are sarcastic and demeaning but he still worked in the market His speed became slow because of age In truck art you have to roam all four corners of it And working on it with a ladder became difficult in his age So he left that work Then he decided to to start a small shop He set up shop and kept his paint there etc He kept on pushing through with paintings So he thought of why not doing that work only which just requires sitting only So by sitting he can manage the shop and create art aswell Then he started painting small items Like someone asked him to paint a slate So he made a slate with different types of art Similarly he did some small work for foreigners who were tourists They used to get their bags painted or a car whose wheels were painted or its windows So slowly he found a way by doing all this work of truck art These days countless people claim that they started truck art but the start of truck art on handicrafts was started by our elder Haji Abdul Rehman He kept on doing his work then he needed a helper at that time so i used to do plastic work and banner work at that time I roamed different areas of Pakistan as well I was married in Karachi So I worked there aswell So basically i came into the Truck field myself My teacher was Master Naeem May God bless his soul At that time work was very difficult By difficult i mean, i was 12-13 years and I had to roam around the truck while working and i was very little So on the first day my teacher said that you have to paint the border So he thought as I was Haji Sahab’s son, i would be skilled or been taught the skill and my father never let us learn this art at that time as he encouraged us to go to school So when the teacher picked up a stick to beat me and threatened me that If this work is not done by tomorrow it wont be good for you. In my heart i said, year right as if I am going to come tomorrow Anyways during that time i was working on Plastic and banners and then my father got really old so in 2000 i started work with him As through my experience of painting, i already had some incling of the work as you see the table before me, i made it myself. Almost all the items of wood or plastics etc The design i select on it, i paint which i like as if i like what i am doing the customer would like it too I want to tell you something that our start was through PNCA Pindi art council and Lok Virsa So when we brought our stuff to Lok Virsa people were baffled as they never saw this sort of work and they made fun of us Sometimes it used to hurt as well So our first exhibition was in Iqbal Nursery near Chak Shahzad We didnt even know what are events or exhibitions So a guy took us there Here i would like to name a friend his name is Asif Shahjahan so i said Shah G, listen to me we dont have rent and we want to go there He asked us, do you know where the place is? We replied we will find out dont worry When we arrived there, saw a different world. I had never seen a marquee before neither did my father. We did see a tent but that marquee was huge and it was covering the whole ground At that time, only big cities used to have such things So when we set up the stall, some people came and started banging on the things like this and asking us what is this ? We felt bad as as we had worked so hard on those things Anyways I told Shah G that we dont have the fare for the transportation and if we dont get work you wont get the money back and sadly we did not get work there Then we went to PNCA It is a huge organization Over there there were big artists and creative people and when they saw our work for the first time, they wondered where did we bring this new stuff from? So basically I am telling you of that time when people did not even know about the truck art even we did not know that in the future it will be called Truck Art and it will be huge Another sad part is that this work first went abroad like England, America, Germany, France etc and to different big people and from there, the people from Pakistan who saw this, made it popular here and made it famous back home Now every other person claims that they invented Truck art and it is my identity People need to check themselves once I was at an exhibition A Japanese guy came to me, although I did not know how to speak english but i could understand it So with him was a translator and with me there was another truck artist So he said that he made a beetle from Germany I did not know he said that, the Japanese guy was very happy to hear that and hugged the artist He was very happy When he passed me i said Hello to him and he came to my stall So he told me that, that artist did a car from Germany, Beetle So i was very surprised as no other beetle had gone to Germany besides the one we did So in my broken english i asked him that do you have google? Do you have a google mobile? he said yes He called me cheater cheater again and again I asked him how did I cheat you? We did a beetle as well He replied no you are a cheater and that guy is legit I felt very bad that he is called me all this anways i told his translator to atleast check it on google So when he searched on google for Foxy Shehzadi, so articles and comments of people regarding on work popped up even a testimonial from Dr. Wilson came on in which he mentioned all the details So then I asked him to check the beetle from Germany as well so that we can see who is lying and who is telling the truth So when he checked on the German car, it was running in Talagang and I knew exactly where it was. So then that Japanese hugged me and kissed me here and he said Well Done So i told him it wasent me, it was my elders who did this work and i was the helper in this project but it was our work besides that there are many other projects that we did like in Bahria and different other places like bakeries and other big projects So now today with the Blessing of God, I am here Either rich or poor, i am happy and satisfied and i believe i am nothing without my Haji Sahab Perfect so approximately, how many projects have you done? like did you keep a track on the quantity of items you customized? No, we have no idea how many things and items we customized Countless. We have done so much that its impossible to count From the 15th till the 24th, we have a festival in Lok Virsa and we are registered officially by Punjab Bar council So for that i stay up late till 2-3am and work In the morning my kids leave for school at 7am. My alarm rings at 5:30am and from 7-8am after the kids leave i start working till 2-3am in the morning And God willing, through this effort Allah has blessed me with good wages as waking up in the morning is Sunnat and in the past as there was not much work but now due to the popularity, i see lots of work ahead like events in Lok Virsa and Christmas and in different embassies so i work hard and Thank God for his blessings and I am satisfied Perfect, so do you have a message for the government or give them suggestions for the promotion of your art. The thing is that every person dreams that their government supports their work and gives us projects for example people take delegations abroad. So we would want to accompany them like through Lok Virsa we have travelled all of Pakistan and that is a government institution as well So what i want is that artists, not necessarily, me, all those artists who work by hand they should interact with other skilled artists This skill is that thing which washes away all your problems and leaves a sign of love and respect So i think if there are such projects by the government for the hand artists as they dont have money for tax and they are not registered and are contractual and can go unemployed for 6 months in a row so for them there needs to be a policy which protects the extreme poor artists The person who has money has contacts so for him getting work is no problem because of his name but the worker goes no where and stays poor So the government needs to realize that. Of course cant be harsh on the government either but a brotherly advice full of love that make some sort of policy of the artisan community where there is flexible visa policy and make things easier like multiple visas so they can travel to any exhibition and for frieght if 30kgs are allowed so a special offer needs to be there for such handicrafts artisans so they can take their work which could exceed upwards of 2-20 kgs for his ease A subsidy in the tickets as well could be beneficial in other words just protects artists from worries like in western countries you respect your teachers and those who work through hands for example in the west, there are manufacturing plants and huge companies which work digitally on computers without human interaction. Thats why they prefer our work the reason being we work by hand People used to work by hand there back in the days but not anymore as now there is technology and if that technology comes here then a time will come when people will go psycho like in the cinema business or in the calligraphy business or board painters as I have experience in all these fields and know the artists involved So some people bad mouth the government These days there are countless people who say that we have a competition with the computer So i reply with laughing that we are not in competition with the computer instead we are competing with self that we need to evolve our art For example this table i built and other things i made, i keep changing and evolving with time and trends like working on the scooters and beetles. So keep evolving One more thing I will share with you Truck work is slowly dwindling away It has printed stickers now made on computers So now the work which used to take months can be done in days and the profit margins are greater too but that doesnt mean that now the computer is there so we need to sleep or get discouraged that what will happen to us now we need to go with the flow and evolve with the trends The people who work hard and evolve, God Blesses them with victory for example i would like to share a story about Sultan Muhammad Ghaznavi that he attacked the Souvenaths 18 times and he lost everytime. His army left him too but he sees an ant who used to climb up to see the spider and kept falling and kept climbing and falling so then he got motivated that he should not give up and he worked on his idea and now his name is in the history books So just like that we need to work with a big heart. It is true that with circumstances come problems but everything falls in place at the end If i keep on talking, i could talk for another 3 months.

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