Frontiers

Art on Wheels

Religious studies professor Jamal Elias explores the culture of truck decoration in Pakistan.
September 2011

In his new book, On Wings of Diesel, Jamal Elias, Class of 1965 Term Professor and Professor of Religious Studies, takes readers on a journey through the world of Pakistani truck decoration. These ornately adorned vehicles depict all aspects of life and fuel an extensive artisanal industry. Elias explores designs and motifs in truck art, the motivations of those involved in the practice, and its cultural significance to provide a unique understanding of Pakistan’s complex society. An accomplished amateur photographer, Elias illustrates his research with vivid photos of these “mechanical dinosaurs adorned in full courtship colors.”

In this audio slideshow, view Elias’ pictures of Pakistani truck art and listen to him discuss his research.

Rachel Witte and Nikkolai Davenport contributed to this story.