Pakistan's 'truck art' has become a global phenomenon

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Truck art in Pakistan
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Truck art in Pakistan
Artwork is seen on a decorated truck in Peshawar, Pakistan, May 1, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz 
A security guard poses for a portrait in front of his favourite decorated truck at a truck stop outside Faisalabad, Pakistan, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz 
Artwork is seen on a decorated truck in Taxila, Pakistan, May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz 
Artwork is seen on a decorated truck outside Faisalabad, Pakistan, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz 
An electric gauge is seen in the cab of a decorated truck in Faisalabad, Pakistan, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz 
Workers unload fruit from a decorated truck at the wholesale produce market in Faisalabad, Pakistan, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz 
A worker washes a decorated truck in Peshawar, Pakistan, May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz 
Artwork is seen on a decorated truck outside Faisalabad, Pakistan, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz 
Plastic bottles used to store water and a tyre stopper are wedged on the side of a decorated truck in Faisalabad, Pakistan, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz 
Drivers rest on beds at a truck stop outside Faisalabad, Pakistan, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz 
Decorations cover the gear shift of a decorated truck outside Faisalabad, Pakistan, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz 
Speakers and a fan are seen in the cab of a decorated truck in Faisalabad, Pakistan, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz 
Artwork is seen on a decorated truck in Peshawar, Pakistan, May 1, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz
A driver holds open the door of the carved wood cab of his decorated truck in Faisalabad, Pakistan, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz 
Boys pose for a picture in front of a decorated truck in Peshawar, Pakistan, May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz 
Scenes of Islam's holy sites in Mecca and Medina are seen on a decorated truck in Faisalabad, Pakistan, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz 
Workers load straw onto a decorated truck outside Faisalabad, Pakistan, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz 
Workers load straw onto a decorated truck outside Faisalabad, Pakistan, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz 
Artwork is seen on a decorated truck carrying sacks of wheat in Charsadda, Pakistan, May 1, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz 
An old Volkswagen Beetle painted with truck art is seen abandoned in a parking lot in Islamabad, Pakistan May 30, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz 
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ISLAMABAD, June 13 (Reuters) - They pollute the roads and chug along at a snail's pace, but to their Pakistani owners the rickety trucks are moving pieces of art, commanding attention with garish portraits of flowers, Islamic art, and snow-capped Himalayan peaks.

South Asian "truck art" has become a global phenomenon, inspiring gallery exhibitions abroad and prompting stores in posh London neighborhoods to sell flamboyant miniature pieces.

Yet closer to home some people sneer and refuse to call it "art."

For the drivers, the designs that turn decades-old vehicles into moving murals are often about local pride. Picking the right color or animal portrait is tougher than the countless hours spent on the road.

Truck driver Haji Ali Bahadur, who hails from the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, said green and yellow have been his colors of choice during 40 years behind the wheel.

"We, the drivers of Khyber, Mohmand and other tribal regions like flowers on the edge of the vehicles," he said. "The people of Swat, South Waziristan and Kashmir region like portraits of mountains and different wild animals."

Truck art has become one of Pakistan's best known cultural exports and offshoot toy and furniture industries have been spawned closer to home.

With Pakistan's economy picking up speed and new roads opening up trade routes to China, truck art may soon find new admirers abroad. (Reporting by Caren Firouz and Jibran Ahmad; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Darren Schuettler)

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