The Unique Boat Art That Brings Color To The Coastal Areas Of Pakistan [PICTURES]

The unique practice adds beauty to fishing boats sailing on the Arabian Sea.

(AN Photo)

In Pakistan, traditional truck art adds color and humor to the landscape of roads.

Nevertheless, another unique but little-known form of ornamentation has emerged on its coast: boat art.

The unique practice adds beauty to fishing boats sailing on the Arabian Sea.

(AN Photo)

According to Muhammad Ali Shah, the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) chairperson, most of the 15,000 fishing vessels sailing along the 350-kilometer coastline of Sindh are decorated.

However, the local craft has yet to be recognized as an art.

While it is difficult to prove when the tradition of painting boats with floral and marine patterns began, artists in Karachi say it emerged in Ibrahim Hyderi, a fishing village in the Korangi district of the metropolis.

A known figure, whom some say is a pioneer, is Abdul Aziz, affectionately called Ustad Aziz, who has been painting boats for 50 years.

(AN Photo)

“My father used to paint boats for decades, and now I have taught the craft to my sons and apprentices,” the artist remarked.

He learned to paint when he was 12, and since then, boat art has been his source of livelihood.

“The art of painting fishing boats started in Ibrahim Hyderi, following which other fisher communities also adopted the art,” said Shoaib Ali, one of Ustad Aziz’s pupils.

(AN Photo)

Colors and designs are similar, but “some patterns act as regional markers of their point of origin,” Ali said.

A trained eye would be able to distinguish which vessels come from Ibrahim Hyderi and which from other nearby regions such as Badin, Keti Bandar, Gharochan, and Somiani.

Filmmaker and artist Sharjil Baloch said while truck art could be found in Pakistan, India, and worldwide, boat art was a uniquely Pakistani tradition.

According to him, Indian boats are simple and only use a primary matte coating to protect the wood from climate and water.

(AN Photo)

At first glance, similar to truck art, boat art is quite distinctive.

“The shape of a boat is different, so the template is automatically different. You see truck art with landscapes, but here you’ll see seascapes”, Baloch remarked.

He added: “The way they decorate them, making detailed designs gives them their own identity.”

Jatin Desai, an Indian journalist, and activist who has been working with fishermen also said boat art was unknown in India.

“Be it from Gujarat or elsewhere in the state,” he said, “there is no artwork on Indian fishing boats.”

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