Two Swiss Cows Painted in Pakistani Truck Art Design

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People arriving at Karachi airport this summer will be greeted by two Swiss cows painted in Pakistani truck art design, as part of an exhibition to celebrate the friendship between the two countries.

In order to greet visitors with a blend of Pakistani and Swiss hospitality, the consul-general Emil Wyss decided to blend together two cultural symbols — truck art from the vehicles that snake through the length and breadth of Pakistan and two Pascal Knapps’ fibreglass cows.

“Instead of a normal guest book, visitors can sign them [the painted cows],” said Wyss, adding that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)-backed exhibition is scheduled to start at Jinnah International Airport on May 29 and will run until mid-August.

Explaining the idea behind the cows, Wyss said that there was an exhibition in Switzerland nearly 20 years ago when cows were placed in public spaces and later they were auctioned off for charity. The exhibition sparked a cultural phenomenon recurring regularly in Switzerland and in places such as New York and London.

“Switzerland and Pakistan have very developed dairy sectors and I wanted something that represents both Switzerland and Pakistan,” he said, adding that the Pakistani part of the cows is the vibrant truck art.

The two cows, which were initially bright blue and pink respectively, have now been completely transformed and ‘domesticated’ with bright yellows, oranges, reds, greens along with flower patterns and motifs commonly found on trucks.

A social enterprise, Phool Patti, gave the cows their Pakistani look. Founded by truck artist Haider Ali and Ali Salman Anchan, the enterprise uses truck art as a tool to further their message.

“We wanted to infuse truck art [into the cows],” said Anchan. “We incorporated Swiss and Pakistani national flowers, Edelweiss and jasmine, while the mid-riff and the legs of the cows have been painted in truck art-style,” he explained. The second cow has been painted with betel leaves.

The cows also carry familiar messages of ‘Dekh Magar Pyar Se [Look, but with love]‘ and ‘Amn [peace]‘ along with the flags of both Pakistan and Switzerland. The cows are big enough to carry up to 700 signatures. Once the exhibition ends, they will be auctioned with the proceeds going to charity.

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