MA student in the Cultural Heritage Studies Program, 2016-2018
Gods of the Road: Spiritual Dimension of Vehicular Art in the Indian Subcontinent
Vehicle decoration is a widespread phenomenon that exists in many Asian countries, and as well in other parts of the world such as the Middle East, Africa and the Americas. Although it represents an authentic form of vernacular art which is reflecting local traditions and beliefs, vehicular art is not officially recognized neither valorized as cultural heritage, nor thoroughly and systematically academically researched. The phenomenon of decorated vehicles is present in different regions of the world, but it is particularly widespread and elaborate in the countries of Indian Subcontinent, where it is truly representing a living vernacular folk art. This study aims to observe vehicular decoration in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh as a whole due to the fact that it belongs to the same socio-cultural space and share the same origins from the period of British Raj, motifs derived from traditional art and crafting techniques in all three aforementioned countries. However, within the main focus of his study are spiritual motifs in vehicular decoration as they are reflecting religious and cultural beliefs of their owners, serving both as protectors of vehicles and as well as social identifiers.
Thesis Supervisor: Gerhard Jaritz