Bookshelf: Afghan Trucks, by Jean-Charles Blanc (1976)

Historically, Afghan caravan drivers would ornament their camels using flowers, ribbons, tassels, and ropes. They did this as a way to both advertise their business and gain protection from God in an extremely dangerous line of work.

The caravan drivers have since traded in the camel for the truck, but the custom remains alive and well. Traditional Muslim motifs endure but contemporary designs – such as scenes of modern warfare or spaceships – are scattered amongst the familiar images of mosques and demure women. Jean-Charles Blanc’s Afghan Trucks (1976) captures the colorful phenomenon that still continues to this day.

“And what merchant would entrust his goods, or what passenger entrust his life, to a vehicle whose driver so patently neglected to place his truck and his load under God’s protection?”