Mahrooseh: Lebanon’s Art on the Road
By Falak Shawwa.
2019, Rimal Books, 978-9-96371-5-169, €30 hb.
Reviewed by William Tracy on September 9, 2020
The expression “Art is in the eyes of the beholder” certainly applies to the calligraphy and colorfully patterned art adorning the Middle Eastern cargo trucks photographed for this slim volume. Mahrooseh (protected) is among the most common slogans or proverbs chosen by truckers to decorate their vehicles—a custom that began in the 1970s and 1980s, reflecting the cultural richness and diversity found in the gardens, mountains and deserts of the Levant. Most phrases are written in white on red, though some green appears when cedar trees occasionally become part of a truck’s livery. Detailed captions accompany each photo, with an English translation of the proverb, along with a typed version of the original handwritten Arabic calligraphy. Readers familiar with the Middle East and those interested in unusual, original art forms will find this book particularly interesting.