Rogan is the technique of painting on fabric, crafted from thick brightly coloured paint made with castor seed oil. Castor is a local crop grown in Kachchh, and artists most likely sourced it from farmers originally. Artisans place a small amount of this paint paste into their palm. At room temperature, the paint is carefully twisted into motifs and images using a metal rod that never comes in contact with the fabric. Next, the artisan folds his designs into a blank fabric, thereby printing its mirror image. In effect it is a very basic form of printing. While designed used to be more rustic, over time the craft has become more stylized and now is almost a high art.
Keeping Craft Alive
Kachchh’s Rogan tradition is sustained by two families in Nirona Village. It is a craft which took form over the course of time. The members of the Khatri muslim community were doing the Rogan art work on various costumes of local animal herder and farming communities, but the craft ceased to exist when the community started using other machine made textiles as a more cost effective alternative.
The New Life of Rogan
The artisans successfully revived the craft as an art form by making wall pieces for display. The main theme of the wall pieces revolve around the “Tree of Life”. The families practicing rogan, of Khatri Abdul Gaffar Doud and Khatri Siddik Hasan, have received various awards and won national and international acclaim for the preservation of their art form. To increase the outreach of the craft, the family took initiative to train the local girls from other communities who are closely working with them to make beautiful Rogan art pieces.