Kutch is very popular for its unique use of threads, stones and printing techniques to design colorful fabric decorations. Rogan Art came down to Kutch around 400 years ago from Persia. The word “Rogan” means “oil” in Persian. Abdul Ghafoor Khatri’s family practice this rarely known art in a village called Nirona in Kutch. This family of traditional artists is protecting this art from vanishing. In 1988, Khatri won the State Award and in 1997, the National Award.
Preparation of Paint Paste
In Rogan painting, artists use a thick bright paste to paint on the plain cloth. They prepare the paste by boiling the oil of safflower, castor or linseed in the jungle and add the paste into the water. The artist mixes the paste with chalk, colored pigment, and a binding agent to make a thick dye. Artists use a needle or a stick to paint on the cloth. Yellow, blue and red are the most commonly used colors. Artists use natural colors from earth. An amazing feature of this art form is that the needle with the paint never touches the fabric during the entire painting process.
Method of Painting
The artists sit on the floor and place a small amount of the paint paste on their palms. Next, they use oversized needles or rods to lightly pull some strands. Then they place these strands on the fabric to produce different patterns.Artists paint on free hand without any drawings. The artists’ fingers under the fabric are used to spread and shape the design. The design is usually created on one edge of the fabric and then it is folded to create a mirror image on the other side. After drying, the Rogan painted fabric is used for making sarees, decorative wall hangings, pillow covers, tablecloths, etc.
Threats Faced by Rogan Art
Gafoorbhai and his family practice Rogan art for eight generations. However, they lack the human capital and product diversity required to feed demands of the modern market. Lack of awareness about the art is the biggest threat to Rogan painting. They try to achieve maximum perfection in each painting. But it is so perfect that it needs to be explained that it is not printed, but painted by hand. One needs to witness the time and effort taken during the painting to understand the value of this art.
The government has started supporting Rogan artists to help Rogan art reach more people. Many start-ups and NGOs are also serving to build a market for them.
Pic Courtesy: www.thebetterindia.com, lakshmisharath.com, www.gujarattourism.com.