Last Year, I participated in the festival of lights by Dastkar. My stall was right next to a rare craft form called ROGAN ART. The young craftist, all of 22 years old, had come all the way from Kutch at the invitation of the organizers. Talking to him I decided to do a small interview of him and put him on our blog. This young man Mr. Khatri Rizwan hails from village Nirona, 40 km from Bhuj in Kutch. He is one of the descendants of the only family practicing this age old Art. According to him his forefathers migrated from Sind around 400 years ago. This art was a quicker and cheaper version of all the heavy and intricate embroidery on the women’s garments worn by them back then.
In a book ‘ Handicrafts of Kutch’ by Dr. Phil Eberhard Fischer, sponsored by Max Meuller Bhawan his grandfather Shr. Alimohamad Hasanmohammad Chhapara of Nirona Kutch finds mention.
Rogan Art is not very well known even in India as it catered to a market at the local level. As the women started wearing less of these garments the local markets shrank, it was not very sustainable to pursue. Most members and other artist shifted to other means of earning. But now with support from Ngo’s and the Government, the participation of the artists in Fairs across the Country and abroad, people are becoming aware and the youngsters of the family are returning to this craft. Slowly the work is being painted on dupattas, linen and wall hangings and gift items. It is now finding appreciation and a market in India and abroad.
The motifs used in the designs are flowers, animals, birds and architectural facades. The Persian influence is still visible in the designs.
Recently this art was in the news as Prime Minister Mr. Modi took a wall hanging of Rogan art as a gift for President Obama.
Method by Rizwan :- Castor oil is boiled over slow fire for a long time till it becomes thick. This thick solution is put in a container of cold water and becomes like a gel called Rogan.
Vegetable, stone and now pigment colours are mixed in this gel.
A small amount of the prepared colour is placed on the palm and rubbed with steel or wooden pencil till it starts to stretch into a thin line. Rizwan uses this to start placing this Rogan, which means oil based in Persian, on to a fabric in line form to create intricate patterns. He stretches the fabric to be painted on a wooden frame. Placing the index figure of his left hand below the fabric where he wants to paint he starts on the surface with his right hand. His hands are so set that he creates the design free hand without any tracing. The pattern just starts flowing, creating the design as he proceeds from memory. The finished work is symmetrical and intricate.
It is a treat to watch and we have captured him working in a video.