'Rogan': A deserted art of the desert


We live in a country full of diversity, and this element of diversity is visible in the various art forms we have. The presence of a wide range of art forms, each depicting a different story, having an exclusive essence and background make India a unique country. But with westernization and modernization, a lot has changed, the art form which was once the heritage of the nation is now on the verge of extinction. One such art form is Rogan art. 


'Rogan' is the Persian word for oil because castor oil is the base of the painting. It is originally an art of Persia (today Iran) and was introduced to India 400 years ago. The irony is that today only one family in Kutch, Gujrat is practicing it. The Khatri family of Gujrat has been doing Rogan art for seven generations and has the sole responsibility of keeping this art alive. The textile painting is produced by boiling castor oil for 1-2 days till it attains thick consistency, later bright colors are added and mixed to make the paint. The cloth on which the painting is done is usually dark so that bright and shiny colors of paint stand out more beautifully. The procedure of making design is completely freehand, a stick is used to create very fine threads of paint on the palm and then these threads are arranged on the cloth to create a pattern. The entire process requires mastery of the skill and high focus, there is no pre sketch or pre-planning, the design directly comes from the heart and is displayed on the cloth. 

Abdul Gafur Khatri, recipient of the Padma Shree and a member of the Khatri family is doing his best to revive the art. The art gained popularity among tourists when Prime minister Narendra Modi gifted the art to then-president Barack Obama in 2014. However, the lockdown and the corona crises have proved a threat to the art. The new generation is not interested in taking the art further due to its lesser demand in the market. There is a need to acknowledge the art at the national and international level and motivate the youth to take the art as a hobby and profession. Rogan art can be introduced to the latest trends and fashion to make it popular art.