Traditional art forms of India have such unique qualities that separate one art form from another. Centuries ago, art travelled with people and moved from its place of origin to new foreign lands. Thanks to such movements, India is now home to one of the rarest forms of art, the Rogan Art.
Rogan art is a centuries-old unique style of art. The Persian art form now settled in Nirona Village of Kutch in Gujarat is a migrant art form that has become a cultural asset for India. Rogan Art is so distinctive that only one particular Khatri family has practised it since it arrived in India. The story of the artist’s practice and survival of the art is equally remarkable.
In this article, we will try to present the history, practice, techniques, and survival of Rogan Art. Without further ado, let us begin.
History of Rogan Art
Rogan Art hails from the land of Persia. The art form crossed many borders and came to India some four hundred years ago. An hour’s drive from Bhuj, Nirona of Kutch is now home to this intricate art. The art form became instantly popular because of its different styles, technique, and patterns. Rogan Art is made by hand, purely out of one’s imagination without any blueprint as reference.
Etymology of Rogan Art
The term Rogan in Persian means oil-based. The Rogan Art’s paint is made from castor oil and hence the name.
Practice of Rogan Art
When it came to India for the first time, this form of art was practised by the local communities of animal herders and farmers. The art form was prevalent in the bridalwear of the community. But with the introduction of modern textiles and machine-made styles, the unique hand-made state of the art was on the verge of becoming extinct.
Rogan Art, a community art form, is now just a family heirloom. The original Abdul Gafur family of Nirona is the sole practitioner of this art form. At present, the Rogan Art is in its eighth generation of survival with the Gafur family.
The Gafur’s have been in this creative field for so long that the Rogan Art has become their identity. Only because of them, it has further travelled to the USA in 2014 as a prestigious gift for the then President Barack Obama from India. Our Prime Minister’s recognition of the uniqueness of this art came as a blessing for the survival of the art form.
Techniques of performing Rogan Art
The art form’s survival and uniqueness are still intact because of the Gafur family’s dedication to preserving the art form. The family has been practising the art form with all its original techniques and styles.
Rogan Art’s brief history and etymology give a clue that a lot of technique goes into making this art. The patterns of Rogan Art, like other art forms of India, have many intricate details. But even before starting the painting, the formation of the paint itself requires a particular process.
Let us find out all the techniques that go into the formation of Rogan Designs.
Paint used in Rogan Art
The paste of the Rogan Art paint is made from castor oil. The colour pigments are all natural. The process of making the paint’s paste starts with boiling the castor oil. Artists burn the oil in the jungle. After a long period of cooking the oil, it is placed to cool. Once the grease cools down and the oil texture is in the desired rubbery form, the following pigmentation begins. If the surface is not flexible enough, the oil is again put to boil until the required consistency is attained.
On the other hand, the colour pigments are made into a fine paste by adding water to them. The mixing of the colour paste with the boiled oil is done with a stone. Once the colour doughs are made, they are put in containers with water. The water ensures that the paste does not harden.
Painting the Rogan Art
The primary process of painting begins once the paste of the paint is ready. Here also there is a distinctive style of painting the clothes.
All the patterns of the Rogan Art are directly drawn on the clothes without any reference or pencil drawing on the cloth. It is entirely a free-hand painting. The artists use a metal pin, dab it in the paint container, and twist the paint a few times on the heel of their left hands. The colour starts getting a thread-like quality. With exquisite manoeuvring skills, the colour is put on the clothes in unique patterns.
The most exciting part of this entire process is that the metal pin never touches the cloth. The thread-like quality of the paint enables the artist to twist it according to the pattern he desires in the air. The thin paste of the colour is now applied to the cloth from its airborne state.
Patterns in Rogan Art
Rogan Art has its origin in Persia, is typically in association with the Islam tradition. Abdul Hamid Gafur, the present carrier of the baton of the Rogan Art, describes the prevalent Islam themes in the patterns. According to the Islam community, human figures are not permissible as motifs. The typical ways of the Rogan Art are flowers, geometric shapes, and the most famous, the ‘Tree of Life’ motif.
Hamid Gafur said in interviews that the pattern works in Masjid’s of Delhi is also a source of inspiration for the designs. Staying true to the original work, the motifs carry the essence of the age-old tradition of the Rogan Art.
Present-day scenario of Rogan Art
The Gafur family undertakes the responsibility of the survival and growth of this intricate art form. The Gafur are indeed trying their best to ensure that the legacy of this unique art form does not end anytime soon.
Rogan Art’s survival is necessary as a cultural asset of the country because of the distinct tradition of the art form. The Gafur’s play their part in sustaining the art form for the future by teaching it to others. The biggest challenge they overcame was including women in practising the art. Earlier, women of the families practising it were not taught the art form. The thought that girls will go to another household after marriage and take the art form with them was not permissible. At present, the Gafur’s take pride in teaching hundreds of girls this beautiful art form.
Breaking free from the stereotype, it has also become popular in online marketing. The only store of the Rogan Art products is the village home of the Gafurs. Thanks to technology, the products are now available online in stores like Amazon. This modification also encourages the artists to make more of it and helps them earn revenues for their hard work. In this way, more people have become aware of Rogan Art and appreciate the unique art form.
Rogan Art is, therefore, an exquisite art form that must be preserved for its tradition and rare style. The art form is typically painted on a dark cloth to highlight the vibrant, glossy colours and the distinct patterns. Earlier the art form was only found on Lehengas, but now other forms of clothing, bags, and even masks have the Rogan Art. Thanks to the Gafur family and their dedication to Rogan Art, India can still take pride in this old traditional art form.
– For more details visit Gafur’s official website – Roganartnirona.com