Have you ever thought of painting with gooey paint on cloth? It would be quite tough, wouldn’t it? Well, a man named Abdul Gaffur Khatri and his family from Gujarat, India have been practicing this art for eight centuries now! So, what exactly is this art called?
Let us introduce you today to Rogan art. Although it seems difficult, let us tell you, it’s way more difficult than it looks. Rogan art designs were once popular in India.
But with the advent of industrial textiles, locals began buying cheap, printed cloth instead of the expensive hand-designed rogan work. Naturally, many Rogan artisans had to leave their passion and take up other jobs.
The Khatri family claims they’re the only Rogan artists left in the world. It’s their tradition and they cannot let it fade away.
Let’s find out what’s unique about this art and why it sells for a large sum of money.
This is no ordinary paint. It’s made from castor oil! It gives the art its name. Rogan translates to oil in the Farsi language. Abdul’s brother Muhammad heats the oil for two consecutive days. This is a dangerous process as the oil can easily catch fire. Once the soil reaches honey-like consistency.
Next, Abdul’s nephew Jabbar takes over. He takes a little cooled oil on a stick and mixes it with pigment to make the final paint. A big stone helps to blend the paint on the floor.
Working mainly with yellow, it’s time to start painting. Abdul lifts the soft, gooey paint with a thin, long stick. It kind of looks like a piece of chewing gum on a stick.
He rubs this paint on his palm to make it stretchier and softer. Once the paint starts forming a long thread when the stick is pulled away from the palm (the way you try to pull chewing gum stuck on your fingers), Abdul knows the paint is ready to meet the cloth.
He then starts making floral patterns on the cloth with the rogan and the stick-free hand. No tracing! It’s like a continuous thread of paint which Abdul continues to move over the cloth, ensuring the thread doesn’t break.
Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Now you know why this art demands a lot of money and why it should be preserved.
We sincerely hope Rogan art springs up again!