Our first stop on our adventure through the Kutch region of Gujarat was to see the world famous Rogan painting in Nirona Village. This art is currently only produced by one family in the traditional method which goes back hundreds of years.
Rogan painting is done with natural colors mixed into a paste created with castor oil and gum from local trees. The castor oil is boiled for at least two days, then mixed with the gum and the color. It then solidifies into little pots. When the artist is ready to paint, they pull out a bit of the paste, almost the consistency of taffy, and rolls it in their hands until it softens to the right consistency. The artist pins the fabric to their clothing to keep it still, then free hand draws a design using a small metal stylus. The stylus never touches the fabric, rather they carefully drape the color scooped onto the stylus down to the fabric. Each design is only done in half as they fold the fabric in half to create symmetrical designs.
Once the main design is complete, and the fabric is carefully folded affix the pattern to both sides, the art is left to dry in the sun for a couple days. After this, the artist goes through to add the smaller detail work. While it may look stitched, all of the art is done with paint! The color is also completely set and will not rub or wash off. The entire process can take weeks to complete depending on the complexity of the design. Traditionally the art was only practiced by men, as they would keep the secrets of the art within the family as they traditionally move into their husband’s family homes. However, due to demand for the art, local women are now being trained in the art form.
In the shop we have an exclusive collection of Rogan art pieces including Tree of Life wall hangings and scarves which would also look amazing as table runners. Photos by Dana of Urban Utopia Photography. Want to see how the artists make the handicrafts we feature in our shop? Click here for details on our next adventure!