Rogan/Oil Painting on Fabric

Roghan work on cloth, now a dying art, which gives the impression of embroidery is actually the craft of fabric painting that is centuries old. The effect is generated due to the surface application of paint has an embossed and shiny look akin to embroidery. In olden days this craft was practised in Ahmedabad and Patan in Gujarat and Nasik in Maharashtra but now it is only alive in Nirona, a small village in Kutch (Gujarat). The finished handicraft is also known as Afridi lac cloth.

Though roghan bears much similarity to lac, the raw material used and the technique employed is completely different. Fabric decorating is done by using oil that is coloured and made workable for hand painting. The oil used is either from the wild safflower (carthamus oxyc anthus), linseed oil or from castor oil seeds which are first boiled for about 12 hours and then thrown into cold water to produce the roghan. This water also stops the roghan from drying up while being used. Various mineral dyes are used To colour the roghan with the prominent colours being red from red lead, white from white lead, silver from powdered mica, green from orpiment and indigo, yellow from orpiment blue from indigo, and silver and gold leaves for metallic effects. Consistency for a more workable texture is obtained by adding a small quantity of dry lime proportionately to the oil. A short 6 inch stylus pointed at the tip is the only tool used in roghan painting while the craftsmen left palm is used as a palette for warming, softening and mixing the roghan. It is then stretched into fine threads and applied to the surface of the cloth to form the design with the stylus. The roghan thread is then dabbed onto the fabric along with a moistened fingertip so that it sinks into the fabric and adheres to it. The finished material can usually be washed. Sometimes the designs are given a silvery or golden sheen by dusting the roghan design with powdered mica (abrak) or imitation gold powder. The roghan fabric is very durable and can be washed several times without any loss in sheen. The designs include geometric patterns and floral motifs, as well as birds and beasts. Products like saris, cushions, kurtas, home furnishings, ghagras ( long skirts), wall hangings, book covers, file covers, table linen, bedcovers and the like are often highlighted with roghan. This traditional and unique art of treating the fabric with patterns in rohgan needs product development and a new market to enable it to survive in the contemporary world.

Noted artisan:
Khatri Abdul Gafoor Daud (National Award Winner 1997)
Khatri Arab Hasham (State Award Winner 1991)
Village- Narona,
Taluk : Nakhtrana, Dist. Kutch Gujarat.
Phno: (02835)–277788, 277555
Mob: +91-9825753955

Mini Chandran Kurian documents Master craftsmen Abdul Gafoor Khatri