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Rogan, the traditional hand painted textile of Gujarat

Profile image of Anoushay Siddiq

The study attempts to rematerialize the traditional art of rogan painting by documenting its glorious textile which has reached the verge of extinction. The major objectives were to document the craft of rogan painting in detail and authenticate the changes that have come across during the manufacturing process, colours, motifs and products. The data regarding the craft was gathered purposively i.e. pertaining to craft documentation was collected from five craftsmen, who were practicing rogan painting in traditional method during the time of data collection. The art of rogan craft is traditional hand painting has undergone tremendous changes in production process, tools and equipments, motif and colours used.

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Rogan Art~Nirona

NIrona is a village in Gujarat, 40 km northwest of Bhuj

Rogan painting, locally called Rogani Kam, is an intricate and skillful painting done on inexpensive textiles using a thick paste of castor oil and color. The technique with which it is done has lent a unique identity to this seemingly basic craft. The artwork becomes more beautiful with time and compliments the fabric texture. The elements utilized in Rogan art are earthy, hence they are environmentally friendly. The process itself is so beautiful that a viewer is captivated of instinctive yet calculated moves of craftsmen in imparting color to the fabric.

Quick questions

Q what is rogan art.

Rogan painting, locally called Rogani Kam, is an intricate and skillful painting done on inexpensive textiles using a thick paste of castor oil and color.

Q Why is Rogan art dying?

The biggest problem that the art continues to face is lack of awareness about it, which results in the finished product resembling a printed or embroidered piece of fabric.

Q Which fabric is used in Rogan art?

Rogan painting was traditionally a seasonal craft, utilized to ornament various traditional attire components like Ghaghra, Lehenga, Odhani, Dupatta, Dharajo, Chabla and the household fabrics such as bed sheets, quilts, pillow covers and small pieces of fabrics used to cover dishes, these fabrics were main constituents of dowry fabrics.

Q Where did Rogan paintings originate?

It is believed to have come to India from the Afridis, who were from Syria.The craft was mostly patronized by the Ahirs in Kutch.

Q What is the unique feature of Rogan art?

The unique feature of this craft is that once the outline of the design is painted over the fabric, it can be folded or pressed against another fabric or the fold of the same fabric to get the second impression of the same design.

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Category (intangible heritage)

  • Artisan Representation
  • collective Memory
  • Colourful Heritage
  • cultural and social values
  • Cultural Property
  • Folklore and Fabrics
  • heritageas Art
  • Humans behind Clothes
  • Intangible Heritage
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  • Textile Heritage


Rogan painting was traditionally a seasonal craft, utilized to ornament various traditional attire components like Ghaghra, Lehenga, Odhani, Dupatta, Dharajo, Chabla and the household fabrics such as bed sheets, quilts, pillow covers and small pieces of fabrics used to cover dishes, these fabrics were main constituents of dowry fabrics. Rogan painted fabrics were also mandatory during various rituals including rite of passage. Overtime, these fabrics have been put to commercial uses and products like bedcovers, Sarees, scarves and even wall hangings.

rogan art research paper


The Rogan painting craft stems from agriculture, which is a major occupation of the village. Castor being the major cultivation draws the natural connection to the craft as the main ingredient of the colors that are manually prepared. The raw materials for the craft are easily available and pose less hassle. A unique feature of this craft is that once the outline of the design is painted over the fabric, it can be folded or pressed against another fabric or the fold of the same fabric to get the second impression of the same design. Along with replicating designs easily, this also ensures that the paint sticks well to the surface.

rogan art research paper

Myths & Legends:

Rogan art is yet another example of union of civilizations in beaming history of India. The craft of Rogan painted fabrics dates back to many centuries. It is believed to have come to India from the Afridis, who were from Syria. They travelled around the North-Western regions, namely Persia, Afghanistan and Pakistan and the craft was previously concentrated there. It was mainly practiced by the Muslim descendents of the Afridis, it was known as Afridi Lac cloth or Peshawari Lac cloth.  Rogan did not find much recognition as an art form until much later, as castor oil, the primary raw material for the craft was associated with hides and leather and it was also used by the lower castes. The process of extraction too proved to be very tedious. The process slowly spread to the other areas and settled along with the settling down of nomadic tribes. The craft was mostly patronized by the Ahirs in Kutch. It was necessary for their women to wear the Rogan painted Ghaghra during the time of marriage. The patterns and motifs largely resemble their embroidery patterns. Presently this craft is only practiced by one family in Nirona.

rogan art research paper

The motifs and patterns used in Rogan paintings contain both traditional and contemporary designs. The general features are curvilinear patterns repeated geometrically. The linear forms and symmetry is created by the double impression done by folding and peeling cloth, which leaves a mirror image. Phool (flower), Trikhani (three dots), Vesur (wavy border motif) and Jhad (trees) are the oldest found motifs. Animals, trees, humans and objects like bangles also make artistic appearances in the designs. The contemporary motifs include circular/ concentric patterns, motifs forming architectural elements like the Jalis/screens and the tree-of-life motifs.

Most times the fabric consists of thick and multi-layered borders which are filled with intricate and repeated motifs. This leads up to a large geometric central motif. The wall hangings done in Rogan style also feature instances from daily life of villagers, resplendent with trees, cattle and birds.

rogan art research paper


Boiling the castor oil is a risky process and has to be done with utmost care to avoid fire accidents. The odor and fumes emitted are harmful to the workers. Two or three of the natural colors used in the painting are poisonous if consumed and requires extreme caution by the person who handles them. With the onset of screen printing, the demand for Rogan painting has lessened. This has led to a great decline in its practice, so much so that only one family presently carries about the craft.

Introduction Process:

Armed with great expertise and concentration, the craftsmen draw out intricately beautiful patterns with the thick paste of castor oil and color to adorn the fabric. The elements utilized in Rogan art are earthy, hence they are environmentally friendly. The process itself is so beautiful that a viewer is captivated of instinctive yet calculated moves of craftsmen in imparting color to the fabric.

Raw Materials:

– Castor oil: Oil extracted from castor seeds, when it is heated over ‘Chullah’ (stove) for over 12 hours and then quenched with cold water to produce a residue called Rogan, it is then mixed with natural pigments to get desired colors. This oil is locally available and called as ‘Endo Tel’ or ‘Haran ka Tel’. –  Fabric:  Fabric to be printed is brought from local market; this fabric is then cut according to the size of the artwork, for example bed spreads, apparels, pillow covers etc have different sizes. It all depends on the design decided by the craftsman. – Natural color: Bought in small packets sold by Bohra merchants from Ahmedabad. They cost around 180-400 Rupees per kilogram. It is available in seven colors namely yellow, green, white, orange, blue, pink and black. – Khadiya Mitti: Traditional name for a white chalk powder used in the preparation of mixture.

Tools & Tech:

– Dandi: A wooden stick used to stir castor oil in the container while it is being boiled. – Handio: Earlier clay pots were used to boil castor oil, but those have been replaced by aluminum containers. – Suya: Local name for the metallic rod used to mix color and castor oil. – Dhakni: It is a traditional name for the cover plate for the container; the containers with color, castor oil and the mixture are all covered with a cover plate. Several ingredient in the Rogan paint are considered poisonous, hence they are stored with utmost care. – Parat: A common utensil in Indian kitchen, it is made up of metal and has a very wide mouth; it is used for several intermediate preparation of raw materials. – Chullah: It is a traditional furnace where oil is heated. Structure of Chullah is coated with a paste of clay and bio-waste of the ruminants. The fuel for heat generation, such as wood and dried cow dung is fed from the front and the container with oil is kept on the top of the Chullah. – Kharal:  A grinding stone used to grind the color and prepare the color powder. – Kanno: container to store the colored paste in water. – Kalam: A metallic rod is used to hold the oil-color paste while painting on the fabric. These rods have a significant role to play, as the finesse of the patterns depends upon the thickness of the rod.

When this art was being practiced in Nirona 300 years back, many communities embraced it owing to its vibrancy and exclusivity, the fabric took days or even months to finish, hence the villager used to order it before time for a particular occasion. Mostly Rogan painted fabrics constituted the bridal fabrics which were sent with the dowry. In some communities, the dowry was considered incomplete if it did not include Rogan artworks. On other occasions such as major festivals and rites of passage, the Rogan painted fabrics were essential.

Making the paste The making of the Rogan paste takes place in the outskirts of the Nirona village where there are no residences, since there are high risks of inflammation. The castor oil is boiled in the Handio in the furnace. The temperature has to be controlled as an increase in the heat can result in flames inside the container. White particles are formed over the oil surface, which leads to a yellowish color in time. The oil is taken off the furnace and covered using the Dhakni once it catches flame. When the Dhakni is removed after sometime, the oil attains its pure state which it gets rid of the impurities in the form of fumes. The process of covering and uncovering the Handio is carried out a few more times till a thick brownish gelatinous paste is acquired. The hot oil is then cooled in cold water, which results in Rogan formation in oil, this residue is very essential in the making of color paste. This process usually takes 3-4 days.

Mixing the colors Natural colors are used for this craft. The color powder is mixed with water over the grinding stone and rubbed into uniform consistency using the round stone. The castor oil is added after this and mixed well over 15-20 minutes. The white chalk powder is added to remove the sticky paste from the stone and it is transferred to small containers filled with water. This ensures that the paste does not harden and remains moist.

Painting on fabric The craftsman firstly pins the fabric, along with a back-cloth, to his trouser. When he stretches his legs, the fabric too spreads out. The outline colors are done first. The mixture is placed on the palm and mixed. This paste is worked into a pliable paste with Kalam. It is made sure that the paste reeling out of the Kalam is of uniform thickness to be applied on fabric. Without any pre-drawn sketches, stencils or traces, the craftsman directly starts to apply the paste to a traditional design. The Kalam is worked with one hand, while the index finger of the other guides the flow of the paste from beneath the fabric. The fabric is folded and pressed against this outline design to get a copy of the same. The impressions of the outline designs are only replicated whereas the colors are filled in individually. After the white outlines, the motif is filled in with pastes of other colors.

Drying Once the designs are done, the fabric is dried in the sun for 4-5 hours. This ensures that the paint is fixed onto the surface of the fabric. The leftover colors from the Kalam are rolled back and stored with water in small containers.

rogan art research paper

Hardly any waste results from Rogan painting. The process involves expertise and skill; it is more associated with the quality of work, rather than quantity. A fabric piece can take months to finish.

Cluster Name: Nirona-Kutch

Environment:, infrastructure:.

rogan art research paper


rogan art research paper

Famous For:

rogan art research paper

List of craftsmen.

Documentation by:

Team Gaatha

Process Reference:

Cluster reference:.

Rogan Art : Craft Documentation

Page 1

Copyright Information Š Published in the year 2019 by Fashion Communication Department, National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) (Ministry of Textile, Government of India) GH-0 Circle, Gandhinagar-382007 Gujarat, INDIA Tel: 079-23240832, 23240834, 23265000 Fax: 079-23240772 Web : All rights reserved @ NIFT, Gandhinagar. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means,electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any other information storage and retrieval system without prior written permission from the publisher, author and subject to copyright laws.

We heartily acknowledge all the artisans who helped us throughout our visit to Kutch, Gujarat. A special thanks to Mr. Abdul Gafur Bhai without whom it would have been impossible to traverse the narrow lanes of this craft. We would also like to express our deep gratitude towards Dr. Hir Vyas for encouraging, guiding and motivating us throughout this project.








Rann of Kutch

The name of the region was derived from its geographical characteristics. The map resembles the shape of a tortoise because of which it got it’s name “Kutch”. Kutch is a district of Gujarat state in western India. Bhuj is the district headquarters of Kutch. Alot of crafts are practiced in the Kutch district. The village of Nirona is 40km away from Bhuj. In Nirona, a place miles apart from the limelight, lives the Khatri family, which has been the only torch-bearer of our heritage art called-‘Rogan Art.’

Door carving of Aaina Mahal

Artifacts of Aaina Mahal

Women practicing a local craft

People of Kutch

With two National Awardees, Abdul Gafur Khatri (1997) and his younger brother Sumar Khatri (2003), the family has held steadfast to this unique art form for over three centuries. Somewhere between the white stretches of Kutch, lies a remote village, Nirona. This city gets its fame from age old art of Rogan and this is the only ground that holds this rare art. The landscape of Nirona is an amalgamation of old-torn temples, houses and new cement buildings. It is directly connected to the highway. The village survived during the 2001 Earthquake. Even after massive destruction, some crafts like Rogan had survived with few bruises and has grown stronger. Rogan art travelled from Persia to Afghanistan to Pakistan and finally resided in Kutch. Since then Nirona had been the motherland for 8 generations of this family.

People of Nirona

Locality of Nirona

Streets of Nirona

The Khatri family’s house and workshop

About the Craft

Rogan Art, an ancient skill with its origins in Persia, came down to Kutch around 400 years ago. Traditionally, the craft was pursued to beautify bridal clothing of the regional tribes. Beautiful borders and floral patterns on ghagras, odhani and bead spreads were painstakingly painted. However, it being a dying craft with more people showing interest in it, in the form of wall pieces. ‘Rogan kaam’ has gained popularity as Rogan art in today’s time.

Rogan is the technique of painting on fabric, crafted from thick brightly coloured paint which is made with castor seed oil. Castor is a locally grown crop in Kutch and artists most likely source it from farmers directly. The term rogan means oil-based in Persian and refers to the thick residue formed when castor oil is heated and cast into cold water. Artisans place a small amount of this paint paste on their palm. At room temperature, the paint is carefully twisted into motifs. Next, the artisan folds his designs on a blank fabric, thereby printing its mirror image. Earlier, the designs were traditional but now it is more intricate.

Abdul Hamid Arab Khatri performing Rogan art

Rogan silk saree

The Artisan’s color box

Colors Yellow : Pavadi Red : Lal Blue : Vadadi White : Safad Green : Leelo Black : Kalo

Taara (star)

Thad (roots)

Naaka (darwaza)

Motifs Traditionally, the floral, geometrical and calligraphy motifs were used for the art of rogan paintings. During the ancient period, the calligraphy motifs were used in Persian alphabets. The bird motifs were used only by the Hindu Khatri craftsmen of Ahmedabad. These motifs were used as all over pattern. Mainly two layouts were used for motif placement that is border and all over. The motifs painted by Hindu Khatri craftsmen were large with broad outline. They also incorporated bigger motifs of bird which were not seen in rogan painted products of Kutch.

Jabbar bhai checking the instensity of rogan

Jabbar bhai making color with rogan

The paste is prepared by heating either safflower oil, castor oil or linseed oil to the boiling point over a period of three days, thereafter pouring it into water. Castor oil is mainly used because castor is a locally grown crop in Kutch and was traditionally sourced from the farmers. The Rogan paste is stored in earthen pots in order to keep them moist. This paste is either mixed with chalk color pigment or vegetable pigments, as per the choice of the artist, to create a thick dye. This is how bright and lively colors are made.

The artisan places a small amount of the paste on his palm. At first, outlining is done, then the design is made. Then after drying, the intricate design with various colors is made. Drying generally takes two days. In case of symmetric patterns, to reduce the effort, the fabric is folded from the centre to get the impression on the other half. The designs made are very fine and detailed, usually geometric and floral motifs are depicted. ‘The Tree of Life’ and Mughal paisleys are also made. Though intricacy of the work varies from piece to piece, if the work is very intricate, then a square foot piece of cloth could take around a month.

Sumar bhai using Rogan colors

Sumar bhai checking the thickness of the colored rogan on his palm

Sumar bhai making designs

Padma Shri award winner - Abdul Gafur Khatri along with his famous artwork.

Sumar Khatri

300 year-old tradition that once flourished in Gujarat’s Kutch region, now is only practiced by Abdul Gafur Family of Nirona village. Lack of awareness took the craft to the brink of extinction. The entire village that practised this craft once, switched to other trades. A young Abdul Gafur followed and went to Ahmedabad and even Mumbai to find work but he soon realised the importance of the craft and decided to retain and promote it.

“At that time, there were no tourists visiting Gujarat and the art was not famous. Later on, the government gave them a project and started helping them, that’s when Gafur bhai’s grandfather asked him to return. In 1983, Gafur bhai became so enchanted with Rogan that he promised his father that he would take it to the international level. “I fulfilled my promise when Rogan art was presented to US President Barack Obama when Narendra Modi’ visited US in 2014” says Abdul Gafur, recipient of a State Award in 1988 and a National Award in 1997. They have been practicing Rogan for 46 years now and they believe that “If we dont do this, no one else will and the art will be lost. I never dreamt of doing anything else. It is our responsibility to take our age-old tradition forward”, says Gafur bhai. Abdul bhai now teaches Rogan art to women in collaboration with a non-profit organisation.

Jabbar Khatri

Sumar bhai with his daughter, Sana.

Khatri Arab Hasam

Abdul Gafur Daud Khatri

Jumma Daud Khatri

Sumar Daud Khatri

Jabbar Arab Khatri

Asraf Daud Khatri

Mo. Hanif Arab Khatri

Abdul Hamid Arab Khatri

Sahil Abdul Gafur Khatri

Shakil Jumma Khatri

Beautiful gate at the Khatri house

Lifestyle and Culture

Abdul Gafur Khatri is the synonym of Rogan art at present. He has shaped and transformed the future of this art around. Today his innovative changes in the motifs and designs are the reason behind the fame this art has received. Apart from Gafur bhai, the whole family stays in two houses attached by walls on the same street. They own two cars and motorbikes. They have a family of 25 members. The house was renovated a few years back, after the earthquake.

Glimpse of the Khatri household

There current financial state is quite good, but his family saw dark days earlier, some members even worked for Rs.2 to Rs.5 per day. During those days , due to severe drought artisans in Kutch moved and travelled to different places in search of jobs and oppoturnities.

Sana- Daughter of Sumaar bhai

Wall painting

Mobile pouch

Product Range Traditionally, this art was found in the different types of products prepared using rogan technique were skirt (ghagara), dupatta (odhani), bed sheet (chaddar), quilts and wall hangings. In ancient time, the demand of rogan products was much more in comparison to embroidery and bandani. During those days, rogan painted fabric was worn by women through out the year. These days, the products are mainly produced as per the consumer demand. The craftsmen usually get orders from the foreign tourists.

Dress material

Rogan stole

Jabbar bhai is checking the Rogan

Sustainability The paint is made using boiled oil and vegetable dyes. Natural colours are mixed with the thick residue that is formed and used to make free-hand designs on cloth. A stylus is used for making designs on the fabric, which can be used multiple times. Rogan art has been used in combination with khadi also. “We had experimented with khadi fabric in the past but only on small-scale. In fact, a saree that I had prepared using Khadi silk applying Rogan art on it had become a masterpiece winning a national award in 1997, it is for the first time that the combination of khadi cotton and Rogan will be available in a market place, at a emporium,� said Abdul Gafur Khatri, head of the Khatri family, who was conferred Padma Shri earlier this year.

Colored rogan is kept in water so that it does not dry and become hard

Wall paintings made using rogan art kept for drying

Jabbar bhai showing their work

Market Scenario The biggest problem that the art continues to face is the lack of awareness about it. The artwork is so intricate and detailed that people usually percieve it to be printed and thus, they have to be convinced that it is painted and not printed.

60 years old rogan art

Kutch’s Rogan tradition is sustained by two families in Nirona village. It is a craft which took form over the course of time. The members of the Khatri muslim community were doing Rogan art work on various costumes of local animal herders and farming communities, but the craft ceased to exist when the community started using other machine made textiles as a more cost effective alternative.

Revival of rogan art designs

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, several factors came together to bring about a renewed interest in rogan art, especially painting. First, after the 2001 Gujarat earthquake, when much of the region was devastated, the water and electricity infrastructure was improved, new roads were built, and the number of flights into the region was increased, all of which led to an increase in tourism. Second, local cooperatives and non-profit groups helped local artisans, including Rogan artists, to increase their market by selling in urban settings and online. Third, many members of the Khatri family won state and national awards for their art, thus increasing the prestige of their art. Finally, in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the U.S. White House, and gave President Obama two rogan paintings including a tree of life. They were painted by Abdul Gafur Khatri, a national award winner.

The Khatris introduced more contemporary products to appeal a wider range of customers, such as bags, cushion covers, table cloths, wall hangings, and pillow covers. The tree of life continues to be a best seller. The number of tourists to the Khatri workshop increased steadily in the 2010 to as many as 150 people per day. The family of Abdul Gafur Daud Khatri have received various awards, won national and international acclaim for the preservation of their art form. To increase the outreach of the craft, the family took initiative to train the local girls from other communities.

60 years back ‘TREE OF LIFE’

Recent design of ‘TREE OF LIFE’

For a long time, this rare craft was not well known even in India. With a growing fan following that includes Amitabh Bachchan, Waheeda Rehman, Shabana Azmi and Narendra Modi Rogan art is now getting the recognition it deserves. Instead of the traditional products the range is growing wider to attract today’s generation. Rogan art is now performed on file cover,mobile cover and handbags.

Conceptualization POSTCARD


Every artisan working on a artwork leaves his or her impression on it through their beautiful hand gestures. In the following post cards, we have tried to showcase some of these hand gestures used while painting. Motifs formed by these gestures are mentioned on the back side with a glimpse of the process.

The coffee table for the Rogan art talks about the different generations of Khatri family from Nirona, Kutch who are currently dedicated towards this art of Rogan. The book starts with the eldest member who is doing this Rogan art and ends with the youngest member. Along with the details of the members, the evolution of Rogan motifs is also shown side by side, just to show how with every coming generation the art has become more intricate. The most popular designs including tree of life, mandalas, toran, flowers and peacocks are used in the book. It is more of a visual based book, thus making it an interesting and quick read.

10 members of this family practice Rogan art, hence the poster gives recognition to each and every artisan. The poster’s aim is to show how rogan painting justify the price they offer. Right from the making of Rogan to painting it. Some of their thoughts on the progress, future, condition are mentioned on the poster. Promotional video

Through a stop motion we are trying to convey a short story that from where the craft came and how it has evolved over the years.

Creative promotional strategy

The Traditional Art of Rogan is practised by the Khatri family of Nirona village, Kutch. The family claims that their great grandfathers and fathers were the Rogan art experts and currently ten of their family members are involved in this craft. So many years of hard work, unique art pieces and national and international exhibitions later, the Khatris who have in a way become a brand for the Rogan Art do not have a proper packaging for their products. The family caters to a lot of International customers right now, and it would be really good if they could do something for the packaging of their products as it is currently not present. The designed packaging is suitable for all kinds of products including the shawls, scarfs, wall hangings, suit pieces and sarees. This unique packaging is reusable and can be transformed into a hanger onto which one can hang things and could be also used as a frame for the wall hangings. The material of the packaging is cardboard and comes with the Rogan art logo and other details printed on one side of it.

The process of Rogan involves working in steps. One piece of rogan is an art formed by passing through different artisans. One forms the boundaries while others fill life in them. The brochure showcases these different steps with the use of paisley print, which is commonly known as keri that is mango. The colours used in the brochure are used in Rogan painting.

References We would like to show our deep gratitude towards Artisan Gafur Bhai Khatri and his family who were kind enough to share the process of Rogan with us and give us their precious time.


Left to right: Soumya Sharma, Ayushi Agarwal, Shubhangi Chaudhary, Abdul Gafur bhai (Artisan), Tanvi Bhakhar, Ananya Singh, Kavisha Dalal, Nidhi Shah


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