Rogan painting revived at 'Dastkar Basant'

Rogan painting revived at 'Dastkar Basant'
Thinkstock image, For representational purposes only

New Delhi, Feb 18 (IANS) The drastic fall in local demand for the fabric that used rogan printing has led to the its demise but at an annual craft fair in the capital this dying craft is on the revival mode.

Rogan printing involves using a thick bright paste to paint on plain cloth. The painting on the cloth is done using a stick, a rod or a metal block.

The ongoing "Dastkar Basant", which is organised by Dastkar, an organisation working with crafts and craftspeople in association with Delhi Tourism, has also brought other regional handloom material like 'maheshwari', 'kota' and 'ikat' to the annual fair.

For 21-year-old Mohammad Jabbar Khatri this platform is an opportunity to display the 300-year-old legacy of his family.

"Our past seven generations have worked in this area (Rogan printing) but many complexities have led to its slow death," said Khatri.

Rogan painting is practiced in the Kutch district of Gujarat, where the artists work with castor oil and natural pigments. It involves extreme precision.

Till very recently, Khatri's family was the only one still practicing the art form in Nirona village in Kutch.

"As per tradition, the skill was never taught to girls lest they spread the secrets of the craft, and, then, men started shifting to more lucrative means of livelihood by becoming vegetable vendors or manual labourers," said Khatri.

"There used to be a time when the entire village wore ghaghras adorned with rogan, but the fall in local demand in the 1980s led to the art form being used to only make fabric panels," he added.

In 2010, however, Khatri's uncle came to terms with the sorry state of affairs, and decided to start teaching the girls residing in his village along with his own family members.

This step provided new life to rogan art, with almost 20 women now working with the family.

Khatri hopes that a platform like Dastkar Basant would introduce more people to this traditional art form.

The fair will end Feb 23.