Rogan/Oil Painting on Fabric of Gujarat

Rogan/Oil Painting on Fabric of Gujarat

Languishing Craft

The history of roghan painting on fabric is centuries old. Roghan designs on cloth - with their embossed and shiny look - seem very similar to embroidery. The oil used for obtaining the pigment used in the painting is extracted from the seeds of the wild safflower: this is boiled for hours so that it becomes thick and oleaginous and is then coloured with pigments. The roghan or wax-like pigment so obtained is stretched onto the fabric by hand. It is then moistened with the fingertip and pressed onto the fabric. A special kind of dexterity is required to manipulate the roghan pigment threads on the cloth so as to obtain the required design.

This craft is practised by only a few artisans in Nirona, a small village in Kutch (Gujarat). The craft was earlier practised in Ahmedabad and Pattan, also in Gujarat, and in Nasik (Maharashtra). Roghan painted cloth was earlier referred to as Afridi Lac cloth. The designs found are geometric and floral with motifs of birds and beasts. Saris, furnishing and dress materials, book covers, and a whole host of other items are being embellished with roghan. Due to lack of support, the craft is not being taught to the next generation and so it is dying out.

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