Rogan art in Nirona
The first time most of us heard of Nirona, was when PM Narendra Modi gifted US President Barack Obama an exquisite piece of Rogan. A quick online search revealed that Rogan is a popular art form traditionally used as a part of wedding ceremonies. It is created using special paint, made using oil from the seeds of the castor plant. You’ll see castor growing abundantly on your drive from Bhuj to Nirona. As we navigated our way through the narrow lanes of the village, we were told that while Rogan art was practised by various families in Nirona and some nearby villages, today a lone family that goes by the name of the Gafoorbhai Khatri household, guards the secret to this art form and keeps it alive. Almost every member of this close-knit family has won a national award. When a junior Khatri laid out some of the meticulously-crafted pieces, we couldn’t help marvel at how fine the strokes were.
The process of dishing out a Rogan piece is far from simple. Rogan means 'oil' in Persian. The base of the paint is prepared by heating castor oil and bringing it to boiling point over three days and then cooling it down. Once it thickens, the colour is mixed with this base. The mixture is then stored in earthen pots with water, which stops the mixture from drying up. A flat, thin iron rod serves as the brush. The sticky paint is twirled around the rod that is flat on both ends. Intricate motifs are created without the rod touching the cloth. The small pieces sell for about ₹4,000 while the price for large wall-sized ones could go up to ₹85,000 as well.