Rogan Art: 300 year old creative magic of Kutch - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Monday, July 08, 2019

Rogan Art: 300 year old creative magic of Kutch

The stunning tree of life Rogan Art that can be seen in the White House

This art is so rare and special that the Indian prime minister Mr. Narendra Modi gifted it to the U.S president Barack Obama during his visit to the US in September 2014. The gift was a tree of life Rogan art painting made by one artisan family from the tiny village of Nirona in the Kutch district of Gujarat.

Now, you might be saying…so what is so special about this painting? Well, this Muslim family of Abdul Gafar Khatri from Nirona village is the only living family in the entire world to practice this ancient form of painting. Believed to have come to India about 300 years back from Persia, this Rogan art is a beautiful combination of Persian motifs and Kutchi colours and style. This gorgeous ancient art form has been kept alive by the men of the Khatri family who have passed on the skills and secrets to the future generations. Without them, this art form would have gone extinct. Today, a lot of the Khatri family members are National award winners and their paintings can be seen all over the world. That is the speciality of this rare and ancient art form.

The colors and the 400 year old traditional Rogan art painting of Kutch

Rogan, which is a Persian word, refers to the thick residue that is produced when castor oil is heated over fire for more than 12 hours and then cast into cold water. This is the main ingredient for this painting and castor oil or castor seeds for this are sourced directly from the farmers who grow this crop abundantly in the region of Kutch. Then, this Rogan residue is mixed with natural mineral pigments obtained from the earth of Kutch to get the desired colours. Finally, the artisan uses a six inch metal stick or pen to take this colorful and elastic residue from his palm and weaves his magic onto a piece of fabric. There is however an element of surprise here. If you notice the Rogan paintings closely, you will see that they are symmetrical in nature. This symmetry comes due to the creation of a mirror image of the painting when the residue is wet. While making one design, the artisan folds his fabric and presses the design onto the other side of the fabric to ensure that the design repeats itself.

Rogan Art - the oil based painting of Kutch

In this way, Rogan art finds its way into wall hangings, bedsheets, bridal wear, pillow covers, table cloths, sarees, file folders, stoles, scarves, dress materials and other decorative pieces. And even the White house.

There was a time when the textile industry was picking up. There were no tourists visiting Gujarat. And there was hardly any visibility to such heritage. It was easy for the Khatri family to have left practising this art form and embracing the prospect of a job in the textile industry in Ahmedabad, Surat or Mumbai, but they didn’t opt for it. Instead, they painstakingly preserved this rare heritage of India through suffering and poverty. It was only in the recent past that the government floated initiatives promoting such traditional art and thus slowly their lives changed and more people got to know them and their amazing Rogan art.

The Khatri brothers of Nirona, Kutch

This is the story of this Muslim family from Nirona village in Kutch and how they preserved a Persian art form for over 300 years in their family. This Rogan art is certainly a highlight on the handicrafts trail of Kutch and is bound to blow your mind away. Do pay a visit to see it at close quarters. And may be even buy something for yourself and/or your family and friends as they make for great souvenirs. And while you are in this region, you can also experience the sound engineers of Kutch, the embroidery artisans of Bhirandiyara, the lacquer artisans of Nirona, the folk music, the rich dash of colors, the salt desert called White Rann and the colorful festival of Rann Utsav.

Rogan art - the art form kept alive by the Khatri family

Nirona village and its Rogan art family are a must-have in your kutch holiday itinerary. I would definitely recommend it to all. One can learn a lot from the colorful humans of Kutch, their rich handiwork and some of their well preserved heritage and culture.

From scarves to stoles to wall hangings, Rogan art make for great gifts

How to reach here:

The nearest airport would be Bhuj. Bhuj airport has good connectivity with Mumbai and Delhi. Bhuj also has a railway station with decent connectivity. For a high traffic international airport, Ahmedabad would be your best bet.

Nirona is about 40 kms from Bhuj and about 72 kms from Dhordo where the Rann Utsav tent city and the White Rann are located. It is best to have your own mode of transportation for last mile commute and to explore the different handicraft villages in the region.

Sumar Khatri and his Rogan Art creation, Nirona, Kutch, India

Where to stay:

If you prefer luxury, stay at Rann Utsav tent city. If you prefer traditional local homes, opt for village homestays in Nirona or in the nearby villages.

Colorful handicrafts from Nirona, Kutch

Best season to visit:

The winter months from November through February should be your best bet, but if you can handle warm weather, then you can visit all year round.

Rogan Art in different colors and designs

Nearby Tourist Attractions:

1) Rann Utsav, a winter festival that happens near the Great Rann of Kutch

2) White Rann, India’s largest salt desert

3) Colorful villages of Kutch

4) Bhirandiyara, the embroidery village of Kutch

5) Various handicraft villages of Kutch

6) Family schooled sound engineers of Kutch in Nirona village

7) Congregation of Lesser Flamingos in GRK and LRK

8) Wild Ass sanctuary in Little Rann of Kutch

Welcome to BE ON THE ROAD Travel Blog! I am Sankara, its founder, a 40 something male from Bangalore who is living his dream of exploring the world and simultaneously trying to inspire others to live their dream.
Wanna live your dream? Find Some inspiration here!
Wanna know more about me?
Track blog updates from facebook and/or twitter!

Logo Credits : Jobi T Chacko. UI/UX Credits : Murugan S Thirumalai
Copyright © 2009-2024 Sankara Subramanian C (
Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited. All Rights Reserved

Join the Travel Club for FREE!!
and every fortnight get in your inbox...interesting experiential and off-beat travel stories , destination guides, handy tips (travel, photography and visa) based on personal experience, global vegetarian delights with helpful survival guides and gorgeous world travel images and videos as I (the Indian traveler) trot the globe! And a lot of other travel invites and soon to be launched goodies !

* indicates required