The family who breathe life in a dying art form

The legacy of Kutch art and handicrafts are an epitome of beauty, dignity, form and style. These art forms are a medium to preserve rich traditional art, heritage and culture, associated with people’s lifestyle and history.

One such art form is Kutch Rogan art. Rogan Art is an ancient skill that originated in Persia and travelled down to Kutch around 400 years ago. Rogan is a form of fabric painting which uses a rich, brightly coloured paint made from castor oil and natural colours. Traditionally, Rogan art was pursued to beautify the bridal clothing of the regional tribes including Ghagras, Odhni and Bead spreads with beautiful borders and floral patterns.

However, this exclusive art form is now one of the dying crafts of this region! Rogan Abdul Gafur Khatri and his family are the last ones to sustain this rare art form and save it from being extinct.

It was my honour to meet Abdul Gafur Khatri- the last surviving custodian of the art form during our Rann trip, who has mastered this 300-year-old Rogan art and has been practising this art since the tender age of 13 years. Abdul was recently conferred the Padma Shri award by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is also a recipient of a state award (1988) and a national award (1997) bestowed on him by the then Prime Minister, late Shri. Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

“Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modiji gifted the former American president Barack Obama, my painted motif of “Tree of Life”, the demand for it has increased a lot”- Abdul shared in a candid chat. “I have fulfilled my promise to my father that I will take this art form to international platform”, said Abdul.

May the “Tree of Life” of this art form keep blossoming!

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