- Castor oil: Oil extracted from castor seeds, when it is heated over 'Chullah' (stove) for over 12 hours and then quenched with cold water to produce a residue called Rogan, it is then mixed with natural pigments to get desired colors. This oil is locally available and called as 'Endo Tel' or 'Haran ka Tel'.
- Fabric: Fabric to be printed is brought from local market; this fabric is then cut according to the size of the artwork, for example bed spreads, apparels, pillow covers etc have different sizes. It all depends on the design decided by the craftsman.
- Natural color: Bought in small packets sold by Bohra merchants from Ahmedabad. They cost around 180-400 Rupees per kilogram. It is available in seven colors namely yellow, green, white, orange, blue, pink and black.
- Khadiya Mitti: Traditional name for a white chalk powder used in the preparation of mixture.
Hardly any waste results from Rogan painting. The process involves expertise and skill; it is more associated with the quality of work, rather than quantity. A fabric piece can take months to finish.
Tools & Technology
- Dandi: A wooden stick used to stir castor oil in the container while it is being boiled.
- Handio: Earlier clay pots were used to boil castor oil, but those have been replaced by aluminum containers.
- Suya: Local name for the metallic rod used to mix color and castor oil.
- Dhakni: It is a traditional name for the cover plate for the container; the containers with color, castor oil and the mixture are all covered with a cover plate. Several ingredient in the Rogan paint are considered poisonous, hence they are stored with utmost care.
- Parat: A common utensil in Indian kitchen, it is made up of metal and has a very wide mouth; it is used for several intermediate preparation of raw materials.
- Chullah: It is a traditional furnace where oil is heated. Structure of Chullah is coated with a paste of clay and bio-waste of the ruminants. The fuel for heat generation, such as wood and dried cow dung is fed from the front and the container with oil is kept on the top of the Chullah.
- Kharal: A grinding stone used to grind the color and prepare the color powder.
- Kanno: container to store the colored paste in water.
- Kalam: A metallic rod is used to hold the oil-color paste while painting on the fabric. These rods have a significant role to play, as the finesse of the patterns depends upon the thickness of the rod.
When this art was being practiced in Nirona 300 years back, many communities embraced it owing to its vibrancy and exclusivity, the fabric took days or even months to finish, hence the villager used to order it before time for a particular occasion. Mostly Rogan painted fabrics constituted the bridal fabrics which were sent with the dowry. In some communities, the dowry was considered incomplete if it did not include Rogan artworks. On other occasions such as major festivals and rites of passage, the Rogan painted fabrics were essential.
Making the paste
The making of the Rogan paste takes place in the outskirts of the Nirona village where there are no residences, since there are high risks of inflammation. The castor oil is boiled in the Handio in the furnace. The temperature has to be controlled as an increase in the heat can result in flames inside the container. White particles are formed over the oil surface, which leads to a yellowish color in time. The oil is taken off the furnace and covered using the Dhakni once it catches flame. When the Dhakni is removed after sometime, the oil attains its pure state which it gets rid of the impurities in the form of fumes. The process of covering and uncovering the Handio is carried out a few more times till a thick brownish gelatinous paste is acquired. The hot oil is then cooled in cold water, which results in Rogan formation in oil, this residue is very essential in the making of color paste. This process usually takes 3-4 days.
Mixing the colors
Natural colors are used for this craft. The color powder is mixed with water over the grinding stone and rubbed into uniform consistency using the round stone. The castor oil is added after this and mixed well over 15-20 minutes. The white chalk powder is added to remove the sticky paste from the stone and it is transferred to small containers filled with water. This ensures that the paste does not harden and remains moist.
Painting on fabric
The craftsman firstly pins the fabric, along with a back-cloth, to his trouser. When he stretches his legs, the fabric too spreads out. The outline colors are done first. The mixture is placed on the palm and mixed. This paste is worked into a pliable paste with Kalam. It is made sure that the paste reeling out of the Kalam is of uniform thickness to be applied on fabric.
Without any pre-drawn sketches, stencils or traces, the craftsman directly starts to apply the paste to a traditional design. The Kalam is worked with one hand, while the index finger of the other guides the flow of the paste from beneath the fabric. The fabric is folded and pressed against this outline design to get a copy of the same. The impressions of the outline designs are only replicated whereas the colors are filled in individually. After the white outlines, the motif is filled in with pastes of other colors.
Once the designs are done, the fabric is dried in the sun for 4-5 hours. This ensures that the paint is fixed onto the surface of the fabric. The leftover colors from the Kalam are rolled back and stored with water in small containers.