Nirona village: Rogan art, copper bell & lacquer craft

Posted on May 7, 2019 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

Nirona

 

Kutch is a fascinating place; besides textiles, there are various other arts and crafts being practised in the region. Located around 35 km north of Bhuj, Nirona village is a small village famous for Rogan art, a rare traditional art form originated from Persia/Sindh, which almost disappeared until efforts to revive it in recent years. For over three centuries, one Khatri (Muslim) family called Abdul Gafur in Nirona has kept this traditional art form from vanishing completely.

There are only about 5000 people living in this quiet village, and there is nothing particularly appealing as you walk through the village, though I do like the bright colours and geometric patterns on the facades of the buildings.

 

Nirona

Nirona

Nirona

Nirona  Nirona

Nirona

Nirona

Nirona

Nirona

Nirona

Nirona

Nirona

Nirona

Nirona

Nirona

 

It is hard to believe that only one family in this world has managed to keep the Rogan art alive. The reason for this is because traditionally the art form was passed on only to the male members of the Khatri family. (Many ancient art and craft forms around the world have died out because of family secrecies, which is a big shame.) Today, Khatri Abdul Gafoor Daud and Khatri Sumar Daud along with five other artists, including a woman are the practitioners at their studio in the village. Abdul Gafoor Daud has also been teaching the art to local women in collaboration with a non-profit organisation as a way of reviving the art.

The family has been presented with the Padma Shri Award (2019), an International Designer award, 5 National award, 8 State award and 3 National Merit certificates over the last four decades. In 2014, Rogan art became internationally known when it was presented to Barack Obama (the then President of the United States of America) by Narendra Modi during his visit to the US.

Traditionally, the Rogan art was painted on bridal clothing of the regional tribes, and on ghagras, odhanis and bed spreads. Nowadays, though, more people used them as wall pieces and ‘Rogan kaam’ has gained immense popularity.

 

Nirona  rogan art

rogan art

 

The word rogan means oil or oil-based in Persian. Paint made from thick brightly coloured castor seed oil is used to paint on fabric. Castor is a crop commonly grown in the Kutch region of Gujarat and the artists source it from the local farmers.

To prepare the paint, castor oil is heated in a vessel and continuously stirred for more than 12 hours till it catches fire. The paint-maker has to take extreme care to ensure it doesn’t get burnt. The residue is then mixed with cold water until it thickens into a sticky elastic paste called rogan. This paste is then mixed with stone pigments to lend it different hues. Next, the artisan uses a six-inch metal stick to paint with a fine thread of rogan on cloth.

During our short visit, a young artisan demonstrated his skills and it was jawdropping to watch him apply paint onto the fabric with such precision and focus. If he makes one mistake, he would have to start all over again because there is nowhere to hide the mistakes. It is no wonder this art form is being so highly regarded in India and globally.

 

rogan art  rogan art

rogan art

rogan art  rogan art

 

After the visit, we went to the studio of a copper bell maker, Mr Husen Luhar, who has been making bell-making since the age of 12. The Lohar community is originally from Sindh, and Mr Luhar's family has been making copper bells for at least 7 generations. I have never seen a bell being made before, and I was captivated by Mr Luhar's skills and speed. Within 15 minutes of cutting and hammering continuously, he somehow turned a piece of copper into a bell that produces a crisp sound - it was like magic! Besides bells, he also makes wind Chimes, Xylophone and Jhumar etc. I have never given much thought on the different sounds produce by bells or other metal materials, but the visit to Mr Luhar's studio has opened my eyes and made me appreciate the craft of bell-making.

 

Mr Husen Luhar

Mr Husen Luhar  copper bell art

copper bell art

copper bell art

copper bell art

copper bell art

 

Our final stop in the village was to meet the artisans of lacquer art practiced a semi-nomadic tribe called Vadha. Traditionally, artists used to obtain the lac resin from insects found in the forests. Nowadays, lac is readily available in the market.

The resin is mixed with different colours and applied onto carved wooden objects such as wooden spoons, bread rolling pins, containers, toys and utensils etc. The tools to make these objects are very basic: a manual lathe, a hammer and chisels, but it is the bright zigzag patterns that distinguish them from other lacquerware.

It is incredible that such a small village can produce such an interesting variety of arts and crafts. I think all visitors who come to Kutch have to explore beyond the cities to appreciate all the hidden treasures in this region.

 

lacquar  lacquer

nirona village

lacquer  lacquer

 

 


This post was posted in Architecture, Travel, Art, Traditional arts & crafts, Designers & artists, India, Indian art, Kutch and was tagged with architecture, traditional crafts, lacquerware, textiles, India, Kutch, Indian textiles, artisans, Kutch textiles, craft, bellmaking, Indian craft, Indian art, Rogan art

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