The 400-year-old Rogan art once flourished in Kutch region of Gujrat. In the early days, this art was practiced in the village and sold in the town only. This art is most famous for its unique painting technique. In those days, Rogan art was practiced only on clothes to make skirts (ghagra) which is the traditional attire of Kutch women; then, they started working on bedsheets, table cloths, sofa covers, and dupattas.
Present-day this art is being practiced only by the Abdul Gafur Khatri’s family of Nirona village. The men-folks preserve this art form for generations. Due to the vast availability of machine print textile, the demand for Rogan art fabric is declining and cost-effective. To keep the traditional art alive, Artist Mr. Abdul Gafur Khatri and his younger brother Mr. Sumar Daud Khatri, and their other family members practice this art form. They don’t have a house to live in, not even getting two meals regularly, and are forced to drop out of school to learn this art. Despite such a difficult situation, they are still sustaining this art.
As they are practicing this art for generations, they don’t have other work to do. This makes it difficult for them to survive. Around the 1980s, there was a challenging time when Kutch was facing severe droughts making it difficult for the khatris to find even a casual labour work around. During that time, Mr. Abdul Khatri realized that his family would not get other livelihood opportunities due to a lack of other skills or education. Rogan art was on the verge of extinction; then, he decided to take up a job in Mumbai or Ahmadabad to support his family. In 1983, due to lack of opportunities entire village switched to other trades, so Mr. Abdul followed the same trend. He tried to get a job in Mumbai and Ahmedabad and make a life. He says, “At that time, no tourists were visiting Gujarat, and our art was not selling. It was only later that the government gave us a project that started helping us, and my grandfather and father asked me to return to my Village, Nirona”. He successfully redefined declining traditional art. Rogan art came into the limelight when Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi Ji gifted a Rogan painting of ‘Tree of Life’ to the former US President, Mr. Barack Obama, in 2014. This painting was done by Mr. Abdul Gafur Khatri and his younger brother Sumar D. Khatri. This incident had a positive impact on this art resulting in a tourist place for many travelers.
Tourists from India and abroad started visiting Khatri’s house to see Rogan's artwork. Artists give them live demo of painting, and some of the visitors buy their paintings. Around 250 to 300 tourists visit during September to March every year. “I never dreamt of doing anything else. It is our responsibility to take our age-old tradition forward, make changes and improve the designs as much as we can,” says Abdul Khatri. Mr. Abdul Gafur D Khatri won a Padmashri Award in 2019. He is not the only award winner in his family. His brothers are acclaimed artists of Rogan art. All of them are award winners. They won the International award, four National awards, three National Merit Certificates, and seven State awards.