Rogan is the art of decorating fabrics with colours that use a castor oil base. The process begins with boiling the castor oil till it thickens to the required extent and then adding the colours that the oil will take. The paint, created by this mix, is applied to the palms of the artisan’s hand and through the friction of rubbing palms together becomes a stringy gooey paste from which the colour can come off on an iron rod or wooden stick like threads. A wooden or metal stick serves both as a brush and stylus, and the canvas is usually a dark coloured cloth.
With the ‘threads’ of paint, the artisan painstakingly makes the outline on half the cloth and then folds the piece to repeat the pattern in the other half. After that, the outlines are filled with colours. The entire process is freehand work. The price of the piece depends on the intricacy of the design. A 3-sq.ft. piece that takes two or three months to make with intricate motifs in many colours could cost Rs. 3,000 while a cloth-bound file folder with simple designs of the same size would just set a buyer back by Rs. 2,000 – 3,000.