Goa's Kunbi saree fabric on revival path

Press Trust of India Panaji | Updated on March 10, 2011

A model in Goan Kunbi Tribal saree.

Once popular with the women working in the paddy fields, the vanishing Goan fabric is raring to make a comeback in style.

Goa's traditional Kunbi saree fabric, that made waves at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week some months ago, is being used as a tool to empower rural women by a the Mumbai-based textile designer, Ms Poonam Pandit.

Ms Pandit, in association with the Goa-born renowned fashion designer Mr Wendel Rodricks, started the work to promote the saree.

She has now decided to take the project ahead on her own.

“Mr Wendel has assured me to give the required support to market the product,” she said, conceding that Kunbi saree is on the wane in the State, and so are the weavers.


In Goa, the saree was originally worn by Kunbi and Gawda tribe women, who were basically paddy field workers.

In the modern age, the tradition to drape Kunbi saree had almost become extinct. Ms Pandit came across just one person, a septuagenarian from Pernem taluka, who is weaving these sarees. Baburao Babaji Tilve (73), fondly called ‘kaka', is contributing his mite in keeping this tradition alive.


Ms Pandit feels that the fabric can be used as ‘odhni' (scarf) or even dress material as it is 100 per cent cotton.

The thought of reviving the fabric germinated in the mind of Mr Wendel, who presented the contemporary version of Kunbi saree in the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week in November 20.

Self-help groups

Ms Pandit said the wooden frame looms can be made available to the women self-help groups (SHGs) in rural areas and they can be trained in weaving these sarees.

“We can provide them the machines required.”


The women can learn the skill through six to eight months' training and earn a livelihood, she said.

The fabric is woven entirely with pure cotton and dyed with subtle colouring

Published on March 09, 2011

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