Forgotten weaves ~ Gauda NOT Kunbhi ~ Rohit


Textile traditions and ecosystems around weavers have succumbed to modernisation and have survived and renewed its energy. Weaving as an occupation is Progressive efficient decentralised aligned with agriculture.

The Goan tradition is connected to Bengal (Gaud Saraswat). The saree is called kaapad

Kaapad – saree

Shakti worship was the worship of anthill or mother earth. The Devi had no face and the early phase of personification of anthill dev of Saanteris iconography was a wooden then a metal face in front of the anthill.

The Satri represents Navdurga. The Satri is a movable primitive icon, more like an umbrella. Only tribals can carry them. Satri are the mushrooms growing in the anthills. Pilasters are the poles on which they are carried.





Anthills require a cool environment which became a challenge. Around the 15th century the Garba grihas started sculptures of Santeri which had serpents in her hand. All Santeri became Santadurga. The original names were fixed with Santadurga ike Santadurga Snakaleswari.


Shantadurga is Shakti – kalas, a pot representing a female womb, It contains water and a bud which signifies life. Male energy in female womb – fertility. Religion and culture Live closely with nature.

Conversions to Christianity caused  a change in religion not in culture. The Goan catholic does not wear sindur, mangal sutra, anklet. Some customs like lighting lamps, wearing flowers or jewelley was not discarded. The Tulsi plant in homes was replaced by a cross. The vermillion was replaced by a tattoo of cross on the forehead.

Interesting trivia

  • Significant in sartorial styles is the horizontal vermillion mark which was the dominant colour.
  • The coconut mats have lent to the chequered pattern.
  • The kalash, pilasters, santeris have been adopted on the sarees in the borders.
  • The saree was knee length maybe because the Gaudas were farmers not fishermen and the paddy fields are marshy.
  • The style of draping is to tie a knot (detli detuli gotti) on the right shoulder, only for married women. Young girls wear the ardha saree with a blouse. The Portuguese introduced shirts especially for spinsters.
  • The term Adivasi is the right term for these sarees and not Kunbi. Kunbi was the term given by the Portuguese which is the corruption of the word Kulmi.
  • They were traditionally worn by the Christian Adivasis only. 
  • Hindu Gaudas gave up checked sarees. The Nava hindu Gaudas started wearing multi-coloured sarees.
  • There are no weaving communities. It was an inclusive culture and anyone could weave.
  • This weave stopped around 1985s with the decline of the handlooms in Goa.
  • There are no exact records of handlooms in any archive.  A myth was that Manjishtha was used water was stored in iron containers. The truth is that only chemicals were used. Cotton was imported by Portuguese dyes from Macau.
  • For mourning Christians wear black which was inauspicious, so it was substituted with blue, purple and plum.

Christian Gaudas doing the traditional dance

The Detli / saree tied in a knot

The Gauda ~ kaapad ~ Not Kunbhi



Rohit Pahalgaonkar and his research led to a tribe who could not perform the traditional dance because they did not have the Gauda sarees. He initiated the process which has led to a movement. So it is Gauda not Kunbhi ever!

The textile industry in India traditionally, after agriculture, is the only industry that has generated huge employment for both skilled and unskilled labour in textiles. The textile industry continues to be the second-largest employment generating sector in India. It offers direct employment to over 35 million in the country.
The weaving industry when it says a lac weavers, it is actually 1.5 lac as households and women are actively employed in the preloom process
The reason to wear these woven textiles!


The Gauda NOT Kunbhi sale continues at Qissaa!

These sarees in colours of Mother Earth and a compelling story that goes back hundreds of years. Buy one and wear a tradition a century old. Come to Qissaa!






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