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Bunad – the Norwegian National Costume.

In its narrow sense the word bunad refers only to clothes designed in the early 20th century that are loosely based on traditional costumes. The word bunad in itself is a 20th-century invention.

The bunad movement has its root in 19th-century national romanticism, which included an interest for traditional folk costumes not only in Norway, but also in neighbouring countries such as Denmark and notably Germany. However, in Norway national romanticist ideas had a more lasting impact, as seen in the use of folk inspired costumes.” (wikipedia)

These bunads may look very similar – but I can tell which part of the district of Hordaland on the West-Coast the particular bunad comes from. Some parts of Norway – like Hordaland has a strong and varied bunad-tradition – while other districts does not. (pictures from Norsk Flid – where you can find a bunad-gallery)

Common for all the different bunads are a white linen or cotton embroided shirt, beautiful silverwork and traditional “bunad-shoes”. All the textiles used are 100% wool, silk or velvet, typically silk brocade in different patterns. The textiles may be decorated with wool-embroidery, intricate cross-stitch motifs, glass-beading or/and a variety of beautiful woven silk or wool ribbon. The headwear vary a lot, and it also varies within the same type of bunad – traditionally to show where in the life-cycle you were… young/old – married/not married… I´ve never worn my hat – few do…

I come from the district of Rogaland – where the different bunads are less varied, and you can´t really tell by looking at a persons bunad where in the area they´re from – you choose the bunad you like best, more or less. My bunad is the same as the one one the left, but I have the same vest as the one on the right. You are not bound to chose the bunad from your area, but if I complimented a person for his/her bunad and found that they had a “root-less” bunad – I would consider that person to be a bit flamboyant – and you don´t want to come across as flamboyant – being Norwegian…! You would at least need a great-grandmother to blame it on – that would be considered within. So there´s absolutely possibilities – should you want a new bunad.

Most girls get their “grown-up” bunad at the age of 14/15 – in connection with the celebration of their Confirmation -religious or not. Men don´t have the same tradition for wearing a national costume, but I´m happy to see more and more men in bunad. My daughter celebrated her Confirmation two weeks ago, and chose a Rogaland-bunad – the vest proudly made by her mum. I´ve also made the vest on my own bunad. Mother & daughter on the left. I´ve also made the man´s-bunad in the right picture. Grand-daughter and grandfather sporting their bunads!

Next opportunity to wear the national costume is just around the corner. 17th of May is Norwegian Constitution Day – when we put on the bunad and go to town to watch the Childrens-parade. More on Norwegian Constitution Day – on 17th of May!