05 May 2016

A Norwegian bunad

Bunad is a Norwegian umbrella term encompassing, in its broadest sense, a range of both traditional rural clothes (mostly dating to the 19th and 18th centuries) as well as modern 20th-century folk costumes...

There is a continuing debate about the extent to which bunads must conform to the standards, or whether it is acceptable to vary or improvise based on general themes. Some groups (sometimes derisively referred to as the bunad police) argue that bunads must be sewn and worn according to strict standards; others advocate a more creative, lenient approach.

Bunads are nowadays often viewed as a status symbol, ranging in the price of $2,000−10,000, depending on the desired design, material, embroidery, gold, silver and accessories. The price also depends on whether the customer buys from a well-established company like Husfliden, from local sewers, or decides to sew or do part of the embroidery themselves. It usually takes up to a year to finish making the bunad, and it has become a tradition for parents to give their children a bunad as a confirmation gift, which they will wear on their confirmation day...

While the contemporary bunad tradition has most of its roots in folk costumes from the 18th and 19th centuries, records documenting the use of folk costumes go as far back as the Middle Ages...

The designs are typically elaborate, with embroidery, scarves, shawls and hand-made silver or gold jewelry known as sølje. There are bunads both for men and women, although women's bunads are more diverse and popular...
When my family gathered for a reunion at Park City many years ago, one of my aunts brought out her bunad.  I had never seen one before, since my mother didn't own one.  It was gorgeous.

Embedded photos from a gallery posted at imgur and discussed at Reddit.


  1. Thanks, Stan. That is a gorgeous bunad, and probably cost in the upper range you cited. Yes I do have Mom's bunad and jewelry carefully put away. I also have a Swedish costume that I made for daughter Audrey when she was the local Junior Miss Sweden in our Scandinavian Festival. I made the muslin underskirt with 1/4" pleats, blouse, embroidered waist bag, and wool pompoms for the shoes, and utilized the wool skirt, apron, and brocade vest and ties that belonged to my paternal grandmother. Your mom was most helpful in finding a vendor in Minneapolis that furnished the materials and pattern for the waist bag. She was so happy to help! And I was so grateful!

  2. Takes me back to Stoughton, WI, where the big holiday was Syttende mai--Norwegian Independence Day. The patterns must be fairly traditional, as they are used in rosemaling (traditional painting).

  3. all the Nordic countries have traditional folk national costumes. The Baltics do, too. My mother was born in Finland and I know that there are distinct regional versions/variations to Finnish outfits. my mother's was Karelian and several of her stateside acquaintances had rather different looking ones from the other "provinces" of Finland. That said, if you were to gather representative models from the many regions of the Nordic lands, you would see a pronounced commonality in these bright and ornate outfits. I would assume that the danes and norwegians to have the fanciest/most pricey ones. descending in cost to the swedes, finns and the balts. if only based on their relative historic wealth/status in their world. Lars

  4. Aargh, you just made me realize I missed the majority of Syttende Mai this weekend. They have a bunad show in the church every year... that was today.


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