Notes on Norwegian Dress
The Norwegian Bunad
I got this handy letter from a fan who wrote in this correction withuseful links:
the plate is described as German peasants. This is incorrect.
Telemark (spelt TELLEMARK in the drawing) is a county in the south of
Norway. The woman's clothes is what we now generally refer to as
"Telemarksbunad", and still use for special occasions.
The plate is a typical painting of "exotic" rural Norway.
There is a bunad called Raudtrøyebunad which means red jacket bunad, which
has exactly the same red Spencer.
I don't know how much you know about this topic, but here is a short
explanation anyway (mind I'm not an expert on the topic, I only have 3
books about it :) ).
You can look at pictures of Norwegian folk costumes at
Almost every Norwegian woman has a bunad, often they are passed down from
mother to daughter or granddaughter as I inherited mine from my
grandmother, or when a child grows out of his or her bunad, or you can buy
material and make one, or buy one finished. They show what part of Norway
you identify yourself with.
Bunads are divided into two categories:
1: Bunads which have been in continuous use
2: Bunads reconstructed from old clothes.
There are hundreds of different bunads, each valley or town has its own,
some in several varieties (colours). The fashion of bunads started around
1900, when Norway was in a very national romantic time, just becoming a
country with its own king again etc. The interest for the old and rural was
strong, traditional dancing was in fashion, and they needed costumes, and
so, they went out and found suitable old clothes, changed them to fit the
fashion of the time, and the bunad was "invented".
Regards, Anne Innes.
PS: I find the Manifesto most useful. DS.
Thanks for the wonderful information! Can I post it? ---Tara
Bunad is an old Norse word which simply means clothing.
I did some quick surfing and found this link to someone's page, the
description is rather good and there are nice photos.
If you are interested, I have some photos of my bunads (I have two).
The first one is the one I inherited from my grandmother. I sort of
"outgrew" the bodice (liv) (originally the same material as the skirt
(stakk)) and made a new one in red brocade last year. The brocade is a copy
of an old Italian pattern. It is lined with linen, and fastened with
invisible hooks in the front. The skirt is wool. I wear a short shirt
(skjorte) of thin cotton, and a cotton underskirt.
My bunad was made in the 1930s (I believe), and was given to my
grandmother, who was a doctor, with another bunad during the war, probably
by a patient in exchange for some services.
The Gausdalsbunad is not exactly a historical copy. It is more a copy of a
general style from Gudbrandsdalen (Gausdal being a side valley to
Gudbrandsdalen), made in the same shape. Probably the first were made out
of ordinary fabrics for furniture. I guess Gausdal also wanted to have
their own bunad, and used the generic shape from Gudbrandsdalen and some
fabrics they "liked".
This shape is from the 1830s. The skirt is sewn to the bodice for the first
time (separate bodices in the 1700s), and the waist is rather high, but
lower than empire.
Fore some reason my bunad did not have a purse.
As I feel no real connection with Gausdal, I made an Akerdrakt in empire
style (from Oslo) last year. You can read more about it on my homepage at
It's completely hand sewn. There is a long linen underdress (serk), a
woolen skirt (stakk) held up with woven bands over the shoulders. The
bodice (liv) is of wool, lined with linen. There is also a Spencer to go
with it, but I wasn't wearing it in the photos. The apron is block-printed
on cotton, after a Swedish pattern. The reconstruction is new. There is
also a men's version. It's a folk costume, not a bunad as such.
Finally, I should explain that I'm not an educated costume designer. I make
things for live roleplaying. I make historical things from different books or ask friends to copy their
clothes, we have a wonderful community at the University and in Oslo.
Another Bunad Link:
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