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

broken link

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

Please do!

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.

broken link

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.

Photo at:

marianne_anne_bunad.jpg@160x120.jpg syttende.jpg

marianne_anne_bunad.jpg@160x120.jpg marianne_anne_bunad.jpg

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.

Photos at:


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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